Capeweed is a terrible weed for horses which, if too much is eaten, can cause magnesium deficiency and THAT can lead to abnormally nervous horses and even to stringhalt. Put the word stringhalt in the “search this site” above and get all the blogs that I have written about that condition and how to fix it.
Capeweed is usually a simple result of overgrazing – having our horse in too small an area, having too many horses in too small an area, of not resting the land so that the grass can recover sufficiently with good deep root systems and resistance to heat and dry weather, spraying to kill other weeds and leaving the earth bare. All these things will create the conditions in which capeweed will flourish.
The earth needs to cover herself – otherwise the soil itself blows away or washes away in the rain – and capeweed is one of the earth’s last ditch attempts to get the earth covered by something that will keep the soil there.
Capeweed is actually a very useful weed from the earth’s point of view. Have a look under the leaf of the capeweed and see how there is usually dampness underneath there. Its leaves lift their little arms to the sky for the night, so that all the dew can get access to the ground and then the sun comes out in the daytime and the leaves lie flat on the ground to keep that moisture in. It’s roots go deep into the ground so that it survives the toughest conditions.
How very clever of Mother Nature – as she so often is.
So spraying it with poisons to get rid of it is SUCH a waste of money and environmentally not a good deal either. When we kill the capeweed, the earth still has to keep itself covered – which is why it will so often come back or some other even nastier weed can come instead and you’re just left with the toxicity of that poison both in the ground and in whatever is grown on that ground and then in your horse too, causing God knows what symptoms further down the track.
So what to do? Here are some effective options:
- Sprinkle the capeweed LIGHTLY with dolomite. That will take care of the majority of the toxicity of the capeweed for the horses, provided that you have other feed for the horse – either other grass so they don’t have to eat it for hunger or access to a well dried, good quality hay 24 hours a day. Dolomite is cheap, specially in the bigger bags from the produce stores.
- You can feed the horse dolomite in their feed but this is NOT a long term fix, you are much better off and it is more effective to treat the land itself.
- At certain times of the year when capeweed can really cause a big magnesium deficiency, then you can add magnesium to the horses diet. Put the word “magnesium” in the search this site box at the top of the page and see where I and others have written the different types and dosages that we have used.
- Rest the area where possible. This is actually the best option, both for your horse, environmentally and from the point of view of eliminating the capeweed. There is an article here on my website about a way to manage our horse’s grazing that reduces weeds like capeweed and dockweed quite quickly. We’ve been here three years and already the capeweed and dockweed is gone in those paddocks where we are able to give the right kind of management. This is an even cheaper option than dolomiting.
- We can dig the capeweed at the right time of the year for planting new grass and seed the area with new grass. In this instance, we have to protect that grass seed from grazing until it has significant root growth, so that is not always an option for many people because you have to keep the horses away from the grass while it gets strong enough to get walked on and chewed at.
- We can mow the capeweed at the right time of the year for new grass growth and plant new fast growing pasture seed varieties. For this option to work, you often have to mow the capeweed a few times and stop mowing just before the new grass gets long enough to be adversely affected by the mower.
You can probably see from this blog that in my opinion, resting the land is the best option for eliminating capeweed. If you can’t do that, treatment of the land with dolomite is the next best option, followed by treatment of the horse to compensate for the eating of capeweed.
I write this blog for two reasons. I enjoy sharing the information I have learned over many years as a therapist, noticing the damage caused by some drugs and pesticides and herbicides and it also gives me the opportunity to spread my free horse lessons around. Every horse and rider connected more deeply to each other, makes the world a better place for both humans and horses.
If you haven’t got my FREE LESSONS The Nine Keys to Happiness with Your Horse yet, then you’ll find them at the top of the Training Programs page here.