Horse as Teacher
Horse as Teacher
Horse As Teacher

Horse As Teacher, The Path to Relationship is now available for purchase. Click here for details!

Our Services
Join Us
We Recommend

Our Site for Personal & Professional Growth
Empowering women from the inside out. Experience horses helping humans heal!

Click here to visit Unbridling Your Brilliance...

Archive for the ‘Natural Healing’ Category

Sweet Itch Solution



Editor’s Note: This article has been sourced via Riva’s Remedies.

With the warmer weather on the way it’s time to prepare the horses who have a hypersensitivity to insect bites – usually flies, mosquitoes and especially biting midges (“no-see-ums”). Horses become intensely irritated and itchy and will look for almost anything solid to scratch on. This is an internal problem since the insects are attracted to those horses whose immune systems are compromised and/or whose skin is damaged. For more information on how sweet itch occurs click here.

Our clients achieve excellent results with our “sweet itch” protocol of Summer Tincture combined with Vitamin C.

summer-tinctureI tried everything to stop my horse from suffering from insect bites and sweet itch. I couldn’t believe how fast your program worked! Thank you.
A.G. (Vancouver, B.C.)
vitamine-CI used every product on the market and my horse just kept getting worse. Then I found out about your products and within days the insects stopped biting and his skin cleared up 100%.

Jim (Vancouver, B.C.)

Hoof Nutrition for Healthy Hooves

nutrition for healthy hoovces

Editor’s Note: This article has been sourced from Riva’s Remedies and has been originally written by Equine Health & Nutrition Specialist, Marijke van de Water

Horse hooves require a tremendous amount of nutrition including protein, sugars, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients are delivered by a generous blood supply through hundreds of blood vessels to stimulate growth and repair. The hoof wall is composed of 95% keratin, a tough insoluble and colourless protein that is rich in sulphur-containing methionine (an amino acid). The formation of keratin also requires adequate amounts of zinc and biotin. It is for this reason that many traditional hoof supplements contain these specific nutrients to support and strengthen the hoof wall. If these nutrients are truly deficient then these supplements will be helpful; however if there is no deficiency present benefits will be negligible. At this point it is useful to seek out other nutrients that can make a difference to hoof strength and structure – minerals such as sulphur, selenium, and silica are significant in overall hoof health. Silica promotes bone health, strengthens collagen and hardens the hoof wall, while selenium and sulphur contribute to collagen production and strengthen the cross link bonds in the keratin.

Sulphur is a critical nutrient for strengthening the amino acids (protein units) that serve as major building blocks in healthy collagen to form a strong hoof wall. Collagen fibres are naturally occurring proteins found exclusively in animals and they are the main proteins in all connective tissues. Collagen fibre makes up 25% to 35% of the whole body protein – its main function is to support and give structure to all the tissues around the cells. Since it has excellent tensile strength, collagen is the main component of cartilages, tendons, ligaments, skin and hoof wall. The fibres in hoof wall are very compact and dense. The strength of these fibres is increased by their unique structure – they twist, intersect and cross with each other. Sulphur molecules create very strong cross-links that hold the fibres together.

Obvious signs of sulphur deficiency include poor hoof growth, dry and cracking hooves, poor hair coat, skin conditions and allergies. Sulphur can be supplemented using Riva’s Flower Power which is pure ground sulphur fed at one tablespoon daily which equals 14 g of sulphur. This is also an excellent supplement for “scratches”.

Riva’s Circu+Plus contains pine bark extract which not only has natural levels of both sulphur and silica for strengthening and repairing hoof tissue but is also an anti-oxidant and natural anti-inflammatory that improves hoof circulation. Circu+Plus also contains Magnesium to relax any hoof tension, reduce pain and improve metabolism. Circu+Plus is an excellent supplement for acute and/or chronic laminitis. Feed one to two tablespoons daily: one tablespoon contains 200 mg of pine bark extract and 1,000 mg of magnesium citrate.

Sulphur is also very beneficial in homeopathic form as it helps to improve the metabolism of existing sulphur by increasing its absorption and utilization at the cellular level. Give one dose of Sulphur, 200C (5 pellets) – twice daily for 4 days.

A selenium deficiency in the hoof can appear as horizontal cracks near the top of the hoof below the coronet band, a yellowing frog and/or lameness due to either weak hoof structure or strained ligaments and tendons. Systemic symptoms of deficiency can include poor hair coat, fatigue, depression, poor immunity, low appetite, and muscle weakness. Selenium toxicity, on the other hand, is often characterized by similar symptoms as a deficiency – poor hair condition or loss of hair around the mane and tail, poor immunity, stiffness and lameness. In cases of chronic selenium toxicity, the hooves are almost always affected with deformities, overgrowth, horizontal ridging, cracking, and in advanced cases it will cause the hoof wall to separate from the foot resulting in a loss of the entire wall.

Selenium can be supplemented in either an inorganic form (known as sodium selenite, which is actually a by-product of copper mining) or in an organic form. Sodium selenite is the most common supplement available but is also the toxic form of selenium which is why it cannot be given in extreme doses. Toxic dosages can also be ingested by grazing in selenium toxic areas. However, there are many more horses with selenium deficiencies than horses with selenium excess since the majority of grazing areas in North America are low in selenium. Organic selenium is commercially produced by using yeast to incorporate inorganic selenium into amino acids. Organic selenium has no known toxicity and is absorbed and utilized much more effectively than the inorganic form. Allorganic minerals, including selenium, can be supplemented at a much lower dosage than inorganic minerals because they are metabolized much more effectively. Organic selenium can be effectively and safely dosed and most horses do not need more than 1,000 to 2,000 mcg daily. It is very beneficial for hoof health, liver detoxification, bone and muscle strength and a healthy immune system. It is never necessary to supplement any nutrient by injection – it is invasive and horses have a very efficient ability to absorb minerals through the intestines.

Silica is an under-valued and under-utilized mineral for hoof health. Silica is not only critical for the early stages of bone formation but also plays a major role in the formation of the collagen matrix of bone and cartilage. And it prevents these tissues from becoming brittle and rigid – a significant factor in the health of coffin and navicular bones. The formation of glycosaminoglycan, the main substance of the bone matrix, also relies on silica. Normally horses obtain small amounts of silica from grass and hay as all plants use silica to provide rigidity and structure to their leaves and stems. However, it is apparent that many horses do not receive adequate amounts to prevent hoof breakdown and/or bone problems. Of course, this is the case with so many nutrients since the lifestyle of most domesticated horses has not only limited the nutrients available to them, but has radically changed their nutritional requirements.

Deficiency symptoms of silica include weak and brittle hooves, sand cracks, abscesses, lameness, inflammation of tendons, and bone weakness with loss of density.

Some of the best plant sources for silica and sulphur supplementation is horsetail and oatstraw. Horsetail has a number of other benefits: strengthens the respiratory system, improves skin and hair coat, aids urinary function and increases calcium absorption. Horsetail is not toxic to horses as some sources suggest – most ‘weeds’ are beneficial and only toxic when horses don’t have enough to eat and have to resort to weeds as a food staple. Dried horsetail can be fed at one to two tablespoons daily. Oatstraw is an ingredient in the Riva’s Happy Foot as well as the Happy Horse and Happy Horse Senior. The Happy Horse herbal blends are a plant based source of over sixty-five trace minerals including selenium, vitamins and fibre and address the nutritional requirements for a variety of different health conditions.

Poor hoof circulation is always a factor in unhealthy hooves since improper hoof mechanism constricts blood supply and therefore the delivery of oxygen and nutrients. The most common causes of poor hoof circulation are lack of regular exercise, poor trimming practices and inappropriate diets – grain, sugar, excess grass and/or excess alfalfa. Riva’s Remedies Happy Foot provides herbal minerals (including silica, sulphur and selenium), improved circulation with cayenne pepper and natural pain relief.

Horse hooves are very much a reflection of the whole and the treatment of the hoof should always consider the whole health of the horse. Conversely, treating the whole health of the horse will always benefit the hoof.


Treating Stringhalt with Nutrition

Editor’s Note: This article has been sourced from a content shared by Riva’s Remedies via their newsletter.

Stringhalt is a condition of the hind leg where horses, while walking, turning or backing up, pull their leg up very high to the belly and can’t seem to release it in time to take the next step. Upon observation it looks like the digital extensor muscles are contracting for too long or that the digital flexor muscles are not relaxing. Veterinary science has no explanation but theorize that neurological problems, injuries, toxicity and/or muscle diseases could be the cause. Therefore, standard treatments include the use of drugs with sedative effects such as muscle relaxants, anticonvulsants, and other drugs that act on the central nervous system. Some practitioners even try surgery by doing a resection of the tendon running along the hock! Both of these extreme treatments – the drug therapy and the surgery – have no evidence of success.

I have long maintained that this is a nutritional problem and have had many success cases just by supplementing calcium with the Riva’s Bone-Up. Calcium is a critical macro-nutrient required for the transmission of information between nerve fibres and the neuromuscular cells. Without adequate calcium muscles cannot efficiently contract nor relax. For Yahtzee we had to add extra vitamin B12 and potassium as well, both of which are also important for healthy muscle function.

Thank you to Stacey Peters for sending in these videos of her horse Yahtzee with a severe case of stringhalt. After a course of Bone-Up, Potassium, Vitamin B12 and Joint-Clear he slowly and gradually improved – see his before and after videos. Good job Stacey!

Casas Y Departamentos en Venta Mazatlan

Easing grief with the Bach Flowers

bach flower remediesReference: Article sourced from the Bach Flower Email Bulletin by Inner Harmony Healing.

Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed.

Everyone deals with grief in different ways, and it also depends on if the grief has come on because of a sudden death in the family.

The Bach Flowers can offer a gentle way to help our emotions in times of grief, and meet individual needs. Here are some remedies that may help…

Suffering from shock and/or trauma? 

Star of Bethlehem assists with the distress and unhappiness following a shock (which can be timeless).  It can provide comfort and consolation.

Feeling guilty about something you thought you should have done or not done?

Pine is for guilt and self-blame and can relieve us from guilty feelings.

Just want to feel miserable and shut yourself off from the outside world?

Water Violet is for when you just have to withdraw and seek solace in isolation. It can help bring on the desire to interact with others.

At at end of your endurance with grief and feel as there is no hope in feeling happy again? 

Sweet Chestnut is for when you have reached the end of your endurance, and can liberate us with optimism and a peace of mind.

Worried about how the loss can impact other family members of pets? 

Red Chestnut is for those who are over-concerned for the feelings of loved ones and provides calm and rational concern.

Feeling that all the joy and happiness has been sucked out of your world? 

Wild Roseis for feelings of apathy, resignation and disinterest in life. It can bring about a lively and enthusiastic interest in life again.


10 Pointers on Parasites for the Fall season

Reference: Adapted from a similar article posted on

Fall is a good time to address parasites since once the eggs are swallowed they will prepare to hibernate in the intestinal walls or encyst to other organs for the winter. Below are a few points to keep in mind to keep your horse healthy and parasite free this fall:

  1. Parasites produce toxins including ammonia; ammonia stresses the liver and kidneys, interferes with brain function and can contribute to laminitis.
  2. Encysted parasites are those parasites in the larval state that have formed a protective membrane around themselves and have migrated from the hindgut (large colon and cecum) through the intestinal walls and into the liver, kidneys and/or heart/arteries. If left untreated they are capable of causing many health problems: weight loss, a dull coat, poor appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, liver stress, leaky gut and colic.
  3. Encysted parasites do not usually respond to herbal or homeopathic dewormers, however it is usually either the long-term/heavily infested horses that have a problem with encysts.
  4. Most horses with long-term and/or heavy loads of parasites are anemic due to the blood loss. Low iron levels have a significant effect on overall health including lowering the resistance to parasites, contributing to chronic infections and depressing the immune system. Cases of anemia should always be treated with Iron-Up, an organic form of iron.
  5. Chemical de-wormers, while often necessary, do not always need to be administered as a full dose (i.e. entire syringe) for every horse. Mildly infected horses need less than a full dose and some horses, including those with encysts, will require a small amount repeated two or three times one to two weeks apart. Heavily infested horses also usually require more than one dose.

  6. It is not necessary to “syringe” a horse with a chemical de-wormer – this is an invasive practice. Smaller doses can easily be hidden in feed and larger doses can be spread out throughout the day also hidden in feed.
  7. Do not routinely de-worm your horse with chemicals unless you have a fecal analysis done to determine if it is even necessary. It is not appropriate to use chemicals for prevention.

  8. No matter what de-worming program you are using – natural or chemical – make use of regular fecal analyses to show if your program is working or not.

  9. The best defense against parasites is a healthy hindgut with a balanced eco-system, adequate levels of important nutrients and a strong immunity.

  10. Horses with strong digestion and intestines are not attractive to parasites who must rely on weakening their host for optimum survival. In fact, it is estimated that only one-third of the herd actually carries the parasite loads.


The Four Pillars of Natural Hoof Care

Reference: Excerpts from an article by Narayan Khalsa from

In our last article, we shared  a few tenets on the importance of minerals in the horse’s diet to improve hoof health. What are some of the other factors we can look at to care for them even further? There are four basic pillars of hoof care. Lets look at them in detail:

Natural Boarding

In a natural boarding environment we emulate this need to move by creating what we call a paddock paradise. By setting up multiple feed stations in your paddock, using small mesh hay nets, propagating other interesting and healthful items like loose rock salt, we encourage our horses to move all day. This keeps your horse in shape, happy, entertained, and feet healthy. Adding rocks or pea gravel to parts of the paddock is great too. Being a herd animal, they need companionship. They value family like we humans do, and the need to have other horses in contact with them all the time is part of their nature in order to groom, play, even fight, but more than that – to love.

Natural Trim

By mimicking the natural wear patterns, only removing that which would be worn away in the wild, we help precipitate natural growth patterns, coaxing into form the truly natural hoof belonging to that unique creature. There is no set angle, no set toe length, and no set measurement of any kind. There is only undying variation in nature, and to try to manipulate a hoof into some set of measurements is dangerous. A NHC Professional does not need to worry about any of this, but simply apply the wear patterns and let nature take its course. Again a true Natural Trim is nothing more and nothing less than applying these wear patterns and only removing that which would be worn away in the wild.

Natural Diet

By eliminating high sugar commercial feeds, high sugar supplements, and high sugar grasses, you are eliminating one major cause of laminitis, the number two killer of domestic horses. Too much sugar saturates the hindgut, resulting in a bacterial imbalance that through a cascade of events starts to create a separation of the hoof from the horse. This is extremely painful for a horse and easily avoidable.

Natural Horsemanship

The horse has evolved to move in an exact fashion, through what we call the Natural Gait Complex. This is the walk, trot, canter, and gallop, in its myriad of forms. They did not evolve with a rider on their back, and so much consideration and preparation is needed. Most important, and the cornerstone of this pillar is riding in harmony with their natural gaits. By teaching a horse natural collection, the horse can develop a proper carrying shape, allowing them to carry a rider more comfortably without damaging them or causing them pain. We also recommend not mounting a horse until at least 5 years old, but if you will, closer to 7.


Natural Healing Therapies – Amazing Chia Plant (Part 1)

Reference: – Andrea Baldwin is an Herbalist and lifelong horse advocate. She is currently studying at David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies to expand her clinical knowledge. Andrea is also pursuing her practitioner certification in Equine Acupressure with Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute.

Small seed packed with big benefits

Chia, a cheerful upright plant that can grow to a height of about 3 feet, has a square shaped stem and oblong pointed bright green leaves.

Chia (Salvia Hispanica), a member of the mint (Lamiacea) family, prefers well drained soil and a sunny location. The small blue flowers bloom on a cylindrical spike-like head in random order. The seeds require a long summer to mature and have a cool and moist energy. This plant grows well in parts of South America and subtropical climates like Bolivia and Ecuador.

The tiny brown and white seeds of the Chia plant are packed with nutrition, antioxidants, fiber, amino acids, vitamins and essential fatty acids.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are vital for almost all body functions of a horse. Amazingly, chia seeds have 18 of the 22 amino acids required by a horse, including 9 essential amino acids and the complementary nonessential amino acids in proper proportions. Pretty impressive for such a small seed!

Essential Fatty Acids – High Omega 3

Chia seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acid, having a 3:1 ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 essential fatty acids. This balance of EFAs makes chia seed a strong anti-inflammatory, as well as boosting immune function, supporting healthy skin, hooves, mucous membranes and shiny coats.

Fiber and Mucilage

When soaked in water, chia seeds form a polysaccharide rich, thick gel coating that can help your horse in a few ways. First, it is helpful for clearing sand, much like psyllium. Both soluble and insoluble fiber in chia seeds help sweep debris out of the intestines. This gel also helps to heal gut mucosa, reducing inflammation, which would be beneficial for a horse with ulcers. Another benefit of the gel is slowing down the absorption of sugar by the body, helping to keep blood sugar levels more balanced. A clinical animal study ( showed prevention and reversal of insulin resistance that had been caused by a high sucrose diet, suggesting chia seed could be helpful in the diet of metabolic horses.

Disclaimer: We always recommend consultation with your equine vet prior to using any of these natural products.  They are not meant to replace vet care.


The Do’s & Don’ts of Laminitis (Part 3)

The previous article, “The Do’s & Don’ts of Laminitis (Part 2),” by Marijke van de Water, Equine Health & Nutrition Specialist, Homeopathic Practitioner, and Medical Intuitive & Healer, explored a few “do’s and don’ts” for ensuring the optimal health of a laminitic horse. See below for part 3 of this article, which outlines a few more “do’s” when caring for a laminitic horse.


The Do’s

Do treat horses for a leaky gut if present – hindgut bacteria, acids and toxins are a major cause of laminitis. Use Pro-Colon probiotics, Pro-Dygest, Para+Plus and/or Vitamin B12.

Do treat horses for parasites – parasitic toxins exacerbate hoof inflammation and/or laminitis.

Do ensure a proper barefoot trim with good hoof mechanism. Note: a pasture trim is not a barefoot trim. A pasture trim is done to nail a shoe on, a barefoot trim is done to maximize proper hoof growth and performance. Educate yourself on different trimming methods.

Do also educate yourself on sub-clinical laminitis – this is a type of laminitis that shows no clinical signs of separation, digital pulse or hoof tenderness. It is a common cause of hoof soreness and is absolutely under-diagnosed!

Do know that the most common hoof nutrient deficiencies are selenium, silica and sulphur – all minerals which strengthen hoof wall, lamina and joint capsules.

Do also know that rotated coffin bones will re-rotate back into position if the horse is fed an appropriate diet with the right supplements and is trimmed with a professional barefoot trim. Marijke has guided hundreds of laminitic horses in varying stages to 100% soundness – many of these horses were considered untreatable.

Do use boots and/or casts to relieve pain and encourage movement in the acute stages.

Do practice prevention – good food, good trims, good exercise!

Do read Healing Horses Their Way for an extensive resource of information on laminitis…and much more.

Happy Hooves, Happy Horses!

More from Marijke van de Water:
Twitter: @rivasremedies

The Do’s & Don’ts of Laminitis (Part 2)

The previous article, “The Do’s & Don’ts of Laminitis (Part 1),” by Marijke van de Water, Equine Health & Nutrition Specialist, Homeopathic Practitioner, and Medical Intuitive & Healer, explored a few “don’ts” for ensuring the optimal health of a laminitic horse. See below for part 2 of this article, which outlines a few more “do’s and don’ts” when caring for a laminitic horse.


The Don’ts

Don’t confine a laminitic horse no matter how sore they are – horses need movement and exercise to improve circulation and deliver nutrients to toxic and damaged hoof tissues. Let the sore horse decide how much movement he/she needs. Metabolic horses with laminitis need exercise to regulate blood sugar levels and to reverse their condition.

Don’t use glucosamine long-term, if at all – glucosamine is a type of sugar that strains the liver and depresses insulin production in sugar sensitive, overweight and/or metabolic horses.

Don’t accept hoof pathologies as normal (no matter what breed): flaring walls, bell-shaped hooves, cracking, splitting, soft soles, flat soles, long toes, high heels, contracted heels and/or under-run heels are all abnormal and can be fixed with a professional barefoot trim, exercise and a good diet.

Don’t always accept the label of “navicular” – this is an over-used diagnosis to explain unexplained symptoms. Many cases of so-called navicular are actually sub-clinical laminitis.

Don’t listen to well-meaning people who tell you that your horse won’t recover – they are misinformed.

The Do’s

Do feed horses a high fibre diet (e.g. hay, beet pulp, soybean hulls, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, wheat bran, wheat germ) – fibre detoxifies the liver and hindgut, regulates appetite, lowers the glycemic index of all feeds and encourages weight loss.

Do use slow feeders to lower stress levels, ease digestion and provide forage 24/7.

Stay Tuned for Part 3
In Part 3, we will share Marijke’s words on a few more “do’s” to ensure the optimal health of a laminitic horse.

More from Marijke van de Water:
Twitter: @rivasremedies

Diagnosing Dani

Another great piece from Madalyn Ward – a fantastic resource for holistic horsekeeping. In her latest piece, she details how she evaluated a horse (Dani) and considered different aspects of the horse in both diagnosis and treatment. It may not always be a case of supplements and water…but environmental changes as well! Great work Madalyn.


Horse Temperament: Dani, the Lonely Fire Horse

Dani is a Warmblood mare who is a new addition to a jumping horse program. She is a gentle and willing Fire horse temperament but not quite strong enough yet for jumping. Her trainer is working with her to help her get more balanced, but Dani is weak in her hind end and not able to hold a canter. Her trainer would like for Dani to be less quick in her gaits and shift her weight to her hindquarters, but if she takes hold of her head at all then Dani rushes more.

Examining Dani 

I first saw Dani on May 9th 2013 and it was obvious she was sensitive. On exam I noted several osteopathic issues in her hind end and head. Dani was tight in her poll and jaw. After her adjustment she seemed more relaxed.

I saw Dani again on July 23. Her trainer reported she was working well, but still seemed weak in her hindquarters. On exam the issues in her hind end seemed better, but Dani was still tight in her poll and jaw. She also had some congestion over her left kidney. It turns out that Dani is not a good water drinker at all and her trainer worries about her becoming dehydrated in the summer heat.

Dani’s Treatment

I did a network chiropractic treatment on Dani and found her to be stuck in a phase 2 pattern. This pattern suggests an emotional concern about the future. I got the feeling from Dani that she was not sure she was going to make it in the training program. As a Fire horse temperament, she was very concerned about pleasing her trainer, but her muscle development was not adequate to carry weight on her hindquarters the way her trainer wanted. Fire horses may not be as strong as other temperaments so it takes much longer to develop their ability to work in self carriage.

The other sense I got from Dani was that she was lonely. Fire horses love personal attention and grooming. Dani’s stall was at the far end of the barn and she rarely got attention other than for her training sessions. In addition to my chiropractic work I decided to try some acupressure points to help balance Dani so she would be stronger in her hind end and feel better about life in general.

I choose HT 7 as a point to calm the mind and relieve anxiety and worrying under stressful conditions. KI 3 was used to strengthen the bones and lower back. SP 6 was used to calm the mind and nourish the blood. I also choose SP 6 in case Dani had any underlying dampness issues that might be causing her to not want to drink water. ST 36 was chosen as a general strengthening point and as a local point for possible stifle pain. CV 6 was used to tonify the kidneys and GV 4 was used to straighten the lower back.

Dani’s Results

Dani’s trainer was very willing to make some management changes. She moved Dani to a stall that is closer to all the activity to make sure she gets some personal attention other than training sessions. Since the move, Dani has been more relaxed. She is still quick in some of her movement under saddle but getting more steady every day. Dani is also now drinking twice as much as she was before treatment.
Twitter: madalynward