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Posts Tagged ‘madalyn ward’

Stress-Induced Ulcers in Horses Pt.2

Here is the second part of Madalyn Ward’s piece on detecting stress, the effects of it and possible treatment solutions:


Effects of Stress on the Body

Stress is not some imaginary emotion that can be controlled with will power. When the body perceives stress, real or imagined, it secretes hormones that have profound effects on many systems, including digestion. Any acute stressful event will cause digestion to cease as
the body prepares to fight or escape. Blood flow is diverted away from the digestive tract to the heart and muscles, secretion of saliva and digestive enzymes is slowed, intestinal motility slows and nutrient absorption stops. The body under acute stress also slows the production of protective mucus that lines the stomach wall and bicarbonate that buffers the stomach acid.

If stress happened infrequently the horse could relax after a stress and digestion would return to normal. The problem comes when acute bouts of stress come repeatedly or low level stress persists on a constant level. In this case the horse continues to eat but proper digestion does not occur. This can cause gas or impaction type pain or ulcers in horses that are not producing enough protective mucus or buffering bicarbonate.

Physiological effects of stress in horses:

  • Blood flow diverted away from the digestive system to the heart and muscles
  • Decreased secretion of saliva and digestive enzymes
  • Decreased intestinal motility
  • Decreased absorption of nutrients
  • Decrease in production of protective mucus and buffering bicarbonate

How to Reduce Stress in Horses

The bottom line is we want our horses to be stress free but this is almost impossible to achieve in real life. What we can do is take steps to prevent the development of ulcers in horses that are experiencing the basic stresses that are part of being in training. We can make sure the horse gets adequate turnout or work to match his energy level. We can feed smaller, more frequent, easily digested meals with more hay and less starch and sugar high concentrates. We can make sure horses get contact with other horses and provide them with a routine and good management.

We can and should plan to support the horse’s digestive tract with nutrient dense, whole food supplements, pre and probiotics, digestive enzymes, soothing herbs and products that contain nitric oxide precursors to help with blood circulation to the digestive tract. Different type and temperament horses respond differently to stress and will need different digestive support for best results. Check out Horse Harmony to help you determine your horse’s temperament type and look at our Feeding Guide to help select the best digestive support.
Twitter: madalynward

Stress-Induced Ulcers in Horses Pt.1

More great wisdom from Madalyn Ward – this time on a topic that stressed out both horses and humans: stress-induced ulcers. In this post (Part 1) we discuss how to recognize symptoms of a stressed-out horse.


Stress Induced Ulcers in Horses: Is Your Horse Stressing Out?

It is easy to recognize stress in the horse that walks his stall, cribs or kicks the walls. This type horse is telling you loud and clear that he is not happy and chances are he also has an ulcer. But what about the horse that loves his job, likes his person and surroundings – is this horse also a candidate for ulcers? The truth is ulcers in horses don’t just happen to those that are unhappy with their lives. Ulcers can happen to any horse under stress, even yours.

Stress in Horses

So what is stress to a horse. Confinement, infrequent feedings, separation from other horses, and trailering are a few known stressors for horses. Other causes of stress could be an increase in difficulty of a training exercise, a change in training routine, a change in surroundings or change in horses he is stabled with. These are just a few types of stress a horse might experience. The list of possibilities is endless.

Examples of stress in horses:

  • Confinement
  • Infrequent feeding
  • Separation from other horses
  • Trailering
  • Change in training difficulty, training routine, surroundings, horse companions

Not every horse shows stress outwardly. Unfortunately, the horse that suppresses his emotions may seem perfectly fine but still get ulcers. Stall weaving, cribbing, kicking the walls of a stall or trailer are all signs that a horse is stressed but so are generalized muscle tightness, decreased appetite and a depressed attitude. Any of these signs could be warnings of current or developing ulcers in horses.

Signs of stress in horses:

  • Stall weaving
  • Cribbing
  • Kicking the stall or trailer
  • Generalized muscle tightness
  • Decreased appetite
  • A depressed attitude

In Part 2 we will share Madalyn’s words on the effects of stress and treatment options.

More from Madalyn:
Twitter: madalynward

Wood Temperament Horses

Sharing a mid-October update from the fantastic Madalyn Ward…

In her update she discusses the “Wood” temperament of horse and the different types and how the differences vastly change approaches in care and health. Enjoy!
Horse Temperament: The 2 Types of Wood Horse 

When a person thinks about the Wood horse temperament what often comes to mind is a racehorse. The Wood horse temperament is powerful, athletic, smart and headstrong. These are great characteristics for a racehorse but not so good if you want a horse of your own to compete and have fun with. Yet, there are people out there competing and winning on Wood horses and having a blast with them. So what gives? The secret is they are buying a whole different type of Wood horse than the classic race horse Wood.

The Two Types

It has taken me a few years to understand that there are 2 types of Wood horse temperament, the classic racehorse and the less intense,  show horse Wood. The racehorse Wood is typically a thoroughbred or appendix type quarter horse while your show horse is your ranch bred quarter horse or warmblood. Of course, any breed can be either type Wood but these are simply examples.

Wood Temperament Racehorse

The racehorse Wood temperament is all about power and speed. He is not intimidated or easily shifted off his opinions. The racehorse Wood wants to win at all costs. This Wood type has been bred for competing and winning for so long that it is in his makeup. It is as much an instinct to him as eating or drinking. Running is what he loves to do.

The racehorse type Wood can withstand the rigors of race training because he is happy doing that job, but put him in a show barn and he can develop many health challenges and vices. Ulcers, cribbing or stall weaving are just a few examples of what happens with a racehorse Wood that is not coping. To keep the racehorse Wood healthy and happy, you’d better have a training program that includes plenty of physical exercise. Pasture turnout and other Wood horse buddies can help as well. Be firm, but avoid confrontation. Instead work to redirect any excess exuberance into constructive exercises.

Wood Temperament Showhorse

If you take the racehorse Wood and dial him back about 50% you get the show horse Wood. Show horse breeders have recognized the challenge of dealing with a racehorse Wood, so they have crossed him with ranch type quarter horses or drafts to bring down the intense energy. The show horse Wood is still a great competitor, but he does not have the same intense desire to run. As a matter of fact, the show horse Wood can border on lazy if he is not enjoying his work. The show horse Wood can even balk or buck if he does not want to do something.

The show horse Wood does enjoy competing. He likes to win and thrives on a training program that focuses on improving his skills and strength. He does not seem to mind working when he sees a reason for it. The show horse Wood does not tolerate being drilled on exercises that are not directly related to his job. For example, if you want to work on transitions of lead changes, do this between small jumps or barrels set up in a pattern. Get out of the ring anytime you can and work in open fields or on the trail. Take your English Wood show horse to work cows or your cow horse to jump jumps.

The show type Wood horse temperament does not have as many health and stall vices when stressed, but they sure will get unruly. Expect to find buckets and tubs destroyed when the show type Wood horse gets bored. Pawing and kicking are signs of a show Wood horse with too much feed and not enough work. If your show horse type Wood has to live in a stall make sure he is tired when he is in it. He may not be going out for regular gallops like the race horse Wood but you can sure take him to the round pen or for a long ride on off training days.

So if you are looking to buy a Wood horse temperament of any breed, think carefully about what you are wanting and able to handle. So many times a person is thrilled by watching a racehorse type Wood perform but has the job and skill level for a show horse type Wood. This is why one person can have a Wood show horse that they love and win consistently with while another has a Wood horse temperament that borders on dangerous if not handled expertly. It is not the Wood horse that is the problem, but rather the type of Wood horse that is not a match for the expectations of the person.

Whichever kind of Wood Temperament you have, what you feed and how you handle them can affect their health and behavior.

Please also enjoy all of Dr. Ward’s web resources:
Twitter: madalynward

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

Kidney Care Pt 2

We return with the second part of Madalyn Ward’s guide to kidney care:

Healthy Kidneys mean:

  • Strong vitality
  • Healthy bones and teeth
  • A balanced nervous system
  • Strong will power and focus
  • Healthy metabolism

Weak Kidneys manifest as:

  • Poor vitality
  • Weak bones and teeth
  • Weakness in the lower back and limbs
  • Nervousness
  • Fluid imbalances leading to stocking up or fluid in the lungs
  • Weak metabolism, assimilation problems and insulin resistance

Kidney Weakness

Kidney weakness can occur with weak genetics, inadequate nutrition, old age, chronic blood loss, hot, dry weather or excessive work that depletes body fluids through sweating. Stress, chronic anxiety and worry will also deplete the Kidney Essence. Breeding young healthy horses is the best way to create foals with good Kidney Qi. Good nutrition throughout life will guarantee the Qi  is replenished on a regular basis. Alfalfa is one of the best horse feeds for kidney support. Barley is a excellent choice if grain is needed and kelp offered free choice is a good choice for a supplement.

Stresses for the Kidneys include:

  • Poor genetics
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Old age
  • Chronic blood loss
  • Hot, dry weather or excessive sweating
  • Chronic stress, anxiety and worry

Support for healthy Kidneys include:

  • Breeding young healthy horses to pass on good Kidney Qi to the foals
  • Good nutrition including alfalfa hay, barley and free choice kelp

Supporting the Kidney

The most common kidney patterns I see are congestion which shows up as stocking up in the legs, bloating in the abdomen and soreness in the lower back. If the horse is not already getting horse feeds to support the kidney I will add those and add a mild diuretic herb such as dandelion leaf or uvi ursa. I look at acupressure points GV4 to strengthen the Gate of Vitality, BL 23 to support Kidney Yang, and SP 6 to clear dampness. If there are any signs of fluid buildup in the lungs, such as a moist cough, I will add BL 13 and LU 7.

The other kidney pattern which I have been seeing more since we are in a severe drought pattern is Kidney Yin deficiency leading to heat signs such as dark, scanty urine, lower back soreness, dry manure and restlessness. Some horses will even seem and bit feverish in the late afternoon. In addition to the horse feeds for kidney support I start aloe vera juice and marshmallow root to build Kidney Yin and sooth the kidneys. I treat acupressure points KI 3 to tonify the Kidneys, KI 6 to support Kidney Yin, and CV 4 to support Kidney Yin and calm the mind.

A horse can’t be healthy without healthy Kidneys. Since the Kidneys supply to Fire(Yang) and Water(Yin) for all the metabolism they must be treated along with any system that is not functioning up to par. A good holistic horse care program including whole foods and natural management will usually support healthy Kidneys, but be alert for symptoms of Kidney imbalance.

Find Madalyn Ward online:
Twitter: madalynward

Kidney Care

We meet midway through the summer to bring you more great insight from Madalyn Ward – this time on kidney heath.

Kidneys, in any being, are a powerhouse in your body and provide vital functions. Breakdown or malfunction of the kidneys can lead to serious health issues that affect the rest of the body in dramatic way. Madalyn continues to merge Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine interpretations of kidney problems and solutions – the best of both worlds.

Below is Part 1 – stay tuned for Part 2 next week!


Holistic Horse Care: Kidney Problems

Kidney problems in horses probably happen much more often than we realize. Low back pain is a classic symptom of kidney problems in  people. In horses low back pain can easily be attributed to other more common problems such as hock soreness or overwork. A good holistic horse care program will include appropriate horse feeds for the kidney but some conditions will need additional treatment in the form of herbs or acupressure.

TCM Approach

In Western Medicine the kidney is primarily an organ that maintains water balance and removes toxins from the blood. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recognizes these roles but also several more critical functions. In TCM the Kidneys store the essence or Qi that is inherited at birth. This Pre Heaven Qi is used up during life and can only be partially replenished with Post Heaven Qi from food. In TCM the Kidney is responsible for the vitality.

In TCM the Kidney Essence is the foundation for the Marrow. Marrow in TCM is the substance that makes up the bones, bone marrow, brain and spinal cord. Strong Kidneys therefore mean strong bones, teeth, and a healthy nervous system. In TCM the Kidneys are the house of the Will Power. When the Kidneys are strong the mind can stay focused on goals but if weak the mind will become easily distracted or depressed.

The Kidneys are considered to be the origin of the heat that fuels all the bodily functions. This Fire comes from the Gate of Vitality that  resides between the right and left kidneys. The Kidneys are the origin of both the Fire and the Water in the body, the Yang and the Yin.

In summary, Healthy Kidneys mean:

  • Strong vitality
  • Healthy bones and teeth
  • A balanced nervous system
  • Strong will power and focus
  • Healthy metabolism

Weak Kidneys manifest as:

  • Poor vitality
  • Weak bones and teeth
  • Weakness in the lower back and limbs
  • Nervousness
  • Fluid imbalances leading to stocking up or fluid in the lungs
  • Weak metabolism, assimilation problems and insulin resistance

Find Madalyn Ward online:
Twitter: madalynward