'Healthy Happy Horses, Naturally' with Catherine Bird

Posts tagged ‘equine’

Essential oils for moving to a new home

Your horse will select his preferred essential oil by leaning forward toward the open bottle; he will show his lack of interest by simply turning his head away.

Your horse will select his preferred essential oil by leaning forward toward the open bottle; he will show his lack of interest by simply turning his head away.

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils, pure plant extracts usually obtained by distillation, to assist your horse in maintaining a balanced physical body and emotional state of being. Horses are creatures of habit and enjoy a regular routine; when something comes along to disrupt this routine such as a move to a new farm, you can use the aromas from essential oils to assist make the transition gentle and welcoming for your horse.

Before introducing your horse to a new place, it is important to prepare it for him. I find horses are very sensitive to their environment so to make the environment welcoming you need to energetically cleanse his new home. If it is a stabling complex, often the previous occupants may have dumped their frustrations or other negative emotions when working with their own horses. This is simple to cleanse and the essential oil that helps clear away other peoples’ dropped negativity is eucalyptus. If you are able to do so without feeling uncomfortable, you can wash the walls of the stable down with water that contains a couple of drops of eucalyptus essential oil. If you are not sure of what the owners of the property may think of you if you do this, simply take a spray bottle with either a eucalyptus hydrosol or with water containing the eucalyptus essential oil and a dispersant, and spray the stable your horse will occupy with your intention to clear away any “junk” from any previous occupants.

When it comes to helping your horse with this adjustment, one of the most nurturing essential oils is sweet orange, from the peel of the fruit. If you picture the shape of an orange, it is inviting and bright and sunny, and what the scent does is create a space that feels like a warm motherly hug. It is a reassuring scent especially if offered to your horse when he needs a little extra special attention.

Juniper is useful for the horse that worries and finds change difficult to accept. It also assists the horse who is joining a new herd to a move into his rank in the pecking order. It is also for the horse who is always looking to his owner with the look of “Am I getting it right here?” or the horse with a crinkled look above the eye.

Frankincense will dispel any fear your horse may experience when you bring him to a new home. It can be useful if your horse, once moved, begins to shy at shadows when riding. It can also be used for clearing off past problems if you have had to move your horse from a “not so friendly” property. You can do a daily wipe of your horse for the first week. You simply place a couple of drops of frankincense on your hands and warm them together, then deliberately and slowly work over your horse from head to toe, sweeping away any bad feelings that may have been directed at him or you from the past.

For a young gelding who may need assurance, especially if he has been gelded recently before the move, ylang ylang will bring that assurance. For the young filly, clary sage can bring the same assurance. Lavender is the essential oil to help the horse who is brought into a stabling complex, when he has previously been a pastured or paddocked horse, adjust to a more frantic and active environment where there are people and horses about all the time. For the horse who has been stabled most of the time going to pasture, patchouli will help this horse not feel overwhelmed by the space.

It takes some intuition on your part to assist your new horse or a horse you are moving with. You can also offer a horse in this situation essential oils including mandarin if there is an element of frustration, sweet fennel if the move has been traumatic, geranium if anger has an expression, possibly Roman chamomile if you are moving a young horse and he is showing behaviour you would describe as a childish tantrum.

If your horse likes more than one of the suggested essential oils, you can blend them together for him into a carrier. As you are looking at this being his “comfort” scent for the day, add a 2.5 percent dilution to some aloe vera gel and apply where your horse is showing a physical stress. Sometimes when a horse is uncertain if his environment is secure, you will find his back will tighten. In this type of horse simply wipe your aloe vera containing the blend of essential oils along his back.

If your horse creases the top of his eye and looks heavy in the head while trying to mentally process the move, this application may be most appropriately applied to his poll. For the horse who has moved and left behind paddock mates he has been attached to, rose essential oil in jojoba oil applied to his chest will help with the grieving process and strengthen his sense of self while adjusting to his new home.

The key to selecting the best essential oils for your horse is to have a small selection and offer them to him on a daily basis. Each day during this transition period, his attraction to the essential oils will vary. For this reason it is best to make up any blends as each day dictates. Your horse will select his preferred essential oil by leaning forward toward the open bottle; he will show his lack of interest by simply turning his head away.

The benefit with using essential oils when moving is you will benefit just as much as your horse when you use the essential oils to help him. Inhaling essential oils will work with both your limbic systems within the brain so that this move will become a pleasant memory, so that in the future if another move has to be faced, you will be able to recall the “good” memories to assist you again.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional veterinary care.

First published Volume 4 Issue 3 – 2002 Natural Horse Magazine

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Each horse needs a unique approach

How you approach the management of your horse’s health depends very much on individual filters. Every situation requires individual assessment.

For example, I may get two requests for a supportive program for a horse with laminitis.

Horse 1 is in extreme pain and under the care of veterinarian as well as a hoofcare specialist. The herbs I suggest to support the healing process need to complement and not be in opposition to the prescribed veterinary care. To philosophically insist that all veterinary prescriptions be ceased and the horse wholly rely on herbs and essential oils could challenge the owner’s mental wellbeing, and the owner’s stress would undermine the effectiveness of the program I am asking them to adhere to. For this horse it is best to work with what is in place.

Horse 2 may have chronic laminitis that the owner has been managing but needs advice on a sudden acute flare up of the condition. With this owner, as they have a higher level of trust in natural therapies so supporting them rely on herbs with the caveat that they have their veterinarian on standby if required, is empowering for them. For this owner to be completely reliant on pharmaceutical drugs for recovery could cause distress and their concerns could block the effectiveness of both the drugs and herbs.

Drugs and herbs do not need to be exclusive of the other, and the best approach on the day is the one that supports both the horse and owner in a way they can experience the least amount of stress and feel safe in their decisions.

In some countries, owners will not have a choice. It is legislation that determines who can assist the horse.

With ongoing chronic issues such as arthritic joints, herbs and essential oils, homeopathics and bodywork are much easier on the horse and body systems. Then if there is an injury or a painful flare up of the condition your veterinarian can intervene and once the nasty aspects are manageable again you can resume ‘naturally’. This is having the best of both approaches.

The same occurs with parasites. Over the years we have overused or used the wrong worming products. No single approach can guarantee you the best coverage with parasite management. However, sensible practices can limit the reliance on drugs. Using herbs that make the gut less hospitable to worms, then checking the worm count before worming helps in reducing the frequency you worm and to select the most effective product, when needed.

Stomach ulcers can be managed with natural products but if a stressful event causes a flare up a return to the proprietary product the horse has previously been responsive to can help restore a balance and then herbal maintenance can resume mending and strengthening. Using nervine you are supporting and strengthening the nervous system so that the horse is less and less reactive the stressors, and with time the gut is less irritated and you no longer need the herbs or the products.

Endocrine issues can be difficult to work with as once the horse is on a pharmaceutical product that regulates reproductive cycles or endocrine diseases, the herbs that would be appropriate could clash within the body with these medications and these are medications that need veterinarian supervision if discontinuing. The pharmaceutical approach is not completely exclusive as to what herbs you can use to support secondary issues, but you have to be very careful what herbs you do choose.

With the competition horse prohibited substances and the possibility of herbs and essential oils testing positive or being deemed unsportsmanlike, the competitor has to rely on substances that have a defined withholding period so as not to be disciplined or affect their professional reputation. With herbs available information is anecdotal not reliable, and even with available drugs the studies have been conducted on small numbers of horses, but at least documented for veterinarians to rely on.

Pharmaceutical companies are investing less in acute relief and focusing on the chronic conditions where they get more of a financial return for their research dollar. Bacterial strains becoming resistant to current antibiotics and fewer new antibiotic products being developed means strengthening the immune system with herbs is a sensible approach for both human and horse.

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Simple ‘preventatives’ can assist. One favourite for horses is to attach an Aromawearable tag to their collar so that they inhale immune system enhancing or digestive essential oils with their evening feed. Or for the nervous agitated horse travelling home with a tag impregnated with calming aromatherapy. Both options have the horse more settled and less vulnerable to physical issues.

 

It is a juggle between which approaches to take, what is important to remember is that both are appropriate if you understand and consider all options so that you can sensibly decide what is best with you and your horse.

Immune system enhancing essential oils

Your horse’s body often gets compromised by microorganisms. Aromatherapy can be used to help your horse with any infection, however it is adjunctive to your horse’s veterinarian care, so the suggestions in this article are for your information and not to replace his advice.

The use of any essential oils will help your horse maintain a stronger and healthier immune system

The use of any essential oils will help your horse maintain a stronger and healthier immune system

Microorganisms that cause disease are called pathogens and can include bacteria, fungi and viruses. They can cause infection and they actively reproduce causing damage to healthy cells, often being responsible for producing toxins in the body. Infection can be systemic where it spreads throughout the body, or localised, and when your horse’s body responds to an infection, the severity of this response is displayed by the symptoms you see. With the use of essential oils we aim to strengthen your horse’s own defence system and lessen the intensity of symptoms so your horse can recover with less stress as his body destroys the offending microorganisms.

Early recognition of an invader is important for any treatment to be effective. Your horse’s body is designed to minimise attack of its body by microorganisms. As orifices are often the points of entry they are designed to keep the body protected. Eyes have tears to wash away microorganisms, mouths fend off invaders with mucous membranes and alkaline saliva, the hairs in the nostrils minimize entry of microorganisms, the respiratory tract secretes mucous to trap microbes, the urinary system contains healthy bacteria to prevent harmful microorganisms taking hold, the stomach and intestines produce acid, enzymes and beneficial bacteria that destroy unfriendly bacteria, and even the sebaceous glands of the skin secrete chemicals which are highly toxic to bacteria. It is important when we use essential oils we assist these natural barriers, and not compromise their function.

Essential oils in themselves all have varying anti-microbial properties. Depending on their chemical makeup, they will be more effective with different microorganisms, however to some degree all essential oils exhibit anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral properties. They act to directly oppose threatening microorganisms and help build a healthier body resistant to attack.

Bacteria

Bacteria are what we commonly refer to as germs. They can include the bacteria Clostridium tetani, which causes tetanus and Streptococcus equi, which causes strangles. Your horse’s body will attempt to fight invading bacteria and sometimes this is successful without treatment, but in some cases your horse may need an antiserum, such as with tetanus, or antibiotics as in bacterial pneumonia.

Essential oils such as tea tree, Melaleuca alternifolia, have been shown to be very effective in helping fight Streptococcus bacteria in human trials. When a horse has been infected with this bacteria and you need to quarantine him, regular diffusion of a blend of essential oils including tea tree will assist the infected horse with his battle against this invader. An immune-building blend to help your horse if this is an issue would include tea tree, bergamot (Citrus bergamia), and lavender (Lavendula officinalis or angustifolia). If other horses have come in contact with an infected horse before his quarantine, you can also strengthen their immune systems by diffusing their stalls with a similar blend.

Not only would these essential oils inhibit the progress of the bacteria, they would also assist any horse in dealing with the stress of confinement. Simply add 5% of equal parts into a bottle of distilled water with a dash of alcohol or detergent to help disperse the essential oils and spray the horse’s stable throughout the day. Alternatively these essential oils could be added to an electric diffuser undiluted and left to disperse throughout the day and night to support the animal.

With any wounds where your horse may have come in contact with the bacterium responsible for tetanus, you can use tea tree essential oil to wash the wound while monitoring the horse and checking with your veterinarian if further treatment is necessary.

Fungi

Fungi are relatively simple invaders, however they can penetrate into the tissue of the horse. One common fungal infection is ringworm. Your horse can also suffer fungal infection of guttural pouch from the fungus Aspergillus. Tea tree oil is also highly antifungal and our first choice as an essential oil when it comes to fungal infections. Patchouli, Pogostemon patchouli, is also a highly antifungal essential oil and useful applied to skin fungal infections. A lesser known antifungal essential oil is manuka, Leptospermum scoparium, a native of New Zealand and often referred to as the New Zealand Tea Tree, it is similar in scent yet softer, though this does not diminish its action. Another essential oil from the same family is niaouli, Melaleuca viridifolia. Each of these essential oils may be applied undiluted to small areas, less than one square inch, or on larger areas in aloe vera gel.

Viruses

Viral infections can include something as simple as a wart to extremely serious diseases such as rabies, as well as a cold virus. Viruses can be inhaled in droplets or swallowed in food or water; they may also be passed through the saliva of biting insects, or may enter the horse’s body during covering/ breeding.

We have a wide selection of antiviral essential oils including Eucalyptus globulus and Eucalyptus radiata, which are useful in fighting adenoviruses responsible for the common cold. Introducing eucalyptus in a body rub or diffused in the air can assist the body to produce white blood cells to help it fight infection. When it comes to localised infections such as warts we can look at topical applications of lemon, Citrus limonum, which can be applied undiluted to small warts or in aloe gel to larger areas. Lemon is not photosensitive, especially the essential oil obtained by distillation, so it is safe to use over a period of time no matter what time of the year your are working with your horse.

Building up Your Horse’s Immunity

It has been shown in human health that for those who are exposed to and use essential oils regularly, their immune systems are more finely tuned and often fend off attack by invaders with little effect on the body. I have seen this with horses that have regular aromatherapy sessions or where owners incorporate aromatherapy into a weekly grooming routine.

Most essential oils from the Myrtaceae family are anti-infectious and can be used around your horse to protect him from any disease that may be circulating in your area. They include Cajeput (Melaleuca leucadendra), niaouli, clove (Eugenia caryophyllata), Eucalyptus, and Myrtle (Myrtus communis). They will also assist the sick horse with his battle to overcome disease states.

The regular use of essential oils such as bergamot, which is also antiviral, and lavender, ravensara (Ravensara aromatica), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), pine (Pinus sylvestris), palmarosa (Cympopogom martini), kunzea (Kunzea ambigua) will not only help build your horse’s immune system, it will also create a barrier in the form of negative ions. When there are plenty of negative ions in the air, it is more difficult for any invader to move unimpeded through the air.

Blue cypress (Calitris intratropica), lemon eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora), lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora), lemon tea tree (Leptospermum petersonii) can also make effective insect repellents, offering limited protection from disease-spreading mosquitoes while also helping your horse build his immune system.

As an aside, the scent of an essential oil, once inhaled, is filtered by the limbic system of the brain and then this information is fed on to the hypothalamus gland. The hypothalamus gland in turn then sends out instructions to the endocrine system, whereby each gland in the body is affected and given a “tune-up”. It is the glands that help keep the immune system healthy. With this in mind the use of any essential oils will help your horse maintain a stronger and healthier immune system.

First published Natural Horse Magazine Volume 5 Issue 1 – 2003
Bibliography:
Equine Science, Health and Performance by Sarah Pillner and Zoe Davies, Blackwell Science.

Guest Blogger – Carola Adolf – Trouble in the “zone”

Carola and I were asked by Horse Deals to provide an article on seedy toe. I posted my herbal support in an earlier blog, and now Carola has been kind enough to provide her equine bare foot care perspective. Carola and I have enjoyed a professional association for many years now, I am pleased to be able share her work with my readers.

By Carola Adolf NEP 2014 (Pictures & Graphics Equine Soundness/ C. Garner)

Another name (and probably a more appropriate, but interchangeable one) for the White Line of the horse’s hoof is the term “Zona Alba”, which in most healthy hooves is actually of a more yellow colour than white.

The Zona Alba is particularly vulnerable to damage as it is part of the primary weight bearing structure of the wall and therefore, if the hoof is bare, in contact with the ground all of the time.

Damage to the Zona Alba (White Line Disease or “WLD”) can sometimes be confused with a seasonal, nutrition related separation of outer and inner hoof-wall, which we will be not discussing in this article as its appearance will usually resolve within a few trim cycles. The phenomenon may appear at the end of a wet season or early spring when the hoof-wall that was produced about eight to nine months earlier (end of summer, early autumn) arrives at the ground and undergoes conflict stresses: The wall-fault may be the result of a short term nutritional imbalance or deficiency while it was produced.

PIC a

Pic A   (Picture of sagittal dissection Zona Alba)

Pic B

Pic B   (Picture of nutritional/seasonal wall separation)

Damage to the White Line and “WLD”, however, can be caused by a number of reasons and often remains undetected until large areas of hoof-wall break off, cracks appear, and the horse presents with lameness. If large areas of hoof-wall are compromised, “WLD” can even lead to loss of suspension attachment of the pedal bone, leading to rotation.

Damage to the Zona Alba or White Line always needs attention. Early detection means that corrections can still be made easily – so make sure you are looking closely at your horse’s hooves while you pick them up to clean them, as this can save you and your horse a lot of trouble.

Cleaning the hoof daily with a hoof-pick is often not enough as you may overlook small stones embedded in the white line, dirt pockets (“gravel”), small cracks and decomposing horn material.

Pic c

PIC C (Picture of “gravel”)

Besides a common hoof-pick, you need a hard bristle brush and a smaller metal probe to inspect the white line.

Pic d

PIC D   (Picture of tools)

Make sure your horse is receiving good and regular hoofcare, as correct internal and external balance and function is as important as the horse’s “macro management”. “Maco management” includes the daily care that you are providing, such as good nutrition, species-appropriate lifestyle and environment, which includes hydration of the hoof horn and adequate exercise and movement.

Regular hoofcare – and the individual “micro-management” of your horse’s hooves by a competent hoofcare professional are essential, as the dynamics on the hoof capsule itself play an important role to the health of the various components of the hoof. The white line, for example, can stretch and deform from internal and/or external imbalances or pathologies, it can stress from unnatural and unphysiological impact concussion (see sketch), it can bulge from overstimulation, and it can abrade excessively due to unfavourable terrain (deep sand or gravel).

pic e

PIC E (Sketch of unphysiological, damaging dynamics)

Some of the causes for “WLD” can start quite “innocently”, but usually a mechanical issue will be followed by an invasion of pathogens:

A typical scenario during the dry season would be caused by the dehydration of hoof-horn. Not many domestic horses drink from dams, lakes or rivers where hooves are exposed to water or mud during water intake while an incidental rehydration of the hoof horn takes place.

pic f

PIC F   (Picture of horses in dam)

The healthy horn material of the Zona Alba is relatively high in water content, and therefore softer than wall- and solar horn.

When the hoof dehydrates, due to prolonged exposure to unnaturally dry terrain, it contracts progressively to deeper levels, while the white line horn will shrivel and become crumbly. This will obliterate its natural connecting seal and will leave it vulnerable to wear and abrasion. Where once was healthy White Line horn, will now be a groove between the actual wall and the sole of the hoof and gaps will open in between the leaf-like horn formations.

Note that stable bedding (and retained ammonium within it), can dry out and destroy keratin, just as the placing of a hot shoe will singe and dehydrate the horn rapidly.

Too much water on the other hand and contrary to common belief, is not a problem. However, soft, muddy ground over a long period of time is, as it causes a lack of stimulation and therefore compromises healthy horn production. If decomposition is faster than horn production, we will have a problem! Decomposition always involves opportunistic micro-organisms that are found everywhere in the ground. They can be aerobic and un-aerobic. They can be various bacteria and various fungi.

pic g

PIC G   (Picture of white line “gap”)

The existing “gaps” and abraded grooves will allow the invasion of the always present micro-organisms. They exist in the dirt that will be embedded in the void with every step and therefore this can become the beginning of what we call “White Line Disease” (WLD).

Once the integrity or the hoof-capsule is lost, localized weakness can lead to cracks in the hoof-wall itself and allow for further trauma. Once the pathogens have reached living tissue, the body will react with an inflammation process, which releases alkaline cell secretions. Pathogens will thrive in this nourishing environment and cause even more damage. If not attended to, this damage can lead to “de-lamination” – a serious process – and with similar consequences as “founder” (breakdown of lamellar attachment, as mentioned earlier).

pic h

PIC H   (Picture of delamination from WLD)

As with everything: Prevention is better than treatment. As mentioned above, early detection is important. Don’t ignore “grooves”, cracks (even small ones), small embedded stones, nail holes, stretched White Line, black spots or dirt in between the leaf-like horn formations or otherwise compromised White Line horn.

You don’t want it to become something sinister!

So, what to do to prevent trouble in the “zone”?

1)     Good Macro- management:

Be observant, provide good nutrition, lifestyle, stimulating environment, including hydration and movement

2)     Good Micro-management

Regular competent hoofcare

What to do if there is already trouble in the “zone”?

For the treatment of minor lesions as well as the rehabilitation of serious seedy toe infections and fractures in the hoof-wall (cracks), follow your hoofcarer’s instructions. He or she can only prevent damage or facilitate hoof regeneration to fully functional health if YOU get actively involved. After all, you see your horse more often then he or she does – hopefully!

Any breach to the integrity of the hoofcapsule must involve treatment and protection of damaged areas.

1)     See 1) and 2) above plus one or all of the following…

2)     According to your hoofcare provider’s instructions and his or her recommended remedy, re-dress the lesion as frequently as instructed until it has grown out. This may take a few weeks or many months, depending on the severity of the damage and if or not a resection of hoof-wall was performed.

Your involvement may include manual removal of the old dressing, cleaning the cavity, bathing, soaking in- or spraying the entire foot with anti-microbial solution and re-dressing the problem area in order to treat and protect.

image018i

image020j

PIC I   and   PIC J     (treated minor WL resection)

 

Personally I prefer apple-cider vinegar soaks, mild antifungal/antibacterial solutions such as Canesten or Listerine, cotton-wool dressings saturated with antifungal/antibacterial cream, or (if dry environment) tea-tree oil, healing clay or bees-wax. Very rarely do I use chlorine solutions or copper sulphate (blue stone), as it invades healthy horn and irritates living tissue. It is also important to avoid anything that may entrap pathogens – remember that you can not sterilize a hoof!

Persistence will win!

 

You can find out more information about Carola’s work at

  ________________________________________________________________
    ____*Advanced Hoofcare Education and Lameness Rehabilitation*____
                          www.EquineBareHoofCare.org
  ________________________________________________________________
“We can not solve the problems that we have created
with the same thinking that created them.”
(A. Einstein)

 

Positive aromatherapy responses from horses

After a recent visit to a regular centre in Wyee – I received this photo from the human that belongs to Girsh.

Girsh - smiling for the camera during a positive response to his essential oils during a recent aromatherapy session.

Girsh – smiling for the camera during a positive response to his essential oils during a recent aromatherapy session.

When first discovering essential oils for use with horses, it can be tricky deciding if your horse likes an aroma – hopefully from the archives of a class session I presented at Orange TAFE in 2007 you will gain some insights. Even on a day where it had snowed the day before, we were able to elicit a variety of responses that will help the reader see a sample of what could be expected.

Orange TAFE on a very cold July in 2007:

Yes please

Yes please

 

 

 

Ideally, the essential oil bottle is held a little further from the nostril and wafted across both nostrils.

 

Moving the uncapped bottle away from our ‘Maybe’ friend would help to determine if he really likes the aroma – if he stretches further forward – take that as a positive.

Maybe

Maybe

May I have some more

May I have some more

With the “May I have some more response” – this is a good distance to hold the bottle from the nostril.

 

Some horses will just hang out with the aroma – you will notice a softening of the eye, and often appearing zoned out.

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Ahhhhhh I like this one

I'm back for more

I’m back for more

 

 

 

Just be careful that your horse does not try to grab hold of the bottle in his mouth.

 

 

 

What I have learnt from massaging horses

Easter is a time of reflection for when I give thanks and review my world.

 
I wrote this article over a decade ago and I am learning from each horse (and most humans) in my life.  The humans who belonged to these horses are still friends and I thank them for allowing me into their special  ‘horse space’. I will add the caveat that these were my experiences and reflections and are quite personal at the time.
 
This Easter’s gratitude is for accepting that I do not know everything  –  Each horse/human interaction brings its own unique dynamic and sometimes  my contribution brings a sudden change while other times I may only be one aspect of what is needed.
 
The one thing guaranteed is that I learn something – sometimes I gain a huge realisation, other times a simple interaction may add to an ongoing life lesson.
 
I haven’t edited this article as it also contains some fond memories, and I invite you to revisit them with me.
 
 
 

What I Am Learning …..

We often discuss what we do with horses, how we ride or train them and what we can do for them. But how many of us realize what our horses have taught us?

The more I work with horses the more I discover about myself. Sometimes they teach me a way they like to be massaged, sometimes they guide me to where they are hurting, other times they show me how I can let go of judgement and criticism, learn acceptance, to see my own limitations and to understand what it is to love unconditionally.

Angus

Angus

Angus

Angus was a police horse that had been carried 60 meters on the front of a stolen car before he fell to the ground. I volunteered to massage him while he recovered. That was the beginning of my four-year journey with Angus.

The life of a police horse is not an easy one. Living in the city, patrolling on asphalt roads, performing in musical rides. Angus was a favorite amongst the officers and often gave beyond what was acceptable. He just kept giving whenever asked.

One of the most valuable gifts Angus gave me was to be able to discern how I judged people. He was pleasant to everyone, and accepted everyone in whatever space they were in. I could turn up feeling sad or happy and he would simply respond to whatever space I was in and just allow me to work through whatever my issue was for the day.

Caleb

Caleb is a pony Arab stallion. He is also the horse I learnt to canter on again in my adult life. He taught me the value of balance – balance of the mind as well as the body.

If I was too extreme in any emotion he would soon level me out, or I had a dreadful ride. If my body was not riding evenly it would reflect in his body when I gave him a thank you massage after his ride.

He displayed balance in both his body and mind. He would respond intelligently to all of my requests; he was always responsive. He never over-reacted to an incorrect aid or when I was massaging him and I found a sore place, his response was always polite and he never over reacted or suppressed his response.

Interestingly, if I was allowing unreasonable emotions to govern a situation in my life, my canter was often off balance when I rode on this horse.

When I find my emotions are displaying an over reaction, I can reflect on Caleb, and often just bringing him into my awareness helps me to regain a balanced approach to any problem.

Cinta

Cinta was a grey mare, breed and history unknown and quite possibly from an abused life before finding her way to the stables I massaged at regularly to practice my skills as my business was building up.

Cinta was the charge of a teenage girl. She would come to the stables to unleash her frustrations from her final years of high school, and unfortunately Cinta was the ‘object’ for this release.

She was ridden frantically and in an unsafe manner, she would be slapped harshly if she moved when being braided and she had to weather the moods and whims of a teenager prone to temper tantrums.

Through all of this Cinta remained steadfast. She showed to me an inner strength that remained solid. It was as if no matter what happened to her, past or present, she knew herself and what her life was all about.

When I feel life gets all too much for me, Cinta’s memory recalls, reminding me that I am strong enough to withstand any adversity I may ever meet in life. It reminds me to have faith in myself and to just keep on going as “this too will pass”.

You will be pleased to know Cinta’s human grew up and developed into a horsewoman in her own right.

Spring

Spring and I after an amazing clinic with Mark Rashid

Spring and I after an amazing clinic with Mark Rashid

Spring was an adorable and sensitive thoroughbred gelding not long off the track. His owner arrived at a training clinic with him as my loan horse, and I was nervous. Not only was I to ride a horse I had not ridden before, but I was to do it in front of almost fifty auditors.

The clinic was to teach the rider to recognize the offer and to learn to feel when a horse was giving or in a space to be able to give. Spring gave me the opportunity to improve my timing. Not only in my riding, but in my everyday life.

He showed me when I got anxious, all that would happen would be that we walked backwards. When I became focused on my goals, there was no faulting my forward motion. He taught me how my emotions have substance and how if they get out of control they can create obstacles in my life.

If life gets that roller-coaster feeling, I think of my weekend with Spring. I remember how I felt when I was anxious and walking backwards and then I take my memory forward to where, by the end of the clinic, I was riding in an easy collected frame to the applause of the crowd. By recalling this feeling and gift Spring gave me, I then harness that feeling to get my life over the anxieties I perceived to be in my way and I simply overcome them and tackle my new challenge.

Skeeta

Skeeta was a thoroughbred gelding who had spent several years going around the show-jumping circuit. A regular client who was preparing him for the owner to sell called me out to massage him.

He had a valuable lesson for me on this day. Often as therapists we want to help someone or a horse and we sympathize with them, and when we do this we are not always detached emotionally. It is preferable that we feel empathy for our ‘client’.

By sympathizing we often take on the pain the animal is feeling and this day I was wide open. As I massaged him the client talked about the life Skeeta had had. It was alarming and as she described his ‘hard’ life I began to feel pain in my body. Then suddenly as the client mentioned an incident I went in my mind, “oh you poor thing”. Well that opened me up completely and I doubled over with pain in stomach.

I had broken the therapist’s golden rule and had not remained in the detached caring role. I managed to finish the massage, excused myself and attempted to drive down the freeway. The pain became so intense I had to pull over to the side of the road while I cleared and healed this horse’s past.

Skeeta gave me the opportunity to feel what sort of pain he had experienced and to also understand that I could not help him if I simply took that pain on myself. He helped me realize that the greatest gift I could give anyone when they were in pain was to empathize, but to sympathize was to both our detriments.

The list goes on …

I suppose every horse I have ridden, massaged or simply observed has offered me more of an understanding of myself.

Not only have they given me opportunities to address my own failings or to learn about patterns that sabotage my development in life, they have also given me an opportunity to see myself with qualities I can admire and accept.

Red

Red - my favourite

Red – my favourite

 

Red is the first horse I practiced massage techniques on regularly, and he was also the first horse that I trusted enough to get me riding again.

No matter what I am wearing, how I am feeling, if my hair has been done or I am just looking like I have slept on the park bench the night before, he is affectionate and accepting of me. Now I can visit and he is always ready to nuzzle or want a scratch. When I have the opportunity to ride him he is always willing to guide me safely around the park. Centennial Park in Sydney can be hazardous often with film crews, tourists, dogs and oh yes, cyclists who forget horses have the right of way in the city. If I want to step up to another stride or movement he makes every attempt to teach me how I should ask and still does it when I ask the wrong way. Mind you he lets me know if I have given the wrong instruction with a flick of his tail to just give a hint of frustration with me.

He has accepted me when I have hated the world and he has accepted me with tears falling down my face. He accepts me if I walk by his stable and just say hi and he accepts me if I come to massage him. He accepts me if I have a treat or if I don’t.

Through his acceptance of me, I learnt to accept myself.

I believe if my life was void of horses, it would be hollow and without substance. What they have brought to it has enhanced every aspect of my life and they have proven to be my greatest teachers. Sometimes the most challenging horses have taught me the most, and I have to admit to not always being a willing student.

 First published Volume 3 Issue 3 – 2001 Natural Horse Magazine, written by Catherine Bird
 
 

Herbs to support Seedy Toe

A naturopathic approach to seedy toe will layer the approach with herbs; your first layer is to cleanse, and the next layer is to restore tone and repair the affected tissue, leaving the body stronger and less vulnerable to reoccurrence.

Pic from http://beckiemabbutt.squarespace.com/recent-news/?currentPage=15 - a blog worth reading on hoofcare

Pic from http://beckiemabbutt.squarespace.com/recent-news/?currentPage=15 – a blog worth reading on hoofcare

This can be done very simply. You can build your individual approach using some key herbs, and then adapt your approach as your horse responds. The core herbs suggested here are herbs that will help with both the cleansing as well as the restorative phases.

The lymphatic herbs such as clivers and calendula are key to the cleansing phase and with cleaning the tissue. Clivers internally, is one of the most nutritional herbs available and once cleansed, can then continue on to support with the restorative phase. Clivers is especially indicated if there is a history of abscesses.

Calendula flowers can be used internally if there is a large amount of infection, but its main use here is externally in a wash made with 5% tea tree essential oils added to a 50/50 mix of calendula tea and apple cider vinegar. Combine your ingredients use a squeezie bottleor use a large syringe body (no needle) and squirt to rinse the affected area.

Rosehips will also help with strengthening the horse’s immune system and support the clivers with rebuilding the foot.

Yarrow is a mild anti-inflammatory and also helps cleanse the body by improving circulation to the limbs, and gently flushing the kidneys and liver. It will assist with the discomfort and keeping a good healthy circulation to the foot.

This overall approach can be safely given long term and it is worth giving clivers and rosehips for a couple of months after the seedy toe has resolved to ensure the hoof remains strong.

As a guide, initially you will be giving 1 to 2 heaped tablespoons of each herb, i.e.clivers, calendula (if needed), rosehips and yarrow; once or twice a day. Then depending on your own horse you will tweak with any additional herbs.

I am focusing on dried herbs, they are easier for the horse owner to obtain and add to a feed. If you are giving five or less herbs, then the amount of each herb you are giving is most likely to be 1 to 2 tablespoons daily. This will vary with some herbs and the stage of the condition, so use this as a general guide. If you end up selecting only one herb, give up to 1 cup daily. Any more and your horse will not be utilising all that you give, and your money is being wasted.

Other herbs can be used, depending on how your horse is and his overall wellbeing will determine the combination of herbs that best work each time.