Dec. 5, 2011 - Holistic Health Care for Horses


With horses, a holistic approach considers everything and anything that could affect a horse’s health. It works with the healing forces of your horse to either remove blockages or supply what is needed.

Such an approach to horse care means asking what the body is attempting to achieve with its response. It also asks why the illness has occurred. And another important question, how the body may best be supported.

When horses are treated with a holistic approach to medicine all aspects that support or detract from their health are considered. With conventional medicine focus is on the disease and treatment of it. It is not just a choice between using conventional medicine with drugs and using a holistic approach utilizing natural substances.

Veterinarian’s using holistic methods have found their patients usually have less resistance and are at least as healthy if not more so after treatment. They also find there are fewer side effects. At the first signs of illness symptoms must be considered. Usually this is handled by suppression, palliation, and cure.

Suppressing signs of illness without finding the root cause can provide some form of relief. But often signs come back again and possibly even worse. Instead with a holistic healing method a cause for the signs and not the illness signs are the focus. Curing the cause of the sign will help the body become healthy and balanced again.

When signs of horse illness are suppressed they may disappear but the overall health of the horse may suffer for it. This can happen when very strong drugs are used. An example of this method would be the use of steroids for treatment of an allergic reaction of the skin. The "rash" may go away with the use of steroids but you may also see an undesirable change in your horses behavior such as aggression in a horse that previously was not aggressive.

When illness signs are palliated as a course of treatment signs often return soon after the treatment stops. Many times it can require larger doses of medicine in order to control the signs. This does not concentrate on the disease and often it will advance the disease.

For instance giving a horse bute for arthritis pain is a sample of palliation. The discomfort for your horse is eased but does not cure the condition. Curing a horse involves a comprehensive look at his management, personality, and his nutrition.

For example an arthritic hose may be provided nutritional support to help cartilage heal faster in his body. Also a look at ways to protect his joints and some rest with the addition of antioxidants may be beneficial.

With a holistic approach the whole horse is considered not just a symptom. Signs of an illness tell us the horse is fighting an outside "invasion". When a horse is healthy you will see a shiny coat, bright eyes and a playful spirit.