Interview with Karen Eddings, The ‘Equine Nurse’
Karen Eddings worked as a registered nurse for over thirty years. After becoming uncomfortable with the allopathic model of medicine (treating the symptoms), she sought to learn more about holistic healing for both people and animals. She studied herbal and energy medicine, equine dentistry, received her masters degree in holistic nutrition, and became an iridologist for both humans and animals. She currently offers holistic healing for horses, small animals, and people through biofeedback, hair analysis, and dental examinations. You can learn more about Karen and the services she offers on her website.
What led you to learn about alternative and holistic modalities for horses?
What led me to this much needed area was the passion I had for holistic modalities for humans and the results I was getting. I healed my own dis-ease with holistic intervention–the doctors told me the treatment they wanted to prescribe could make me sicker and might not work! I thanked my doctor for his honesty and walked out. That was 21 years ago.
I have experience in allopathic medicine, but for over 20 years I have studied and applied alternative methods. Being a registered nurse, moving in this direction felt very natural to me. I already had the medical foundation, the science, and the passion for helping others. “Do no harm” is the oath I took.
It was a very smooth and loving transition for me to apply these sciences to horses, dogs and cats. I still assist eager humans willing to make a change as well.
Which holistic equine modalities do you currently specialize in?
I LOVE finding the cause behind the symptoms, so I use the hair follicle analysis to help determine that. To me, the symptoms are a calling for help and a message to your mind/body. As an RN for 35 years, it never made sense to me to treat and suppress the symptoms. So I specialize in hair analysis, looking for stresses and imbalances in all species. It has definitely made a difference.
For example, my dog has challenging symptoms such as skin problems, high anxiety, and other strange behaviors. Her hair analysis indicated it was the rabies vaccination she received and faulty detoxification pathways. She has not been well since. I am in the process of removing it energetically. A homeopathic vet can also help with this if you feel your animal is not responding to anything else, which my dog wasn’t. She gets raw food, runs free on a horse farm, and has little stress.
I also perform biofeedback sessions on a regular basis (see more about that in the next answer). Although I no longer ‘float’ horses’ teeth, I do perform dental examinations to see if the bite is out of alignment.
Can you explain how biofeedback helps horses?
Biofeedback is exactly what it says, it feeds back to the body what it needs based upon an energetic stress assessment. The person or animal is harnessed up with cables which feed into a very sophisticated software program that reads energetic imbalances. Based upon this reading, it will give back information on what is needed. It takes the human mind out of “thinking” what someone else needs. The feedback is in the form of minerals, vitamins, homeopathy, flower essences and over 15,000 other energies, most of which are running in the background as part of the biofeedback entrainment (practice that aims to cause brainwave frequencies to fall into step with a periodic stimulus having a frequency corresponding to the intended brain-state.)
The beauty of biofeedback is that sessions can be performed from a distance via the quantum field. Not as powerful as in “harness” but with animals, who have no onion (layers) to peel, the results are still effective.
The stresses the device picks up are the stresses creating symptoms.
It is very good at identifying these subtle energies; however not a cure-all as lifestyle changes also need to be made. It can usually tell you why you have these symptoms and what you need to do. It can also help with prevention, before symptoms arise. One feature I like is the ability to assess what you might be hyper-reacting too in terms of food, environment, etc.
See this link for more information on biofeedback.
What can you learn from a horse’s hair analysis?
Hair analysis, as we have known it to be, is generally used to assess for heavy metals and mineral imbalances. The technology is now so advanced that with a follicle of hair from the tail of a horse and as much birth information as you can provide, the biofeedback device can give back information on the animal.
To see an example of how hair analysis works with horses, please see this story about a horse named IceMan.
Since you’ve also studied equine dentistry, can you tell us how the health of the horse’s mouth relates to his overall health?
When I was deciding which dentistry school to attend, I became very impressed with Spence LaFlure’s research with jaw equilibrium and how alignment can affect the whole horse. His research has shown that by aligning the incisors and obtaining a 3-point harmony with the incisors, molar tables, and TMJ, the performance of the horse can be improved and injuries can be prevented.
This sounds great on paper, but when I got home, I started doing oral exams on horses and found 100% of the time that if the mandible (lower jaw) was caudal (meaning towards the hind, the upper incisors over the lower), the horse had problems in the hock, spine and symptoms that could not be helped via massage or chiropractic.
The first horse I saw was a 14 year old mare suffering from a non-healing wound on her left hock. She received great care from vets and the owner but still would not heal. I took one look in the mouth and found a wedge (angled incisors). Unfortunately, I could not convince the owner or the vet of my “theory” so nothing was done. I was not comfortable “floating” her incisors, the wedge too severe.
Spencer’s research is very “pioneering” and lining up incisors in the horse’s mouth is high-level dentistry. Once the upper incisors no longer occlude (make contact with) the lower incisors, they grow without wear. And with that slow growth, over time, the mandible (lower jaw) slides back. This stresses the TMJ, which needs to glide in the joint space so the spine can move. I am a big advocate of bit-less bridles which have little contact with the jaw mechanics.
There are a few ways the horse owner can check this:
1) With your horse’s jaw extending down towards the ground as if he were eating, pull his lips up and see if the lower jaw is slightly forward. (I am not saying ‘parrot mouth’, but the upper incisors are slightly behind the lower.) The ideal distance is 6mm.
2) Check the TMJ muscles on the upper forehead; if they are flat, this means the TMJ not moving well.
3) Finally, put your right hand over the upper jaw and your left hand on the lower try and move the jaw side to side (laterally) to see if the jaw moves (lateral excursion). The jaw needs to move side to side. This movement is what creates energy for the whole horse. If it does not move, and is locked, this can freeze up the spine, thus injuries and other complications can occur throughout the body.
This science is called Gnathology, and it started with human dentistry. In humans, it is the opposite. The lower jaw is behind the upper ever so slightly. To read more, see this page.
You can read more about Natural Balance Dentistry® here.
To read more about TMJ dysfunction in horses, see these websites:
TMJ/TMD is called the Missing Link; by Heather Mack, DVM.
Is there anything else you’d like to add pertaining to horse health?
Yes, as in humans, treating holistically is multi-factorial and takes time. We don’t expect a quick fix like the allopathic system, because you are not covering up the symptoms, but supporting the body with what it needs to help its own healing process. There are many different modalities that can help. For anyone who wants to heal this way, learning muscle testing or dowsing would be very helpful in assessing what the body needs. You might be very surprised to find that what you think might be good for the human or animal could actually bring about a negative reaction.
The basis for good health is minerals and good hay all the time. Treat and feed a horse like a horse–it is not hard. Besides good hay, I give my horse, who’s a hard keeper, raw food (ie: salads, soaked nuts), minerals, and all the hay she can eat, especially during the winter. She is on grass when we have it. Healthy green grass is a whole food for horses, with four times as much essential fatty acid omega 3’s then 6, plus silica to keep incisors filed down, as well as necessary minerals and vitamins. The soil has pro-biotics in it as well. Horses equilibrate pretty fast. Give this some time. Chia seeds or cold processed flax balanced with calcium (flax high in phosphorus) can also be added. Just not initially. Add gradually.
See this article by Dr. Getty for more information on healthy fats for horses.
I am a big advocate for self-care, education, and prevention. My horse, Sedona, and I have a strong bond. She knows she is special by the way I feed her! She gives hugs, and it is well worth the extra effort.
To learn how to dowse, go to: www.dowsers.org.
We have an annual convention in Northern Vermont every June. It’s filled with many “healing” choices and an awesome bookstore!