I believe in balanced nutrition and integrated healing methods for both people and equines. This can sometimes involve a lot of herbal suggestions. Herbs can take a bit longer than a pill from the pharmacy to become effective because they are whole and natural and work with the body systems. Often, people understand that they may have to take an herb for a month or so before they begin to see results. And while people will put a nasty-tasting herb or mineral in a capsule and swallow it, or put it in a taste-disguising foodstuff and choke it down because they know it will eventually help them, horses are another story. Horses need to be convinced that something is good for them, especially if it isn’t coated with molasses. And the convincing can take some time!
Unfortunately, I have seen horse owners (many of whom will take their *own* supplements like clockwork) that just don’t seem committed enough to doing things for their horse in a natural way, and they are reluctant to allow the time it takes for the horse to adjust, both physically and mentally. Oh, they start out like gangbusters, but about two to three weeks into a new herbal regimen, they suddenly realize, “Hey, this is work.” Well, they didn’t want to have any extra work, and now they’re mixing and measuring and trying to get stuff loaded into a dose syringe and down the throat of a resistant horse. “I thought the horse would just eat it all in his feed tub…” is the frequent lament.
Well, some horses do. Other horses are extremely finicky and *never* do, requiring more innovative methods from the owner. Eventually, the horse will probably adjust, but it takes a lot of effort and tweaking of the foodstuffs to get just the right flavor to entice your horse to eat. After all, like almost all horses in this country, s/he grew up on molasses-covered sweeties – like recent humans grew up on sugar. Why eat broccoli when you can have candy? Your horse feels very much the same way. But, just like humans, candy isn’t good for horses, as evidenced by the metabolic issues that are running rampant in both species. Molasses-coated oats and corn, however fortified it may be, is just like you or me eating dessert for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That can’t be good for anybody!
It is the rare horse who comprehends that this new, foreign stuff in his feed tub is going to help him feel better. Most of them only realize that they aren’t getting sweeties anymore. He’s like a child in that way. That’s when the owner has to be the “parent” in the relationship and make sure he gets what’s good for him. Your horse will do whatever he can to make you feel sorry for him and give him back his sweet feed. Your horse will do whatever he can to avoid that weird-tasting spirulina or jiaogulan or whatever it is that you’re trying to get down him. After all, not many horses ever get the opportunity to eat blue-green algae or Chinese herbs. They are certainly an acquired taste. You have to be firm and matter-of-fact about the whole business. And whatever you do, DON’T apologize for trying to help him.
The good news is, a horse who is being helped by the herb WILL acquire a taste for it, but the owner has to be consistent – first, to give the herb a chance to actually work the way it’s supposed to, and second, to give the horse a chance to realize that THIS is what’s helping him feel better. How can either of these things happen if you don’t give the minerals or herbs consistently? As a certain veterinarian I know is fond of saying, “Half-way measures get half-way results.” You have to be willing to make your horse’s health part of your daily routine, because you aren’t going to be able to give your horse an herb or mineral haphazardly. I can guarantee that you won’t get good results that way.
So be honest with yourself. If you aren’t willing or able (for whatever reason) to make that daily commitment to your horse’s health and well-being, if you can’t guarantee that you will give your horse what he needs as frequently as he needs it, every day without fail, then you probably shouldn’t waste your money on herbal remedies, nutritional consultations, or custom vitamin/mineral mixes. If, on the other hand, you are committed to seeing your horse happy and healthy in all aspects of his being, you might want to give balanced basic nutrition and integrated healing a try.