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Apple Cider Vinegar. Does it Work?

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been a popular natural remedy among horse owners for years. But what does science say about its benefits?

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is produced by the fermentation of carbohydrates, during which the natural sugar in the juice of apples converts to alcohol, making apple cider. When the alcohol in the cider is combined with air by the action of Acetobacter bacteria, the apple cider turns to vinegar.. Raw vinegar contains a “mother” culture of beneficial acids, which gives it a murky appearance.

The Science Behind ACV for Horses

While ACV is a natural antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibiotic, the scientific evidence supporting its use in horses is limited. Most studies were conducted 30 to 40 years ago.

One of the most cited benefits of ACV for horses is its potential to improve digestion. Apparently, ACV works to acidify the stomach for better digestion and absorption of minerals. The equine gut is already highly acidic. Research in humans has also shown that it can slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which might indicate that it could be helpful for those founder-prone ponies/horses that are sensitive to sugar. However, the dosage for humans is 10-30ml per day which would convert to well over 100ml per bodyweight in horses, which is a lot. Given that horses with metabolic issues are already highly sensitive to feeds, I wouldn’t experiment on my horse without some genuine data to support that. It seems to make more sense to feed low-sugar feeds in the first place, rather than combat sugars with ACV.

Another potential benefit of ACV is its ability to prevent intestinal stones (enteroliths). Enteroliths normally only occur in horses that are fed exclusively lucerne/alfalfa and grain in meals. The acidifying effect of ACV helps dissolve enteroliths, or ideally prevent them. But isn't it better to feed your horse a free-choice, forage-based diet in the first place?

It’s important to note that these benefits are largely based on anecdotal evidence and more research is needed to confirm these findings. For instance, while some horse owners believe that ACV can relieve arthritis in horses, no scientific proof has been found to back up this claim. We already have supplements that support joint health backed up by many studies. It seems to make more sense to get a known useful supplement rather than taking a punt on ACV.  

The Verdict

While ACV has been used for thousands of years for various medicinal purposes, the scientific evidence supporting its use in horses is scarce. The literature suggests ACV is good at combatting problems that can be avoided in the first place. While apple cider vinegar may have potential benefits for horses, more research is needed to fully understand its effects. Until then, it’s best to use it with caution.

Apparently it works a little bit as a fly spray. Or you could just use fly spray.


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