You can lead a horse to water….
Let’s hope they have a drink! It’s easy to neglect this key element in our health when it comes to considering nutrition and “fuel”. When I feel slightly out of sorts, relief usually comes in the form of a tall glass of water (with ice, warm, cold…your choice!). This is a great piece from Canadian Horse Journal on the importance on hydrating your horse:
Hydrate for a Healthy Horse
By Jess Hallas-Kilcoyne/Canadian Horse Journal Staff
For all the time we spend deliberating about what type of hay to feed, or whether to add this supplement or that, the majority of horse owners tend not to spend a great deal of time thinking about the most important nutrient of all – water.
Water helps maintain the healthy functioning of all the organs and systems in your horse’s body. Among many other things, it is essential to aiding digestion, regulating body temperature, eliminating toxins from the body, and lubricating the joints.
The average 1000-pound horse requires a minimum of five to ten gallons (19 to 38 litres) a day to stay properly hydrated and maintain body functions. Water requirements increase with warmer weather and increased work, and are also affected by management and diet. A horse that is turned out in a dry lot and fed dried forage will consume more water than a horse that is turned out on pasture, as fresh grass has a high water content. Pregnant and lactating mares also have increased water needs.
Without adequate water intake, a horse can become dehydrated very quickly, and dehydration can rapidly lead to colic. Reduced water consumption is sometimes thought to be a concern exclusive to the colder winter months, but the increased traveling, temperature, and workload that accompany spring and summer can also wreak havoc on your horse’s hydration. The most effective way to prevent your horse from becoming dehydrated is to make sure he always has access to fresh, clean water, regardless of the season or weather.
There are two principal ways to check if your horse is dehydrated. The “pinch test” consists of pinching the skin on the neck in front of the shoulder, then releasing it. The skin should return to normal in less than two seconds. You can also check your horse’s capillary refill time by pressing your thumb firmly against his upper gum for two seconds and timing how long it takes the pink colour to return to the area after you release. A capillary refill time of longer than two seconds is a possible indication of dehydration.
If you ever suspect that your horse is dehydrated, contact your veterinarian immediately. He or she will also be able to advise you if you are concerned that your horse’s water consumption is low.
As you can tell – we love Riva’s Remedies & Marijke van de Water! The work she does is amazing and she is an overflowing resource for healing horses naturally or looking at untraditional ways to improve the quality of our equine friends.
A great testimonial….
“After being told my horse Silver had Degenerate Suspensory Ligaments Disease, known as DSLD and couldn’t be ridden anymore I was told to just put him out to pasture and give him medications when needed. I was devastated!
Then I heard about Marijke from Riva’s Remedies through a friend as well as the osteopath and after having so many different diagnoses regarding his condition I decided to contact her. I explained to her that Silver was very unhappy as he was no longer rideable, he had trouble moving off after laying down for a period of time and his breathing was heavy at times. So I talked to Marijke and sent her a video. In a few days she contacted me with a new health program. She identified the problem as neurological caused by a toxic level of arsenic.She also said his protein levels were too low affecting the strength of his muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Silver was started on Equi-Cleanse, Vitamin C and homeopathic phosphorus. Within two weeks he started to improve. I was amazed at how much more alert he was, how much better he was moving and how his breathing had improved.
Today, Silver is off all of his supplements and is doing great. We are doing clinics with Josh Nicol who is showing me how to work all of his positive muscles so I can ride him this summer. Great stuff!
A big Thank You to Marijke and her staff for all you’ve done and for getting the supplements to me so promptly. Keep up the good work…and Marijke, you truly do have a gift for healing horses.”
Helen & Silver
Klaus F Hempfling , like myself, uses energies, read cues to work with horses in an intuitive and non-aggressive way. He’s based in Europe where he has a wide range of programming, for horses and humans!
Check out his website for more information on his work: http://www.hempfling.com/
In his words…
“The author of ‘Dancing With Horses’ teaches the principles of primal life, against the background of both the mythological and the real horse. He emphasizes the importance of totally honest self-assessment and self-knowledge and both mental and physical self-control, demonstrating how a misplaced or misunderstood feeling, glance, posture, attitude or movement can make the difference between success and failure in the relationship with a horse.’”
In this great video, a beautiful dance of healing relationship where man is working with the horse from the inside out. Staying clear in his intention to be unconditional and accepting in whatever shows up in front of him.
Another great resource is Madalyn Ward’s Holistic Horsekeeping. I highly recommend subscribing to her newsletter…as well as updates from Passion for Horses!
I’d like to share with you her post on using Traditional Chinese Medicine in assessing your horse’s health. If you’ve ever visited a Chinese pharmacy or herbalist, you’ll be amazed by the results that can be seen just by combining the right and different amounts of herbs and essences. Chinese medicine takes into consideration not only your outward physical symptoms but what your energies are like inside.
Read on for some great insight!
Pain Explained with Traditional Chinese Medicine – Part 1
Ever wonder why the miracle product that works on so many horses does not do a thing for your horse? Or why the wonder cure you found and shared with all your friends did not help their horses one little bit. The reason is not all pain is the same. Western Medicine tends to lump all pain symptoms together and treat them the same. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) divides types of pain into 5 types and treats each type quite differently.
According to TCM, except for acute injury, all pain is the result of an underlying weakness in the immune system. A healthy body should have an abundance of defensive Qi (Wei Qi) circulating through the meridians to protect against external pathogens such as Wind, Cold and Damp. Qi represents the life force of the body and meridians are the pathways through which this energy flows. TCM looks at pathogens and Wind, Cold, Heat, and Damp where Western Medicine looks at viruses, bacteria and parasites. Anyone who has experienced the achy joints and muscles with the flu, a sinus headache or Lymes disease understands how viruses, bacteria and parasites can cause pain.
Pain in TCM is referred to as a Bi Syndrome. Bi means obstruction in the meridians caused by the invasion of Wind, Cold and Damp. Bi
syndrome may show as pain, soreness, numbness, or swelling of the joints, bones, muscles, and connective tissues. Western Medicine would
label these conditions as rheumatism, arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis, fibromyalgia, sciatica, etc.
The 5 types of pain according to TCM are Wandering Bi(Wind), Painful Bi(Cold), Fixed Bi(Damp), Febrile Bi(Heat) and Bony Bi(long standing Damp).
Wandering Bi acts like wind with rapid onset of pain that moves around in the body. The soreness and pain can be in the joints or muscles and movement will be limited. Western Medicine would look at this type of pain as fibromyalgia or sciatica. This is the horse that is off but for no apparent reason. Lameness exams can be frustrating in that flexion tests and blocking will not identify the area of pain.
Painful Bi acts like cold with contraction and congealing. The pain is severe and stabbing in nature. It can be in the muscles or joints with limited movement and coldness of the tissues. Bursitis and early stage arthritis would fit the Western Medicine model. This is the horse that starts out very lame and then moves better as he warms up. Flexion tests and joint blocks may identify the area of pain but little will show up on radiographs or ultrasound.
Fixed Bi acts like damp with edema, numbness and stiffness more than pain. Wet weather will aggravate symptoms. Western Medicine would call
this type pain rheumatism. Stocking up in the legs would also be a characteristic of Fixed Bi. This horse will have sound days and lame days depending on the weather. The area of concern may be obvious due to swelling but other times no outward symptoms are seen.
Febrile Bi acts like fire with rapid onset of redness, swelling and severe pain. The pain can be in more than one area and movement will be very restricted. Pressure will increase the pain and the patient may be irritable. Joint infections fit into the category of Febrile Bi. Joint infections can occur from tiny punctures that don’t show up as a wound. If you suspect a joint infection call your vet immediately. Hoof abscesses are another example of Febrile Bi. They are less of an emergency but still require immediate attention to relieve suffering.
Bony Bi is the result of long term invasion of Wind, Cold and Damp. You will see muscle atrophy, joint deformity and joint degeneration. Osteoarthritis is the Western equivalent of Bony Bi. Bony Bi will show up on radiographs but at this stage the condition is very difficult to treat.
Types of TCM Pain:
Treatment and prevention for all Bi syndromes should begin with a strengthening of the Wei Qi. Overall health and nutrition should be examined. Nutritional products such as Citrus C/Q, Bleeder’s Blend, PrePro and APA blend will support the Lungs(Wandering Bi), Spleen(Fixed Bi) and kidneys(Painful Bi). General supportive accupressure points include, LI 11, GV 14, SP 6, ST 36 BL 11 and GB 39.
Treatment for individual Bi syndromes will be discussed next month.
For further information about accupressure points visit
Please also enjoy all of Dr. Ward’s web resources:
I received this reminder from Riva’s Remedies – a great resource for healing your horse.
Marijke van de Water (B.Sc., DHMS) is an Equine Health & Nutrition Specialist, Homeopathic Practitioner, Medical Intuitive & Healer and naturally…a teacher and author! Many thanks to her for spreading her great work and guidance.
Homeopathy to the Rescue
Homeopathy is a natural system of medicine dating back 200 years ago. While North America is slowly accepting homeopathy as an established form of medicine it is a widely accepted modality in Europe, UK, India and Latin America. Homeopathic remedies are highly diluted doses of substances to stimulate the body’s own healing mechanism to promote health.The use of homeopathic medicines – popularly known as remedies – is based on the discovery that natural substances are capable of curing the same symptoms that they can cause – “The Law of Similars”.
For example, homeopathic (or diluted) onion treats eye and nose allergies, homeopathic ipecac treats nausea and vomiting and homeopathic influenza virus treats cold and flu symptoms.
Riva’s Remedies homeopathics are formulated as easy-to-use combination remedies to address common situations.
Visit Riva’s Remedies for more information.
Sharing a story from Marijke van de Water of Riva’s Remedies…
Holly is a 6 year old Arab mare from B.C., Canada who was afflicted with severe laminitis in all four hooves in May 2012; she was unable to walk or even stand some days and spent days laying with ice packs on all four feet. By June of the same year both Holly’s progress and prognosis were poor. Thus Holly’s owner Diane Armitage contacted Marijke for help in healing Holly’s very sore hoof condition. This case was of interest to Marijke because while the majority of cases of laminitis are caused by feed imbalances, leaky gut, Equine Metabolic Syndrome, lack of movement and/or poor hoof trims, Holly’s case was more complex and her laminitis was multi-factorial.
In addition, other than a two week overdue trim, Holly’s hoof angles and hoof mechanism were acceptable. Because Holly and Diane live several
hours from the Riva’s Remedies health clinic, I conducted Holly’s health assessment by distance using The Marijke Method™, a specific method of kinesiology to identify underlying health issues and to formulate successful health programs. I found that Holly had three issues directly relating to her laminitis:…
Marijke works from her naturalhealth clinic in Armstrong, B.C. where she specializes in helping horses and people. She holds a B.Sc. in Clinical Nutrition and a Diploma in Homeopathic Medicine and Science. She blends her vast knowledge of science, health and nutrition with natural medicine, kinesiology and energy healing. She is considered one of the foremost experts in therapeutic nutrition and equine natural medicine with a special interest in digestive disorders, immunity, laminitis, metabolic syndrome, and emotional and spiritual wellness.
Marijke is also the founder, formulator and CEO of Riva’s Remedies, a herbal and homeopathic product line for horses.
In response to my Feature Article this month in the Unbridling Your Brilliance newsletter, Coming Heart to Heart with Grief, Peggy emailed me to tell me about a heartfelt article she wrote that appeared in the latest issue of Pet Connection. Peggy lost a beloved four-legged member of her family in 2012 to a toxic drug called “Convenia”. Read on for Peggy’s experience, and do share your own experience with grief in the comments section below. Click on the image below to read through the PDF version of her article:
Training of horses young early in life, particularly on compacted tracks or arenas, fast gaited and jumping horses are more prone to develop arthritis later in life. Poor conformation and poor farriery can also be a factor, leading to uneven wear and overload on particular tendons and joints. Horses left to develop long toes and lowered heels risk strain and arthritis in the joints.
Nutritional deficiencies also have a bearing on joint health. High grain, rich feeding, an acidic diet, and inadequate calcium or copper in the diet can increase the incidence of bone and joint degeneration.
Action: With Arthritis, prevention is definitely better than cure. Early recognition and care of arthritis is also highly beneficial.
Early stages of arthritis can be settled with topical liniments. Warm poultices and warm bandaging can help to warm up joints and increase mobility. Applied whilst transporting a horse, overnight or prior to gentle exercise, or alternatively after work, to help relieve minor soreness. Armoricaine Clay poultices can be used in this way.
Diet: According to Pat Colby it is not uncommon for the overuse of super-phosphate fertilizers to have a debilitating and depleting affect on the mineral balance of soils. Minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassiuim should be added to help balance these phosphorus levels.
High grade dolomite is important for treating and preventing arthritis and giving an adequate Calcium and Magnesium supply. Australian seaweed or Kelp (Natrakelp is the most readily absorbed form of liquid seaweed), apple cider vinegar and flax seed meal or flax oil (refrigerated) have healing properties and are good for supporting a balanced diet for your horse.
Cold pressed Linseed oil, Garlic, Chamomile and a mineral or good quality rock-salt lick will also help support your horse.
MSM is a biological sulphur powder that contains a type of sulphur that is often lacking in arthritic sufferers.
Ester C is a non-acidic Vitamin C that can be added to feed to help reduce inflammation and boost immunity. Glucosamine is also used widely now for the treatment of arthritis, and a vegetable form can be sourced.
An acidic or high grain diet is not recommended for arthritic horses.
General Tip: Management and comfort of arthritic horses is important. Suitable rugging will help your horse through the colder periods. Warm paddock boots can also be used where required.
Therapies that support the suppleness and freedom of movement both in preventative and treatment care, are highly beneficial to your horse. This can include qualified and quality Chiropractic work (where required), Acupuncture and regular Massage for your horse. Exercises that support suppleness are also a good idea, and working your horse on gentle, supportive surfaces will increase the longevity of their joints.
Where an accident or injury has occurred, good first aid and follow up treatment lessens the likelihood of arthritic degeneration occurring. A good example of initial treatment might look like this:
- Rescue Remedy or Emergency Essence for shock and trauma
- Homeopathic Arnica for injury
- Rosehip tea with an appropriate mineral supplementation
- Herbs for tissue regeneration and detoxification
- Natural feeding diet to support bone health and general wellbeing
- Adequate rest
I hope some of the ideas in this article have been of use for increasing your understanding of arthritis.
About the author
Zoe Dodds is an Equine Acupuncturist & holistic healer from Australia and the founder of Natural Horse Therapies. www.naturalhorsetherapies.com
In my practice, I am often asked about arthritis, in particular with older horses. In this article I will explore some of the symptoms, causes and basic treatment principles applicable to this condition. In future articles, we will explore some of the herbs, homeopathic and essential oil remedies that can be used in cases of arthritis. Your comments and stories are welcomed below.
Symptoms: Arthritis can be classified under two categories: septic and aseptic. Septic arthritis will show visible and obvious lameness and immobility, with swelling and pain. Its onset will be sudden and joints will feel hot to touch. Aseptic on the other hand can take longer to develop and the lameness will come and go initially. The joint will gradually become enlarged and flexion will be restricted.
Stiffness, pain and inflammation in the joints occur indicating degeneration within the joints. Arthritis is often called Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). It can involve all the structures forming the joint, including the bones, ligaments, capsule and cartilage of the joint. Resistance to movement and lameness is often found increase in both cold and overly damp conditions.
The inflamed joint can appear swollen, warm to touch and resistant to flexing. Erosion of the cartilage and bone can be seen, with the addition of internal bony growths or spurs indicating a more long-term arthritis.
Cause: The causes can be many, but the most common is repeated jarring on hard working surfaces and the wearing of the joints in exercise.
About the author
Zoe Dodds is an Equine Acupuncturist & holistic healer from Australia and the founder of Natural Horse Therapies. www.naturalhorsetherapies.com
Improving Your Horse’s Balance
As a prey animal, your horse will feel uncomfortable unless he knows that he can move quickly and efficiently to escape from predators, regardless of the fact that he no longer lives in the wild. You can help your horse feel safe by helping his body stay supple and balanced over all four feet. For instance, take the time to correct your horse when he tries to push you around while you are on the ground, or when he leans around a corner under saddle. The indications may be subtle, but these small moments of being off balance can actually cause your horse to feel uncomfortable and unsafe. You can help your horse feel safe and secure with proper ground work and exercises under saddle that teach him to use his body in the balanced way. Eventually, your horse will begin to associate these good feelings with you, and will be well on his way to trusting you.
Controlling the Fight or Flight Instinct
Horses are easily frightened. If your horse becomes frightened and you allow his fear to escalate unchecked, he can easily become a danger to himself or others. A horse’s natural fear response is to raise his head, drop his back, and tense his muscles in preparation for flight. In a natural setting, he would then run until he was out of danger, and then relax and resume grazing. You can actually use the last step of this instinctive sequence to diffuse your horse’s fear response. When your horse becomes fearful, simply encourage him to lower his head. When a horse lowers his head and assumes the grazing posture, he automatically relaxes. With practice, you can teach your horse to lower his head on cue. More importantly, your horse will begin to associate you with this feeling of relaxation, another piece in the foundation of trust that you want to build with your horse.
The Foundation of Trust
Training and riding skills are very important in working with horses, but at the end of the day nothing is more important than trust. It’s important to spend time with your horse and get to know the different facets of his personality. However, time alone will not create trust. Unless you establish and continuously establish your position as leader, protector, and comforter, the time you spend with your horse will not necessarily result in trust. Ultimately, nothing is more important to the relationship than how your horse feels when he is with you.
About the Author
Madalyn Ward, DVM, owns Bear Creek Veterinary Clinic in Austin, Texas. She is certified in Veterinary Homeopathy and Equine Osteopathy. Memberships include American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, Texas Veterinay Medical Association and the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy. She has authored several books and publishes the monthly newsletter, “Holistic Horsekeeping.”