Striking a Balance
Do you use chemical dewormers, bute, commercial feeds, blankets in the winter, and/or horse shoes?
Or do you prefer herbal dewormers, acupuncture, organic hay, a fuzzy coat, and barefoot all year long?
Are you a ‘traditional’ horse owner or one of those ‘all natural’ people?
Would it make you feel better if you didn’t have to choose one or the other? The good news is you don’t. I’ve used all of the above at some point or another.
Though I definitely lean toward the holistic side of things, I certainly don’t shun all modern veterinary medicine or traditional approaches to horse care. Both have their place, and I think rather than choosing to be staunchly in one camp or the other, we should be more concerned about striking a balance. We need to find what works best for our horses.
Personally, I find that a ‘natural’ approach works best for preventative care and long-term maintenance. But when an emergency arises, I don’t hesitate to use more traditional approaches. In fact, I often use both. If a horse is experiencing colic, I’ve been known to use homeopathy, acupressure, and banamine. If a horse turns up dead lame with a hoof abscess, I’ll use hoof boots, essential oils, and possibly bute. It doesn’t always have to be 100% one way or the other.
When it comes to more traditional approaches to horse health care, my main concern is an over-dependency on them. More is not better, especially when it comes to chemical dewormers or vaccines. The same goes with using NSAID’s like bute. It’s important that we, as horse owners, get educated on these matters–but I would never completely advise someone against using them.
If it’s ten degrees outside and my horse is shivering, I might put a blanket on her. If the horse is old or thin and the weather calls for it, I might even use a blanket on a regular basis. But I won’t blanket a fuzzy, healthy horse in most circumstances.
I prefer to feed ‘natural ingredients’ like hay pellets, oats, and herbs, but if my old horse can’t keep weight on, I will feed a commercial senior feed. This is how both Kady and Hershey have made it through the past few winters.
As for dewormers, I use fecal egg counts to determine if they are needed. I feed Diatomaceous Earth on a regular basis, and prefer to use herbal/ natural dewormers. But that doesn’t mean I won’t use ivermectin or another dewormer if I feel it is warranted.
My first choice will usually be to go with a natural approach, but I’m not going to let me horses suffer if something more is called for. What I’m saying is it’s okay to combine traditional and holistic approaches to horse care. This is striking a balance.