July 2014 – Mid Month Update
How to have a healthy happy horse
In This Issue:
Horse Temperament: Dew, the Coughing Horse
Horse Temperament: Dew, the Coughing Horse
Dew is a young, paint mare with a serious cough. I saw her first on June 2. She came to me with a diagnosis of chronic, obstructive, pulmonary disease (COPD). Dew was on antibiotics and steroids to help her with infection and inflammation in her lungs. Her owner reported Dew was improved on the drugs but she was still laboring to breathe and coughing often.
On physical exam, Dew had raspy sounds in her lungs and a moist sound to her breathing. She was tight and tense all over. My osteopathic exam showed her sacrum and pelvis on the left side had decreased motion in relation to each other and in a decompensation rather than compensation direction. This meant that Dew was in major discomfort as her body was not able to move in a way to compensate for the osteopathic disorder. Dew had her 16th rib in an expiration position and unable to move into inspiration. This meant she was not able to take a deep breath without pain.
In questioning Dew’s owners they recalled that Dew had been attacked by another horse in the pasture several months before and she had received a bad bite wound over her 16th rib area. In hindsight, she had not been right since. The rib injury and sacrum/pelvis disorder probably happened in the same altercation.
Coughing and lung problems are more often seen in Metal and Metal combination horse temperaments but they can occur in any horse following stress or injury. Dew is actually a Water/Fire (Tai Yang). The Tai Yang horse is normally high energy and sweet tempered but Dew was obviously depressed and irritable from being in pain and unable to breath. The infection and inflammation in her lungs was the result of her inability to breathe deeply and clear inhaled irritants.
My first plan was to treat her osteopathic disorders and get her rib mobilized. I was able to mobilize both the sacrum/pelvis and rib which seemed to give her immediate relief. I started her on Pulsatilla 30c to be given twice a day for 3 days to help her breathing and possible infection. Pulsatilla was also a match for Dew’s gentle disposition. I repeated the pulsatilla because Dew was just finishing up her course of steroids/antibiotics and I felt the steroids could interfere with the action of the homeopathic remedy.
I saw Dew again on June 8 and she was feeling much better. Her rib, sacrum and pelvis were all mobile but she still had some tightness in her chest and a moist, deep cough. I did a Bowen treatment on her and gave her 1 dose of Pulsatilla 200c. I was encouraged that Dew was improving even though she was now off antibiotics and steroids. This suggested to me that the damage to her lungs was not permanent.
I saw Dew again June 15 and she was slightly improved but still coughing. I repeated the Pulsatilla 200c and started her on a probiotic, enzyme, blue green algae product to support her healing process. On June 22 Dew was feeling much better but still had a cough. I wanted to do acupuncture at this time, but Dew was not happy with the lung support points I was wanting to use. I like to let the horse tell me what points feel good to them.
Using Horse Temperament for Treatment
I decided to use Dew’s underlying temperament type to guide me in point selection. I picked the points KI 27 to support the action of the Kidney to properly receive the Qi (energy) from the lungs. Based on Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, an excess of Qi in the lungs can cause coughing and asthma symptoms. HT 7 was chosen as a Fire point to help Dew recover from the stress from her injury and subsequent illness. CV 17 was chosen to help support the lungs and dispel fullness in the chest. BauHui was a point chosen to lift Dew’s spirit.
Dew was much happier with these points than with the first points I chose. These points were a better match for her underlying Water/Fire temperament. By supporting Dew’s Kidneys, which are the weak link for the Water temperament, the Kidneys were able to do their job of bringing Qi down from the lungs. At this point, Dew needed the support for her underlying temperament more that she needed direct organ support for the lungs. Once her constitution was supported she improved dramatically.
I saw Dew again on July 14 and she only had a mild cough following exercise. Her coat and weight were both improved and she felt well enough to buck and play in her pen. I repeated KI 27 but Dew objected to the other previously used points. She enjoyed acupressure on CV 14 which is the alarm point for the stomach. The owners had run out of the probiotic, enzyme, algae product so I suspected Dew was experiencing some digestive upset from her ordeal. Aloe vera and marshmallow root were added to protect her digestive tract along with getting back on the digestive support.
This case is a good reminder of how important it is to consider the underlying temperament or constitution of a horse when developing a treatment plan. Focusing only on the lungs and cough was not giving the desired result but constitutional support was able to give Dew what she needed to complete her healing.
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