This article takes
some explanation. The five of us - Catherine Bird and Tanya Nolte
of Australia, Lyn Palmer of the UK, Patti Duffy-Salmon from Tennessee,
and I, Maggie Moyer, from Pennsylvania - all previous contributors
to Natural Horse - have written it together. We have a network where
we communicate via the Internet to discuss case studies from our
individual careers, and combining our efforts provides us with more
tools for our clients. The following is a case study we each took
a part in last winter.
The horse is a five-year-old WB mare named Ruby, 16.1 H chestnut. Ruby is a client of Maggie's and boarded with Maggie last year. This young mare has a history of rambunctious pasture behavior and attention difficulties while being ridden. A consistent work schedule works best with this mare, whose owner also started her with TTeam.
Maggie had been working with Ruby on a regular basis. She is a big-moving mare who had some balance issues especially when going through a growth spurt. The mare had been doing well, scored well in her first dressage show, and was beginning to school the next level when her canter became strung out, her departs labored, and while on the lunge line had an intermittent four-beat canter. It was also noted Ruby became grumpy during her work and reluctant to walk up small slopes. The veterinarian was notified but could not come for a few days. Maggie was asked to look at the mare.
Maggie's hands-on contributions:
Ruby had always been sensitive over the right hip and had previously had a very small sacral iliac joint dislocation. However I found the entire hindquarter and back extremely sensitive to touch. When palpating the stifles she jumped away and if I persisted she kicked out at me. I could also hear a popping sound from the stifles. On the lunge line I could detect a funny hitch in the right hip and the intermittent four-beat canter. In questioning the owner I found Ruby was increasingly unpleasant while being mounted. She would stand but as soon as the owner started to swing up Ruby would bolt. The owner had not had an accident as she was fit enough to swing up before falling, but she realized it was a matter of time. She also suspected it was out of discomfort. It was revealed by the farm that Ruby had reared and fallen in the pasture a few weeks before, and the timing fell in with the time the symptoms appeared. At this point the owner stopped riding Ruby and was resigned to lunge her a few times a week.
I was present for the vet visit. At this point
the four-beat canter had resolved but there was still an intermittent
hitch in the right hip. When he palpated her stifles Ruby sank down
and had to be assisted back up. The vet felt she had injured the
sacral iliac joint again, which was causing her stifles to be uneven
and the hitch was because of the displacement. The vet prescribed
rest for one week, butazolidin, then hand walking progressing to
light riding. No schooling.
At this point, I presented this case to the group. I could not get through a massage/TTouch session without the mare kicking or sinking down. This was a change in the mare's behavior. I had gotten her to the point where her first reaction was not to kick. Instead she would either move away or sink down. Instead of antagonizing her by persisting I would check just enough to determine if this was still an issue. If she would permit it I would gently work on the stifles. This has always been a mare with many opinions and has never done well if "forced" to comply. She would only become worse. Having some experience as an animal communicator I found she had definite opinions as to whom she liked and whom she did not. If she did not like someone she would tolerate them but not be very gracious. She was also prone to hysterical temper tantrums, which were short lived, but explosive. When questioned about these her response was always an exasperated, 'I do not know'. She also had a sense of who and what was around her. The mare seemed to know she was insecure and sought control in her life. A well-timed TTeam technique often diffused a situation.
TTeam ground work seemed to work perfectly for this mare. Either the owner or I would take the mare out for "TTeam walks" using the Elegant Elephant Position. This is the strongest position. Later I would progress to Dingo and Cheetah but would return to Elegant Elephant. The walks would be interspersed with wand stroking and leg placement with the wand. Ruby was very receptive to this. A few observations were made. When backing, the goal is to have the horse back using diagonal pairs, i.e. left front and simultaneous right hind movement. There was a delay of the right hind leg movement when asked to back from the left front leg. This was assisted with tapping of the right hind to bring more awareness to that leg.
Ruby looked forward to these sessions. Since this mare also has a very active mind, challenges were added on the walks. Slopes, walking over poles, through mazes, etc. were all a part of the TTeam walks. When the weather turned icy the walks continued outside, as the indoor was often crowded. At one point I slipped on the ice only to have Ruby steadfastly maintain her position so I could regain her balance. Rather then reacting the mare was becoming a team player.
Patti's herbal contributions:
Ruby was already on Meadowsweet Acre Herbs' Mare Regulator Blend. The owner wanted to avoid the problems encountered with show mares, e.g. irregular cycles, tight backs, and difficult behavior, but did not wish to use pharmaceuticals. Instead she tried the Mare Regulator Blend and felt satisfied with the results.
In discussing the case with Maggie when Ruby was four, we decided to first try the Chamomile/Passionflower Blend (no valerian). Ruby was a show horse and the owner did not want to rely on valerian to calm her mare's nerves. However she did recognize that Ruby might need something to calm her busy mind, as she tended to become easily overwhelmed. While in work Ruby learned to remain focused but her rambunctious behavior in the paddock was a concern.
During her younger years, her heat cycles were more transitional and I remember I didn't want to put her on anything strong. We started out with the mildest blend, the Chamomile/Passionflower Blend. As she matured, we worked our way up to the stronger blend, the Mare Regulator Blend, which would actually balance her hormones and help with any cramping and pain. The Mare Regulator has the chaste tree berry and dong quai in it. Both regulate the hormones and will not prevent the mare from cycling but will limit the prolonged effects such as tight back, irritable behavior etc.
During the time Ruby was out of work and only
hand walked, I added extra chamomile to her blend. It was still
early enough in the winter that she was not ready to switch to the
Raspberry/Chamomile Blend, but once Ruby could be ridden regularly
we switched her from the Mare Regulator to the Raspberry/Chamomile
Blend from January to February. The raspberry leaf strengthens and
tones the uterus and therefore decreases the cramping and discomfort.
We also put Ruby on the Joint Blend. This contains glucosamine and other herbs to aid in the discomfort Ruby may experience during her work sessions. The goal was to not let the pattern of discomfort and hormonal swings become a part of Ruby's work pattern.
Why the concern for this mare's cycles during
the winter? The problem is not usually when they are in season,
but rather how they come out of season. If this mare, through the
stress of this injury and a change in schedule, did not go out of
a season this could have set her up for unbalanced hormones, which
could result in a tight back, mare-ish behavior, and an uncooperative
attitude. As it turned out, when the mare cycled the symptoms only
lasted 3-4 days and she showed only mild symptoms.
Lyn Palmer's aromatherapy contributions:
When Maggie explained to us the problems she was experiencing with Ruby, I knew that the mare was well used to essential oils, with Maggie choosing those she felt appropriate at each session, and checking with the horse before adding as a blend for final application. Ruby, like many horses where essential oils are part of their care routines, had a few oils that she would return to time and again - this often will give an aromatherapist a thumbnail sketch of the horse's personality, current state of mind and attitude toward work, when balanced against the daily care and work load the horse receives.
Ruby had, in the past, narrowed her choice of oils down to a variation on lavender, chamomile, patchouli, basil and vetiver. This gave me the picture of a horse who enjoyed her work and who was happy in her life in general, but who just needed a little help and support from the oils as she always seemed to ask questions with her attitude and body language - often finding it hard to keep her feet on the ground in all senses of the word! She always gave the impression of being full of life and energy with a little flightiness in mind causing a lack of prudence in how she used her body.
Lavender was probably chosen by Ruby for its cooling and calming effect on general aches and pains experienced due to high jinks in the field and as her training moved forward, and for a lowering of the nervous tension she created in her mind by always asking questions. Lavender is also very balancing and since Ruby is very much a 'mare-ish' mare with quite intense seasons it would also have helped with hormonal balancing especially when linked with her second favorite of patchouli. Patchouli is very much a mare's oil in my experience; also its earthy tones can be grounding and helpful with an overactive mind, creating focus. Fennel was another occasional favorite but Maggie discovered that the mare only chose this when she was in season so it was the estrogenic effect that was needed by the body at that time rather than the emotional clearing and stimulating effect. Chamomile has an anti-inflammatory effect on both overactive minds and muscles whilst I have found basil to be the classic oil of concentration for horses who are being asked for a little more in their training sessions. The vetiver has a very grounding effect.
We discussed Ruby's training and once the period of rest was over considered how the muscle weakness found in the right hindquarters could be improved. In collaboration with Ruby's trainer it was found that work in self carriage with an encouragement of slight engagement of the hindquarters by using spirals on both reins would be effective in strengthening the gluteal and hamstring muscle groups by encouraging the hind legs to step across and under, this in turn would stabilize the stifle click that was heard occasionally.
However after the first two days of work on the lunge, once off the butazolidin, we became concerned that Ruby was very sore and raised in her lower back and right hindquarter, and despite Maggie offering all her usual favorite oils, the mare refused them all and Maggie emailed me for some alternatives.
Ginger is an excellent oil for lower back problems, as it is warming and energizing. From the point of view of her emotional state it would also be helpful in encouraging Ruby to concentrate on the problems in her body and to become proactive in achieving improvement as often pain will cause the horse to disassociate the mind from the body. Lemongrass acts on deep muscle spasms, so when I am considering applying a massage blend where my hands feel there are problems but the horse doesn't respond to lavender, then that would be my next choice. Marjoram is also a useful sedative/antispasmodic for aches and pains and jasmine calms the nerves and would be a slightly deeper-acting oil than patchouli in the emotional sense, used where perhaps the horse is also a little fearful. Frankincense is another oil useful for a fearful horse where it finds itself in a situation that it doesn't quite understand; it helps clear mental agitation and calms the mind, making rational behavior easier to achieve.
During Maggie's next treatment of Ruby, ginger and lemongrass were chosen by the horse and applied after the massage. Jasmine and Frankincense were also chosen and offered twice a day thereafter for several days until she no longer showed an interest in the aromas. No interest whatsoever was shown in the marjoram.
Catherine Bird's energetic contributions:
When we work as a group, I tend to focus on what energetic blocks are in the horse's energy field slowing down the healing or clouding the issue and making a solution difficult to find. Ruby had recently been moved from a boarding facility after it closed its doors to boarders. The move was uneventful, until a few months later when the new facility owner faced family and health problems resulting in the need to sell the farm. There were many secrets and power struggles among boarders and various trainers wishing to acquire the farm. The resulting power struggle had its effects on Ruby and her owner. Being a very sensitive mare Ruby was quick to pick up on negative feelings. I also discovered, aside from the farm sale issues, that there were some jealous feelings directed toward Ruby and her owner from fellow boarders at the boarding facility. Ruby herself was feeling this energetic tug-of-war and her owner's fears.
I used kinesiology to get a tone of the energy and a key statement that came up was, "I put myself in a position to be rejected." Ruby's owner was consistently in a mediating position over the lease issue, and although on the surface she seemed to be able to throw off the negative feelings she actually held them deep inside. Being a perceptive mare, Ruby absorbed her owner's negative energy. The unstable environment was a block to finding the key to helping Ruby discover a balance in her body and behavior, so I then chose spiritual rays and sacred geometry and used these to defuse the negative charge this was having on Ruby's behavior. I also set a new energy around Ruby so that her owner would have clarity with Ruby and "know" what next to do in her situation to avoid having her emotions whirling around Ruby and confusing the issue.
This helped Ruby's owner to utilize all the tools we had provided as a group and then to explore further the underlying cause of the issue. Due to the constant tug of war and behind the scenes activity surrounding the sale of the farm, Ruby's owner made the decision to remove herself and Ruby from the situation by moving again. I had cleared the way for Ruby's owner to make a decision without being affected by any ties. The move itself took place several months later.
Tanya Nolte's homoeopathy contributions:
After Maggie presented our group with Ruby's case, I asked her a few more questions to assist from a homoeopathic perspective. It was established that Ruby was affectionate except when her stifles were touched which initially resulted in her attempting to kick. While under saddle the mare was demonstrating a grumpy disposition.
I queried whether the vet had made any mention of gonitis (inflammation of the stifle), any suspicion of slight dislocation, or perhaps a dry joint. The vet had not discussed any of these conditions but did suggest the mare go on a joint supplement and have some acupuncture once she was back in work.
Ruby would move off normally for a brief period
but after about 5 minutes of trot and canter on the lunge she would
suddenly get worse and display a 4-beat canter. Maggie described
it as a funny upward hitch in her hip, and then the right hind was
slow to come through which produced the 4-beat canter. If Ruby was
pushed on it would disappear.
Being somewhat of an anticipator Ruby made it difficult to know just precisely where she was uncomfortable to touch around the hindquarters and stifle, touch was uncomfortable to her in any part of the area. There was a degree of neuralgic pain suspected. Tension was found towards her groin.
There were no apparent indications of weather preferences or aversions. However, it was noted that a similar problem had happened at the same time the previous year. The weather at the current time was cold and damp with some cold winds.
No obvious changes had been observed in Ruby's eating or drinking habits; bowel and urinary seemed in order, skin was clear, and there were no other health issues to consider at the time.
After some butazolidin treatment and a week off Ruby seemed much improved, however, she was still sore in the stifles with mild discomfort of the right gluteus and hip. The homoeopathic remedies Hypericum and Ruta grav were commenced.
The Ruta grav's chief purpose was to help rebuild cartilage and damaged tissues, strengthen the capacity for the stifle, hip and sacroiliac joints to maintain a correct position during and after Maggie's therapy, and assist with Ruby's general attitude and healing process. The Hypericum was directed specifically at nerve-related pain for the lower back and joints.
The leading symptoms for the selection of Ruta grav were: injuries to joints and tendons; sprained joints; joints as if dislocated; lameness of hip/stifle; sore, bruised pain; neck stiffness; worse touch; worse cold, damp weather, cold winds; worse ascending hills; worse motion but better continued motion, gentle motion or walking; restlessness and anxiety, anxiety with sudden stitching spinal pain (when rider attempting to mount); and irascibility.
This totality fitted with that of the energetic pattern of Ruta grav. It was also interesting to tie in the image of the Ruta grav individual who when feeling insecure, deceived, or even guilty as if they had done something wrong, can develop an inflexibility of mind and body. This leads to a lack of agility and a tendency to tearing or wrenching injuries. They can become defiant and defensive when they don't understand what is going on. Catherine's findings helped confirm this choice for me.
A week later it was reported that Ruby was having her good and bad days. However the bad days were not nearly as bad as they had been previously. Ruby enjoyed her walking in hand on the hills with less difficulty and was beginning to manage her TTeam maneuvers better. The impression was that she was better after her dosing of Hypericum. I was consulted as to whether she could continue on the Hypericum a little longer. As a response was being observed that healing was in place, there was no need to give further doses at this time. However, I did instruct that the Ruta-grav was to be continued as I felt its energetic influence was being burnt up at weekly intervals.
What followed was that Ruby improved significantly. She was no longer camped out and was traveling with her poll raised and not flat going to the right anymore. At last she could be collected on the lunge and do the spiraling exercises. It was felt that Ruby was ready to take on more work of this nature under saddle.
Where is Ruby now?
The first real ride on Ruby in about 6 weeks met with a co-operative, quiet horse with no head tossing as in the past. Some cantering was attempted with good result. A little difficulty was encountered on asking for shoulder in to the right so instead work was continued with just leg yielding which was much better.
Approximately 4 months later Ruby started to relapse with some muscle tightness through her right hindquarter again. Massage was not working it all out well enough. Maggie tried lavender and ginger essential oils in her massage work. Lyn reminded Maggie that a strong oil as ginger could negate the homeopathic remedies. It was decided lavender was acceptable. It was believed that the tightness was coming from the old injury and doing more work but certainly not as bad is it had been over winter. I suggested a short repeat of the Hypericum and Ruta grav, which worked well for her.
Causiticum and Colocynthis homeopathic remedies
were a consideration. Causticum for contracted muscles and spasms
and Colocynthis for contraction of muscle with pain of the hips
as if dislocated, amongst other indicated symptoms, matched Ruby's
symptoms. The problem seemed to resolve with the above treatments,
however, so these were not necessary.
It took the entire winter to get through much of the physical and emotional memory surrounding the injury. This case shows it is not just one modality that can turn the table when dealing with a problem. All were needed. The vet made his initial observation/diagnosis and prescribed butazolidin and rest then a gradual work program. Maggie and the owner recognized Ruby needed more support but did not want to continue with the butazolidin past the initial stage. Catherine cleared many energy blocks that would have prevented healing, Patti provided a base of support with the herbal blends for the hormonal and joint support, Lyn with her aromatherapy provided a safe use even with the homeopathics, which provided a healing state for Ruby. The TTeam work helped Ruby to learn a new and more efficient way of moving to prevent further injury and the repetition of poor body mechanics. The massage in conjunction with the aromatherapy eased the tension and helped soothe any distress between Ruby and her owner. Ruby still has her setbacks but overall the mare has been working well, had a successful show season and has advanced with her training.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace veterinary care.
About the authors:
Maggie Moyer, TTeam Practitioner, ESMT from PA, has many years experience as a Critical Care Nurse and is also an active rider and competitor. To find out more about Brass Ring Horse Massage TTeam/TTouch visit www.brassringhorsemassage.com or e-mail Maggie at email@example.com.
Patti Duffy-Salmon of Shelbyville TN is Owner/President of Meadowsweet Acre Herbs for Horses Inc. and is a well-known equine herbalist. Meadowsweet Acres is dedicated to meeting the needs of today's horses with custom blended herbs at reasonable prices. You can visit Meadowsweet Acre Herbs at www.meadowherbs.com. This website also has the LARGEST collection of EPM information anywhere on the Internet today. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone during normal business hours (9-6) 931-684-8838.
Catherine Bird is an Aromatherapist, Medical Herbalist and Massage Therapist specializing in working with horses. She incorporates the use of spiritual kinesiology to help understand the whole picture when working with her clients. Catherine is based in Sydney, Australia and consults in person and via the Internet worldwide. Her second book, "A Healthy Horse the Natural Way", demonstrates how she combines these therapies and will be available March 2002. For more information on Catherine's books, courses and consultations visit www.happyhorses.com.au
Tanya Nolte, VN, DipHom, is a professional classical homoeopath and veterinary nurse who specializes in the treatment of horses. She has been a successful competitor, breeder and trainer of horses for over 30 years and is well acquainted with many of the outcomes that befall our equine friends as a result of competition, breeding complications, environmental stresses, accidents etc. Tan conducts homeopathic consultations for both humans and animals at a homeopathic clinic in Australia, at her home office, for animals over the Internet, and at the veterinary clinic where she nurses. Please direct any enquiries to "Whispering Horse Therapies", http://whisperinghorsetherapies.50megs.com, Phone 0266 897296, email@example.com.
Lyn Palmer is based near Glastonbury, England where she owns a dressage schooling and livery yard with her daughter, Vikki. She works with both horses and humans using aromatherapy, massage and Bowen Technique, arranges aromatherapy clinics for horse owners and is the Equine Touch coordinator for England. Lyn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for equine aromatherapy email consultations.