Is your horse healthy if it feels good? The answer may be more complex than you think.
Have you ever felt good one day and then came down with a cold, the flu, or some other condition the next? You probably felt fine the day before you got sick, but were you healthy?
Most likely your resistance was low – perhaps your stress levels were too high or you were pushing yourself too much. It’s obvious that health is much more than how you feel; it’s much deeper than that.
WHAT IS HEALTH?
Health is the body’s ability to handle physical, chemical, and emotional stress without losing its physical, chemical, and emotional balance. So many forms of stress threaten this balance:
• cuts, bumps, and bruises
• pollution and chemicals
• trailer rides, ill fitting equipment, etc.
• bacteria, viruses, pollen, mold, and fungi in the air
• cancer cells, with their deranged genetic instructions
Your horse must adapt to all of these challenges. If he did not, a hot summer day would boil his brain; a winter night would freeze him solid; every inhalation would bring massive infection; tumors would overwhelm his body; a small cut would drain all his blood. Without adaptation, his heart would continue pounding after a workout; drugs would never break down, your horse would stay sedated for days; an adrenaline high or a moment’s anxiety would last a lifetime.
Thankfully, your horse will usually adapt to life’s stresses because many mechanisms are built into its body for this purpose. They are as simple as shivering when cold and as elaborate as the immune system engulfing bacteria. They are as dramatic as an adrenaline rush when confronting danger or as ungraceful as gagging. They all say the same thing: Survive! Survive changes in the weather; survive bacterial invasion; survive pollution; survive trailer rides; survive excitement; survive work; survive when competing.
Symptoms such as fevers, chills, mild colic, fatigue, sneezing, pain, anxiety, anger, and others – although unpleasant – aren’t bad; rather, they are signs that your horse’s body is struggling to regain health and balance.
Nobel Prize winner Rene Dubos said it well: "Good health is a process of continuous adaptation to the myriad microbes, irritants, pressures, and problems which daily challenge man."
Any disruption, irritation or change in the ability of the nervous system to orchestrate the function of the body can set the stage for disease and ill health.
What does this ability look like inside of your horse? It’s thousands of different chemicals being balanced every second, millions of cells dying every second, millions of cells being born every second, and billions of nerves firing messages to every part of the body every second. The horse’s lunch is somehow turned into eye, muscle, heart, bone, skin, and blood; damaged tissues are being repaired; blood vessel linings are being smoothed; germs and tumors are being destroyed; and all the things that your horse’s cells produce are being monitored and balanced while he eats some grass, sleeps, or runs a race.
A wondrous intelligence organizes this overwhelming complexity. As Lewis Thomas, MD, says in The Medusa and the Snail, "[There is] a kind of super intelligence that exists in each of us, infinitely smarter and possessed of technical knowledge far beyond our present understanding." This idea is echoed by Deepak Chopra, MD, in Ageless Body, Timeless Mind: "Intelligence is present everywhere in our bodies...our own inner intelligence is far superior to any we can try to substitute from the outside..."
Equine chiropractic refers to this organizational ability to be well as "innate intelligence." This innate intelligence organizes your horse’s body into a complicated, living, adapting, growing being. Without it your horse would be no more than a few dollars worth of chemicals.
You think of moving your arms, and then you move your arms. How did you make the leap from just thinking about moving your arms to actually moving them? Did the thought knock an electron from its orbit in a nerve cell in your brain which somehow generated a nerve impulse that caused your muscles to contract? If that is so, how did the thought first move the electron?
All of your life you think and act but at what point do your thoughts convert into actions? In the same way, where does your innate intelligence touch your physical body? This connection lies somewhere "behind" your DNA that organizes the tiny world of the cell, and your body which is made up of billions of cells. There is a powerful place deep within you where intelligence percolates up to your physical existence. The same goes for your horse’s body.
A part of your horse’s body is especially intimate with his inner wisdom; his brain, spinal cord and the millions of nerves that emerge from them. The nervous system touches every nook and cranny of the body and your horse’s innate wisdom uses this vast communication system to organize its billions of parts into a healthy, adapting, living being. True health or adaptation can only exist when the innate intelligence can communicate without interference.
A complete break in that communication results in death; a partial break results in a general deterioration of health – "dis-ease." Eventually a "dis-eased" (asymptomatic) state turns into a "diseased" (symptomatic) condition.
Vertebral subluxations are a common, often painless condition that stresses your horse’s spine and nervous system and interferes with the proper flow of information through its body, causing a state of disease.
AVCA certified doctors spend years of training learning how to locate and correct vertebral subluxations, freeing the body from disease and helping your horse better reconnect to the wisdom within.
A regular contributor to Holistic Horse, Dr. Bill Ormston runs Jubilee Animal Health, a mobile mixed animal practice in the Dallas Metroplex area. See www.jubileeac.com