ALTERNATIVES for COMPETITIVE HORSES with EIPH
Why Herbs, Why not Just Use Drugs?
I know I’ve said it before; but I am saying it again, it is
that important. Herbs can assist or even correct EIPH. EIPH or
Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage, is a condition of bleeding in the
lungs. It is very common in the competitive horse. It happens when the
horse is under stress, usually during competition but sometimes even during
training, depending on the condition and age of the horse and the rigor of the
The lungs won’t bleed unless they are weak. This weakness is also a weakness of the whole body. A weakness in the body, whether animal or human, can only be corrected by giving the body what it needs to improve this condition at its origin. The origin is to be found at the cellular level. Herbs contain the micro-nutrients that are usually in short supply or even non-existent, depending on the animal’s history, genetics, feed and current life-style.
Herbs act as a supplement to provide these micro-nutrients. They take time to work. A drug can provide almost instant relief from symptoms. However, they do not work to supply these nutrients the body needs to repair itself. Suppressing symptoms is a short-term answer to a long-standing problem.
There are many reasons, and many ways to avoid using "drugs". There are also how’s and why’s to use “drugs” together with herbs and other alternatives to support the competitive horse.
To illustrate one aspect, we will look more closely at the competitive horse with EIPH, or the bleeder. Bleeders do not always bleed for the same reasons. It can be genetics, over use of drugs, especially “track drugs”, running a turf horse on the dirt or a dirt horse on the turf, how heavily the hooves hit the ground causing shock to the chest cavity. Too much shock can cause a ripple in the chest cavity, which in turn will aggravate the tendency to bleed. Emotional stress and fear will create extra tension, which will also aggravate the tendency to bleed, and shoeing. A horse that is forced to wear shoes pretty well constantly almost always suffers from contracted hooves, which includes contracted frog and contracted bulbs of the hoof. The natural horse’s hoof is remarkably flexible and “grabs” the earth as it runs which is similar in action to the suction cup. Shoes restrict this action and creates bone and hoof problems that the natural horse doesn’t experience.
All of the above or a combination of these, compromise the health of the equine athlete. These adverse conditions will cause a weakening of the cells and blood to bring the horse to the point where, when stressed or exerted, the animal will hemorrhage. This can happen for much the same reason an older human bleeds or bruises more easily than a young person. The tissues age and weaken due to oxidation. The cells are then more susceptible to wear and tear, literally. They are also slower to heal.
Oxidation occurs from a too-acid diet caused by too much sugar as in sweet feeds and concentrates, as well as heavily pesticided hays, processed feeds and too many synthetic additives. Add stress, toxins, negative emotion, environmental factors etc., and you compromise the health of that animal.
It has been found that over 90% of racehorses tested have some form of EIPH. Some say we starting our horses too young and running them too fast. They cannot handle the speed which they are being required to race over the years, faster and faster. Horses are being bred for speed and not other qualities, such as character, general health and stamina. Some famous trainers say a champion racehorse has to have a strong immune system, good genetics which includes strong bone, a strong desire to compete, and is naturally athletic. This all makes sense.
What can a trainer, owner or breeder do to assist the equine athlete into being the best they can be in whatever race or discipline he competes run in?
On a nutritional level, horses are herbivores. It makes sense that herbs will provide optimum compatibility with their systems. These would be the plants the horse would find in nature. Finding and using the correct herbs at the appropriate time is essential in the demanding, stressful, highly competitive world of the racehorse.
It is and has been the norm to go quickly to the "fast fix”, get the horse back in training or competition and do it faster with drugs. Most people don’t realize the damage that is done by not giving the horse time to heal or even time to mature. From what I have seen, people give their horse herbs for 2-6 weeks and then go back to drugs because the herbal solution wasn’t working fast enough. Two to six weeks is not long enough to make a difference in the average bleeder. Sometimes exacting a permanent, on-going change can take at least 3 months.
I have seen "yard ornament" horses, no longer useful, due to navicular, ringbone, tendon bows, and various types of crippling, come back and be useful and pain free, after 3 years of herbs, usually along with laser, homeopathy, massage as well as a natural or no shoes lifestyle. Numerous horses fall into this category.
With proper encouragement to the cells of the body, through herbal nutrition, live foods, sunlight, fresh water, etc., cells will return to a healthy functional state, the aging process is slowed down, halted or even reversed, in many cases.
It is only a lack of understanding on the human part that we do not see this obvious truth. It is also the result of our current education. Medical doctors too often do not understand the true functions and workings of the body. One goes to an orthopedic specialist for back problems and bone problems. However a gastro-enterologist may be needed as well, due to the fact the digestion is far too acid and is causing bone problems. Then a nutritionist is needed, then a chiropractor or Naturopath, to balance the body further.
Very few modern day medical practices connect the whole biological process together as a working, inter-dependant whole. The organs of either horse or human are not functioning alone, with each organ separate in a jar on a shelf. Each organ and system of the body is intertwined and related in an unbreakable, beautifully functioning chain, providing life, energy and usefulness.
We are not accustomed to being patient anymore. Everything, including our horses, must be "now." Nature sometimes works that way, and sometimes our Creator works that way and unexplainable miracles happen. However, it usually takes time to heal, time to move a mountain, time to train up to peak condition.
Time is the best medicine. Perhaps giving the owner, trainer and rider a nerve formula is the answer! Something that would work to slow us down and calm us. Or perhaps changing the laws of the land to better suit the horse and his growth, so he doesn't have to compete so young is the answer.
A horse that is fed herbs and is not being over vaccinated, or subjected to chemical over-worming from birth, on low pesticide feeds with low additive and preservative supplements is a "Natural Horse."
From barrel racing, standard bred racing, thoroughbred, cutting horse, hunter/jumper, dressage, endurance, competitive rides to reining and pleasure showing, we have encountered much in the world of drugs and interaction with drugs and herbs. The maladies associated with these sports, the physical, mental, emotional demands on these beasts are many, as well as the stress on the owner, trainer and rider.
We do not write this merely to support or promote our herbs and our formulas. With 24 years of experience in the alternative and herbal world for horses and humans, dogs and cats, we have noticed and learned a few things. The more we learn, the more we can see the animals will teach us what we need to know. All of us should continue to learn more and more. Our program and also many other programs, can be and are used safely in conjunction with most veterinary prescribed drugs.
Not to mislead anyone, we have not honed, fine tuned or "changed" the world by coming up with a completely drugless racehorse. Not yet, but we’re working on it. Sometimes drugs are needed or wanted. Owners, trainers and breeders should constantly look to what is best for the horse, consulting with vets prior to racing, improving diet and over all health and looking for better combinations of herbs and diet.
Our "Bleeder Program" for example, is one that we change and improve often, gently, as we go. Attention to the nervous system, the reproductive system, muscle or joint soreness, hormonal balance etc is ongoing. We are in a constant state of improvement, which is as it should be. We now have over 200 formulas and growing.
Each horse, human and animal is different. However, we have found, in particular with the bleeder program, that it works on very many horses to alleviate, or stop the symptoms of EIPH. This program also increases the resiliency to which the horse responds after a stressful event.
Thus the goal is to race stronger and last longer, much like taking good care of a really great classic 1969 Oldsmobile 442, shining, well painted, with a glossy coat of the best paint, all running smoothly under the hood as the engine growls to life.
I have often complained that we treat our competitive horses too much like a mechanized commodity. Use it, abuse it, cast it off then grab another. However, I have watched closely the owners of those classic cars on many occasions, and you don't dare yell at it, breathe on it, or scratch it or you may very well be in peril of your life! Should we not treat our horses the same? Would they then not race stronger, last longer, and be useful in whatever work they do for us, even if they aren't world champions? I firmly believe each horse is useful for something as each human is. Using herbs and alternatives, drugs, doctors and vets together, sensibly, shows respect for ourselves, our animals and for life itself.
Below is an explanation of our bleeder program, how to use it and why. Blessings and openness on the journey of knowledge!
The Bleeder/Breather- Program: Traditional Uses to Support Competitive Horses.
Bloodless Victory given as a daily tonic,
1 1/2 scoops 2 times daily while in heavy training and competition. Herbs
contained in this formula are to support every organ and system in the body.
With the competing horse, the focus is on the lungs, and all organs related to
the lungs. The liver is another focal point. In Chinese medicine,
one always looks closely at the liver in lung type complaints.
After 2-3 months, 1 scoop, two times daily is suggested and increase to full dose 2 days before stressful events.
As part of the bleeder program we suggest using pre-event formulas. These act as ‘settles’ to ensure the optimum performance and protection of the horse who has exhibited signs of EIPH. For best results, it is recommended to use Bloodless Victory as a daily tonic to strengthen and tone all systems of the horse that bleeds or has difficulty breathing.
None of the formulas in our program test as drugs under the strictest tests in racing federations around the world. Herbs which are suspect are not used in these formulas.
Pre Event Formulas
2 to 4 days prior to racing, use the below formulas as needed:
Run For Your Life: This formula was
made by a Chinese herbalist specifically to assist the equine athlete who may
be suffering from EIPH. It was also formulated for the horse having
trouble breathing or gaining correct respirations in the lungs. The herbs
encourage more efficient oxygen exchange between the lungs and the blood.
Several herbs are especially good for healing the lungs and stopping bleeding. These herbs are traditionally bronchio-dialators as well. Some people use this with Garlic 'n Roses for breathing also in heavy conditions in old or "asthmatic horses", and also for racehorses who need more efficient breathing and may bleed also.
Suggested use is 1/4 scoop daily for chronic problems, or 1 scoop two times daily, 2-4 days prior to event, day of event and the day after.
Chinese Bleeder Liquid: A tasty tonic which has all the benefits of traditional anti-hemorrhagic herbs and also some essential oils and vegetable glycerine to soothe and heal, invigorate and open up the bronchi prior to exertion. We like the liquid as it goes right into the blood stream. Suggested Use: 45 cc 2 times per day, 2-4 days prior to event, day of and day after.
Korean Stop Bleedin': Traditional herbs for more benefits of "Stop Bleedin’" for the horse as a pre-event, who has a history of needing extra support during racing or events. Suggested Use: 1 scoop, 2 times per day, 2-4 days prior to event, day of event and day after.