To a horse, the key to survival is the ability to be balanced and upright, ready to move in an instant; otherwise, you are a predator's "lunch." When "OK" was saved from going to slaughter, after questionable treatment for many years, getting him back in balance became our horse care team's Equine Extreme Makeover.
OK is a 13-year-old 15H Cremello QH (as far as we know) gelding we purchased Christmas 2007. OK was receiving information from his feet and teeth telling him he was unbalanced. He could not trot to the right or even pick up his feet without losing his balance. For OK to complete his makeover it was imperative he receive ongoing dental and farrier work so the information his brain was receiving was correct.
We changed his diet from sweetfeed to ABC Free Choice Minerals and ABC Plus, steamed oats, rolled barley, cracked corn, beet pulp (without molasses), stabilized flax, Complete Joint and, for several months, Stomach Soother due to diarrhea brought on by stress. Initially we included Bach Flower Rescue Remedy and Young Living Oils Peace and Calming, Lavender and Frankincense in his daily routine. We worked out a consistent retraining program, starting with longeing to build up his muscles and help him balance himself, then progressed to riding.
"When able to maintain balanced posture and movement with the help of multiple modalities of care for its mechanics, physiology and emotions, the animal is able to prioritize and perform its essential functions of body maintenance, and optimize performance." -- Judith M. Shoemaker, DVM
On a daily basis, classical New Age “healing music” is playing in the barn; we all benefit! After two years of training, OK has the most comfortable walk and trot in the barn. His canter is still a work in progress but we have faith we will make it an excellent one. From being a dangerous animal that could not be handled, even to pick up his feet, he is now a model of poise and dependability. We have addressed his balance issues and now he is no longer fighting against gravity, giving him the opportunity "to be the best that he can be."
OK is a lesson for us regarding the importance of balance. He is a great trail horse and leader for the babies, and is our longe horse extraordinaire. Everyone who rides him gets off with a smile. He also works with people in the round pen helping them find balance on many levels: emotionally, interpersonally and spiritually. OK has now become the teacher of balance in our lives.
THE INTEGRATIVE APPROACH
According to Pine Knoll Farm’s experience in rehabilitating horses, it takes approximately 18 months to see a consistent and stable outcome, although horses frequently make dramatic improvement early in the process. During these 18 months of rehabilitation, the horse experiences four seasons of healing, along with two more when he is healthy.
OK’s 18-month rehabilitation included a battery of complementary therapies, including:
- Dental equilibration every 6 months
- Corrective trimming every 4 weeks
- Homeopathics (adjusted regularly, depending on progress)
- Chiropractic, 3 visits (more frequent would have been ideal)
- Neural therapy in Spring 2009 and 2010. Dr. Judith Shoemaker injected local anaesthetic to reprogram neurologic function (like rebooting a computer).
His maintenance program currently incorporates:
- Postural rehabilitation exercises daily
- Niagara Equissage before and after work
- Norfields magnetic blanket and hock boots prior to work
- Respond Magnetic Blanket and Respond Laser therapy weekly on prescribed points
- Energy work, including Reiki and Color and Sound therapies
- Regular dental work
- Ongoing farrier visits for barefoot trim
Gillian Vallis owns and manages Pine Knoll Center for Integrated Horsemanship in Lexington, Kentucky. For more information on the therapies offered, see “EquineSynergetics”© at www.pineknollfarm.com
“The whole is a reflection of every part and every part is a reflection of the whole.” Anonymous