Many years ago, I attended a lecture on all natural products for people. I remember hearing that Aloe Vera juice was beneficial for ulcers. However, because the taste was quite strong, I must have filed that information away in the dark recesses of my mind.
Twenty years later, I was working with a horse who had very bad navicular. He was also rather spooky, and a poor eater. I didn't connect the three problems at first, and started to work on the most obvious issue - the navicular. I took him off bute and put him on herbal supplements for the pain and lameness. I had him reshod with magnetic pads. I also worked on him with my laser to ease any additional muscle soreness. My biggest frustration was getting him to eat the herbs, since he was such a picky eater. Some days it took hours for him to finish his grain; some days, he didn't finish at all. I knew the herbs would help, but not if he didn't eat them.
As he began to get better, I started working him. He spooked at everything, under saddle and on the ground. I knew he had been with a trainer whose program is extremely stressful. Finally, I had a revelation: He was with a trainer who scared him, and he was not a bold horse...he'd been on bute (and who knows what else?) for some time...perhaps he had gastric problems. It was like a light suddenly went on.
I went home and started adding Aloe Vera juice, 1/2 cup over his grain, to his diet morning and night. He loved it! He went from being a finicky eater, to eating everything in sight. His feeder looked like it had been scrubbed daily. Now I could get the herbs into him on a regular basis. My feeding problem was solved, but I soon saw an even more surprising change. Suddenly, this horse was not as spooky as he had been. He seemed to calm down in a matter of weeks. He was still timid by nature, but he was much easier to be with. This shouldn't have surprised me. I had been studying and lecturing on the relationship between behavior and pain for the past year. But, when it was right in front of me, I hadn't made the connection. It makes sense that a horse with gastric pain will not be able to handle everyday stress. Horses who are very stoic can sometimes deal with both pain and stress, but horses like this one cannot. Not only was he trying to handle the pain in his feet from navicular, but he was trying to cope with stomach pain from years of medication and training stress. Something had to give.
I kept on the Aloe Vera for about 2 months. He has continued to improve in every way. He is sounder than he has been in many years, and calmer too. He is still a very good eater. He eats his grain with enthusiasm, and any herbs I put in it. He has a very pleasant personality, and is nice to be around. It has been amazing to see the change in him, and with such a simple solution. I have tried Aloe Vera on several other horses, since this one, and have seen very similar results. Appetite improves, personality stabilizes, and the overall health of the animal is visibly better. For me, this has been a simple solution for several problems, and an inexpensive one, too.
Jann O'Leary Costa, a former college professor, has been involved with alternative therapy for more than 10 years. She has been an avid horse person for more than 25 years, and competes locally and nationally in cutting horse competition. She combines the use of herbs with laser, magnetic and BioScan therapy, to support the whole horse. She can be contacted at JCCutters2@aol.com