Holistic Horse Health: The Buzz From the Barn

Madalyn with horseMadalyn Ward, DVM shares her answers to specific holistic horse care questions from clients.

Q – After taking the Tallgrass course, “Understanding Horse Types and Temperaments”, I’m trying to wrap my brain around my “Earth” horses having “Wood” issues or “Fire-like” symptoms.  One of mine seems to be a “Fire” horse, but a history of abuse has made that a little bit muddled.  Another of my horses is a total “Metal” type when he was young (I’ve had him for 20 years) but is changing as he’s aging.  I’m wondering how you apply the specifics of feeding/supporting the “type” when external factors, history, or time alter it…or they are a combination of types?

A – Great questions. The goal is to determine the underlying temperament even as external forces create a confusing picture.  You can approach the management best by knowing the underlying type. Sometimes you will have to go with what the horse is showing you and then make adjustments if this does not yield results.  Health issues may respond temporarily to feeding according to what is presented but deep healing occurs when the underlying organ weakness is addressed. For example, Liver imbalance in any type can look like Wood behavior but you must treat the underlying weakness that allowed the Wood element to get out of balance.

Q – I fully understand what you’re saying about approaching management based on underlying type.  That makes perfect sense.  I also understand the challenge of determining the underlying type.  In that same vein of reasoning, I really resonate with your statement about going with what they’re showing you…it can sometimes be a conversation with elements that get lost in translation…but not surprisingly, the more I study this TCM (Traditional Chinese Method), the more I am able to really “see” what they’ve been showing me…far beyond what I saw before.

Here is where my brain starts to explode…”treat the underlying weakness that allowed the Wood element to get out of balance.”  For example, I have a horse that I believe to be Earth…he has some hoof wall weaknesses and muscle soreness that led my acupressure practitioner to say that he has some Wood element imbalances.  She has been working on correcting the imbalance in his Liver.  So, my Earth horse has Wood symptoms… you say that any temperament can experience imbalances in the meridians.  So for the purpose of clarification, it is a generalization to say that an Earth horse, for example, would often show imbalances in Earth meridians (Stomach/Spleen).  When you refer to the “underlying weakness,” do you mean the imbalanced meridian/organ?  Or do you mean that since Wood controls Earth, that some weakness in his Earth allowed for the Wood to become imbalanced because of the relationship between the elements?

A – Both statements are true. By supporting the Spleen/Pancreas and related meridians you are helping them withstand the over control of the Wood element. Acupressure points such as SP 6 and ST 36 are ones to look at. Digestive enzymes and digestive aids such as Stomach Soother (papaya) will help support the Spleen/Pancreas. Also homeopathic remedies such as nux vomica and thuja for general support and others such as silica and calc carb for more constitutional healing.
You can also look to support the Metal element since it may not be getting what is needed from Earth to properly control Wood.  It is actually very fun to think this way after you have a little practice.

Q – Thank you so much.  There’s definitely a learning curve!!  Looking at things from a broad holistic point of view versus a symptom-by-symptom one is going to take practice…but it sure is interesting

A – Holistic thinking is always interesting. It is like being a detective and scientist at the same time.

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