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Tai Chi for the Equestrian

Natural Horse Care

By Pat Coleby
Copyright © 2001 by Pat Coleby
ISBN: 0-911311-65-3
165 pages, soft cover, approx. $20
First North American edition published 2001 by Acres USA
PO Box 91299, Austin, TX 78709-1299

"It is sad that so many of the old remedies have been allowed to lapse out of fashion and even be lost altogether," writes Australian Pat Coleby in her latest edition of Natural Horse Care, a guide focusing mainly on meeting the nutritional needs of the horse. Natural Horse Care zeroes in on the root of all problems - mineral imbalances. Beginning from the ground up, literally, Pat explains why good healthy soil, in proper balance, is of utmost importance to the welfare of the horse.

The author's 70-plus years of experience involve various species, all of which have taught her that nutrition is the real answer. Pat's first-hand knowledge and ability to successfully care for and treat animals of all kinds earned her the privilege of being further taught by various veterinarians. As a result she had been called upon as often as, or more than, the veterinarians in her area when an animal was in need. Though the author's experiences are largely from Australia and Australian soils, she has kept abreast of the studies and research from other countries as well. In Natural Horse Care, she specifies when some findings pertain to a certain country or area alone, but for the most part the information pertains to all countries and areas, and the needs of the horse in general.

The first few chapters set the foundation by covering soil and pasture management with an in-depth look at the need for balanced minerals, why today's soils have such an imbalance, and what to do about it. Coleby describes how the soil and pasture can be improved through remineralization, organic matter, and aeration, and how one can assess the health of a pasture merely by noting what weeds are in abundance. Good quality grasses only grow in well-balanced soils, and she describes what is needed to bring the soil back to good balance again without chemical fertilizers and herbicides, which are actually major culprits of its demise. She explains that we are faced with "… a whole host of minerals being tied up and rendered unavailable by artificial fertilizers, with or without low pH levels." She provides helpful information about what minerals in excess cause deficiencies of others, and explains their relationships to each other in a simple and understandable manner.

Natural Horse Care presents some herbs and explains their basic uses, and mentions a homeopathic remedy or two as well, before delving into the area of nutrition. Pat Coleby provides answers to many of the questions we commonly ask about feeding the horse, including when and what to supplement, naturally. She presents explanations of, and her experiences with, a myriad of conditions caused by nutritional deficiencies and explains how a proper, basic feeding practice can not only prevent them but can reverse nearly all of them. She briefly discusses cancer, colic, botulism, strangles, infection, proud flesh, EIA, arthritis, founder, contracted tendons, and more.

Included throughout these sections are numerous instances of successes from just implementing minerals and vitamins, particularly seaweed and vitamin C, to enable a rapid recovery. She explains the role of magnesium in the diet and why certain conditions such as founder are a result of a deficiency of it, the role of copper and why wood-chewing and parasites are a result of a deficiency of it, and the role of many others. She discusses the hazards of vaccinations, drugs, and artificial fertilizers, and how they can be deadly to the horse, as well as what to do to help the horse have minimal side effects from the use of a drug or vaccine.

This book is an easy-to-read and very informative text and, except for some of the terms and products mentioned, with which another country may not be familiar, it is very easy to understand. The chapters include Soil Deficiencies, Analysing Soils, Improving and Maintaining Pastures, Minerals, Vitamins - Minerals Come First!, Non-Invasive and Natural Remedies, Basic Feeding Practice, Ailments, General Feeding and Care of Breeding Horses, Blood Analysis, Conditioning of Horses, and a good-sized, solid list of selected reading. It also has a helpful index.

Pat says, "Quite often after a few weeks on the correct minerals, good remineralized pasture, and balanced feed, many problems will disappear of their own accord. Sadly, nowadays there are few, if any, places in the world that have perfectly balanced soil."

She says that to have healthy horses, for whatever job, we do need to supplement their diets. With this book, the reader will learn how, and will gain a true perspective on natural horse care, from the ground up.

Tai Chi for the Equestrian

By James Shaw
5618 Sunfield Avenue, Lakewood, CA 90712
55 minutes; Approx. $30

In today's fast-paced world, "We forget to listen to our bodies, or maybe we've forgotten how," says James Shaw in his video, Tai Chi for the Equestrian. In the introduction, James tells us that Tai Chi is an ancient form of exercise and martial art that teaches us to unite the mind and body through deep abdominal breathing and slow precise movements.

In Tai Chi, action follows thought, and one does not oppose force, but rather connects with it and redirects it. Thus is the reason for its benefit to the equestrian. One learns how to understand and use one's body, to strengthen balance, coordination, and timing. When one is in command of one's own balance and coordination, communication with one's horse improves, and energy unites.

Tai Chi for the Equestrian was filmed at a beautiful California horse farm with various serene landscapes. James Shaw, a student of the martial arts for nearly 20 years (focusing on the internal arts of Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Laing Gong), is the instructor. James has worked with some of the top riders in Southern California; he conducts clinics and teaches private and group classes.

In this unique video, James takes the viewer through a series of exercises, explaining precisely how to move each body part while he demonstrates perfect form. The viewers can do the exercises along with James, and they have the added benefit of a split screen showing James from both the front and side simultaneously. James says that all you need are the right moves and a lot of practice; keep an open heart, open mind, and a smile on your face because these are powerful things.

The first exercise is breathing. He demonstrates and explains how to do it. Next is breath with motion, and James guides the viewer through seven warm-up postures. Phrases like "Breathe in as if smelling a flower" and "Shift the weight with your mind into your right hip" help with getting the feel.

Next, James teaches 8 positions and new motions. He recommends that each be practiced until it can be done without the video before moving on to the next. James makes it look easy; there are times when it looks like a horse could easily be placed beneath him, and it is easy to see how getting the balance and feel on the ground will transfer when mounted. At the end, James reviews with the 10 basic principles of motion.

Few forms of exercise or cross training are better suited for equestrians than Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a whole-person discipline that requires harmony between body, mind and emotions to keep focus and energy flowing. Balance, coordination, strong, supple muscles, and mental focus are its key elements. Equestrians who use Tai Chi are able to identify and correct structural misalignments and unnecessary use of force that distract or hinder the horse's ability to carry out movements.

This video will help the viewer develop mental focus and internal strength, train the body to align naturally with gravity for maximum balance, recognize and release body tension, and create grace, harmony, and suppleness in body and mind, which leads to a stronger connection with the horse. Instead of going to class, your instructor, James Shaw, can come to you - in the comfort of your own home, or tack room.