Holistic Horse Health: The Buzz From the Barn

Madalyn with horseMadalyn Ward, DVM shares her answers to specific holistic horse care questions from clients. To see more questions and answers on real holistic horse care situations check out the Horse Health Hotline postings.

Q – I have typed my horse as most likely a Yang Ming. He’s a 9 year old TWH. He has been healthy, other than some thrush/white line, up until this year. Around April this year he was diagnosed with seasonal allergies when the pollen was really bad. It presented as coughing and it was determined he was having difficulty breathing. He was put on Dex injections and Tri-hist granules to get it under control. The treatment worked and he was scaled off the Dex but stayed on a maintenance dose of Tri-hist for the summer and he rarely coughed, though there were some days his nostrils were larger than normal.

We are changing seasons so I thought maybe he would not need the Tri-hist and tested this. The board owner tells me he is coughing some again. I witnessed it this week and when he was doing it he had nasal discharge that was milky/clearish.

This year his eyes also seem to be more sensitive with more watering and rubbing which seems to have been helped by diligent fly mask wearing. His sheath swells sometimes, mostly in the spring/summer months. He also has episodes of white line seperation and he’s had toe cracks that I’m having a hard time getting under control.

Does what I’m describing sound like Yang Ming to you? And if so, can you point me in the right direction for getting my boy healthy?

A – By themselves each of your horse’s issues seem harmless but taken as a whole they do indicate his system being out of balance. We want to form a plan to address the underlying imbalance rather than treating each symptom as a separate issue. You are on the right track typing him as a Yang Ming. All these symptoms are ones the Yang Ming is prone to when out of balance.
I have a few questions that will help in forming an overall plan.
What vaccines has your horse had?
What is his feeding program?
What is the climate usually like where you live?
What climate gives your guy the most trouble?

Q – My horse is boarded and the last time he had vaccines was Spring of this year. He had the EEE/WEE, Rhino/Flu, Rabies, Tetanus, WNV plus Botulism which was a requirement at the boarding stable I was at. In the past he has had the Strangles vaccine. The board owner feeds Cryto Aero horse feed along with alfalfa/timothy hay pellets and a little bit of Remission. He has been on this feeding routine since about the beginning of July this year. He is out to pasture all the time except for when he comes in to eat which is once a day. If hay is fed it’s a grass hay and when grass is low in the pasture there are round bales from time to time. I live in GA and during the time that he is having trouble (Spring-Fall) there can be quite a bit of moisture/dampness, and then we can go for a few weeks where it can get quite dry. It’s hard to tell but I think maybe he might be worse when there’s more moisture…? We’ve been quite damp and rainy the last few weeks and he’s coughing now, plus I’ve experienced him coughing in the morning when the grass and everything is wet. Like I said, it’s hard to tell but I don’t think it’s dryness that aggravates him. And given the time of year, maybe heat has something to do with it as well.

This time of year too his dock/anal area gets very dry skin and flakey.

A – Your horse’s history reveals several important issues.
First, your horse has multiple symptoms of chronic disease. He has the allergies with coughing, thrush, toe cracks, white line disease and sheath swelling. Together these symptoms suggest a weakened immune system, poor nutrient assimilation and poor lymphatic drainage. A horse with chronic disease should not be given multiple vaccines. Vaccines should only be given to healthy horses and this is stated on the label. If vaccines are given to a horse with chronic disease they should be limited to life threatening diseases such as encephalitis. Whenever possible, titers should be used in place of vaccines.

Second, your horse is challenged by both extreme damp or dry conditions. This is not a surprise since you have typed him as a Yang Ming. You will want to watch weather conditions closely and supplement your horse based on conditions. Your overall feeding program looks excellent so I think we can look at some balancing formulas to help him handle the weather stress. During very dry weather he could be given the Metal horse formula to help soothe and moisten his respiratory tract. The Metal formula also has support herbs to build his immune system. During damp weather you can feed the Earth formula to help clear his lymphatic system so he does not have the thrush, white line or sheath swelling. The Earth formula will also support his digestion so the toe cracks and dry skin should resolve.

Third, you will want to adjust your foundational feeding program to provide some additional, high quality fat. I like Chia seeds for both Metal and Earth horses. Rice bran can be a good fat for a Yang Ming during dry conditions but it may contribute to dampness conditions such as thrush during warm, wet weather. Rice bran and flax can also cause weight gain in an overweight Earth horse.

You can look at the balancing formulas at http://www.horsetemperament.com. The balancing formulas may need to be given at full dose for longer in an out of balance horse but once a horse is balanced they will then only be needed during times of stress. Thanks for your great case study. Hope this gives you some things to consider.

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