Apple Cider Vinegar for Horses

Water and Feed Supplement

Dr Jarvis, the Vermont country doctor who popularized the use of 
A tip commonly used - for horses that will not drink the water in a new location: add some apple cider vinegar to the unfamiliar water!
apple cider vinegar in his book Folk Medicine, found that a horse would chew the wood of his stall because the wood contained potassium. Experimenting with calves, he found that they would not chew the wood of their pens if ACV was added to their drinking water, since apple cider vinegar is an excellent source of easily absorbable potassium and other trace minerals.

Besides the nutritional benefits, vinegar helps to purify the drinking water by destroying harmful microorganisms that can thrive in neutral or mildly basic water (Two thousand years ago Roman soldiers were adding vinegar to their drinking water for the same reason).

Recommended dosage rates for horses vary from 1 cup (250 ml) of ACV for every 50 gallons (190 liters) of drinking water all the way up to 1 cup (250ml) for every 6 gallons (23 liters).

For a healthy horse, use 1/4 cup (60 ml) of unpasteurized ACV on feed grain per day. Dilute the vinegar 50/50 with water before adding to the feed.

Because of its potassium and associated trace mineral content, this feed supplement is invaluable for mares coming up to foaling and is also beneficial for older horses with digestive difficulties or arthritis.

Intestinal Stones

Intestinal stones called enteroliths, can develop in susceptible horses which can cause blockages that require expensive surgery.

Since the ingestion of vinegar increases the intestinal acidity in horses, it helps prevent these stones from forming according to veterinary researchers at the University of California at Davis

The number of horses developing enteroliths has increased especially in certain geographical areas such as the southwestern part of the United States, particularly California. Certain breeds such as Arabians and Morgans seem to be more prone to enteroliths than others.

For more horse care information and recommended preventative measures related to the equine diet, visit

Mild Cure for Skin Conditions

Full strength apple cider vinegar can be rubbed directly into the horse's skin around a ringworm infection. Ringworm is an infection of the skin and hair by several types of fungi (not worms).

Rub in thoroughly two or three times a day for several consecutive days. This is especially useful for ringworm infections that are too close to the eyes to use a copper wash.
Natural Insect Repellant

Another benefit of feeding your horse apple cider vinegar is to make the horse less attractive to flies and insects. Some specialists believe that horses sweat the vinegar out so that it becomes a natural repellant.

Insect bites not only cause your horse itchy discomfort, they can be areas where skin bacterial and fungal infections can occur. 

In addition, some types of hives are commonly caused by insect stings or bites. They can cause other health risks by spreading such diseases as West Nile virus, encephalomyelitis viruses and equine infectious anemia.

Never use a commercial fly repellant containing DEET on horses (or other animals) since it can be absorbed or ingested by them and cause unwanted toxic side effects.

For those who prefer not to use insecticides for horse care, especially on foals less than 12 weeks old, try feeding your horse ACV and make up your own vinegar-based natural horse fly spray that you can rub or spray onto the horse's coat as needed:
  • 2 cups (500 ml) Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) Water
  • 1 cup (250 ml) Avon Skin so Soft (bath oil)
  • 2 tsp. ( 10 ml) Eucalyptus oil (or citronella oil)
Mix all ingredients well and store in a handy spray bottle.

While you're at it, take care of those pesky flies that hang around enclosed areas like barns or transportation trailers, by making a vinegar fly trap:
  • 3 cups (750 ml) Water
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) Sugar
Dissolve sugar in the vinegar solution and place in a large lidded jar with holes punched in the lid. Flies will get in but won't be able to fly out.

Horse Hoof Care

Thrush and other foot fungus infections can be greatly reduced by a regular spray or soak application of apple cider vinegar to the sole and frog of a horse's feet. By making the hoof area more acidic, fungus is no longer able to grow well there.

A general horse hoof soaking solution can be prepared by adding 1/4 cup (60 ml) of apple cider vinegar to one gallon (3.8 liters) of water.

The vinegar application will, at the same time, speed up the healing of any other foot infections or bruises your horse might have. An good article on apple cider vinegar for treatment of horse hoof abscesses is available at

For more information on hoof care, the following book by Pete Ramey is highly recommended: Care and Rehabilitation of the Equine Hoof

Suggested Dosage Rates
(Source: "Apple Cider Vinegar Stories" - Will Winter, D.V.)
    • Offer in water, ideally 2-6 oz/day (1/4 - 3/4 cup)
    • Sprinkle on hay or 50:50 (ACV/water) free-choice in pan
    • Used for colic, founder, or other therapy by drenching with 1 cup ACV diluted with 1 cup water, repeat
Please note – the above rates are only guides