Apr 302020

Equine Metabolic Disease along with Equine Autoimmune Disease and evident parasite burdens are on the increase and becoming an epidemic in our equine populations worldwide, not to mention all other species of domesticated animals.

I examine just a few of these in this article and the strong correlation and possible connection to our land and the loss of soil Biodiversity. There is so much irrefutable scientific evidence that our planet is polluted from the overuse of chemicals and pesticides on the land. What significance does this have and what are the consequences for the health and wellbeing of our animals, not to mention ourselves?

How do we begin to fully understand the moving parts of this Ecosystem?

Soil Biodiversity:

Soil biodiversity is one of the richest, most complex biological communities on earth – it is home to a larger share of biodiversity and genetic diversity than tropical forests. This publication aims to raise awareness of the critical importance of soil and soil biodiversity. In addition, it highlights some good practice land management techniques that can be adopted to support the generation and regeneration of healthy soil.

Healthy soil depends on the vibrant range of life that lives below the ground, from bacteria and fungi to tiny insects, earthworms and moles. Together, this rich biodiversity brings immeasurable benefits for life on Earth. These include recycling nutrients and enhancing plant health, storing and purifying water, providing antibiotics and preventing erosion, and even mitigating climate change. And although these benefits are largely invisible to us, we benefit from them more than we could ever know. They are of vital importance to our world.

The diversity of our soils is shown by the wonderful range of biodiversity on display above ground. This means that if we do not care for soil, we put even greater strain on our biodiversity, and ultimately on our own sustainability. Endangered birds and butterflies call for our attention, but what of the ‘bugs’ and bacteria that inhabit our soil; do earthworms, springtails, soil mites and microbes enjoy the same level of attention?

The mites, lice and bacteria that inhabit the world beneath our feet are vital for maintaining balanced ecosystems and agricultural production – quite simply, we could not live without them.

A fertile soil provides the nutrients for the food we consume; its organisms form the base of the food chain for many carnivorous and herbivorous insects, birds and mammals. Soil acts like a sponge to soak up water and reduce the risk of floods; it acts as a sink for carbon dioxide and other gases and so contributes to the regulation of our climate. Exploitation of healthy soil has allowed our populations to grow and enjoy improvements in health and wellbeing. However, the cultivation of food, feed and fibre can damage soil quality and reduce its capacity to provide agricultural and other ecosystem services. Our reliance on soil and soil organisms affects a use of these natural resources that is potentially unsustainable.

Agriculture has an acknowledged impact on the health of soil and soil organisms; fortunately, research has fostered the development of technologically advanced soil-friendly agricultural practices which can in fact enhance the natural engineering processes that take place within soil. Appropriate land management can allow the sustainable coexistence of agriculture and biodiversity – including soil biodiversity. Soils will benefit from a wider uptake of soil-friendly management practices, and whilst this is something that can be regulated at a national, regional or local level, a broader soil protection strategy could provide the framework for improving the overall standards of soil management. If we understand the value of soil, we have incentive for its protection; if we are aware of good agricultural practices, we have guidance for its sustainable use.

There are many ways in which we can accomplish the protection our soil biodiversity and this magnificent ecosystem, and make necessary changes in how we nurture the land by giving it back the nutrients it requires to sustain our present day agricultural requirements. All of which are vital, so that farmers and land managers, may continue to provide us with the wide variety of nutritious food and the living countryside that we enjoy today.

Humus is the name given to the stable end product of the microbial break-down of plant and animal residues in the soil. It occurs in different types, depending on humidity and temperature, in various degradation stages, in forms of mixtures with mineral components and a variability of living soil organisms. Humus can hold 3-5 times its own weight in moisture, it therefore increases a soil’s capacity to withstand drought conditions.

It takes somewhere between 100 and 300 years for 1cm of humus to develop in top soil. Humus is dark, organic material that forms in soil when plant and animal matter decays.When plants drop leaves, twigs, and other material to the ground, it piles up. This material is called leaf litter. When animals die, their remains add to the litter. Over time, all this litter decomposes. This means it decays, or breaks down, into its most basic chemical elements. Many of these chemicals are important nutrients for the soil and organisms that depend on soil for life, such as plants.The thick brown or black substance that remains after most of the organic litter has decomposed is called humus. Earthworms often help mix humus with minerals in the soil.

Humus contains many useful nutrients for healthy soil. One of the most important is nitrogen. Nitrogen is a key nutrient for most plants. Agriculture depends on nitrogen and other nutrients found in humus. Some experts think humus makes soil more fertile. Others say humus helps prevent disease in plants and food crops. When humus is in soil, the soil will crumble. Air and water move easily through the loose soil, and oxygen can reach the roots of plants.

“Humus is therefore “Vital for Life” and if Humus goes then so do we”

Salinity, toxicity and extremes in soil pH (acid or alkaline) result in poor biomass production and, thus in reduced additions of organic matter to the soil. For example, pH affects humus formation in two ways: decomposition, and biomass production. In strongly acid or highly alkaline soils, the growing conditions for micro-organisms are poor, resulting in low levels of biological oxidation of organic matter (Primavesi, 1984). Soil acidity also influences the availability of plant nutrients and thus regulates indirectly biomass production and the available food for soil biota. Fungi are less sensitive than bacteria to acid soil conditions.

The Power of Photosynthesis:

In the miracle of photosynthesis, a process that takes place in the chloroplasts of green leaves, carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and water (H2O) from the soil, are combined to capture light energy and transform it to biochemical energy in the form of simple sugars. These simple sugars – commonly referred to as ‘photosynthate’ – are the building blocks for life in and on the earth. Plants transform sugar to a great diversity of other carbon compounds, including starches, proteins, organic acids, cellulose, lignin, waxes and oils.

Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains are ‘packaged sunlight’ derived from photosynthesis. The oxygen in our cells and the cells of other living things utilise during aerobic respiration is also derived from photosynthesis. We have a lot to thank green plants for!

Significantly, many of the carbon compounds derived from the simple sugars formed during photosynthesis are also essential to the creation of well-structured topsoil from the lifeless mineral soil produced by the weathering of rocks. Without photosynthesis there would be no soil. Weathered rock minerals, yes … but fertile topsoil, no.

Please read these articles for an in depth understanding of the importance of Biodiversity and Soil Restoration.

The Factory Of Life

Light Farming: Restoring Carbon, organic nitrogen and biodiversity to agricultural soils


Why do Fructans, Sugars and Starches Accumulate on Grass?

Mycorrhiza is a symbiotic association between a fungus and plant roots. The fungus colonises the roots of the host plant, either intracellularly or extracellularly. This association provides the fungus with relatively constant and direct access to glucose and sucrose produced by the plant in photosynthesis. In return, the plant gains the use of the mycelium’s very large surface area to absorb water and mineral nutrients from the soil, thus improving the mineral absorption capabilities of the plant roots. Since both involved organisms benefit from the interaction, it is defined as a mutualistic association.

There seems to be no doubt in the importance of the soil and its ecosystem, having an understanding of this system allows us to fully comprehend how our grasses have changed and the very basic nutrition is lost. It certainly has to have an effect on the amount of sugars and starches that are accumulating on our grasses that have become harmful to our horses – especially those who suffer with metabolic disease. Higher levels of toxic minerals like Iron are also evident and the losses in minerals that keep balance are declining.

So, understanding that this process of photosynthesis, the importance of the soil and its ecosystem, leads to a healthy soil biodiversity with an ecosystem that is functioning at its optimum. This provides nutritional grasses as nature intended.

In the ideal world, these plants that make sugar – sucrose, glucose and fructose which are after all food for the soil, are readily taken up by the vibrant range of life that lives below the ground, from bacteria and fungi to tiny insects, earthworms and moles.

These sugars and starches should be immediately taken from the stems directly into the longer roots, (roots that should be several feet in length, as opposed to inches) as they are food for the soil and root systems. Therefore they don’t accumulate on grasses as they are presently, instead they are utilised much faster and absorbed by the range of life that needs them to feed the soil.

Together, this rich biodiversity brings immeasurable healthy soils and plants alike.

So the question is what can we all do about this? Here we are with a basic understanding of the necessity of healthy soil biodiversity and what we can all do to make some very important changes in order to help our horses.

The old saying of “Dr Grass” doesn’t exist anymore due to the loss of this ecosystem that keeps our grasses healthy and providing our animals with the essential macro and micro minerals, keeping the sugars, starches etc, under control especially for these Metabolic horses. Changes necessary begin with the soil, there are many things we can do. First we need to give back import nutrients to the soil, using natural fertiliser’s such as Sobac to enhance the root systems and the whole soil biodiversity.

Key Points Highlighting a Few of the Equine Diseases on the Rise Worldwide:

Key Point 1 – Chronic Stealth Infections:

According to Dr Bishop VMD, Stealth infections now exist in epidemic proportions worldwide like that of Lyme disease and its co-infections – Bartonellosis (bacterial infection with any one or multiple Bartonella species). Bartonella like many other infectious bacteria utilise the immune system of the horses they infect as part of their infection strategy.
The consequences of these infections are having negative effects on the whole systemic system causing a myriad of health problems. The result of a disabled immune system, is an important aspect of both Lyme disease and Bartonellosis.
Bartonellosis is explained in full here – www.equineshivers.com

It is certain that the connection between Zoonic Diseases and the ecosystem will be fully revealed in time, but presently the lack of soil biodiversity and a non-functioning ecosystem has a huge part to play in the whole process. It certainly isn’t simple to explain fully as there are so many aspects to this and it’s relationship to equine diseases.

The healthy bacterium and certain species of the all important insect populations in the soil are diminishing rapidly and hence the unwanted ones are increasing, like that of ticks, in which the population is escalating due to the loss of the mammals and other insects, healthy bacteria, that kept some control on the their population.

Some very interesting reading here to denote that there is a connection to loss of Biodiversity and worldwide patterns of zoonotic disease outbreaks.

Biodiversity and Emerging Zoonoses:

Biodiversity and Health- Including reference on Lyme disease

Key Point 2 – Parasites:

Equine Parasite burdens and possibility of worms with microfilarial stages on the increase at a dramatic rate, and horses are becoming more resistant to chemical wormers. Hence they are burdened with parasites, which can have devastating consequences. We have come to depend on Faecal Egg Counts to determine parasites, Examples of microfilarias are Onchocerca cervicalis, Oxyuris equi and Setaria equina. Because these worms live under the skin conventional “fecal exams are not worth the paper they are printed on” (Marvin Cain, DVM) when it comes to these parasites. Other examples of filariasis are Wucheria bancrofti and Brugia spp. causing Infections in the Lymphatic System, and enlargement of Lymph Nodes.

Loa Loa- Loaiasis , female worms migrate through the eyes. Onchocerca volvulus or skin filariasis forming large nodules under skin or found in the eyes (causing ERU or blindness). Trichomonas Vaginalis -sexually transmitted affecting the mucosal tissue of the genital tract and usually can cause cystic ovaries in mares. Echinococcus Granulosus – causing cyst formation in liver, lung or brain. The list is extensive and more research is needed obviously to fully understand the concept and find more evidence that these are currently problematic in our equines.

Please read into Multidimensional Medicine at www.equineshivers.com




The Dung Beetle activity in controlling the parasites and flies that affect livestock, pets and people, and secondary seed dispersal, have become almost extinct, but the question is why?

The Role of Dung Beetles in the sustainability of pasture and grasslands

Negative Impacts of Human Land use on Dung Beetle Functional Diversity

Dung Beetle populations are being killed off by cattle medication:

Of course it is all about What Lies beneath this amazing ecosystem. It simply is not functioning as nature intended it to. The loss of the dung beetle and over grazing are consequences of how we have interfered with the whole system. These consequences are becoming more evident each day, and there are so many layers to this whole ecosystem.

So once again it all comes back to good management and respectively we all need to take responsibility for the part we play in Biodiversity.

Here are some photos of horses that were wormed with moxidectin and followed up with a herbal blend. The reactions are quite fascinating.

Case 1:
This photo is the result of a mare that was treated with Moxidectin and then followed with a herbal wormer. She became very itchy and this swelling appeared on her face. It has since disappeared and the mare is doing well.

Case 2:

Note the distinct line here on his shoulders just across the spine off the scapula., about twelve inches below the withers. This is common in horses that have chronic threadworm.

Case 3:
Pin Worms and Thread worms (4 yr old TB Gelding with Bartonella):

Case 4:

Grey Mare dosed with Moxidectin and herbal wormers – obvious die off of Threadworms and Pinworms:

Things you can look out for that may indicate that your horses may have a parasite burden or microfilarias:

  • Dry unproductive chronic cough of unknown origin, like that of COPD/RAD.
  • Unusual swellings/lumps on the skin sometimes hard and callus in nature
  • Severe itchiness
  • Sweet Itch or allergic skin conditions
  • Chronic Lymph node swelling
  • Lymphangitis or cellulitis
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Recurrent conjuntivitis, or Equine Recurrent Uveitis
  • Abdominal spasm/pain or colic
  • Poor hair coat-yellow tinge especially around rib cage and top line
  • Pot-bellied appearance
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic Laminitis or Insulin Resistance
  • Foot pain with chronic sub-solar abscessing or dormant filariasis cysts
  • Pain over the Nuchal Ligament, Rhomboid Muscles, Sacro-iIliac pain
  • ERU- Equine recurrent Uveitis

Parasites can cause a multitude of problems systemically:

  • Recurrent or fatal colic
  • Ulcerated and bleeding digestive system
  • Damage to the liver and other internal organs
  • Anemia
  • Damaged and irritated lungs and blood vessel damage



It seems likely that thread worms are a factor in Sweet Itch.

We can, however, do so much to help our horses by incorporating herbal wormers in conjunction with certain chemicals. They certainly do work and there have been dramatic results with their use, although they need to be given frequently and over a few weeks each time, preferably up to and after a full moon. They can be added to the feed daily and horses find them very palatable. Fortunately they do not become resistant to the herbs.

Rotating grazing and not over populating pastures with horses is important. You need a minimum of 3 acres per horse. Incorporating herbal Anthelmintic plants in our pastures can also help. We need to be careful that the horses aren’t building up a resistance to chemical wormers and this approach can help this current problem.

Key Point 3 – Equine Metabolic Syndrome & Grass Sickness:

Equine Metabolic Syndrome and Grass Sickness – definitely associated with EMS – is yet another new disease, that is on the rise in our Equines especially in the UK. There is no doubt that there is a strong correlation to the specific grasses that are grown on land with adverse soil biodiversity and mineral disruption.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in a horse’s environment may play a role in the development of equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), according to new research.
Equine metabolic syndrome, which has no cure, is characterised by endocrine abnormalities in horses and ponies. Affected horses and ponies have a tendency to develop pockets of fat and/or become obese, and they have altered insulin dynamics.

EMS also is one of the most common causes of laminitis, a painful and very debilitating inflammation of tissue in a horse’s hooves, leading to reduced performance, and in severe cases necessitating euthanasia.

Do Fructans cause laminitis?



Nutritional needs generally are not being met in accordance with the NRC Council. We are all subject to using Complementary Feed Supplements and with all the scientific research done to date, it is coming to our awareness that there is a substantial need for independent balanced nutrition and the use of nutraceuticals to promote health and wellbeing, for proper growth and development, general health and healthy immune system in our horses.

The use of proper balanced nutrition and correct farm management can be achieved by each one of us taking responsibility for what our horses eat.

There is science behind the actual daily requirements of essential nutrients and that understanding is very advanced today. The most successful method of achieving this is to have our forage, grasses and grains tested and having a nutritional analysis done to determine what is in need of balancing, whether there are deficiencies or excesses and balancing accordingly.

Then apply the science to the level of work a horse is under, maintenance or if used for breeding purposes. This does indeed assist the horses in performance and work and helps them to cope with the demands we put on them both physically and emotionally.

The question for us all is – does all this really work? And if it does, is it sustainable? How do we re-acquire all minerals in the soil that supplied ‘Dr Grass’ once upon a time?

Calcium, Magnesium and Phosphorus are extremely important minerals and need to be balanced correctly. They are vital components of the diet and as they require the correct pH of the land to thrive. They are important for growth and development in young and growing foals and yearlings. If these essential minerals aren’t adequate then there will be bone related diseases like that of Osteo Chrondritis dissections (OCD), splints in young horse in training, etc. A neutral pH encourages a greater and more diverse population than acid soil for these minerals to flourish.

Symptoms associated with EMS/Grass Sickness syndromes that are relevant and can be addressed:

  • Parasite Burdens causing Leaky Gut Syndrome
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Chronic Stealth Infection – Auto Immune Disease -Lyme/Bartonella
  • Microcirculation deficit disorders
  • Chronic bacterial foot abscessing – foot pain
  • Chronic lung infections RAD/COPD
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Gastric and /or colonic ulcers
  • Cribbing
  • Retention of food fermenting in the gut-Hard, dry droppings (Constipation)
  • Leaky gut
  • Immune compromised
  • Extremely toxic
  • Nutritional deficiencies eg. (Iron overload) due to lack soil biodiversity, lack of copper and other vital minerals

Insulin Resistance and EMS (Equine Metabolic Syndrome) is incurable but can be managed exceptionally well. It is generally found in horse breeds that have a slow metabolic rate, but it is on the rise in fast metabolic rate horses like Thoroughbreds.

It therefore takes good management on behalf of the owners and this is the main reason I feel that there is a definite connection between the lack of soil biodiversity of the land and pastures – that our horses are grazing on and of course where all our forage sources come from – and the increase in all Metabolic diseases in horses.

Genetics play a role in this but that can be changed or altered with the use of Epigenetics, in that biological mechanisms that can switch genes on or off using good nutritional management and eliminating any stress that horses may be exposed to. Due to serious soil biodiversity problems our grass roots are only inches deep, instead of ideally being a few feet deep .

It then makes perfect sense that the sugars, starches that are essential food for the soil are lingering on the leaf and stems, and not being dispersed into the root system as they should.

This gives us food for thought and given the critical situation worldwide with soil biodiversity then we are creating an environment that simply does not sustain our horses and each of us are responsible for these increasing health issues in our horses. We all need to take some action, and knowledge is key to understanding the necessary changes we all can make.

If we continue to overuse chemical fertilisers and pesticides we are robbing the land of a vital ecosystem. This can only produce grasses, forage and grains that are lacking in vital nutrients, or even worse an excess of toxic minerals. There is a price to pay and consequences of using forage and grains that are grown on soil that is starved of nutrients. The soil needs nutrients but it has to be sustained with specific products, eg. SOBAC.

Bottom line – we all can change this?

Obviously changing the biodiversity is the key to making some dramatic changes.

But what are our options available to make necessary changes – controlling sugars and parasites and achieving pastures that are healthier, providing proper balanced nutrition with natural and organic products? By taking these baby steps each of us can have an effect on our own pastures and make changes that are extremely positive.

  • Using Sobac Products ‘Bacteriosol’ and ‘Bacteriolit’, instead of chemical fertilisers
  • Growing healthy grasses, using specific grass seeds that are suitable for horses, like Timothy, Meadow Fescue, Cocksfoot.
  • Incorporating anti-parasitic herb seeds like Sainfoin, Yarrow, Fenugreek, Birdsfoot trefoil, Thyme to our pastures
  • Reduce Overgrazing, starving grass may be higher in sugar. Overgrazing forces horses to eat only the lower portions of grass plants, where the concentration of NSC is higher. Starving grasses are usually due to loss of soil biodiversity. Higher risk of parasites.
  • Minimum of 3 acres per horse, rotation of stock, grass harrowing on hot days.
  • Growing trees and hedges to sustain wildlife, and the bees.
  • Using Herbal wormers in conjunction with chemicals, more often as a feed supplement
  • Incorporate balanced minerals and vitamins into daily diet
  • Keep feeding as natural and organic as possible, high in fibre (Omit processed, GMO Feeds)

What is Sobac?

There are amazing products like SOBAC that is a natural fertiliser developed by Marcel Menzy, a French farmer in the 80s. Available in Ireland from P & T Stapleton Ltd.

SOBAC contains Bacteriolit and Bacteriosal which are made up of a complex of micro-organisms which improves the level of micro-life in the soil, allowing the soil to fulfil its full natural cycle. It helps to transform organic matter into humus. Any positively charged element is naturally fixed on to the clay humid complex via the law of attraction as the clay humid complex is negatively charged.

The more humus you have in the soil, the more minerals you will fix and prevent from leaching. The pH will neutralise and the land can sustain the products Bacteriolit and Bacteriosal. There is significant reduction of weeds like docks, ragworts and buttercup. It provides you with the advantages of having drier land due to better drainage, and allowing horses have more winter access to grass.

Grasses and forage suitable for Horses

To restore our soils and feed the microbes:

Fruit hill Farm


P & T Stapleton Phone : +353 (0) 87 232 8051

Ergofito http://www.ergofito.co.za/ https://youtu.be/zDS0MuKeRY8

Brian Cooper
Jasper Consulting Limited
Tel. +353 1 494 8061
Mob. +353 87 225 2978
E-Mail Mailto:bcooper@jasper.ie

Marcel Meze-SOBAC

Grass Seed and Herbs

Grasses that we can use in our pastures-understanding grass terminology, form and function:

Here is a link for a very interesting read on a farm in Ireland which is very impressive.
Calverstown House –

I understand that you may be thinking that this is totally out of your reach, but just take a leaf out of their book. If we all take baby steps and incorporate new healthy grasses and herbs, use natural and organic fertilisers like that of SOBAC and each of us can make steady progress each year to help and change our pastures for the better. If on the other hand we keep taking from the land without putting something back then we will evidently create more problems.

We can all help to show others how they too can make changes. We need to recognise that the marketing of chemical fertiliser companies and the financial pressures of both farming and horses as a business have forced us down a path which, unknowingly, has in the end proven to be detrimental. There are other more profitable measures we can take to farm safely and for all our sakes, both human and animal.

Sep 152019

Equine Parasites Burdens are on the Increase worldwide.

Parasites populations are increasing, and horses are becoming more resistant to chemical wormers.

Hence they are burdened with parasites which can have devastating consequences. We have come to depend on Fecal Egg Counts to determine worm burdens, but unfortunately there is evidence that this is not an exact science and not reliable.



Parasites can cause a multitude of problems systemically:

  • Recurrent or fatal colic
  • Ulcerated and bleeding digestive system
  • Damage to the liver and other internal organs
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Poor hair coat
  • Pot-bellied appearance
  • Lethargy
  • Damaged and irritated lungs and blood vessel damage

The Dung Beetle activity in controlling the parasites and flies that affect livestock, pets and people, and secondary seed dispersal, have become almost extinct. 

However, the farming practices used for the management and control of the livestock–pasture ecosystem can have serious ecological consequences as a result of the chemical products commonly used. Residues of herbicides, insecticides, and antiparasitics produce imbalance in the environment that affects the soil fauna, especially the dung beetles.

The Role of Dung Beetles in the sustainability of pasture and grasslands


Negative Impacts of Human Land use on Dung Beetle Functional Diversity 


Dung Beetle populations are being killed off by cattle medication:


Of course it is all about What Lies beneath the soil and it’s amazing ecosystem. It simply is not functioning as nature intended it to, as we have interfered with the whole system and the consequences are becoming more evident each day, and there are so many layers to this whole ecosystem.

So once again it all comes back to good grazing management and respectively we all need to take responsibility for the part we play in having healthy soil Biodiversity.

This is a subject that I intend to write further articles on, to offer you all some important in dept information on the connection to Biodiversity and parasites and also equine diseases.

We need to be careful as it is proven that horses are building up a resistance to chemical wormers:

  • Roundworms (Ascarids): Ivermectin, moxidectin, pyrantel
  • Strongyles: Fenbendazole, pyrantel, albendazole
  • Pinworms: https://wp.me/p2WBdh-G5


So we understand that parasites are on the increase, in our lands for various reasons, of which I will go into more detail in another article.

For now, we need to address the current issues on how we all can address this and make the necessary changes to our worming programmes. and here are a few tips for you all to make these changes.

We can however incorporate herbal wormers in conjunction with the chemicals. They do work and I have seen dramatic results after applying these principles to my own horses here on my farm with their use, although they need to be given frequently and over a few weeks each time, they can be added to the feed daily and horses find them extremely palatable.

It is best to not over use the chemical wormers for many reasons and to ensure they do not become resistant to them.

The one chemical wormer that we can rely on at present is a sheep wormer called Cydectin oral sheep drench, it contains moxidectin 1% and is extremely safe and effective for horses to date.

Only use in Spring and Autumn particularly on a full moon. 

Using herbal parasite blends throughout the rest of the year is certainly safe and horses won’t become resistant to the herbs thankfully.

We also can grow Anthelmintic plants by adding certain herb seeds like Sainfoin to our pastures. 

Sainfoin is high in tannins and with anti parasitic properties. This is because the consumption of sainfoin, as an example of a tannin-continuing legume, disturbs biology of three main stages of the parasite life cycle: the eggs, the infective larvae and the adult worms. The effects are the reduction of parasite egg excretion ( due to wither a lower fertility of female worms or fewer worm numbers) a lower development of the eggs to larvae, or a lower establishment of the Infective larvae in the animals.

Here is a link to where you can buy these seeds:



Jan 162016

Bartonellosis-Lyme Disease Horses

Bartonellosis is a gram negative bacterial infection with anyone or multiple Bartonella species. It is a co-infection of Lyme Disease. Bartonella like many other infectious bacteria utilize the immune system of the horses they infect as part of their infection strategy. If a horse has a pre existing arthritis the bacteria use the inflammatory process already occurring in the body to facilitate successful infection in any joint, the process is even easier. The inflammation present would be by itself stimulate the movement of infectious bacteria to that location. Without getting into the technicalities the bottom line is the ability of the parasite to establish an infection anywhere in the body successfully will depend on the initial immune response of the exposed host, hence the weaker or more compromised the Immune system(especially those under stress) the more likely the animal is to become infected.

Once this is established one must focus on the Cytokine Cascade that the organism produce in the body. Cytokines are small-signalling molecules released by the immune system and the glial cells of the nervous system, that are important in the intercellular communication in the body. When bacteria touches a cell, this cell gives off a signal, a cytokine, that tells the immune system what is happening and what the cell needs. Each type of infectious bacteria initiates a particular kind of cytokine cascade, that is, an initial and very powerful cytokine is released into the body, It is these cytokines, in fact, that create most of the symptoms that horses experience when they are ill.

Lyme, Bartonella and its Mycoplasma co-infections interact both in the vector that spreads them(for example a flea, tick, horsefly, spider etc.,) and then in the host they are transferred to.

The symptoms produced by Bartonella are difficult to diagnose and even recognise. As it is not always circulating in the red blood cells it can evade any testing or blood samples taken.

It seems apparent that it seems to circulate more often in the early morning, or late evening when other biting insects are at large with the purpose of re populating itself from inside the host.

The list of predominant symptoms found to date in all or some of the infected horses can be found at the bottom of this page in Symptom Check List.

The list of Bartonella symptoms successfully treated to date are as follows:

URT/LRT (Upper and lower Respiratory Tract infections) Chronic mucus,
RAD (Recurrent Airway Disease)
Spontaneous periodic heavy breathing episodes
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD / heaves)
EIPH (aka bursting)) Ruptured alveoli deep in the lungs (exercise induced pulmonary haemorrhage)
Microcirculation Deficit Disorder
Lymphangitis, cellulitis (recurring) Lymphadenitis
Muscle deconditioning and/or muscle spasms -Sensitive to grooming- hypersensitive, Back soreness, Top-line muscle atrophy,

Sacra Iliac problems
Poor Exercise Tolerance
Total body soreness / uncomfortable posture
Tying Up

Arthritis and Inflammation in any joints

Kissing Spines (before or after surgical intervention)
Stringhalt, Shivers, Wobbler Syndrome.
Digital suspensory syndrome

DSLD (Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Disease)

ALD (Anular Ligament Disease)

Foot Abscessing (chronic bacterial foot abscesses)
Reluctance to bear weight on sore feet (hypersensitive soles)
Thrush (Chronic)

Leaky gut syndrome

Gastric and Colonic ulcers


Dr Edward Breitschwerdt, DVM


Veterinary Medicine Leads to Help for Suffering Humans Edward Breitschwerdt, DVM, is an infectious disease specialist at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, an adjunct professor of medicine at Duke University, and chief scientific officer. Bartonellosis is a poorly understood condition that is routinely overlooked by mainstream medicine. As a result, many cases go undiagnosed, leading to significant and unnecessary human and animal suffering and substantial costs to society. While available testing options for Bartonella have improved greatly in recent years, there is still no perfect Bartonella assay available. Even when bartonellosis is confirmed through testing, the success of available treatment options is variable, and Bartonella may establish itself as a chronic infection that requires longterm management.Fortunately for many of us, humans are not the only species affected by the genus Bartonella. In fact, much of the available research comes from the veterinary community, whereat Galaxy Diagnostics. Early in his career, he focused on vector-borne, intracellular pathogens, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever (caused by a Rickettsial bacterium) and Ehrlichia. Ehrlichia was discovered in animals decades before it was identified in humans. His attention later shifted to Bartonella due to the historical association of one Bartonella species, Bartonella henselae, with catscratch disease (CSD).The connection between the newly discovered bacterium and CSD was initially made by a rickettsiologist, Dr. Russ Regnery at the CDC, who recognized similarities between a newly isolated bacterium from an AIDS patient in Texas and bacteria visualized in lymph nodes of patients with CSD. Regnery made the first isolate of Bartonella henselae from acat and showed that cats can become chronically infected. This work was the catalyst that led Breitschwerdt down the path of unraveling the mysteries of Bartonella. As Breitschwerdt lectured at veterinary conferences about Bartonella illnesses in dogs, numerous veterinarians approached him to discuss their own health challenges, such as multiple sclerosislike conditions and rheumatoid-like diseases. Many had been sick for several years with no clearly defined diagnosis. When he started testing these veterinarians for Bartonella, his research team found that many of them tested positive for Bartonella DNA in their blood. If it were not for the translational research initially done with animals, the genus Bartonella and the disease bartonellosis would likely be even lesser known than they are today. This may be another example in which dogs truly are mans best friend.

Dr Brenda Bishop VMD


The usual mode of transmission to horses appears to be biting insect vectors: biting flies, mosquitos, ticks, dog fleas and cat fleas. Immature immune systems (orphan foals and foals weaned too early) are particularly vulnerable as seasons change (end of summer, early fall) when many insects go into a feeding frenzy prior to onset of winter and below freezing (insect killing) temperatures. Many horsemen believe that white or grey horses are more attractive to biting insects as opposed to solid and dark colored horses. This is not exactly true, as all horses are.



(How many of these clues can you recognize in your horse?)

Lethargy / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome / Poor Exercise Tolerance

chronic inflammation in a wide range of tissues including the brain, bone marrow
delayed forward phase of stride at any or all gaits (slow bringing the leg(s) forward)

extensor rigidity / contracted flexor tendons
subluxating pasterns and/or fetlocks
upright angles in the fetlocks and pasterns
tendency to land toe first
dragging toes / toes worn flat
hanging one or both knees over a jump
hitting jumps with one or both hind shins
subluxating patella(s) (locking stifles)
curb (ruptured plantar ligament)
tallus fracture(s)
forging (clicking front heels with hind toes)
abrasions on front of pasterns from difficulty standing up
riding “as if the hand brake has not been released”
refusal to move forward (with or without rearing)
reluctance to bear weight on sore feet (hypersensitive soles)

muscle deconditioning and/or muscle spasms

total body soreness / uncomfortable posture
back soreness, topline muscle atrophy
dropped head syndrome
tendency to travel hollow backed and high headed
skipping / cross cantering / cross firing at the canter
fibromyalgia (EFMS) *** (see “The Fibromyalgia Horse”)
grunting / moaning / groaning under saddle
diaphragmatic muscle spasms (hiccups aka thumps)
esophageal muscle spasms (choke, swallowing problems)
laryngeal muscle spasms
displaced soft palate (with or without holding the breath)
chronic intercostal muscle soreness, cramping (ribs)
shivers *** (in 1, 2, 3 or 4 legs)
rigid muscles between hips and stifles (cording)
fibrotic myopathy *** (in one or both hind legs)
“thickened suspensories”
calcium deposits in tendons / tendon sheaths
rupture of the extensor carpi radialis (in one or both forearms)
audible ‘snap, crackle, pop’ from stifles and/or hocks
cardiac muscle fatigue (weak heart valves)
flaring nostrils at rest (chronic)
spontaneous periodic heavy breathing episodes
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD / heaves) ***
dribbling urine / odd urination habits
retained placenta (uterine atony)
leaky gut syndrome
constipation /scant dry manure OR diarrhea / colitis
herring gutted OR bloated abdomen
right dorsal colon ulcers
inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) ***
abundance of tape worms resistant to deworming
overgrowth of Candida in the large intestine
malabsorption of nutrients
gas colic (chronic)
epiploic foramen entrapment (seen at colic surgery)
gastrosplenic ligament entrapment (ditto)
stringhalt *** (in one or both hind legs)
neuritis of the cauda equina / polyneuritis ***
peripheral myoclonus

shifting leg lameness

lameness that shifts from front to back and/or side to side
“bridle lameness” (commonly lame on one diagonal)
frequent tripping on even and/or uneven ground
“stiff leg syndrome” (micro muscle spasms)

Microcirculation Deficits

sensitivity to cold weather, particularly cold and rain (regardless of blanketing)
absence of dapples (branches of the capillary tree)
pale mucous membranes (in mouth, pale tongue)
tendency to bleed

increased central arterial and venous pressure
thrombocytopenia (low platelet counts)
thrombocytopenic purpura ***
prolonged clotting time
exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) ***
spontaneous (non-exercise induced) nosebleeds
vasoproliferative tumors (malignant melanoma)
autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) ***

complications associated with poor tissue oxygenation

prolonged healing time (> 7 to 10 days)
surgical repair failures
wound dehiscence
fracture site non-unions
colic surgery anastomosis break-down
recurring ‘scratches’
scirrhous cord following castration
yeast-like secretions in the sheath (geldings and stallions)
low grade chronic endometritis ( mares)
overgrowth of organisms that thrive in low oxygen locales
maggots in poorly perfused wounds (Rx: desitin)
chronic thrush in and around the frogs
presence of common co-infections *** (all of these)
lyme disease (Borrelia)
babesiosis (Babesia)
protozoa (EPM in the cerebrospinal space)
toxoplasmosis (chronic)
leptospirosis (chronic)
tetanus (Clostridium tetani)
botulism (Clostridium botulinum)
“bastard strangles” (Strep equi)
salmonellosis (Salmonella sp.)
pigeon fever (Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis)
fungal conditions resistant to treatment (“rain rot”)
chronic bacterial foot abscesses
poll evil
fistulous withers
late summer foal pneumonia (Rhodococcus equi)
Lawsonia intracellularis

quittor (necrosis of the collateral cartilage)
chronic laminitis ***
chronic exertional rhabdomyolysis (tying-up) (muscle damage and bleeding)
cording of lymphatic vessels
lymphangitis (usually in a hind leg previously injured)
cellulitis (recurring)
swollen liver (hepatomegaly)
swollen spleen (splenomegaly)
swollen joints (knees, hocks, stifles)
pericarditis (swollen pericardium)
peroneal nerve paralysis (consequence of a hind leg stuck under a fence)
radial nerve paralysis (historically linked to ill-fitting neck collars)

Head and Neck Issues

swollen eyelids
surface eye infections with tearing
random cranial nerve dysfunction

optic nerve
micro-ophthalmia (one or both eyes)
blindness (one or both eyes, normal outwardly)
ERU (equine recurrent uveitis) ***
depth perception deficits (altered spatial behavior)
preference for shade vs. bright light (sore eyes) or
refusal to move from bright light to dark shade
head shaking (photic) (Rx: guardian mask)
olfactory nerve
flehmen response (repetitive)
facial nerve
cribbing ***
nipping, biting, licking
chewing wood
facial nerve paralysis (Bell’s Palsy)
teeth grinding / jaw clenching
vestibulocochlear nerve
hypersensitivity to sound (for example clippers)
balance problems (in a moving horse trailer)
trigeminal nerve
pruritis (itchy head during and after exercise)
exercise induced trigeminal neuralgia

head shaking (non-photic)
hypoglossal nerve
tongue laxity
odd compulsive habits involving the tongue
hypoglossal nerve palsy

neurogenic atrophy of various head and neck muscles (masseter, supraspinatus, etc.)
entrapment of the epiglottis
recurrent laryngeal nerve paralysis, partial paralysis, roaring
impaired drainage from salivary glands (mainly the parotids)
choke (that does not resolve without veterinary intervention)
dry mouth or excessive salivation
megesophagus (food lodges in the esophagus) ***
goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
sweet itch (topline pruritis along base of mane and/or base of tail)
alopecia areata (aka vitilago) (hair loss around eyes and/or muzzle) ***
equine sarcoid
squamous cell carcinoma

Endocrine / Neurochemical Imbalances *** (all of these)

anhydrosis  (non-sweater) OR excessive sweating
sudden total body hair loss
hyper-reactivity to vaccination (localized soft tissue inflammation)
delayed systemic allergic reaction to vaccination (colic within 30 days, laminitis)
severe allergic reactions to intravenous drugs
endocrinologic laminitis
food allergies
sensitive skin
callouses on one or both elbows
chronic “shoe boils” / capped elbow(s)
hypersensitivity to touch (ears, face, hind legs, blankets)
hypersensitivity to rain / bathing
hypersensitivity to strong sunlight (sun burn)
hypersensitivity to grooming tools
hypersensitivity to certain bedding
reactivity on girthing / hypersensitivity to tack
reactivity to shampoos, fly sprays, detergents, leather dye
hypersensitivity to insects and insect bites
sweet itch (mane and/or tail)
intense pruritis along ventral midline, sheath / udder

hair that stands on end in a linear pattern (along meridians)
birdcatcher spots (first documented in the Irish TB stallion Birdcatcher 1833-1860)
“skunk tail” (especially in combination with alopecia areata and/or birdcatcher spots)
neurotransmitter imbalances (neuroses)
explosive outbursts (low dopamine) (ex: bolting)
depression (low serotonin)
anger, aggression, temper tantrums
moodiness, grumpiness, argumentative attitude
changes in temperament (mild mannered to a bully)
panic attacks (fear based) (for little or no reason)
running backwards (during a panic attack)
violently pulling back while tied
tendency to kick walls, humans, other horses (violently)
tendency to dorsiflex violently and randomly (buck)
hallucinations / bizarre fearful behavior
frequent yawning (yawning resets neurotransmitters)
narcolepsy (falling asleep randomly and/or collapsing)
random seizures
proprioceptive deficits (anywhere on the body)
attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder

insulin resistance
cushing’s syndrome (early onset high serum cortisol)
peripheral Cushing’s
equine metabolic syndrome (EMS)
altered estrus cycles (short or long, flagrant or silent)
cystic ovaries
chronic intermittent lactation (over months, years)
prolapsed uterus and/or retained placenta (after foaling)
testicles that are slow to fully descend / cryptorchidism (linked to ill behavior)
low testosterone / shy breeders
mineral depletion  (Bartonella feeds on magnesium)

consistently inconsistent behavior from one day to the next
and/or from one season to the next
dangerously high levels of toxic metals on hair analysis
patchy sweating (magnesium +/- potassium depletion)
inability to relax (muscle twitching / trembling / prancing)
self mutilation (biting at chest)
repetitive behavior (weaving, stall walking, pacing)
neurotic separation anxiety
obsessive compulsive behavior patterns (OCD)
tendency to escape from normal horse enclosures
inability to tolerate changes in routines
shortened stride length going downhill
oxidative stress / improvement with large doses vitamin E
marked improvement with 10 grams Mg malate /day in diet

As a stealth pathogen, Bartonella is adept at staying under the radar of human recognition underneath a multitude of disguises. Clinical signs of a chronic Bartonella infection are mysterious in onset, appearance, severity and duration (periodicity). A relapsing bacteremia is expressed as multiple recurring deficiencies, a sliding scale of dysfunction much like a roller coaster; various system imbalances can produce polar opposite symptoms. Just like autism spectrum disorder, chronic Bartonellosis will induce a vastly different constellation of symptoms from one horse to the next. Stress is cumulative and so are the clues that reflect a lurking problem that defies description. Since the trajectory over time is toward autoimmunity, those conditions that correlate with serious immune system dysfunction (notated ***) are significant red flags in and of themselves; the presence of just a few of the many conditions listed below on this article called “Frequently Asked Questions” constitute grounds for further investigation into the possibility of chronic Bartonellosis.

Bartonella produces a relapsing bacteremia; some days it is floating freely in the circulation and some days not. For this reason, our chances of obtaining a positive test result are enhanced by collecting blood samples on at least 3 alternate days. The veterinarian sends all 3 samples with a completed submission form to Galaxy Diagnostics (www.galaxydx.com). Turn around time for results is 3 weeks. Galaxy uses a technology (BAPGM) that is considered the gold standard in Bartonella testing. For more information visit their website.

Yes. Evidence for transmission of infection from mother to offspring has been demonstrated in small rodents. There is growing anecdotal evidence that larger mammals (humans, horses) can also pass the infection along from one generation to the next. Much work needs to be done to elucidate this aspect of Bartonella epidemiology.



Jan 082015

Equine Balanced Nutrition

Your horse doesn’t run on air any more than your automobile does. Correctly fueling your horse is at the heart of good nutrition, but it doesn’t stop there. If your car is “injured”, you just replace parts. Your horse needs to repair tissues stressed by exercise or disease through nutrition, build and strengthen bones, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments through nutrition, manufacture red cells, fight infections, produce sweat and carry out the billions of biochemical reactions needed to burn fuel and build or repair tissues through nutrition
The human diet typically contains a wide array of different foods, each with a different nutritional profile. This helps guarantee requirements for protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals are met. In contrast, many horses eat precisely the same meal day in and day out. When you buy dog food, cat food, fish food or bird food, you are buying a nutritionally balanced package. Same thing for bagged horse feed but bagged feeds are only part of the horse’s diet. Most of your horse’s nutrition comes from hay or pasture

Livestock producers, whether dairy, beef, hogs or chickens, invest considerable time and money into balancing their diets. Why? Because it pays off in their bottom line. Balanced nutrition means more milk, more meat, less disease – in short, the healthiest, most robust animals. Calories alone won’t get you there. Quality protein, adequate vitamins and carefully balanced minerals make the difference.

The equine marketplace is flooded with supplements, each designed to put this or that “patch” onto a problem that has its roots in inadequate nutrition. If your diet is correctly balanced in the first place, supplying supplemental nutrients based on what is missing or excessive in the base diet, you can throw all of those away and discover what livestock producers have known for a very long time, correct feeding doesn’t have to be expensive and it more than pays for itself.

It’s even more important for horses under stress, be it pregnancy, lactation, growth, exercise, injury, infection. Sound nutrition isn’t a cure-all or an “alternative” approach to health. It’s much more than that. It’s essential. Every function in your horse’s body depends on it.

Poor nutrition can actually cause disease but the role of nutrition goes far beyond this. Your horse’s body is made of water and “matter”. Building the body is not a once and done thing. To maintain tissues, protect from infections, repair illnesses all requires more “matter”. Your horse cannot manufacture the amino acids, fats, minerals and vitamins he needs out of thin air. They have to come from the diet.

Orthomolecular Medicine

Dr. Linus Pauling coined the term orthomolecular in the 1960s. It literally means the right (correct)molecule. With a strong background in physics, Dr. Pauling entered the field of chemistry where he was productive for the next 70 years. He worked in both organic and inorganic chemistry, becoming most interested in nutrition in the later part of his career. Dr. Pauling’s work literally brought biochemistry to life, as a 3 dimensional active and interactive system.
At the heart of molecular medicine is the concept that disease occurs when there is a
disruption of all the complicated cellular machinery and processes. Sometimes it’s a glitch in the DNA that the organism was born with, i.e. a genetically programmed-in disease. Sometimes it’s caused by an infectious organism
disrupting cellular processes. Nutritional deficiencies or excesses, and toxic substances, can also produce disease, as does trauma or the wear and tear of aging.

Also at the heart of orthomolecular medicine is that you can only maintain robust health with the “right molecules” – foods – in the correct amounts, and central to orthomolecular medicine is that the concept of taking in nutrients in amounts sufficient to prevent full blown deficiency diseases is not necessarily
the same thing as dosages needed for optimal health.
If your horse has an infection and you give antibiotics, you correct the disease by killing the cause, the bacteria. However, very few drugs actually treat disease. Instead, they treat symptoms. The symptoms of a disease are caused by the body, not something that happens to it. When you block a symptom with a drug, you are interfering with the body, not restoring it to normal function.

Are Drugs “Bad”?
Drugs are not inherently bad. They serve a purpose, and are often literally life-saving. What they are not is cure-alls. Because most drugs interfere with or block body chemistry, they all carry the risk of side-effects. If an effective drug is available and truly needed, you should not hesitate to use it but drugs should never be used lightly.
It has been suggested that when you megadose (any dose above the minimum required to prevent deficiency states is considered a megadose), the nutrient is actually working like a drug. e.g. Selenium overdosing, with toxic doses, that may be true. However, responses at less than toxic doses are not necessarily having drug effects. A few examples will probably help illustrate what I mean.

One example is vitamin E treatment for equine motor neuron disease (EMND). Equine motor neuron disease is a degenerative condition of the nervous system similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Vitamin E levels are very low in these horses and EMND was thought to be a vitamin E deficiency for a long time, but it has now been found even in horses that are on pasture, which rules out inadequate intake since fresh grass is a very rich source of vitamin E. The progression of EMND can be stopped, symptoms of severe muscle wasting and gait changes sometimes even reversed, with high doses of vitamin E, 5000 to 10,000 IU/day.ue.

The horse’s body isn’t quite as rigidly all or nothing but guaranteeing all critical nutrients are present in the needed amounts and correct balance is the starting point for both health and therapy. The balanced diet is your horse’s “floor” for health. It’s the foundation, the structure upon which you build any special need solutions.. Without it, you’re trying to build in quick sand, or on water.

Aug 172013

Doc1.docxArthritis in stifle pictures

Equine Arthritis-Osteoarthritis-Joint Supplements


To make an intelligent decision about what, when and why to supplement to help a joint problem, you
first have to understand the parts of a joint and what can go wrong with them. The outermost layer of a
joint is the joint capsule (labelled articular capsule in the diagram above. Articulation is another word
for joint.) The next layer in is the synovial membrane or synovium. The synovium is a double layered
membrane. The layer facing the inside of the joint is very thin and secretes the joint fluid (aka synovial
fluid). The layer between the joint capsule and the inner layer varies from soft and fatty to very dense,
probably depending on how hard the joint is worked. (The digital cushion in the foot is like this too;
very soft at birth, toughening up over the first year or two of life as it gets worked.)
The synovial membrane coats all inner surfaces of the joint except where there is joint cartilage. Joint
cartilage is a specialized type of cartilage that coats the ends of the bone inside a joint. The specialized
cartilage in joints is called hyaline cartilage. Joints are the only area of the body where hyaline cartilage
is exposed. In all other areas that have cartilage (like the tip of the nose, the ear or the vocal cords), it is
covered by several other layers of tissue.


Cartilage has no blood or nerve supply. The cells get their nutrition from the joint fluid. The hyaline
cartilage has sponge-like characteristics. When bearing weight, the cartilage compresses and fluid is
forced out. When weight is taken off the joint, fresh fluid is restored to the cartilage. This is why
exercise is important to healthy cartilage.
Cartilage gets its sponge-like characteristics from the composition of the cartilage matrix.  The matrix of cartilage is composed of water, type II collagen and the glycosaminoglycans which are chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid and keratan sulfate.

Glucosamine is the starting point for many glycosaminoglycans.

Several factors will determine if a horse is likely to have a favorable response to glucosamine,
chondroitin and/or HA. Those factors are summarized in the chart below.

Is Your Horse a Good Candidate for a Joint Nutraceutical?
Best Responders
Joint effusions (increased joint fluid)
Minimal bony changes (osteophytes)
Early diagnosis
Favorable response to hyaluronic acid or
PSGAG (Adequan) injections

Incomplete or Poor Response

Decreased or uneven joint space on X-ray
Advanced bone changes
Damage to stabilizing ligaments (e.g. Collateral
ligaments) or soft tissue structures within the joint
(e.g. Meniscus or collateral ligaments in the stifle)
Unresolved balance or shoeing issues
Infectious problems (e.g. Lyme)ncomplete or Poor Response



When arthritis changes are advanced as in this example,
joint nutraceuticals may slow progression, but very advanced loss of
cartilage and joint space carries a poor prognosis for return to working soundness.

HA excels in getting rapid control of inflammation. If you have a hot, acutely swollen joint go with
HA. In my experience.  I’m not convinced it has a lot of value orally in joints that
do not have an obvious inflammatory component. I have seen horses do better when switched from a
glucosamine only or mixed glucosamine and chondroitin supplement to one that also includes
hyaluronic acid,  MSM and some powerful anti-oxidents

 Glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid are absorbed orally; glucosamine and hyaluronic
acid intact, chondroitin primarily in disaccharide form.
 Glucosamine is the precursor for hyaluronic acid and keratan in joints
 Glucosamine, chondritin and hyaluronic acid all block inflammory enzymes and cytokines in
joints, relieving the suppressive effect inflammation has on GAG synthesis.
 Hyaluronic acid provides the most effective and rapid relief from inflammation.
 Glucosamine and chondroitin in combination works better than either one alone.

Other Disease Modifying Supplements

Avocado-Soy Unsaponifiables (ASU) is the most recent addition to this category. Hot off the presses
(still smoking actually) is this just published study:

Evaluation of avocado and soybean unsaponifiable extracts
for treatment of horses with experimentally induced
Kawcak CE, Frisbie DD, McIlwraith CW, Werpy NM, Park RD.

Kawcak CE, Frisbie DD, McIlwraith CW, Werpy NM, Park RD.
Gail Holmes Equine Orthopaedic Research Center, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of
Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
80523, USA.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the use of a combination of avocado and soybean unsaponifiable
(ASU) extracts for the treatment of experimentally induced osteoarthritis in horses. ANIMALS:
16 horses. PROCEDURES: Osteoarthritis was induced via osteochondral fragmentation in 1
middle carpal joint of each horse; the other joint underwent a sham operation. Horses were
randomly allocated to receive oral treatment with ASU extracts (1:2 [avocado-to-soybean] ratio
mixed in 6 mL of molasses; n = 8) or molasses (6 mL) alone (placebo treatment; 8) once daily
from days 0 to 70. Lameness, response to joint flexion, synovial effusion, gross and histologic
joint assessments, and serum and synovial fluid biochemical data were compared between
treatment groups to identify effects of treatment. RESULTS: Osteochondral fragmentation
induced significant increases in various variables indicative of joint pain and disease. Treatment
with ASU extracts did not have an effect on signs of pain or lameness; however, there was a
significant reduction in severity of articular cartilage erosion and synovial hemorrhage (assessed
grossly) and significant increase in articular cartilage glycosaminoglycan synthesis, compared
with placebo-treated horses. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Although
treatment with ASU extracts did not decrease clinical signs of pain in horses with experimentally
induced osteoarthritis, there did appear to be a disease-modifying effect of treatment, compared

with findings in placebo-treated horses. These objective data support the use of ASU extracts as
a disease-modifying treatment for management of osteoarthritis in horses.


Boswellia needs to be mentioned because it is so commonly used. An excellent review can be found
full text here:


Turmeric (curry) is receiving a lot of attention in human medicine the last few years. The active
components are curcuminoids (aka curcumin).

The parent herb, turmeric, contains about 2% curcumin.
In vivo studies on curcumin supplementation are promising, including one human rheumatoid arthritis
trial that found it was as effective as phenylbutazone when dosed at 1200 mg actual curcumin/day. That
would be a minimum of 4800 mg (4.8 grams) for a horse, or a whopping 240 grams (8.45 ounces) of
the parent herb, turmeric! Poor intestinal absorption and/or rapid hepatic first pass metabolism is the
reason for the high doses. Studies are underway to determine ways to improve bioavailability. For more
details on curcumin, see:

Many other herbs have been suggested for use in horses with joint problems.

To date they are some herbs that are researched to have promising effects.

May 132012

The Negative Effects of Shoeing : Catherine Cooper Lic Ac Tcvm

Today,  there is a lot of evidence to prove the negative effects of shoeing horses.

Does your horse go suddenly lame (fracture lame) after doing a piece of work.

Is he suffering with splints.

Has your horse developed Suspensory Desmitis/Ligament Branch Injuries.

Sore Shins

Back Problems

The list is endless !!

Diagnosing Feet Problems

After many years of extensive examination of horses, the diagnostics through Acupuncture have been conclusive that horses are experiencing considerable pain in their feet.  There are no significant obvious signs or symptoms,  the horses feet appear normal.  Although this  is not the case to the professionally trained individual.  The heels are contracting, toe is too long,  the frog is necrotic etc.  I have treated these problem by increasing circulation and relieving pain through the diagnosis and treatment of Bartonella which is too in itself one of the main contributing cause due to lack of microcirculation, using specific and specialized herbal medicine and proper balanced nutrition. It was evident to me that most of these horses regardless of their discipline, were suffering from a low grade or worse laminitis, inflammation, chronic subsolar abscessing , calcification and or navicular syndrome.

This in turn creates compensatory lameness , including suspensory desmitis, splints, back pain and sacroiliac problems, jarring, etc..  These symptoms also became more evident as a result of ongoing feet problems, and although the horses at the early onset were showing no obvious  lameness, but all were diagnostically conclusive that intermediate damage was apparent.

In a given time, due to ongoing compensation from  foot pain,  all of these horses were eventually diagnosed with acute or chronic injuries by our Veterinarians.  As I have spent my whole career dedicated to treating or preventing all of the above conditions and having  results. It has to be stated that if one does not treat the underlying cause,  if  symptomatic or not, then it is evident to me that the treatments are short lived and it really is a waste of time in trying to achieve permanent results.  I do believe 95% of all lameness begin in the feet. “No hoof no horse” is indeed very true.


At one time, it may have been hard to prove the negative effects of shoeing,  but today, there is no longer any doubt.  Advancements in science now allows  us to see things the human eye is incapable of viewing.  We can also measure forces using instruments that leave little doubt as to the facts of the matter. The high speed videos of a trotting horse landing barefoot, and landing shod are real eye openers.  Seeing it just once you will not be able to look at shoeing the same again.  Imagine the effects of years of such concussive forces.

How do we know that shoes reduce circulation in the horse’s feet and legs?  There’s a very simple way to tell.  Feel the legs of a shod horse.  They will be cold – in many cases icy cold.  And we are taught that this is a good thing!  Now take the shoes off that very horse and feel his legs a while later.  They will be warm.  As they should be!  Aside from common sense however, thermography has clearly shown that shod feet result in cooler legs.  Coolness caused by lack of circulation.

Not only do shoes reduce circulation they also prevent the hoof  from expanding during motion. The functions of the foot in regards to energy dissipation,  the  Laminar attachments between the hoof wall and P3 (the distal phalanx  or coffin bone)  and the digital cushion – along with the respective ligamentous connective tissues have all been mentioned  as having potentially significant roles  in the anti-concussive mechanisms of the foot. Basically it is to allow the foot to expand and withstand the concussive forces of weight bearing and movement.

Dr Robert Boker DVM  PhD. states through documented research that high transient energy forces within the horses foot are dissipated via the rapid movement and  flow of blood through an extensive and tortuous vascular network of small caliber veno-venous anastamoses present within the cartilages and other strategtic regions within tissue of the equine foot. This hemodynamic flow hypothesis relies upon the biomechanical principles of hydraulic  fluid theory as it relates to the impedence (resistance) of such fluid movement that develops when it is forced to flow through small vessels. Furthermore the efficiency of this mechanism is dependant upon the individual confirmation of the cartilages and structural composition of the horse’s digital cushion.

Any dysfunction in this hemodynamic flow mechanism may partially explain the insidous lameness conditions that develop during normal locomotion of the equine athlete. Such a disturbance will result in greater transient energies being subsequently transmitted to bone and other sensitive tissues within the digit rather being dissipated by this hemodynamic mechanism.

As the unshod hoof lands the weight of the horse descends on the bony column and into the hoof.  The back of the hoof expands as this occurs accommodating the descent of the coffin bone onto the digital cushion.  The digital cushion grows thick and tough, as does the frog, thus allowing a healthy hemodtnamic flow mechanism.

Shoes, however, are rigid and prevent the hoof from expanding and causing dysfunction to the hemodynamic flow mechanism.   A horse that is shod, non weight bearing and with  foot in contracted position, then shoe is aligned and nailed on to foot.  Once the foot is returned to standing position the foot cannot then expand to withstand the concussive forces which it was designed to do.

Since the coffin bone cannot descend normally the digital cushion doesn’t get the pressure/release necessary for health and it shrinks, as will the frog in many cases.  In addition the joints articulate differently.  Over time horses will begin to land toe first, go over at the knee, shorten in stride, which in turn puts extensive pressure on the ligaments and tendons. Stress and pain will be evident on palpation initially at the medial aspect of the Suspensory and medial splint bone apparatus,   heels will contract, circulation will diminish, necrosis will develop,  and after enough time the horse will develop any of the above mentioned compensatory injuries and in time will lead to symptoms of navicular and or laminitis.

Trimming and Balance

In order to have a robust hemo-dynamic mechanism present in the foot created either by breed predisposition or by enviromental stimulation, the hoof must be prepared properly by the farrier or veterinarian . He must align the hoof wall pillars with the cartilages to maximize such a dissipating system. If this is not done properly, as in the case of underrun heals, eventual lameness problems will probably ensue.

Once proper neurological and biochemical function is achieved in the distorted or diseased hoof, many lame horses return to soundness,  both physically and mentally. The traditional horseshoe cannot work to aid in this rehabilitation.

It is also important that younger and older horses should be trimmed regularly, every four weeks.  The proper trimming necessary  in younger and developing horses in order to have a good balance for the growing bones, ligament and tendonous structures.

If flares are present they have detrimental effects on the internal structures of the foot,  stretching the white line and giving rise to poor coffin bone suspension.  This can be  very painful,  and it’s like lifting really hard on your fingernail.   Bars also need to be trimmed regularly and left level with the sole and outer hoof wall, for balance. The frog needs to be healthy and spread across the foot and towards the bulbs, this in turn supplies good and adequate blood supply to the foot…


I do believe by educating people and making them more aware of the above conditions.  We can indeed address these problems, by treatment in eradicating all Bartonella bacterial stealth infection, natural and effective foot trimming and balancing, nutrional supplementation and a balanced diet for healthy hoof growth.

Naturally it may also be evident that some horses can indeed have conformation deformities, nutrition imbalances that may not allow them to perform without shoes,  although there are several alternative methods of shoeing  available today that can help these horses during the transition period to barefoot.

Yes, indeed one would ask .  How could I run my horse on slippery ground conditions without an accident occuring.  This is a question that can also be answered.  Horses with healthy, pain free feet, have more natural balance ,  better breakover and surefootedness,  normal head carriage.  I would also like to indicate that horses who have better head carriage will predominantely have less breathing problems. eg DDSP…


Yet another important factor is is mineral and vitamin deficiencies which are predominant today due to the over use of pesticides and fertiliser’s.  Our land for breeding and pastures for summer breaks for horses needing “Dr Grass”  is predominately insufficient in the required substances necessary. Our young stock have not the required mineral and vitamin balance needed to grow strong hoofs, cartilage and bone.. The older horses confined to stables should be given a balanced diet  both nutritionally and nutraceutically.  We all need to actively pay attention to this problem by assuring adequate nutrition and supplementation if necessary.

If you have the interest and time to read into The Hemodynamic Flow Hypothesis  for energy dissipation of the Equine Foot by Robert M. Boker VMB PhD.  in further research done into the structures anatomy, Physiological studies of the foot’s vascular (blood system) I have attached a direct link below..


Yes you readers may be asking the question? What evidence is there that barefoot horses perform better, have less injuries. It is well documented that historically shoeing weakens the foot and causes hoof deformatity,  and the hard evidence is there. Can we convince our farriers to change tactics, to study more indept the detrimental anatomical changes taking place within the structures of the foot due to improper trimming and the use of shoes. Can they move forward into  21st centuary studies and research that has been done and proven to date.

Simon Earl racehorse trainer in the UK,  has the majority of his racehorses  running and performing extremely well barefoot.

Interesting Reading

  • NEW! ……Dr. Bowker’s Theory of Hemodynamics.
  • Thermographic Study of the Hoof (from EasyCare)
  • We here at Copperfield Equine Therapy now have  Dermot McCourt a registered Master Farrier, a remedial equine Podiatrist,  he has worked and trained in Saudi Arabia and also with several AANHCP practitioners in the United States. He started work with traditional farrier methods, but his career developed to working with severe foot problems – correcting damage to return horses to being sound.  He can trim and educate you on the condition of your horses feet, make necessary changes for the well being of your horse, and increase dramatically their performance…
  • For further information, and treatment,  or if you are concerned about your horses feet, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
  • Catherine Cooper Lic Ac Tcvm +353872654269



Jan 092012

Herbal Detox for horsesEquine Herbal Ovarian Formula

Contains: A formula that regulates the mare that comes into season too much, or perhaps not at all. Also, calms the typical ovary mare that can be agressive and untrainable. For use in ovarian cysts, retained corpus lutetium and irregular cycle.

Size: 1 kg Bag


Region: Ireland

Price: €75.00 + €12 Post & Packing


Region: UK

Price: €75.00 + €2o Post & Packing


Jan 092012

Equine  Laminitis Treatment


A formula enriched with some  herbs that was originally designed by Dr Xie Huisheng DVM, in USA. This formula has  incrediably changed the lifestyle of the Laminitic horse, and allowed them to live a normal life. To be given on the onset of Laminitis each year aroung Spring time, it will prevent this condition , can also be given to treat laminitis involving a 50% rotation of the coffin joint. This special herbal mix costs €85.00 plus €10 postage to Ireland or the UK.


Equine Diabetes
Adult-onset diabetes might underlie problems currently puzzling owners and veterinarians
The modern horse has been referred to as an excellent example of evolution. Natural selection has equipped the animal to thrive on forage (grass) and to adapt to seasonal variations in the availability of that grass. In periods of good weather and plentiful rain, the horse adjusted to intensive grazing and the production and storage of fat within its body. These fat deposits were used in cold weather or in times of drought and poor grass availability. Horses that stored fats best were healthier; they survived lean times better and reproduced more regularly. Their genes were selected for, and, consequently, are represented in, a reasonable section of the genetics of the modern horse.

Today’s horses rarely have to tolerate times of poor forage availability and drought. In most situations, in present times they receive plenty to eat and have had less and less work to do.

“Under modern horse management systems,” writes Philip Johnson, B.V.Sc., M.S., a leading laminitis researcher from the University of Missouri School of Veterinary Medicine, “the combination of feeding starch-rich rations over many years and protracted periods of stall confinement tend to lead to the acquisition and maintenance of substantial body fat in the domesticated horse.”

Simply put, we are making our horses fat by feeding them too much. We keep them in stalls and work them too little, which probably contributes to a number of more serious problems, as well.

Problems of Obesity

Diabetes is a common health condition in humans. Until recently, the disease was not thought to exist in horses. A review of medical literature over the past 50 years shows only a small number of cases of equine diabetes. The majority of cases were caused either by pancreatitis (an infection of the pancreas) or by tumors of the pancreas or pituitary gland.

Recently, many equine researchers are taking a closer look at metabolic conditions in horses that they believe are strikingly similar to type 2 or adult-onset diabetes in humans. Johnson has a special interest in such conditions and has noted the increasing problems associated with obesity in both horses and humans. Obesity can be difficult enough, but the secondary problems that tend to occur in overweight horses really concern him.

The tendency for horses to develop obesity and the problems and diseases of the endocrine system that result from obesity-associated insulin insensitivity, according to Johnson, “closely parallel the development of noninsulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes in humans.”

Perhaps equine diabetes is only now understood and accurately diagnosed. Or, it might have existed all along and been misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed. Or, the increased attention and medical care currently given to equine senior citizens have caused the veterinary community to become more sensitive.

Johnson believes we might have helped create this condition by unknowingly managing our horses too well in the face of their ability to make and store fat. Regardless, we are currently seeing higher levels of obesity in horses and are seeing more and more cases that resemble type 2 diabetes.

Equine Insulin Production

In a normal horse or human, insulin is secreted by special cells in the pancreas in response to a rise in blood glucose. Eating a meal rich in sugar and starch will elevate the glucose or sugar in the blood. The body senses this increase and releases insulin, which stimulates the body’s cells to take up glucose from the blood and, once in the cell, use it for energy or convert it for storage.

Glucose typically is converted to glycogen or fat. Type 2 diabetes is the end stage of breakdown of this system. Typically, horses that have trouble with insulin sensitivity have cells that slowly lose their responsiveness to insulin. At first, the body simply increases the production of insulin and the cells respond to this new, higher level. Normal glucose levels are maintained. Gradually, however, cells become resistant to higher and higher levels of insulin. Eventually, the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas become fatigued and are finally exhausted.

This is the normal progression for this disease in humans, but not in horses. Horses seem to be able to maintain a high level of insulin production even in the face of extreme insensitivity of the cells of the body to that insulin. So, even though horses maintain insulin production, there comes a point where there is no response to that production, and they are considered to have type 2 or noninsulin-dependent, adult-onset diabetes.

There are names for the various stages along the way to this conclusion. The term insulin resistance or impaired glucose tolerance has been used, but the exact demarcation between these conditions is not clear and the progression of clinical names is somewhat academic. The bottom line is these are stages of a disease that leads to a horse having difficulty controlling glucose and metabolizing fat.

Signs of Metabolic Problem

Insulin inhibits the breakdown of triglycerides (fat molecules) into free fatty acids and glycerol. In the absence of insulin–and possibly when the body no longer responds to insulin even if it is there–the process of lipolysis can occur allowing the horse’s body to release fatty acids.

These acids are transported to the liver, where they are repackaged. Then they are transported to fat tissues and stored. Insulin generally would keep these fats in other cells where they are more likely to be used for energy. Some cresty-necked horses and overly fat ponies might be insulin resistant as they inappropriately continue to store fat in the tissues of the crest, back, and hips.

This body condition may be the first clue to an underlying metabolic problem. These horses also tend to stay fat on minimal rations. Owners often refer to then as “living on air.” They have good appetites and always seem hungry, despite having more than adequate fat stores. They do poorly with exercise, tire easily, and do not seem to have much energy. When they do tolerate exercise, they tend not to develop much muscling, compared to normal horses with the same workload.

As with human diabetics, there is believed to be a genetic predisposition for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Johnson mentioned the evolutionary advantages of being a good fat producer, so it is little wonder that some ponies, Morgan and other gaited breeds, and certain Arab bloodlines have all been suspected of a genetic predisposition for insulin resistance.

Conditions are linked

It is not currently known if obesity leads to insulin resistance or if insulin resistance contributes to obesity, but the two conditions are linked. Conditions of temporary insulin resistance have been shown to occur in horses during times of stress and with infection, inflammation, and even extreme variations of some hormones.

The exact process of this temporary resistance is unknown, but human studies have shown that sustained levels of elevated blood glucose can lead to microvasculature changes in many tissues. Damage to these small blood vessels leads to a lack of cellular oxygen and to potential cell death.

It is well known that human diabetics are at risk of developing all manners of infections and have higher percentages of liver and kidney disease. Damage to the nerves and blood vessels of the hands and lower limbs of diabetics often lead to the loss of fingers and toes. In fact, the most common diabetic complication requiring hospitalization in humans is foot disease. This point might be the most important link between diabetes in humans and horses.

Insulin Resistance and Laminitis

Christopher C. Pollitt, B.V.Sc., Ph.D., of the School of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Queensland in Australia, has been looking at insulin resistance and laminitis, and he feels the two are related. His research suggests that altered glucose metabolism could be an underlying or contributing cause to almost all cases of laminitis.

Lack of glucose in the peripheral tissues (fingers and toes) of humans, as seen in diabetes, leads to damage of the peripheral nerves (peripheral neuropathy) and to ischemic damage or lack of cellular oxygen. This process has been well documented. In Pollitt’s studies, lack of glucose in hoof extract tissue led to damage of the basement membrane and to separation of the dermal laminae from the epidermal laminae. This is the exact cellular sequence in cases of laminitis or founder.

This process of insulin resistance leading to excess glucose storage and decreased glucose availability, and finally to cellular death and laminitis, would explain a few things. Veterinarians and horse owners often have wondered why one horse out of many grazing the same field and on the same management program develops laminitis. Why can one crafty pony continually get into the feed room and overeat without incident while another pony eats far less and develops founder?

Veterinarians ponder why some horses fail to respond to aggressive laminitis treatment when far more horses improve and return to nearly normal under the exact same treatment regimen. Why do some horses seem to develop laminitis following a dose of dexamethasone or other corticosteroid that is almost uniformly tolerated by most horses?

The answer could lie in some degree of insulin resistance in those horses that develop laminitis and do not respond normally to treatment. Cases of laminitis following infection, stress, or even grain overload possibly might share more of a temporary insulin resistance state than strict endotoxemia (an overload of bacterial toxins in the blood), as has been previously thought.

Because the idea of an underlying metabolic basis to laminitis potentially explains so many previously confusing cases, some researchers have been calling the idea of insulin resistance in horses the “unification theory.” This theory points the way to potentially new methods of treating laminitis that would be directed more at correcting glucose metabolism and new means of prevention related to treating insulin resistance and diabetes. The formula below has been significient and should be well rewarded for its action on the laminitic horse.

The research done by Dr Shen Huisheng to design and formulate this herbal formula which in my practice certainly have resulted in recovery and horses returning to normal activity.

Once an early diagnosis is made the formula below will prevent any rotation to the coffin joint. If the joint has already started to rotate even to the level of 50%this formula will prevent any further movement and resolve the problem.


A formula enriched with some  herbs that was originally designed by Dr Xie Huisheng DVM, in USA. This formula has  incrediably changed the lifestyle of the Laminitic horse, and allowed them to live a normal life. To be given on the onset of Laminitis each year aroung Spring time, it will prevent this condition , can also be given to treat laminitis involving a 50% rotation of the coffin joint. This special herbal mix costs €50 plus €10 postage to Ireland or the UK.

Jan 092012

Equine Herbal FormulaEquine Herbal Detox

A specially formulated herbal mix that is essential for horses.

The Equine Herbal Detox contains a blend of different herbs that will remove all toxins from the body, improve circulation and ease pain, especially in the feet.

Toxins do build up in the lower extremities of horses and cause pain and inflammation within the hoof structures.

This formula can be given twice yearly to all horses and especially the laminitic horse.

Size: 500 gram bag

Price: €50.00 + €10.00 Post & Packing

Region: Ireland & UK – for sales to areas outside of these please call or email.