At Cavallo we prefer doing things the ‘au naturel’ way with our equine friends, keeping them barefoot and using hoof boots being the most obvious. There are many ways to avoid pumping synthetic drugs and processed foods into our horses. We have already mentioned Joe Camp’s mineral compound wormers in a previous blog and now I would like to talk about some complementary therapies.
Many people see their horses as machines, or something that is just built to do whatever we ask of them. But they are athletes, with muscles and tendons and ligaments and a skeletal structure just like ours. And what do we do when we do sports? We stretch and get massages and eat right and ensure our bodies are strong and able to cope with the demands we put on it. And so too should we treat our horses like this. Especially for trail riding where the path is long and the terrain varied, it can be grueling on our horses, even if they don’t show it (remember, horses are prey animals and will hide any injury as best they can, to avoid getting kicked out of the herd). So a regular massage is not only a lovely thank you for your horse but will ensure they are kept in good shape. Better still, learn a few techniques yourself so you can stretch out any tired muscles straight after a trail ride. There is plenty of material out there to help you. Check out The Masterson Method for starters – a perfect beginner’s guide to relaxing your horse and releasing tension.
Homeopathy is a powerful yet simple therapy, and one that you can administer yourself, if you do the proper research. On the one hand it is massively complicated; there is a myriad of homeopathy remedies. However, it can also be relatively simple to find the one that works for you and your needs, if you have all the information. Any good book, like Homeopathy for Horses by Tim Couzens, will help you diagnose the issue and recommend a remedy that suits your specific needs. Homeopathy can help anything from eye conditions to digestive problems to infectious diseases and works on every system throughout the body from the lymphatic to the reproductive to the endocrine. Even behavioral issues may be helped with this system, which is based on the principle of ‘like cures like’. Homeopathy is safe and effective and works particularly well on horses, especially where conventional or allopathic medicines have failed or proved unsatisfactory, or where no other solution can be found.
Acupuncture is still a relatively unused therapy in the equine world but can be hugely effective. Think of how popular it is with us humans! On a horse that lives for the moment, imagine how effective this 5,000 year old therapy could be. Similar to homeopathy, it is an incredibly complicated system but it may only take one needle to heal a condition. It can be used for chronic diseases as well as general maintenance. The practice of inserting single use sterile needles into the body to unblock energy channels is incredibly powerful on animals that are sensitive yet adaptive, noble yet obliging. Many of them don’t even bat an eyelid when the needles are inserted and most will go to sleep during the twenty minute (approximately) session. Do be careful to get a registered veterinary acupuncturist to see your horse.