Just like the human, the horse can be adversely affected by what it is being fed. Gastrointestinal upset in horses results from feed that is lacking the proper mineral balance. Conditions such as gaseous colic, impacting, diarrhea, colitis, and ulcers are seen frequently.
One accurate, non-invasive method to detect your horse's level of intestinal health, often long before certain symptoms appear, is iridology - the study of the iris. [See Holistic Horse #23, Fall 2000, for an article on Iridology.]
To see the intestinal system through the eye, we look at the area surrounding the pupil. The small intestines can be found on the side closest to the nose. The large intestines will be found on the opposite side. If there is any discoloration in the areas encompassing the small or large colon (shown by a darker color than the rest of the iris) it is showing us that there are toxins accumulating in that area of the horse's intestinal tract. If the discoloration is in the small intestinal area, it is showing us that this system is low on "good" bacteria. These bacteria perform a number of beneficial tasks that will keep the colon functioning at peak efficiency.
Probiotics, or "good bacteria," are composed of dehydrated beneficial live bacteria. They are used to establish or re-establish the micro-flora within the horse's gut. After antibiotic treatment, a course of probiotics will help to re-establish the beneficial bacteria that have been destroyed by the antibiotics. Probiotics also help produce the B vitamins when they are needed. Only B-12 can be stored in the body of the horse. Vitamin K is also produced to help coagulate the blood.
If there is a discoloration in the large colon (darker color) it is showing us that the intestinal system is having trouble eliminating: (1) undigested food due to lack of "good bacteria" in the system or (2) bacteria, parasites and waste products of blood and tissue cells.
If the eye is showing a "white rope" around the intestinal area, that is usually an indication of a parasite congestion. It appears that the parasites and their eggs are clogging the mesenteric artery -- the main artery that feeds the intestinal system with food and fresh oxygen. If this artery is not kept clear and healthy, the system, along with the horse, will weaken and die. Please see your veterinary doctor or equine health practitioner to help clear this area.
Two other areas of concern: Pelvic Flexure and Diaphragmatic Flexure. In pelvic flexure, a section of the colon appears to make such an elbow turn on itself that anything can get caught (i.e., sand, food, wire, gravel, dirt, etc.). This area will show on film as a "marking" in the right eye. Diaphragmatic flexure will show as a marking in the left eye and is another place inside the colon that makes a dramatic turn and can become impacted.
The colon can function at peak efficiency when it is kept clean from harmful parasites and nutritionally supported with a good diet, healthy bacteria, and other nutritional components. A good, balanced diet that provides all the required nutrients can be worked out with an equine nutritionist.
Mercedes Colburn is owner of Animal Iridology Institute, an offspring of the Herb Farm Co. in Salinas, California. She is a Doctor of Naturopathy, Master of Holistic Healing and a California state licensed vocational educator. To learn more about Equine Iridology, visit www.equineiridology.com . For information on books and a complete home study course, contact the Herb Farm Co., 1123 Fontes Lane, Salinas, CA 93907; 831-422-9182; fax 831-770-0739.
Image of an eye with a discoloration around the pupil area. This area corresponds with the large and small intestines. When we see a darker color here, it shows us toxicity in the intestinal system and the inability of the horse to break down and assimilate his food.
This photo shows there is a possible parasite infestation coming from the main artery that supports the intestinal system. Note a small white line at the bottom half of the film. This white line is telling us that the horse has a long history of parasite problems that have gone unmanaged. In this case, I would recommend that the horse owner develop a parasite control program that is consistently applied.