Not too many trainers have a Web site page dedicated to Health. This is another reason I am different. Health is MORE than an absence of disease or illness…Just because you don’t act/look/feel sick doesn’t mean you are healthy. Health encompasses the mental, spiritual, and physical aspects of what we do and who we are. I address the WHOLE horse. With people you need proper diet, proper rest, proper state of mind, and a properly functioning nervous system. Horses are no different. Experience has taught me that health issues can be a hindrance to learning; therefore I look at all aspects of your horse during his early assessment and might make recommendations for change based on my observations.
I’ve worked in both the human and animal health care field, so I take the health of my animals very seriously whether they live with me long term or short term. Sometimes the lessons I learn from my horses reach beyond the margins of training. I believe that horses come into my life for a reason and reflecting back, some of my own horses have taught me the most valuable lessons concerning health.
Hoof Care: If it wasn’t for my first horse, Mem, and my experiences with her founder I would never have ventured off the beaten path to natural balanced hoof trimming back in1990. Since her epic journey away from horse shoes, no horse on my farm has ever been shod again. I had to learn to trim her myself (A REALLY scary prospect for someone that could barely hold a rasp without taking off half my knuckles) and I don’t profess to be a trimmer by any stretch of the imagination but from working with Strausser instructor Sabine and having Strausser trained barefoot practitioners like Melinda Ford for the last several years, I have witnessed firsthand the benefits of a natural trim on the overall health of my horses. I can still trim the occasional non-problematic horse but leave the bulk of the trimming to Melinda. I am still a firm believer that horses should be barefoot. Horses here enjoy the freedom and the benefits that going barefoot with a ground parallel coffin bone provides.
Nutrition: Because of Lad’s sudden and untimely death from Metabolic Acidosis in 2008 I employed and embraced the knowledge of Amanda Kroeker of ARK Nutrition. She reworked my diet and helped make the changes to develop a feed program that addressed the needs of the horses whose care I am entrusted with. She educated me and made such a difference to my animals. It’s amazing how her program will even out the metabolic issues and insure hind gut health of every horse. Even behavioral problems can trace back to nutrition issues, and because of my knowledge gleaned from working with Amanda I am able to feed for optimum health. Metabolic issues abound in the horse world…sometimes its genetics and other times its environment and sometimes it’s the food choices that the feed companies push and sometimes it’s a combination of them all. Lad was a prime example of that and how of the seemingly right or normal foods can be so horribly wrong. And some horses live with symptoms we consider normal or okay, and all it takes is a Lad to prove how those cannot be ignored nor taken for granted. Since the transition, we’ve recognized some pretty amazing turn-arounds. Horses that needed to lose weight did and horses that needed to build up weight in a healthy manner did. Therefore the ARK diet plays an inaugural role in the foundation of learning on this farm.
Dental Care: Also an important part of training, regular dental maintenance is a cornerstone. I have seen horses almost starve to death while surrounded by food because of dental issues. Have you ever had a tooth ache? The horse also finds it hard to listen to instruction when his mouth is uncomfortable or accept a bit if his teeth have not been looked at.
Alternative Health: I often look to holistic methods of health for my animals. I am lucky to have animal chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncture practitioners, and even people gifted with herbal knowledge and animal communication. And each person, Rebecca, Ann, Helen, Anthony, Elena, Margaret, all bring a wealth of knowledge with them to assist me in caring for the horses in the best possible ways…inside and out! Combined with great veterinarians in the area…I have all the bases covered. They are all in the business to keep my horses healthy. I will never stop learning as long as I am around horses!