Horse Temperament: Gift, an Earth Mare with Cracked Hooves

hoovesThere are many reasons for a horse to have cracked hooves such as poor nutrition, dry weather or dry weather alternating with wet weather. Infrequent or improper trimming can also cause hooves to crack but in Gift’s case none of these conditions existed. Gift was well nourished, the weather had been reasonable and she was trimmed regularly. The challenge for Gift was not lack of nutrition but too much of it. Gift was getting too many carbohydrates from her pasture grass and the sugar was affecting her liver function.

Wood Element Effect on Hooves
The liver is associated with the Wood element and the extra sugar in the grass was kicking Gift’s liver function into overdrive. This problem was affecting her hooves in several ways. First the Wood element in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is responsible for the health of the connective tissues and hooves. The other issue with the overactive Wood element is related to the TCM control cycle. The Wood element controls Earth and in this case the excess Wood element was stealing all the energy from the Earth element. With a lower energy, the Earth element was not able to process nutrients very well.

Gift had other symptoms that are classic for Wood element hyperactivity. She had very sensitive, itchy skin. She was tight in her chest muscles and had a hard time raising her back and taking deep breaths. Gift was showing many Wood symptoms but her temperament was Earth. Despite all her discomforts she remained easy to handle and work with. Her Earth element was fine but in order for it to function correctly we needed to get the Wood element to settle down.

Treatment For Gift
On the first visit, I gave Gift the homeopathic remedy, thuja 1m for 1 dose. I then had her owner follow a month later with a dose of Nux 1m for 1 dose. Both of these remedies help the liver to function better.

I saw Gift again a week after the dose of Nux. Her skin was actually more itchy as we had had some rain which raised the sugar in the grass. We decided we needed to limit Gift’s access to the grass and give her alfalfa cubes and some limited grass hay. We added chia seeds to her diet to give her a source of quality fat without additional calories. I gave her a dose of the remedy Sepia 1m for more liver support.

I saw Gift a month later and her skin was much improved but she was still tight in her chest. The improved skin suggested to me that her Wood element was on its way back into balance but her chest tightness told me there was still some excess. Gift’s weight was good but her hooves were still dry and cracking. We added some flax in addition to the chia seeds. I treated several acupressure points on Gift to relieve the excess Liver pattern. LIV 3 is my favorite for Liver excess and it is also the Earth point on the Liver meridian. I used this point in conduction with LI 4 for an overall calming effect and the stress of constant itching that had taken a toll on Gift. Both LIV 3 and LI 4 help to clear wind symptoms such as itching.

Follow-up With Gift
A month later Gift was showing great improvement. Her hooves were growing out well and her skin was shiny with very little itching. Gift still had some tightness through her chest so in addition to LIV 3 I also treated PC 6 and CV 17 to open the chest and allow a smooth flow of Qi in the body.

I am confident that Gift’s Wood element is close to being balanced again. In her case extra hoof supplements or corrective trimming would not have had much effect. Getting her off the high sugar grass and balancing her over active Wood element allowed her Earth element to function and nourish her hooves and skin. Knowing a horse’s Five Element temperament type is helpful in treating many conditions in the way that is best suited for that individual. You can learn more about Five Element Temperament Typing through the Tallgrass Online Course.

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