There are many reasons, and many ways of how 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 at competitive horses with EIPH, (Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage) or Bleeders. Bleeders do not always bleed for the same reasons. It can be genetics, over use of drugs, running a turf horse on the grass or a grass horse on the turf, how heavily the hooves hit the ground, shock absorption, possibly causing a ripple in the chest cavity, emotional stress, fear, shoeing, including contracted hooves which includes contracted frog and contracted bulbs of the hoof, and over-use of "track drugs". Many horses would not hemorrhage from the lungs if they raced shoe- less, or were run in temporary shoes.
All of the above or a combination of these, compromise the health of the equine athlete. This weakening of the cells and blood will bring the horse to the point where, when stressed or exerted, the animal will hemorrhage. This is much like the tissue humans when we age; the tissue, due to oxidation, becomes weakened and more likely to tear and less likely to heal quickly. Oxidation occurs from a too acid diet caused by too much sugar, poor diet stress. For horses it is in sweet feeds and chemical concentrates, as well as heavily pesticided hays, processed feeds and too many synthetic additives. Add stress, toxins, negative emotion, environmental factors or cold uncaring treatment, to bring the animal in a compromised condition. We treat our animals no different than we treat each other.
It has been found that over 90% of race horses tested have some form of EIPH. Some say we are running our horses too fast and starting them too young. 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 race horse has to have a strong immune system, good genetics, a 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 provide optimum compatibility with their systems. These would be the herbs the horse would find in nature. Finding and using the correct ones at the appropriate time is essential in the demanding, stressful, highly competitive world of the race or show horse.
It is and has been the norm to go quickly to the "fast fix”, get the horse back in training or competing and do it faster with drugs. What most people don’t realize is 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, in some cases.
Two to six weeks is not long enough. Sometimes to exact a permanent, ongoing change it can take at least 3 months or even three years in the older horses. 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, flower essences, homeopathy, acupuncture and 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 and fresh water, 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 and education on the human part that we do not see this obvious truth. Some western doctors too often do not understand the true functions and workings of the body. One goes to a 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. Many of these important and crucial links to the body are missed, in horse, human and animal care.
Very few of 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 used 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. Perseverance too, sometimes it takes a while to find out what works, incorporate it into the diet and routine, and have them eat it as well.
Time is the best medicine. Perhaps giving the owner, trainer and rider a nerve formula is the answer! Or changing the laws of the land to better suit the horse and his growth, so he doesn't have to compete so young. This is another problem to overcome. 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." Sometimes we have to vaccinate. If done so responsibly, the horse can be kept form having compromised health.
New research, ( University of Wisconsin) shows dog titers , vaccines are good up to 10-15 years past original vaccination.!!
Check your animal’s titers with your vet before you vaccinate again. We are over vaccinating.
From barrel racing, standardbred racing, thoroughbred, cutting horse, hunter/jumper, dressage, endurance, competitive rides to reining and pleasure showing, we have encountered much in the world of drugs, 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 the animals teach us what we need to know. All of us 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 competitive horse. 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.
The bleeder program, for example, is one that we change and improve often, gently, as we go. Attention to nerve support, reproductive, muscle or joint soreness, hormonal programs, immune, are in a constant state of improvement, as it should be. We have over 200 formulas and growing.
Each horse, human and animal is different. However, we have found, in particular our bleeder program, that it works on very many horses to alleviate, or stop the symptoms of EIPH. (Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage) This program also increases the resiliency to which the horse responds after a stressful event, as well as allowing the horse to breathe more efficiently.
Thus the goal is to compete 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, 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 each other and our horses the same? Wouldn't they race stronger, last longer, and be useful in whatever work they do for us, even if they aren't world-beaters? 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 and for life.
Below is an explanation of how certain herbs can be used to assist and support the competitive horse with EIPH, respiratory or breathing problems. There are many reasons to use a "program" when dealing with serious issues. For example, a close look at the feed, water, supplements, amount of drugs used and for what reason, mental, emotional state of the horse and even those who are taking care of him affects all the aspects of his health and ability to compete at top levels of performance. Many horse are showing up with grain "allergies" . We have over fed grain. Cutting down on grain and using other alternatives, like herbs, a little rice bran, soaked beet pulp, quality hay and a very little grain is best with most horses.
A Possible Regimen For EIPH, or Respiratory Horses:
Daily Tonic Herb formula_ ( could contain the following herbs for this type of horse)- Yarrow, rose hips, cranesbill, agrimony, shepherds purse, parsley leaf, horehound, nettle, beth root, lungwort, burdock root, beet root, dandelion root, bladderack, camomile, dulse, tienchi bark, Schizandra berries. This combination, in correct and synergistic amounts given as a daily tonic, will assist every organ and system in the body to build heal, gently detox with special emphasis on building quality blood, tissue, liver and lungs. Used at least two times daily while in heavy race training , racing or competition. The liver is another focal point. In Chinese medicine, one always looks closely at the liver in lung type complaints. Each horse is unique and different, and utilizing your local holistic vets, massage therapists and herbalists is very essential. This will give a complete picture of how to monitor the herbs effect on the horse. Read and educate yourself as much as you can. Talk to other holistic trainers etc.
Pre Event Formulas
As part of the bleeder program we suggest using pre-event formulas. These act as `seatbelts’ to ensure the optimum performance and protection for the horse who has exhibited signs of EIPH. For best results, it is recommended to use Bloodless Victory ( our daily tonic) to strengthen and tonify all systems to the horse that "bleeds" or has difficulty breathing. A herbal bronchio dilator, such as the following Chinese herbs is an outstanding alternative to or with use of the drug, clembuterol. These herbs increase oxygen to blood, and more efficient breathing, as well as support to horses with EIPH, heaves, and other respiratory complaints. Many herb formulas do work as well as or with drugs, and safely too. Just be cautious and ask your vet first.
The herbs for this formula are :gui zhi, jie geng, huang qi, dan sheng. nan sha shen, bei sha shen, chuan jiao pi, tian qui, kun bu, xian he cao.
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 to be used in these formulas, so keep that in mind if you are having your horse in high levels of competing..
You can do programs, for any type of horse for any reason, or just to maintain optimum health. Herbs are good for horses, when used with knowledge and discipline.
As an herbalist and horse advocate, I encourage that we stop selling them for meat, they are companion animals. They are an American natural and world treasure, truly. I encourage the use of both traditional and modern medicine as needed, the two working together for the betterment of all.
I am grateful for this opportunity and pray for the health and blessings and peace of all animal and people lovers worldwide.
OUR FORMULATOR, ANIMAL ADVOCATE AND HERBALIST: LORYHL DAVIS