I received this excellent question from a reader:
“I am enjoying your website and all the information so much. I had thought that my reluctance to ride, train my horses was a defect of mine, but I am seeing it now as the desire to do what my horses want me to do with them.
I have a pony and a mini that are kind of fat and my farrier has warned me that they will founder if not restricted from the pasture. I bought both of them muzzles, but they are pretty resistant. I have worked with positive reinforcement and that seems to help, but I am wondering what you would suggest. Thank you”
I love that she is not panicking and immediately putting them on a diet, or throwing them in a small dry lot, but that she is taking the time to ponder this issue and search around for ideas.
1. Is restricting forage the answer?
The first response that comes to mind is from equine nutritionist, Dr. Juliet Getty:
“Reducing caloric intake and burning more calories helps your horse’s body use the energy he is storing. But there is a component to weight loss that has nothing to do with calories – it has to do with hormones. Hormones, such as cortisol and insulin, dictate to your horse’s body how much fat he will store; these hormones are keenly sensitive to stress.
If you are seeking help for your overweight horse, you may be getting advice that is unsuitable for your horse’s long-term health. If eating less means taking away hay or pasture, then it is contradictory to what your horse needs. Yes, do take away fattening cereal grains and sugars, but never, never, never restrict forage. Why? Because restricting forage is the most stressful thing you can do to your horse.
Restricting forage results in loss of muscle mass. You will see weight loss, but much of it is due to a reduction in the longissimus dorsi muscle that runs along the topline.”
I know that many people – especially in rainy climates like the UK – have found that the type of grass species planted in their pastures was chosen to enable cattle to gain weight quickly. So it doesn’t resemble the kind of forage a horse would naturally consume. So for many of them, they don’t let their horses graze at all, but they provide low sugar hay instead. Natural movement is provided by putting in a track and having slowfeeders placed at various points around the track.
The original book on this concept is called Paddock Paradise by Jaime Jackson and it is excellent. Or you can join some Track groups on Facebook, like this one.
The solution is movement, rather than restriction. You can either find fun ways to exercise your horse (and yourself) sufficiently each day, or you can set their environment up to facilitate natural movement. Of course, you could also take a long-term view and re-seed your pastures with better forage species, so then your horses would have the best of both worlds.
Grazing muzzles can also cause tooth damage (some models are worse than others) so just like slowfeeding, you have to check their teeth/gums on a regular basis.
Many people report successful use of grazing muzzles, with no damage to their horses’ teeth. But for me, the greater issue with muzzles would be the psychological implications… I certainly would not use one without talking about it first with the horse, and seeing how they feel about it, and adjusting usage/frequency as the horse can tolerate.
2. Share your concerns with your horse
Your other option is to talk with your horse about what will happen if they don’t control their eating. Güliz and I did this with Cobra. He had been a wild horse out on rangeland, experiencing seasonal starvation his whole life. So for him, it was natural/essential to bulk up as much as possible when there was food; to store up for the lean times when food was scarce.
So of course, when he arrived at my place, where there is unlimited hay in slowfeeders, plus pastures, he ate like a train! He did not know/understand that at my place there is always food. And that there will be the same amount of food available in winter, so he would never be hungry or risk starvation again.
In fact, all of the wildies parked themselves at the slowfeeders for about 18 months solid – that’s how long it took their mind and visceral body to know/believe they were no longer at risk for seasonal famine. Most domestic horses stuff themselves for 3 weeks to 3 months (depending on the horse) and then self-regulate.
As Cobra arrived the end of May, the spring grass was rich, the slowfeeders are kept full 24/7 (with low sugar hay), and by August he was seriously overweight.
We talked to him about diabetes and laminitis, and sent him pictures of what his body would feel like. I told him he would be in this place of pain if he didn’t control his eating. Within 2 weeks he had dropped the dangerous excess weight with no interference/management from me – no change in his diet, no increase in movement, or any other restrictions/changes.
I also did this acupressure tapping session for the whole herd of wildies to address/release their past scarcity issues around food.
Note: These pictures were taken with a Nikon DSLR camera (not a cellphone which can really distort images) and I attempted to keep the angle and camera height consistent.
So it’s a very good idea to explore whether your horses have an emotional/psychological reason they are holding weight – past trauma, restricted feeding, desire for protection/armoring, etc.
Many horse owners will eagerly jump into all the physical-level things they can do to affect their horse’s weight, while forgetting that the mind/body/spirit are one. Book a session or two with an animal communicator if you need help with this piece.
3. Body-shaming & projection
Here’s another issue I see occur frequently in Facebook groups – but that people are either unaware of, or unwilling to look at – and it occurs predominantly (perhaps exclusively) among female horse owners. A woman who has been under intense scrutiny and family or public pressure concerning her own weight, perhaps she has a borderline or recognized eating disorder, may take all that unresolved pain and dysfunction and project it onto her horse.
Cause that’s how us humans roll. That’s why we recognize that the horse is a mirror of us… and why pets resemble and reflect back the energy of their owner.
But perhaps you don’t have an eating disorder, or body image insecurity, perhaps you’re just a bit of a control freak. And you like everything around you to be perfect. Because you know that your outer world is a reflection of your inner world, and so you want every element of it to look perfect.
Except that horses, like our children, have a primary function as a mirror, as a button-pusher, to reveal to us the areas of ourselves that want to be brought into wholeness. It is not healthy for us to live in tension, attempting to control every aspect of life; our cells, tissues, hormones and spirit cries out for relief from the Type A straightjacket. It is much healthier for us to become resilient, flexible, tolerant, and soft. Exhale.
So if your horse’s primary job is to help you see your pain body, and encourage you to move toward wholeness, and his fat (and resulting pain) is pushing your buttons big-time, but you only focus on his body, his diet, his environment… then how does he get the message through to you?
If you steadfastly refuse to look at the emotional/psychological/spiritual aspect of his condition and instead spend tens of thousands of dollars altering his physical environment, administering meds, and purchasing equipment/aids… You then leave him with only one choice: either he gives up, or he escalates his symptoms.
As someone who has helped hundreds of thousands of people heal debilitating gut disorders for over 20 years now, believe me when I say that symptoms always contain messages. And the fastest route to healing the physical body involves taking the holistic approach (mind/body/spirit) and asking the question:
My body is speaking to me… what is it saying?
This is no less applicable to the beings in our care: My horse’s body is speaking to us… what is it saying?
My purebred Belgian mare, Audelina, has recently chubbed right up because we closed off the fields to let the grass grow up and she is FRUSTRATED as heck. So even though she is only eating low-sugar hay, her movement has been restricted, and emotionally she is very upset = hefty weight gain.
I know that the minute I open up the field, even though she will be chomping on lots of fresh grass, she will lose weight. Because Aude is very psychologically affected by any perceived restriction of food or terrain. She’s an adventure gal! She likes to roam and eat in different areas and gallop through the woods. And all of that has been blocked off for a month or so. Psychologically and emotionally, she has moved into scarcity. So her body responds by piling on weight for armoring and protection. And guess what? That’s okay!
It is her body and if she chooses to be fat for a while, or chubby forever, that’s her choice. It’s not really clear in this picture, but she actually had new fat pads on top of her upper ribs, near the withers, from her emotional state:
So of course I talked with her and explained why I had closed off the pastures, but I could also feel that my explanations and promise of delayed gratification meant nothing to her. Then I used arena panels to enclose off a longer length of the barn road and brought her into this new “special” area by herself (pictured). Imagine my surprise when after 10 or 15 minutes of being in this enlivening space, where she foraged ferns and blackberry leaves, her body was already changing!
Can you believe this is the same horse?? You see how she has gathered up her belly and her emotional enlivenment has permeated all her muscle fibers? Over the next week, as I continued to bring her in here, she gradually reduced to ‘chubby, but not so much’. And that is totally fine. Because…
4. Who decided what the ideal equine body should look like?
Lastly, I disagree with what most “horse people” deem is an acceptable weight! Horses are naturally meant to fatten up during summer or winter (depending on region) and it is OKAY. Why should they maintain some mythical “perfect weight” 365 days/year? Horses are as dynamic as we are and are equally affected by the seasons and emotional events. When the lads went north to Kesia’s farm (Aude’s entire family) you bet she gained some weight! And I wouldn’t be surprised if she holds that extra weight (as protection/armouring against her grief and separation) until her family returns. If she does, it’s because her body/mind needs it.
If you applied the same standards or rigor to your own body as you are applying to your horse… where might that leave you?
Here’s Aude 6 weeks later, after I opened up the field I’d fenced off – she’s at the back right, tossing, bucking, leaping and galloping about. Looks like a strong, healthy horse to me!
I did an Internet search on “horse weight chart” and interestingly, many of the charts are from feed/supplement companies. Who and what industries impacted the ‘perfect weight’ idea for equines? Farmers, ranchers, racehorse trainers, veterinarians, farriers…? And what were their motives?
A veterinary manual reference I found online lists a GOOD weight as one where the ribs are just covered, but easily felt. FAT is denoted by, ‘ribs and pelvis hard to feel.’ Hmmm… well that’s super specific. I can’t see how a horse owner would have any difficulty judging their horse’s condition with such specific parameters. And again: How are your ribs feeling?
There’s no way we should be applying ‘ideal body’ standards to our horses that we don’t apply (and adhere to) ourselves. That is called incongruence.
When my veterinarian came out to castrate Makah-Mahpee he was astounded at the condition of the herd – especially Montaro. He said, “What do you do to keep these horses in such amazing condition? Do you ride them every day?” I heard him muttering later how these were like horses on steroids. Because here’s the thing: he could tell the difference between fat and muscle.
I keep an eye on a couple of horse track groups online, but I became very disturbed by the before/after pictures people were proudly posting. Yes, the horses are given ‘ad lib’ hay (hay available 24/7 in a slowfeeder) but the hay is often double or even triple-netted, with the smallest holes possible in the hay nets. I don’t know what the protein content of the hay is, nor whether they are receiving a complete amino acid profile, so they can actually utilize the protein in their hay… but the before/after photos were truly alarming. People thrilled to have drafts and cobs with thin necks and bodies like an Arabian. They looked completely unbalanced and unnatural. Yes, these horses were a bit chunky in their before pictures, but how does it help the horse to swing madly to the other end of the spectrum?
So I posted a couple pictures of Audelina, taken soon after the vet had made his comments. I made sure one of the pictures showed her in movement, so people could see that her heft was muscle, not fat (she’s a purebred Belgian). The comments her photos received were tragic: “If that were my horse, the first thing I’d do is put her on a diet!”
So this is not about health. Maybe it started that way, but how did things evolve to where the only thing people can see is not skinny = fat. Hmmm… and we’re back to #3 – Body shaming & projection. Can you see Montaro’s ribs in that photo above? No – because that’s what a healthy, muscular Belgian/Fjord horse looks like. That’s a horse that manages a herd of 11 active, empowered horses, with 2 young ones that require extra guidance. He guards that herd against coyotes, bobcats and the occasional bear. And yes, he’s even faced off against a mama bear and her cubs.
The better question is: How is your horse feeling, moving?
If Cobra and Audelina have zero health issues, no lameness and are enlivened and happy, why would I even attempt to manipulate their weight? Or their muscle:fat ratio? Where do we honor the body wisdom of the horse? Is the horse allowed to own it’s own body… and decide how that body looks, moves, functions, or is it my chattel?
Are we even honoring our own wisdom? Do we only eat when we’re hungry… do we ask our belly what it wants to eat, or are we always asking our tastebuds… do we cook ourselves non-chemical, unprocessed food from scratch? How does my body feel and move? Am I injury free… am I at my ideal weight… how’s my muscle:fat ratio… do I have any health issues?
When Zorra first arrived, she was quite obese – not that she was huge, but most of her mass was fat, with very little muscle. Her diet had been strictly rationed as she was such an “easy keeper”. But we cannot just look at food intake. We have to look at movement (she had been on 3/4 acre with 3-4 horses), and we have to look at emotional issues surrounding food (she was bullied and the horses were rationed and schedule-fed, 3-4 times/day).
It has taken Zorra 5 years to arrive at her current stunning condition. And she did it all on her own. I merely set up her environment for success. But you know what brought her that last 20% from beautiful to stunning? My daughter Zara started spending regular time with her. That was the icing on Zorra’s cake, that was what enabled her to blossom into the truest iteration of herself. She had freedom of movement and natural dietary choice (24/7 low sugar hay because horses’ stomachs produce acid continuously) and she was fulfilled emotionally and spiritually.
I wish I had a better photo – but I wanted to show you Zorra (the dapple grey) in movement, so this screenshot from a recent video will have to do – she is agile, muscular, empowered and enlivened with thick healthy hair, coat, and hooves. Isn’t that what really matters? And yes, her Andalusian body looks very different from Audelina’s (Belgian) or Cobra’s (we’re guessing Fjord-cross) or Makah’s (the mustang paint next to her). But any body that can move, spin, run, dodge and leap, is a healthy body, regardless of fat ratio.
Jini Patel Thompson is a natural health writer and Lazer Tapping instructor. She began riding at age 2 in Kenya, and got her first horse at age 8 in Alberta, and so continues a life-long journey and love affair with these amazing creatures.
25 thoughts on “Help – my Horse is Fat!”
Oh boy…Jini…you know how passionate and how much research and learning I have tried to do on this subject in regards to Dreamer and his founder 3 springs ago!
I have so many opinions on this and I really believe it comes down to…pretty much like everything else …the individual horse and human and all the factors that go with them! LOL
But in all seriousness for some horses it can be life and death or severe inflammation and pain! Some breeds are more prone to founder and LGL! (Low grade laminitis)
Dreamer (Arab/Pinto) was a vibrant athletic rock crushing exquisite moving horse soul when we came together in August of 2016. He was 12! He could move over rocky terrain like a gazelle! It truly blew my mind! He floated like a butterfly and his movement took my breath away! He came from a holistic background and unlimited low sugar starch hay..in hay nets!
I immediately showered him with an over abundance of carrots, alfalfa, and really to much of a lot of good food! In the spring of 2018 he foundered! Unfortunately at the time I did not want to recognize his slow decline and although I acknowledged his hooves getting more and more uncomfortable on rocks I still did not want to put it all together! He was down and groaning in pain for almost a month! His hooves were so strong and perfect before this that gratefully the coffin bone did not come through the sole!
The whole situation was dark for me! I learned all I could and tried to let him guide me as to what he needed! We made it through and I was determined to get his glorious self back! Which we did until the next spring! I then made even more changes and I thought he was going to make it through this spring but February/March he showed me he was experiencing LGL again! I took him off the grazing again and he was in a dry paddock…… until most the grazing turned brown or non existent! The area of California we live in does not support the green stuff for very long!
He is thriving again …mostly because I keep catching it sooner and sooner! He is out and about with the others but long term we will more then likely put in a track for the four of them to help get us through the springs!
I have also just finished a laminitis course and learned a lot about even more signs to hopefully detect it even sooner! I mean in my gut/intuition I knew each time…but there’s a part of me that puts as much freedom of movement over everything , and it really does not serve him well at all🥺!
I am still exploring the mental side of this on my part and I know I have work to do! I am a very active athletic gal…in my 50s now…and have slowly put back on the 20lbs I lost 7 years ago! I know this is all connected and I know the horses all have different messages and life lessons they want me to heal and learn from!
I guess my advise would be learn all you can about nutrition! I thought the land we live on had not been planted with any cow fattening grazing…but have since learned that might not be true…even if it was a long time ago? I have also learned that rye grass and clover and buttercups (that grow in hard compacted soil) are very high in sugar and starch and we have a lot of clover! I am taking steps to improve the health of the soil but it’s a big project!
Feel into the horses you share life with! Don’t ignore that feeling of knowing something isn’t right? Once a horse founders it is really hard to bring them back…physically and emotionally…for all souls involved!
Learn all you can about early warning signs as the sooner you catch them the less damage will be done! To me it’s not about fat or not fat…it’s about providing the horses I share life with with the best quality of life I can and as much freedom of movement! But at the same time not at the expense of there health ….even though it’s all so contradictory!
I wonder what effect the high level of estrogen in clover has on a gelding?? This is a good article:
We have the same problem with compacted soil because there is SO much clay. But I seem to have stumbled on a fairly simple solution…
I don’t have a tractor so cannot do “proper” composting. So I took the manure that had piled up over the winter in a 5′ deep pit, hired a guy to scoop it out and pile it behind a blackberry thicket – so this was a huge pile of partially composted manure.
Then he scraped together a smaller pile of fresh manure, maybe 4′ high and 4′ wide-ish and just left it. Well, 1 year later, this small pile was almost composted to soil BUT filled with big, thick worms.
The huge pile in the field (now 2 years just siting there piled up) was now completely composted down. So we took this composted soil and spread it 1-inch thick (only 1-inch because we were shoveling into a wheelbarrow and raking by hand) over a completely packed hard, no sign of life section. And sprinkled it with mixed forage blend seeds. Then we grabbed partially composted worm poo and sprinkled that on top – just so we could put the worms there. And of course, electric fenced it to keep the hooves out 😉
I could NOT believe how fast, how lush and thick the grass/forage grew up in that area. Seriously gobsmacked. I had thought the whole field regeneration thing had to be a big deal and done right etc. But really, this is the power of nature – only 1 inch and some worms, et voila!
We read books like Dirt To Soil of these big-ass farmers and all their equipment and fluency and yes, it makes it seem like a BIG PROJECT. But now I have a new way to think about it – the horses have already set us up with everything we need to give the land back what it needs. And ALL we have to do is pile it up and let it sit there!
I’m not sure why that little pile was such a worm factory… I’ll have to try and figure that out, or maybe the big pile would have been too after a year, but I just didn’t check it…
Interesting about the estrogen! I have wondered after taking the laminitis course if his hormones are playing a big part in the IR?
I have spread the poop on about a 1/2-1 acre section and the land healed in two years! Being in our part of California the precipitation is what we lack! But it feels good to see the healing and know the horses, Joey and myself helped this happen! We actually did it by accident! Before I read the soil book…but you should see the garden …so beautiful and flourishing with veggies already! All I learned from the soil book, homesteader shows, and trial and error is really helping!
When I started I just used the place furtherest from the house that was flat, to dump the poop…and it worked beautifully! But helping the whole 12 acres will be a bigger project!
The kids came to a price agreement with the people next door though….so it looks like they will be our new neighbors hopefully by July and then I can figure out a track using a few of those 10 acres that are adjacent to there already established horse area! ✌🏼💚🐴
We seem to underrate the impact the endocrine systems play in our lives. They work together and regulate everything! I wish you were able to access someone who does holistic medicine for your horse. I know of a veterinarian in the U.S. who has done some investigation with equines and a small animal vet in Canada who has done similar.
The food system you’re using with your horse certainly has parallels in the human and companion animal worlds. I wish more of our animals had access to truly wild habitats. Grateful for the efforts your making. Have you read Joe Camp’s most recent investigation into the health and well-being of the horse?
Very eye-opening. Also, does your horse have other equine or browser companionship? That might be the key that opens up other aspects to this very serious physical issue yours has. Sorry you’re both needing to go through this. Very concerning. Good you’re taking steps to learn about it and investigate alternatives like LTYH.
We’re all at different places, but we can be a catalyst for one another to explore different avenues for solutions.
Ooooh I am so looking forward to your track creation! What a fun project and you don’t have to worry about footing in your climate – awesome! And so much cheaper 😉
So glad you’ll have you’re little Gun-sun right next door – and I’ll bet his parents will be pretty darn glad too. I can’t think of a better way to raise a child xo
My experience with manure piles is that larger ones build up a lot of heat, like a lot of other kinds of compost. Municipal ones used to take disposable diapers and dog poop thinking they would be hot enough. Not sure how that panned out, but many no longer take them. Perhaps due to public perception, logistics, or other factors. Often manure piles are done in two stages. The first, as a large one, to kill any pathogens that might be reintroduced in the area and the second, smaller ones, to foster nature’s soil megafauna that begin to break it down into soil, like earthworms. Interesting that I studied soil animals in my former life in research. There was little discernible difference for the one looking on (not processing the data with statistics) between agricultural methods, but observable differences from the ‘control’ that was planted in forage. It’s left an impression on me so many years later. Cannot reconcile the dogged determination to continue to grow food in such archaic ways when nature is telling us there are much simpler and healthier ones!
Why do us humans exhaust so much in the way of time, resources and energy trying to recreate what is already available? Water environments on dry land. Livable sites in space. Makes little sense to some of us. Personally, I believe the greatest territory to conquer is within our own minds and hearts. It’s been virtually untouched by most societies, despite ongoing and tremendous efforts. Being able to begin crossing my own thresholds has been it’s own reward and trial. So, happy to find some fellow travelers on this journey. Unexpectedly at many turns, but welcome (and cursed by turns) nonetheless. A lot of room for growth here, for sure!
I would love to hear more about this point Dee – and have you read the book, Dirt to Soil?
“There was little discernible difference for the one looking on (not processing the data with statistics) between agricultural methods, but observable differences from the ‘control’ that was planted in forage. It’s left an impression on me so many years later. Cannot reconcile the dogged determination to continue to grow food in such archaic ways when nature is telling us there are much simpler and healthier ones!”
Do share some stories/details…! 🙂
No, I haven’t read Dirt to Soil. Would be interested. I’ll look into it. I’m in Ontario, near Toronto. That’s a whole story in itself!
So much to tell, how to start? I worked in soil biology research at a university and did quite a bit of the work through research contracts. It was when contracts were increasingly receiving privatized funding and I noticed how it was beginning to impact research results. It’s been so many years, I’d need to take some time to explore my memories for a way to communicate. It was part of a longtime interest in Agriculture and biology. Learning hands-on was quite a journey in itself. How about if I ponder and get back to you one way or another?
Sounds good to me 🙂
Omg Jini this is EXACTLY what I needed to see!
Even if an area hasn’t been planted with particular plants, they have often been encouraged. Clover is often planted in agricultural fields as a “cover crop” or for when lying fallow, so it can be common in any agricultural area. It certainly is part of the agricultural systems that favor food production for cattle and other livestock. (ie. soy, oats, wheat and corn). Perhaps you could look into what some others like Joe Camp are doing. He’s found similar results to what Jini has done “despite” conventional knowledge, rather than because of it. He moved his horses from a very small plot of desert land to an area known for its lush green vegetation and had no discernible issues with his free-ranging herd.
He makes a point to seed for variety, and complex carb content, which is also important.
Please keep in mind that many agricultural and nutrition courses for horses and livestock are often geared toward the current “conventional wisdom”. Science is a collection of data that needs interpretation. That interpretation has it’s social pressures. It’s gathering also is influenced by the funding sources. I know of a number of people in the scientific field who ended up making decisions that were considered “career suicide” by actually practicing science! That means that the person proposes a hypothesis and sets out to prove OR disprove it. Unfortunately, many times funding is removed if someone disproves it, so there is an inherent pressure in many cases to practice poor science. How do I know this? I was working in science when there began to be a changeover in privatization of funding, which often translates into vested interests funding based on potentially lucrative investments, not due to an interest in science.
Please ask anyone who is an animal professional (or other) what their background is. Do a fully inquiry, doing a lot of listening and asking deep diving kinds of questions. Even professors and teachers can have a bias. Good to know it before taking their word on a subject. Learned the hard way in pursuing health and nutrition for myself and others in my care (animal and human) how rare it is for people to have a broad knowledge of nutrition.
As Jini demonstrated in experience with her horses, caring for physical health at the expense of mental health compromises both. Looking after the whole horse often accomplishes the same results you speak of, but with less of an autocratic or authoritarian approach.
Jini’s horses are considered “very fit” by most people’s standards. Having good nutrition throughout the year allows them to withstand temperature variations and maintain good health.
Please look at the pictures she shows of Zorra. When she arrived most people would consider her “fit” despite her lack of muscle. Now some of those same people might regard here as unfit despite her high muscle to fat ration.
It’s important that we don’t use the bar set by many who use unnatural and often unhealthy methods and standards for comparison. The need to keep animals in stalls and pastures that make the available to us often is to maintain an aesthetic that has little to do with a horses health. It often results in shortened lifespan and definitely reduces quality of life despite all the measures to “pamper” the animals. Too many cases come readily to mind. Even well-regarded and well-rounded veterinarians are beginning to weigh in on these issues.
Totally agree Dee! And which book by Joe Camp are you referring to? Can you post a link? I’ve only read the one where he had them on the desert/rocky acreage, and would love to read the other one…
Your comments about ‘science’ mirror an exact conversation I’ve just had with a close friend who has a PhD in Immunology about how this covid debacle is being discussed, represented, the decision-making based on ‘the science’ etc. And yes, you bet she isn’t saying anything publicly due to the political-economic machinations now around ‘medical science’.
Gallileo anyone? It’s disheartening to realize that our level of consciousness has essentially stayed the same for the last few thousand years… but hey, perhaps now that we are listening to the horses (and other wise beings) we may finally begin to evolve! As long as the animals haven’t given up on us, there’s always hope 🙂
Joe’s newer book “Born Wild” talks about how all horses are biologically wild and have the same basic needs. All this science seems to be an attempt to supersede nature and replace the basics for horses. To prove the superiority of our species? Or to rationalize putting horses in artificial environments mainly for our own convenience.
So impressed Jini by how you and everyone involved with LTYH learn from the horses. Doing those uncomfortable things that stretch us can be wondrous as well as challenging. I lived in a situation where I learned from a cat and the things she taught me! We learned from and benefited one another. It was amazing developing a mutually respectful relationship with her. Changing her diet to a more natural homemade diet gave her a new lease on life. It’s amazing how her previous one was more for convenience for her owner than her own well-being. We all learned a tremendous amount in that situation!
Attempting to do something similar with a person who has ended up in my care. It’s a long story and far too long to relay here, but the process has been similar. Your work with horses has been teaching me new levels of respect for him and for others, as well as for the planet. A deepening of some of the work I’ve been attempting to do for decades. There has been some healing in the midst of such trying circumstances, I wouldn’t wish on anyone! And yes, the virus debacle. It’s showing how misguided we are to attempt to maintain a sickcare system that’s only really created institutional suffering and those that profit from it through jobs or investments. It’s become quite a parasitic endeavour that appears to be undermining the “host”. An element of social engineering appears to be at hand, since the numbers of workers no longer necessary for many ‘entry-level’ positions due to AI.
So many things intertwined and waking up, though “hard to do” oh so worthwhile. I sure wish those in the horse field were generally much more willing to learn from one another. Though the influence is happening at a rate I would not have imagined, despite few open acknowledgements from those who adopt the ‘new’ approaches. It truly does make a difference when people step out, whether or not the greater society acknowledges these changes outright!
Grateful that so many people are taking this “work” or play of learning from those beings who are adapted and ancient to another level. Somehow there’s something of “about time” about it, too! For us as beings, I mean. So timely and necessary this endeavour. An adventure? That’s what I’ve been calling what I’ve been on for the past 5-10 years. For some of us, our heart aches for it, and it’s seemingly rare to find others doing it so openly.
Oh so appreciative of finding your site and community just recently. Been catching up and devouring the resources you’ve all shared so freely. Soul food inspiring happiness and something else to my core. My current wish is to contribute to it significantly. So, we’ll see what unfolds.
Such an oasis from the perspective of this social desert of a city I live in, in one of the most corrupt provinces in the country. Now understand how those I met in southern Quebec new about the depths its neighbour province had been stooping to.
So wonderful to have you onboard Dee 🙂 And which city are you currently living in? I love this bit, REALLY nails it:
“how misguided we are to attempt to maintain a sickcare system that’s only really created institutional suffering and those that profit from it through jobs or investments. It’s become quite a parasitic endeavour that appears to be undermining the “host”.”
But we keep coming back around to individual consciousness, because until people can transform their base operating system of fear, this system will continue to dominate. And then of course, is the willingness to lean in to our own tangled darkness, rather than just popping pills to ‘make it all go away’.
This is where – literally – the best thing we can do is to shift our own consciousness and HOLD that space regardless of what’s happening around us. Luckily we have the horses and other beings supporting us as tutors and reference points, if we will only listen/receive.
I’ve been feeling SO manky with the Floyd death and riots, that I have had to go hang out with the herd simply to cleanse and re-set. Nothing more. Just to BE with them as they re-set my nervous system and energy body. Another friend went deep into the woods and lay down on a moss-covered tree for a full-body earthing. I can’t imagine being in a city centre apartment during these times – I guess deep meditation is your only option there, as you would do in a jail cell. Although I was thinking about that and realizing that even in a dungeon or a highrise apartment, wild can find us if we open and call – rats and birds can go pretty much anywhere. So there’s that, thankfully.
I also find this comment of yours interesting, “An element of social engineering appears to be at hand, since the numbers of workers no longer necessary for many ‘entry-level’ positions due to AI.” That’s something I haven’t considered. I’ve been more focused on all the indicators that there are simply too many humans on this planet and we know what happens when a species gets out of balance with the ecosystem… We’ve got an interesting decade ahead, that’s for sure. And of course, our degree of hope and optimism will be a crucial deciding factor in the outcome. So we’re back to the horses, nature, and vibration. Namaste.
Joe camp Is one of the first people I found when I first came into horses! The laminitis course I took was more about early warning signs not necessarily all about nutrition! But believe me I am very skeptical about all things horse! One of the things that has helped me the most is not coming from a traditional horse background! It has allowed me to use my own judgment and yes unfortunately sometimes learn the hard way but I am very holistic by nature so that translates to the horses 10 fold!
They are all on a Whole Foods diet with no synthetic minerals! I provide nuts, herbs, seeds and fresh organic veggies out of our own garden! Again unfortunately I learned a lot of this after Dreamers founder! I appreciate your concern and your willingness to take time to help and inform us!
At the moment I am heading down the path of trying to detox Dreamer and see if we can’t get the fat pads to diminish? Because I know he still has more healing to do! He is thriving right now and he has 3 herd mates …they are also in the summer out on about 17 acres total and soon to be even more if our son buys the other property next door!
One thing I didn’t mention in my original comment….is AGE…I think we all need to pay even closer attention to the horses as they age as some can go along tolerating the grazing until they get into there teens? Obviously not all horses but some! Just another thought for everyone to keep in mind!✌🏼💚🐴
This is super helpful, thank you. My small horse has seemed to me to be a bit depressed lately, and is certainly sprung bellied and lacking in good muscle tone. I’ve been not wanting to chase her around the arena for exercise as that seems to me to not be good for her either. I’ve been looking into dietary changes – I read your article about protein deficiency – and Among other things started giving her a cookie of alfalfa to see if that is interesting to her. I also have been looking at the subtle anxiety I bring with me and the worry and critique I carry when I look at her body. This seems to be a mirror of the uncertainty and doubt I experience in my business challenges too. Your article reminds me she may well be mirroring me more closely than I realized! Also, your articles and videos have had a big impact on me lately, especially around the idea of horses being foragers not grazers. This has opened up my eyes to Spitfires needs and unhappiness in her current situation. She is boarding near me in a small dry lot with a dominant and demanding big warm blood which I think wears her down. I long to bring her home but I don’t quite have enough land. It feels like we are both stuck in a place of not getting our needs met. I have just under 2 acres (in Northern California). Interestingly after watching one of your videos I did something I’ve not done before and attempted to tune in to spitfire. I got an instant message of sadness, though of course I’m not sure it was real. I’ve tried to tune in again since and don’t hear anything I recognise. I am practicing now though! All this is to say I’m loving your content and approach, and inspired to continue to work toward hers and my well being, watch how I am showing up for her, and ultimately find a way to bring her home. Thank you so much ♥️
I saw you wrote about 2 acres in Northern California? We are in Calaveras county!
I think for your horse to be with you and you both to have more time and energy together…your horse might be good with 2 acres? Maybe if you tune in with her she will let you know? You could even add another companion …that she chooses? It could end up being a great fit!
Of course …I Don’t know your circumstances but lethargy is a sign of inflammation so just make sure that isn’t the cause with your girls emotions?
You can check digital pulses as one clue…if you know how?
Hey Michelle, hello! We are in Sonoma County, just up the road from San Francisco. Thank you for your comment; I don’t know how to check digital pulses – do you know any resources for that? Sounds like a helpful skill. I am doing the research now into how to have 2 horses and still regenerate the soil, and have seen both “yes” and “no”. The issue is compounded by the fact that my landlady’s son is building a house in the back field. And while he is very open to horses being here, I am unsure exactly how much land the horses will have, and it would all be a big experiment. I am working on tuning in with Spitfire, and not particularly good at it yet 🙂 Its early days though and I’m loving the exercise of it even if I’m pretty terrible! Thanks again Michelle!
Louisa….sounds like you are already in tune and yes keep listening and like Jini says…intuition and communication is like a muscle the more we
use it/practice the stronger it becomes!
Regarding digital pulses …Hoof Geek Blog has a free video on how to take them! She is in the UK and I really appreciate how humble she is! Her laminitis course was good and I learned quite a bit!
Also I think if you look on YouTube there are probably many videos on how to take them? Keep in mind heat and exercise can play a part in the strength of the pulse! Ideally you are feeling for no pulse in the area above the hoof! When there is a pulse in can indicate blood is not able to pump into the hoof at full efficiency! If you need any help we could messenger or email? Or call?
I just learned too…and am helping a neighbor who’s horse just foundered also! So getting lots of practice between the four I share life with and all the neighbor horses! It can be In a slightly different area for each horse! But all in all very easy to do once you know where to feel! Keep in mind it’s just an extra tool to detect if you might have inflammation! ✌🏼💚🐴
Hi Louisa – I agree with Michelle. I think 2 acres is plenty big enough for your horse and companion. Check out what this woman has done with 2.5 acres for her herd:
I am still reeling from discovering that the front field bit – where my herd spends 75% of their time is… ONLY 3.6 ACRES!!!! We measured it on google maps and I could not believe it, so we went out and hand-measured it and yep, I’ve had 11 horses on 3.6 acres. Yes, the total property is 30 acres, but they don’t cross the creek for 7-8 months of the year and they don’t go in the forest if it’s windy, so yeah. Now I know why things have been so intense.
I love how your’e open to seeing the parallel issues in your own life. So then continuing on the parallel… if you realize that you actually do have enough land to bring her home and give her a good life… then where do you need to shift perspective on not getting your own needs met?
I so agree with you I have had two andalusians who everyone said were fat but they werent they could do airs above the ground at any point they wished to! Lots of muscle, my current Andy is different, yes she stores a bit of fat but she doesnt seem to have the body mass of the others time will tell as she matures, she is 6 now so a few more years unti she is full grown, both mental and physical.
I think only someone who knows Andalusians can understand that their crest is part of their breed! Not fat. And even if they do carry fat, who cares, as long as they can move easily/well and are healthy. I love that you’re giving your current gal time and space to mature – wonderful 🙂
This weight thing has been a continual journey for me and my Andalusian mare. She was born here on my farm and is now 8.
I have dry lots, lane way system and three pastures one shady for summertime. With only a herd of two right now they are not moving as much, so I’m looking to add one more to my herd.
The grass here in Western North Carolina can be high is sugar at times. I struggle knowing which is better option.The short stressed grass in lane-way ( less amount) over the taller mature grass in pastures.
Think I will try talking with my mare about the weight issues and movement. I think she is beautiful and tell her all the time . pictures of her as a foal, 3 year old and now.
She looks beautiful! Getting a high energy or “monkey” horse is a great way to add movement to a herd. Michelle Martin added a “bully” horse to her herd and he’s done a great job of keeping the other horses moving!
When Montaro, Jax and Juno were here, they kept the herd moving so much that when they left, their hay consumption dropped 20% from their usual rate! LOL They didn’t need to eat as much, because they weren’t expending so much energy.