Editor’s note: Last September, Whittaker ruptured a tendon in his right front leg. I burst into tears watching this big, proud horse heave his mighty 1,200 pounds into every step. The vet came out pronto, tranquilized him and did an ultrasound. The tendon was three times its normal size. Healing time? “Four months to a year,” he said. H E L P !
With sincere thanks to Maggie Moore for her visionary healing card and to my ability as a Reiki therapist, Whitty healed quickly, albeit weakly. The vet was surprised at the quickness, but knew it wouldn’t be a strong heal based on Whitty’s age, 23.
When we were allowed to begin a recovery program, I decided to investigate herbal remedies to strengthen the tendon tissue. While looking for hawthorn, I discovered Jody Webb’s Wild Horse Products. I was impressed and ordered some.
WHP recommended starting with Tummy B Calm and then adding the Joint Builder. Whittaker happily ate their Tummy B Calm and Joint Builder (a first for this horse, who has always refused supplements of any kind). Now Bear is also taking Tummy B Calm for dogs. He no longer has a bummy tummy.
The Joint Builder will take some time for its affects to show, but the Tummy B Calm was fairly instant for both guys, with excellent results all around.
And so, I invited Jody to tell you her horse story and introduce you to her herbal remedies.
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I'M NOT YOUR TYPICAL HERBALIST. I didn’t start into herbalism out of interest, but out of necessity.
And I’m not into what used to be termed New Age: energy work, crystals, hugging trees, which seems to go hand in hand with herbalism. I certainly don’t look like what many people imagine an herbalist looks like: a fairy walking through the forest, with the breeze blowing through my hair, as I imagine many of my customers picture me. Instead, I tend towards being a very practical, down to earth, bare-honest Grandma with grey, out of control hair and a tad too much on the fluffy side.
What pulled me into herbalism (and not only taking better care of myself, but my family and my animals) was a horse … and then another horse and then another horse. What all these horses had in common were health issues and very little answers from vets, feed stores and (ahem) helpful fellow horse owners.
I started into horses at the late age of 37. I have a vague image of my first horse ride at an age too young to remember, which imprinted horses on my heart forever. I simply have this vision of a small, brown, shaggy pony that I rode for probably all of five minutes, but it was enough for me to get the bug. I didn’t ride another horse until the age of 9 … that naughty pony managed to dump me in a big pile of poo, but in between the two was this big kind horse who belonged to the neighbor and kept a lonely little girl company for a few months one summer. That was the horse who stole my heart and it has belonged to the horse world ever since. In fact, that was how I ended up with my first horse, Nic.
I was window shopping on a site called Dream Horse. I never thought I would actually own a horse, since I couldn’t conceive that our household budget could ever make room for one. My husband, however, saw the stars in my eyes and somehow knew it was VERY important that I have a horse. That first horse, Nic, was way over my head and I was very horse ignorant. He was like the bad first date whose phone number you should have lost before the second date. He was hyper active, had skin issues, bad feet and a bad attitude to match. He was on the typical shiny-bag diet, i.e. I fed him whatever the feed store suggested and by the time I rehomed Nic to someone far more capable of handling him, I was starting to read the ingredients in those shiny bags and become very suspicious.
My second horse, Joey, was the first of my rescue horses and had been nearly starved to death. I was a lot more careful about how Joey was fed and began digging into what goes into horse feed and asking a lot of questions. All the horse people I knew were as horse-diet ignorant as I was, but fortunately by this time, I was starting to find a lot more information on the internet about different feeding ideas. Not many great ideas, but at least different ones.
I’ve got to interject here that the thought of building a business around my then nonexistent herbal skills wasn’t even a gleam in my eye. In fact, my goal was to become what is termed a “show queen.” I wanted to haul my horse off to shows, show off my mad horse skills, and build myself a “love me” wall with all my ribbons and trophies! Didn’t happen. Instead, Joey, who was meant for happy trails, not the shows, went on to become a kid’s riding horse, while I went on to my third horse, Gideon (below). Gideon was supposed to help me reach my show queen status.
There are days I look back and wish I had kept Joey. But as I kept in contact for a while with his new owner and how much she loved him, and the fact that Gideon was the epiphany I needed to change the course of my goal with horses … well, I just couldn’t really regret the path I was put on.
Gideon was quite the handful! Imagine the horse from the Black Stallion with a bad attitude. Nippy, kicky, always had to keep an eye on him … biggest problem child you ever met! And I adored him. He led me in all kinds of directions out of necessity. I learned new things about horse genetic disorders, effects of diets on horses and how to read feed labels. Google became my best friend.
I learned about herbs, how they support issues in the body and how I could use them to help Gideon. Gideon, you see, had a genetic disorder called PSSM, polysaccharide storage myopathy. In its simplest terms it means a horse consumes its own muscle. It is a disease that is occasionally seen in humans and dogs but is primarily about horses. It was such a new disease that most vets barely knew its name, let alone how to treat it, or how to properly feed a horse inflicted with it.
This is where my path into herbalism started, not for my own health or the health of my family, but this one very broken horse.
I spent four years floundering with Gideon, but sadly this is a disease that takes most horses when they are very young. Gideon was only twelve when I finally decided he had suffered enough in this life and he was laid to rest, but his legacy lives on. The knowledge I gained from him went on to help an endless list of horses, ponies, and minis and eventually branched out to other animals. I apply those same researching skills and herbal knowledge to my business, Wild Horse Products and to helping my friends, family and pets become healthy and more aware of their health. Gideon was the tipping point.
Gideon became my work. As others saw Gideon and the long line of horses that joined him become healthier and happier outside of the typical feed-store fare, I was asked to help my fellow horse owners with their issues, which very naturally turned into a business venture. Herbalism became the focal point of both the diet and the main way I address issues with my horses, which eventually branched out to the rest of my animals. It wasn’t until a good five years or more on this path that I even considered myself an herbalist as there was so much to learn!
Later, Gideon became my voice as more and more horse owners found me in their search for answers to help their own struggling horses. I fought hard for the knowledge I acquired over the years of broken horses, and I freely share the information I gained through trial and error. I am now a staunch advocate for, not only incorporating herbs as in integral part of every diet, but questioning everything in the diet! I did not go looking for this, and in fact I would say that a Divine Hand dragged me by the nose into it! I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Now when I look out in my yard and see my herd of rescued horses (ages 8 to 33, all with their own health issues), I realize what a big favor Gideon did for me and I am thankful for every bit of knowledge I have that helps me overcome those issues.
When customers call me with tears in their voices and thank me for helping turn their horses (and now dogs) into healthier animals, I think of the road that led me here and I am glad I didn’t walk away on those inevitable bad days. It’s not about selling a product for me, it’s about changing a person’s thinking … getting away from the shiny feed-store bag and into a more natural and healthy way of feeding our animals and ourselves.
Of all the directions I could have taken in life, I never conceived this would be one of them.
I am the unlikely herbalist.
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