I’ve had the good fortune to be able to work with a band of horses owned by Travaasa Austin, an upscale resort in the Texas Hill Country, not too far from where I live. These horses, besides the usual trail riding work, also help people to connect with horses in a manner that many, especially city folks, have not had the opportunity to partake in.
It pretty quickly becomes apparent when you spend some time around these big brutes, that they are very sensitive creatures. While they are big enough to run you over and cause untold mayhem if panicked, they are also very respectful and kind.
One of the reasons I became a veterinarian, in fact, was early teen experiences I had with a herd of horses. And later, when my crazy brother who was my role model for some years, got a hankering to own Clydesdales, and I got to interact with these giants, I really was in awe of how responsive the horse can be. Walking into a narrow slip stall next to a huge 2200 pound Clyde and seeing her step out of my way with the gentlest of urging, sold me: I want to work with these guys!
When there’s not much to tell but, “I hurt!”
Jeeter is a quarter horse, one of the band at Travaasa, who was presented for treatment a month ago when I made a farm call there. He was described to me as “just uncomfortable,” and “unpredictable,” especially when he was asked to do anything more than just walk. Even with no one on his back, no lines and no saddle on, Jeeter really objected to being asked to run in the round pen, and he told everyone this by pinning his ears back. Ouch. He hurt!
His rear legs were deemed slow, dragging, compared to the other horses. Jeeter’s discomfort made it impossible to use him for trail rides. The wranglers could ride him, but had to be prepared for him to buck. Something just didn’t feel good, and it sounded like his spine was involved. A common place for discomfort in this species, as man is often sitting on this spine, perhaps on an ill-fitting saddle!
Digging Deeper for Clues
When a homeopathic vet treats a patient, it’s important to find out who this individual is, what makes him stand out. The name of the game is to find the patterns of how this particular individual shows his illness, as well as his unique nature.
So, Jeeter hurt, probably in his back. And, it was made worse by exertion, by bending, “gathering himself,” as horse folks say, meaning the digging in, flexing the body to run, getting his feet under him to propel himself forward. This is asking more of his anatomy than just walking around easily did.
But what else? It’d be very hard to prescribe accurately on one symptom, in any patient. I had to hear more.
Luckily, I had three wranglers present, all of whom knew Jeeter’s temperament and habits. And I valued all of their input, and took notes.
Here’s what else I learned:
- Jeeter had an intermittent cough
- He loved the company of people
- He loved being brushed
- He was pretty low in the pecking order of his herd
- I felt the glands under his chin, and they were swollen
- While being brushed, he was the only one who “dropped his penis” — meaning his penis relaxed and fell passively out of his sheath.
A Swing and a Miss
Okay, and, like way too many of my patients, Jeeter had had plenty of vaccinations in his history. So, as is not uncommon is patients with some degree of discomfort and a history of vaccinations, he got a dose of a vaccinosis remedy: Thuja 10M.
I had a second remedy in mind, but wanted to start here, as I’ve seen how much pathology the vaccines can cause.
Three weeks later, I talked to Keith, the head of the horse program. “No better. Still can’t use him for riding.”
Okay, so he didn’t have enough in common with this vaccinosis remedy to get repair moving in his body. Time for a more constitutional remedy.
I had very little to work with, and some of it was assumption:
- A sore spine (it might have been his hips, but just tightening his cinch made him pin his ears, so I figured it was his back hurting him).
- An intermittent cough (none of the others in the herd had this, so it sounded characteristic for Jeeter).
- Jeeter loved brushing and being with people.
- He was a “sensitive guy” — just brushing him got him so relaxed his penis dropped.
- Jeeter got worse when he exerted, especially when he ran.
A Fitting Remedy?
I saw that the remedy Phosphorus fit all of this quite well. The individual needing phosphorus is often quite sensitive. For example, a lot of them hate thunderstorms, as it’s just too much for their senses to take.
Phosphorus centers on the spine quite well, as well as the lungs. Respiratory disease is not uncommon in the person or animal needing this remedy.
Jeeter, like a lot of “phosphorus patients,” loved stroking, brushing, etc. In the old books of homeopathy, this is often referred to as “magnetism” or “mesmerism,” after the popular practice long ago of passing one’s hands over someone’s body to aid their healing.
So, I sent Jeeter a single dose of phosphorus 1M. Keith was to put the granules on a slice of apple and feed it to him.
A Home Run!
We talked the other day to check in on the horses I’d treated a few weeks back. Jeeter was now able to be ridden without any pain! Bucking was a thing of the past. He was now a full fledged part of the herd and able to be part of the riding program instead of just being part of the “horse experience” as before!
So, sometimes a veterinary homeopath has to reach, make some assumptions, try and try again, but when the right remedy is found, boom. The whole animal responds.
If he’d have been a person, I could have asked him lots of questions and had an easier time of arriving at his remedy. “What does it feel like?” “Does it get worse in any kind of weather?” “How do you feel about being in this group?” “Anything scare you?”
But Jeeter is a horse. So, I had to work with what I could glean from his observant caretakers, the wranglers there at the resort. Luckily, they provided enough clues that I could find a remedy that fit the Whole Horse, and he’s a world better for that.
“Now, who wants to brush me?” Jeeter wonders. “I’ll follow you anywhere if you do!”
(for a heartfelt account of one guest’s experience with Jeeter, read about it in her blog, here.)