The Small Intestine is one of two organs associated with the Fire element, and this organ needs extra support. Fire horses are emotional and suffer from very sensitive digestion and are affected by stress and diet changes. Fire horses also tend toward an acidic pH in their digestive tract. To support the Small Intestine, the Fire horse temperament needs prebotics. Prebiotics are substances that feed and support the beneficial bacteria (called probiotics or gut flora) that live in the horse’s intestinal system. In addition, feeding a horse prebiotics will help convert an acidic digestive tract, especially the small intestine, to a more alkaline pH.
When a Fire horse becomes stressed, often due to emotional rather physical causes, his normal gut flora goes out of balance, especially in the small intestine, where protein digestion occurs. This means that the Fire horse temperament cannot properly digest proteins. His body’s immune response to partially-digest proteins is an inflammatory reaction, which produces pain and ulcers in the gut lining.
The weakened gut lining allows partially-digested proteins to leave the digestive tract and enter the blood stream. This phenomenon is often called “leaky gut syndrome.” Because food particles are not normally found circulating the blood stream, the horse’s immune system does not recognize them as food, and treats them as foreign invaders. These “foreign invaders” are tagged as harmful, and now the Fire horse develops food sensitivities, or allergies, to his own food.
Horses with food sensitivities often experience the following symptoms:
• gut pain during or after eating
• mild to severe colic
• loose manure or diarrhea
• weight loss
• refusal to eat
How to Resolve Food Sensitivities in the Fire Horse
Feeding a horse with this condition is a huge challenge. To resolve food sensitivity issues, blood work needs to be done with proper lab testing to identify the offending foods. Once these have been identified, the Fire horse needs to be placed on a restricted diet free of those foods.
When the digestive tract has been rebalanced with oral doses of healthy gut flora, and enough time has passed to allow the gut to heal (usually six months or more), the offending foods may be re-introduced into Fire horse’s diet.
To resolve a Fire horse’s food sensitivities, the horse owner must resolve three issues:
1. reduce inflammation in the digestive tract
2. soothe and heal the intestinal lining
3. remove the causes of stress and keep the Fire horse calm
1. Reduce Inflammation
Because inflammation seems to be the underlying cause of irritation in the digestive tract, herbs that address inflammation are helpful. Buck Mountain Licorice (8 cc of tincture twice a day) is a perfect herb for reducing digestive inflammation.
2. Soothe and Heal the Intestinal Lining
To soothe and heal the intestinal lining, feed products containing or made up of:
• whey protein
• mucilaginous foods and herbs such as slippery elm (1 to 2 tsp twice a day), Irish moss, marshmallow, oat powder and apple pectin
• foods that are bitter and contain chlorophyll, including blue-green algae (1 to 2 tsp/day) and alfalfa hay
The mucilaginous foods and herbs mentioned above are cooling and build Yin (moisturizing), both of which is soothe and heal the digestive tract. Building Yin also promotes relaxation, which is very important for the easily-stressed Fire horse. When the Fire horse is relaxed, he experiences healthier digestion and builds healthy moisture in the form of mucous, which is soothing and healing for the digestive tract. The bitter foods with chlorophyll are easy for the Fire horse temperament to digest, and seem to buffer any excess acid in the digestive system.
Specific products that help support and heal the digestive tract in the Fire horse include:
• KLPP : provides very potent prebiotic support to create the correct environment for healthy bacteria to thrive (Maintenance dose 10cc once or twice a day. For severe ulcers or yeast infections 2 ounces three times a day for 2 weeks, then1 ounce three times a day for 6 weeks then 1 ounce a day for 2 weeks.)
• Kam UF : contains many of the above mentioned soothing and healing herbs (1 TBS 3 times a day for 2 weeks then 1 TBS twice a day for maintanence or until ulcers are healed)
• SUCCEED from Freedom Health: soothes and heals the digestive tract, and has a key amino acid that helps the Fire horse relax and handle stress more easily (1 ounce twice a day for 10 days then 1 ounce a day for maintenance or until ulcers are healed)
3. Remove Causes of Stress and Keep the Fire Horse Calm
Efforts to support or treat digestion in the Fire horse can be frustrating if the underlying stress if not addressed. Carefully review the Fire horse’s environment, management program, and training program to discover causes of stress. Because the Fire horse temperament demands to be at the center of attention, even a lack of attention from his human may throw him into a stress reaction.
Once you have identified and removed any causes of stress, you may also need to feed herbs which relax and balance the nervous system, also called nerviness. Examples of nervine type herbs include chamomile, dong quai, hops, lobelia, skullcap, and valerian.
Specific products that will keep the Fire horse temperament relaxed include:
• Relax Blend and RelaxHer Blend from Equilite: contain herbs which support the nervous system (Follow label directions)
• Eleviv : contains four herbs which help the keep the Fire horse relaxed and operating from the healing parasympathetic nervous system (2 to 12 capsules a day depending on level and duration of stress).
The Fire horse temperament can be a very picky eater so these herbal products may have to be given by dose syringe, at least initially.
Typical program for digestive support in the Fire horse temperament could be little to no grain, 1 flake alfalfa hay, free choice grass hay, 10cc KLPP, 1 TBS UF and 1 tsp blue green algae twice a day. Succeed could be used in addition to or in place of the UF.