i have recently been blessed with the chance to help a friend help her horse, who was diagnosed with EPM last summer.

estella is a gorgeous, young, vibrant, warmblood mare that my friend, emily, spent many hours/days/years dreaming about.

she put so much time and effort into finding her perfect partner, picked her out, brought her home, put countless hours into her mental and physical development, only to be told that her precious partner is sick.  i think we can all understand, this was heartbreaking for emily.

you can read her story over at From the Horse’s Mouth.

emily and i chat regularly on facebook so i had been following estella’s progress closely.  we would chat about nutrition, as i have been on the search for anything and everything that will boost billy’s immune system and help with the “itchies” as we call them here.  of course Young Living Essential Oils came up often in our chats.  emily was a hard sell as she is a scientist through and through however, she ran across a wonderfully written article that explained some of the benefits of essential oils.

“Essential oils have the same function in the plant as blood has to the human…
Oils serve as the defense system in plants. These oils oxygenate the plant and carry nutrients, vital elements and chemical constituents to every cell in the plant.

They contain each of the plant’s healing nutrients including trace minerals, vitamins, hormones, amino acid precursors and other components. They give the plant the ability to destroy infections, stave off infestations, initiate and maintain growth and repair structural damage. The essential oil of the plant is literally the life force of the plant.”

the article went on to say,

“When essential oils are applied to human skin, they carry the same healing force as they do to the plant.”

really it is such a great article, maybe you should just go read it yourself!  the explanation of essential oils and how they help our bodies fight infection is quite well written.

anyway…

emily decided to try the oils!  yay!  i am so happy and excited for both emily and estella.

emily and i worked together and laid out a short term plan, a “redneck raindrop” that would start estella down her path of mending using the essential oils.

** don’t get me wrong.  emily is doing EVERYTHING to help her horse.  you should see her feed program!!!  plus estella has had one round of Toltrazuil (Baycox) and one round of the EPM medicine, Orogin (Oroquin-10). **

we started slow and easy with:

– 1 drop of Valor on each of estella’s heel bulbs, rubbed in and then vita flex around the coronet band.  often called “chiropractor in a bottle” Valor is known for it’s balancing properties.

– 6 drops of Lemon down estella’s spine, from tail dock to withers, then emily will cat scratch that in.  Lemon is known to be a powerful antioxidant.

– 6 drops of Frankincense down the spine, from tail dock to withers, cat scratched in.  Frankincense is well known as an oil that can help focus the mind and overcome stress.

– 8 drops of Purification down the spine, from tail dock to withers, cat scratched in.  as it’s name suggests Purification is used to help purify.

– 4 drops of Thieves on estella’s poll, rubbed in clockwise.  Thieves was university tested for its cleansing abilities. It is highly effective in supporting the immune system and good health.

that’s it!  easy peasy!

UNTIL,

emily did the Valor on the heel bulbs, lots of licking and chewing.  then she moved to the Lemon and the Frankincense on the spine.  so far so good!  estella was smelling each oil before they were applied and showed no adverse responses to them.  she was licking and chewing and showing positive releases.

next was Purification.  emily dropped it down estella’s spine and began cat scratching it in.  estella swung her butt a little bit and lifted her tail to side.  emily thought, “oh it’s feeling itchy!” and kept up the cat scratching.  then all H-E-L-L broke loose!  it became clear to emily that estella wanted to roll.  she was attempting while still in the bath rack, which clearly would not work.  so emily quickly unclipped her and hurried her to the indoor arena, where she turned her loose and estella dropped to roll and roll, she hopped up and took off bucking and running around the arena!

i’m sure you are thinking what i was thinking,  WHAT!?  followed immediately by HOW SCARY!!!

i felt especially bad because this was both emily’s first time using the oils and estella’s first introduction TO the oils.  eeeek!

i called my aunt and told her what happened as none of the oils emily was using are considered “hot” oils.  therefor a reaction of this type seemed even more interesting, (from my stand point mostly because i know the oils won’t cause any harm to estella and also because it wasn’t happening to my horse!)    my aunt shared something interesting with me… Purification is used to pull out toxins, venom (both spider and RATTLESNAKE) and other foreign entities in the body.

how interesting.  EPM lives in the horse’s spinal cord.  it is a foreign entity in the horse’s system.  therefore the Purification went straight to work and began to pull that out!  of course this was very uncomfortable for estella who can not voice what is happening in her body before she has to tell emily in any way she can.  i’m so grateful that emily is so in tune to estella that she recognized this for what it was: estella telling her to let her roll, itch and scratch that feeling away!

i felt absolutely horrible because i had neglected to tell emily to always have some olive/coconut oil around when applying the oils.  if there is a release of this magnitude, it is imperative that you have some oil, V-6 Carrier oil, coconut oil, olive oil, to cut the effects of the essential oil.  thank goodness emily didn’t try to hose estella down with cold water as this acts as a driver and PUSHES the oils in deeper.  in my opinion emily did exactly what she should have!  she stopped the raindrop and allowed estella some time in the indoor arena to run around, roll and work out what was happening in her body.

together we have worked out another plan.  THIS time emily will cut the Purification with some coconut oil before applying it to estella’s spine.  then she will be very vigilant in watching estella for any signs that the oil is getting uncomfortable so she can add more coconut oil as needed.  we chose coconut oil for this because it is itself antibacterial so will the perfect combination for estella’s sensitive spinal area.

she will also cut the Thieves oil with some coconut oil before applying it to estella’s poll.

i felt this was a perfect story to share because it has a lesson for everyone.  just because an oil works one way for you or your horse does not mean it will behave that way with everyone.  we are all made of up of different electrical impulses, therefor the oils will work differently on each of us.  it’s important to consider exactly what we are wanting the oils to do for our horse and then work toward that goal, watching to see how our horses are responding and adjusting our methods accordingly.

i had no idea that Purification would behave that way for estella, but now that we know we will always take special precautions to ensure that she doesn’t have to react that way.  especially when emily prepares to do the full Raindrop Technique on her.  we will put our heads together and work out a plan that will give estella all the benefits of the Raindrop without her feeling the need to throw herself down in the wash rack!

i think estella will thank us!

estellasmile

After playing with Billy the other day and noticing that he was having a hard time cantering on a small circle, I decided to give him a spa day today.

It started with a little Masterson Method, The Bladder Meridian Technique, to help him release any tension he may be carrying.

BOY did he release some tension! I had some releases that I’ve never witnessed before. He kept stretching his head and neck down, turning it a little, chewing and chewing, then rubbing and rubbing his cheeks on his front leg. There was lot of yawning and stretching of his neck. At one point as I worked on his tail a little bit, his tail would raise and lower with my hand! Keep in mind that when doing the Bladder Meridian you don’t have to actually touch the horse or manipulate the muscles. It’s done using the energy in your hand. So watching Billy raise and lower his tail as I raised and lowered my hand was amazing. He had some tension in his hips and I did go ahead and do some muscle manipulation there. Just some pressing on different spots that he showed me by stretching, yawning, blinking rapidly, and raising his leg. The look on his face as I pressed into his hip was priceless…

I decided I wanted to follow the Masterson Method with a little “Redneck Raindrop” to help Billy continue to release and align himself. I had gone through my oils and picked out a few that I felt would be beneficial. I did a little muscle testing and came up with:

Redneck Raindrop Treatment
The oils Billy tested for in his Redneck Raindrop Treatment.

I figured the best way to oil him up was to do a “Redneck Raindrop Treatment”. In other words, I would use my choice of essential oils and apply them in the Raindrop method of vita flexing and cat scratching the oil in, along Billy’s spine and around his coronet bands on all four feet.

Before I put each oil on I allowed him some time to smell them. He lingered longest on the Sage, Believe and Eucalyptus Blue.

To start I applied Rosewood to the top of his neck, then scratched that in. They don’t make Rosewood any more, but it’s great as an antibacterial, antiviral, and is great for soothing the skin. Perfect for any residual itchy spots Billy may have!

Next, I dropped 2 drops of Valor on his heel bulbs, rubbed it in and vita flexed it around the coronet band of all four hooves. Valor has been found to help the body self-correct it’s balance and alignment.

Then, I dropped 4 drops of Valor down his spine from his tail dock to his withers, cat scratching that in from tail to withers.

I followed that with 3 drops of Sage, from tail dock to withers and cat scratched that in as well.

Sage has been recognized for its ability to strengthen the senses and vital centers of the body and to support metabolism.  It is helpful for supporting the respiratory, reproductive, nervous, and other body systems. *From the Young Living Website

I went back to his head and dropped 3 drops of Brain Power on his crown and rubbed that in as well. Brain Power may help support and strengthen the immune system as well as help clear the mind.

Next, I dropped 3 drops of Believe in my non dominant hand, activated it by rubbing clockwise with my other hand and then just simply ran my hands down Billy’s forehead and long nose. I also rubbed my hands around the base of his ears and then did a little rubbing IN his ears after most of the oil had been removed from my hands. Believe can be both grounding and invigorating.

I finished this session with 8 drops of Eucalyptus Blue down Billy’s spine from his tail dock to his withers, then cat scratched it in. Eucalyptus Blue can bring about a sense of peace and well being. It is also anti-inflammatory and antiviral, both of which would be great for inflammation of the skin, such as allergies.

I’ve been feeding Billy Turmeric twice a day, with a middle of the day feeding of Lavender, Peppermint and Lemon Young Living Essential Oils and their supplement, Mineral Essence. He is starting to get his winter coat and it’s so thick and shiny. He is healthy ‘as a horse!’

Saddle fit can feel very overwhelming and confusing.
Good Saddle Fit

Saddle fit can feel very overwhelming and confusing. There is lots of conflicting information out there about what kinds of saddles fit the best. One thing that I think most people can agree on is that almost all saddles are built too narrow for our big bodied horses.

Balanced Saddles has put together a very informative article about saddle fit and how that changes as our horse changes through proper riding, or improper saddle fit. We can build our horse’s back up with the proper fit and teaching our horse to carry himself correctly.  On the opposite side of that we can actually damage our horse’s back when our saddle fits improperly and/or we ride incorrectly.

bottomofsaddle
I want to show the flat panels on the underside of my saddle. This is a wool flocked saddle. I prefer them over the air panels. The flatter panels allow the saddle to sit down better on the muscles of the horse’s back. Thereby distributing the weight more evenly.
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This photo clearly shows the width of the channel running down the middle of the saddle. This will distribute the weight on either side of your horse’s spine.
frontandbacksaddle
These pictures show how the saddle sits on Billy’s back with and without a saddle pad. Because of the shape of Billy’s back it is difficult to see how the channel of the saddle straddles his spine. He has quite a dip in the middle of his back which could cause bridging of the saddle so I will have to supplement my set up with some shims.

I have been working very hard with Billy’s posture and teaching him to use his topline correctly, but teaching him to properly use his hind end may come when I really start riding him. I’m curious about how a young horse that has a bit of a weak back starting out, will respond to riding and challenge of carrying a rider. I can’t afford to jump right into an expensive saddle at the beginning only to have to sell it and buy again in a couple of months when he changes. To get me through that stage I have my Wintec saddle, but I am interested in correctly padding his back to encourage proper muscle build up. I know from just watching him grow and mature over the last few years that he is going to go through even more body changes when I start riding. Helping him to mature correctly is top on my list.

We can use our conformation/posture photos to help us understand our horse’s body and how we can help them through correct saddle fit. As you ride, over time you can take similar photos of your horse from both sides, front and back and see if there are any changes. You will be able to see muscles changing in the back getting bigger, or are they changing side to side? Are the muscles of one shoulder bigger than the other? Are your horse’s hips staying level or are they beginning to drop one side or the other? The photos will be so helpful with this. Because we are around our horses every day we may miss some of these things as they start and not realize what is happening until the muscles are so atrophied that we have to do some rehabilitation. If we can catch these things quickly we can effect change even faster!

Your horse is your mirror can also apply to posture. Do you drop a shoulder when you ride, causing you to be off balance just a tiny bit? This will show up in your horse’s shoulders as well. Do you ride with one stirrup longer than the other? This will throw off your horse’s hips and could cause soreness in the back. It’s amazing to me how many people are riding with two different length stirrups and don’t even know it! Some people ride with different length reins, pulling their horse’s head off to one side just a little bit, but over time you will develop the muscles in the neck differently on one side than the other.

There are so many ways our horse’s will mirror our posture. I highly recommend a chiropractor for your horse (and yourself!) and an equine massage therapist or body worker. It’s amazing what a good one can do for your horse in just one session!

I also use essential oils to help with Billy’s different posture issues. Young Living’s Valor is an amazing oil for helping the horse (and human) realign. In fact it’s been called “Chiropractor in a bottle.” The oils along with body work, massage or chiropractic care can work wonders.

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Finding a good saddle that fits properly and learning to ride in a balanced way, in harmony with your horse can work wonders too.