Definition : Laminitis Anxiety
Meaning : The anxiety we humans have about laminitis. The feeling of nervousness as that first grass blade appears in spring; The feeling of guilt as you put up the fence to keep your pony away from the grass and usually the rest of the herd; The fear that we have of never doing enough, or not doing the ‘right thing’. The worry about money now we got that second pony to keep the first pony company, but they seem to get laminitis for a different reason. Are they in pain? Should we give them pain killers? Do the pain killers cause other problems? What feed should we give them? Should we even give them a bucket of feed at all? What about natural supplements, do they really help?
Result : Stress and anxiety
Solution : Holistic approach that helps you and your pony…
This is Chocolate. She is 21 years old. She came to me when she was 14, and has suffered with laminitis attacks for most of her time with me. My farrier and I also believe she had laminitis attacks prior to coming to me. She has been separated from her herd mates. She has had natural herbal solutions. She has had pain killers. She has had trims every four weeks. She has suffered with back pain and joint pain because of compensating for hoof pain. Her pedal bones have had some rotation. At one point she got laminitis in all four feet from her hay in winter. She has had blood tests for cushings. She has had feed supplements for insulin resistance.
This is Querida. She is 14 and came to me 3 years ago. She has had many ‘owners’ over her short life, and has had bad attacks of laminitis with 38 degree hoof rotation in her front feet. She also has some problems with her front feet as they have developed pointing inwards which affects her shoulders. Additionally she is very defensive of her food – a typical laminitic trait due to near starvation diets being forced on them.
In spring of 2018 I thought I was losing Chocolate. Both the ponies had been off the grass for a good while, but Chocolate got a severe bout of laminitis. At about the same time I had invited Camille Dareau from http://www.HappyHorseHappyHuman.com to work with me due to a circle of defensiveness and anxiety I had going on with one of my horses. As it turned out Camilles approach had an amazing effect on my ponies health as well. Actually my entire herd of 5 have benefited in different ways, but I have benefited the most.
I had been considering taking Chocolate off a natural herb supplement specifically for insulin resistance and associated laminitus for a while but had never had the courage to follow my instincts. Camille gave me that courage. About a week after removing the supplement Chocolate started to recover. It was as though the supplement had been making her unwell. Thinking back now a number of factors could have been involved in what was happening to her system. We had moved a year before and the fields are different here. There is more clay in the soil, and also the herd are now on well water / ground water instead of tap water. I had maintained a supplement without considering the dietary changes she was getting naturally.
But the main thing about ‘ managing’ my ponies was releasing the anxieties that had grown up over the years and learning to follow my instincts. Camille worked with me and helped me find my inner self again.. the person who could trust her own instincts about her herd, because she could feel what they needed, and could believe in that feeling.
Over the last 18 months to a year I have delved deeper and deeper into my own anxieties, and slowly but surely grown more confident in my instincts and my abilities to connect energetically with the ponies on a deeper and deeper level. Energetic connection takes practice, but think of it like this. If you are walking with your horse and you decide a little trot is in order, your energy is already rising up for the trot and your horse will instinctively start trotting at pretty much the same instant that you think it. That is the very basic energetic connection. That can be deepened and deepened into a form of communication with your horse that is entirely energetic instead of behavioural. A lot deeper than body language. And from this connection you start to understand a very important element of being with horses:
Our anxiety is their anxiety………….and anxiety is not good for anybody!
This article is not in any way meant to make you more anxious. Please don’t get anxious about being anxious. Take a deep breath and love your pony. That is all they want.
When you can trust yourself and your connection with your pony or horse, you can make decisions based on your own and your pony’s understanding of what is really needed. This will then be an entirely holistic approach:
You will find yourself with the right farrier who will support your decisions. I never felt the desire for special shoes or the like and my farrier has always supported this feeling that the foot is better able to heal itself if left to do so as naturally as possible. He has helped with hard ground by the use of rubber and tape to make slippers occasionally, but the ponies have always got them off after a few days. He has often visited every 4 weeks for the ponies when they are going through a time of tenderness in the feet so he doesn’t have to trim too hard. One of the many reasons that I wanted to share this story is that my farrier, after his visit yesterday, believes that Chocolate is now healing the rotation in her feet. Her hoof shape is getting back to normal. It is rare to find this but apparently it is possible. Having seen her cantering and trotting around recently, not something I have seen regularly for a long time, I can believe it. He says it is the same as people. Some people will have an accident that will damage their leg. It can be the same damage, but one person may recover completely, and the other may always have a limp.
You will find the right feeding regime and will separate the herd and not feel guilty because other solutions will present themselves. I have a grass track the ponies can wander at night sometimes. I bring the whole herd into the pony paddock during the day for a while so they can feel relaxed as a group, share the healing energy, and groom and touch physically. I never take the ponies off grass entirely. They have a small grass paddock. If their pulses elevate I may give them a little of a herbal supplement for laminitis for a few days, but never for much longer. They also get plenty of nettle, meadowsweet and comfrey offered to them. I suppose the main point is that feeding is not about one solution, but a good mix, following your instincts.
You will learn where your pony wants to be touched and massaged to alleviate some of the muscle compensation issues. And maybe you will find out that sometimes the laminitis is a symptom of a much deeper physical issue.
Importantly though, by letting go of your fears and anxieties, and allowing yourself to connect with the pony, not the illness, you will relax and the solutions will come, and your ponies will heal in their own way.
Less is always more.
For more information on the holistic approach to laminitis, including healing yourself, please contact myself via the comments, or Camille Dareau via her website at http://www.happyhorsehappyhuman.com