Video Views - Horses with Problems


"Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats"
By Shawn Messonnier, DVM
© 2001 Prima Publishing
ISBN: 0-7615-2673-0
475 pages, softcover, approx $25US

Reviewed by Erica Stoton

Authored by Shawn Messonnier, DVM, this large softcover book is part of the "Natural Vet" series published by Prima Publishing. The purpose of the book is to introduce dog and cat owners to natural veterinary medicine and inform them about the options available with this method of animal care.

Dr. Messonnier's lengthy but concise introduction outlines and discusses the various therapies in the book including their uses as well as the scientific research to support his claims.

Part One lists ailments and their possible treatments in an unambiguous, informative, manner. Each ailment is given a brief description including the causes, symptoms and method of diagnosis. Dr. Messonnier's suggested treatments consist of herbal, homeopathic, nutritional, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic and Bach Flower therapies amongst others. Treatments are listed by priority with the most beneficial first followed by others of descending rank. Special diets are discussed for certain ailments. The author uses medical studies and his own experience as the basis for the claim of safety and efficacy of the treatments in the book. A short discussion of conventional therapies is also listed under each ailment. There are no dosages or treatment guidelines provided for most of the treatments suggested in the book. Pet owners are strongly advised to use the services of a licensed veterinarian.

Part Two is an excellent encyclopedia of herbs and nutrients. Pet owners are informed on the uses, safety issues, medical studies and natural sources of herbs and nutrients from A-Z. Some of the safety warnings for certain herbs may be considered alarmist by experienced herbalists but it does cause the reader to think before using an herb. This section would be of particular use for pet owners that would like to know how certain herbs and nutrients work.

Part Three provides in depth information on natural diets for dogs and cats. Dr. Messonnier discusses prepared foods as well as homemade diets and the use of dietary supplements. This section gives pet owners some helpful guidelines for selecting a healthy diet for their dog or cat. Suggestions for feeding animals with medical conditions a natural therapeutic diet are also included.

Part Four of the "Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats" informs readers on natural therapies available to pet owners. From Acupuncture to TTouch, Dr. Messonnier describes the uses, efficacy and safety of each treatment. This is a very excellent section for pet owners that would like to learn about natural therapies currently available for their pets.

Dr. Messonnier operates Paws and Claws Animal Hospital. He describes himself as an integrated veterinarian and in Appendix I he discusses conventional drug therapies and their use in conjunction with natural medicine. This section informs readers on the safety issues of drugs and how natural therapies can work with drugs. A useful and informative addition to Dr. Messonnier's book is the inclusion of an API report entitled, "What's Really In Pet Food" in Appendix II.

Overall, Dr. Messonnier's "Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats" is a comprehensive guide for pet owners that wish to learn more about natural pet care. The book does not truly empower owners with more involvement in their animal's care but in the words of its author (in the section 'What Makes This Book Different'), " designed to provide an objective overview of the commonly used conventional and complementary therapies that may benefit your pet."

"Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats" gives pet owners a good starting point for using natural medicine in their pet's care. This reader believes the book is a useful resource for all dog and cat owners and would be a good addition to their library.

© Erica Stoton

Video 'Views

Horses with Problems - Natural and Positive Training, Parts 1 and 2
By Ellen Ofstad
© 2001 Susanne Elfstrom and Ellen Ofstad
Produced in Sweden in 2000
Part 1 - 60 min; Part 2 - 70 min
Approx. $55

Whether you are looking for a solution to a horse problem, want to avoid a horse problem, or simply want to learn about effectively communicating with your horse, this set of videos is invaluable. Ellen Ofstad does not use 'quick fixes', but teaches fundamentals in addressing horses with problems. Ellen selected a handful of horses and their people who sought her guidance, and used these cases to demonstrate what can be done to enable and encourage the horse to do what we want. The videos are narrated in English and the comments of the riders are subtitles translated to English.

In Part 1 of "Horses With Problems" Ellen provides the viewer with:
1.) a clear look at the behaviors (both human and horse) and why the problem is not corrected by the present attempts
2.) ways to teach the horse what behavior is desired, and
3.) visible and obvious changes in the horse after the human behavior has changed.

Ellen believes that horses with problems are not problem horses. Horses are cooperative by nature, so a change in a horse's behavior is readily accomplished by a change on the part of the human. Our approach and attitude make a difference to the horse, and Ellen explains that we often don't realize that what we are doing may actually be reinforcing behavior we don't want, or that physical problems (often in the rider as well as the horse) may be contributing to the behaviors. Insight from an equine bodyworker is included.

Part 2 involves getting the horse accustomed to new and different things, and preparing the horse for riding. It includes ways to calm the horse, have the horse's attention, have the horse respecting our space, and being responsive. A segment on dental care is included with an equine dentist providing valuable information as one of the featured horses receives dental care.

Ellen takes the viewer through the step-by-step process as she helps each horse's person to understand the horse's (and their own) body language, to recognize signs of tension and insecurity in the horse, and to change ineffective ways into effective ways of asking for various behaviors from the horse. Difficulties addressed range from catching the horse to trailer loading to riding problems. At the heart of each solution is an understanding of the horse and using communication that the horse understands - largely, body language.

Ellen explains that horses are more than willing to trust us to be their leaders; all we need do is lead them in a way that makes sense to them. By reading the horse's body language and seeing things from the horse's point of view, we can determine the causes of problems, solve them, and prevent many future problems as well. Training is an ongoing process, and the length of time needed for addressing problems and working out the solutions depends on various things, so it varies from horse to horse. In each of the situations presented, Ellen troubleshoots to find the real issues, demonstrates what the person can do so the horse understands and can comply, and then the person tries it. The results are astounding.

It is heartwarming to see the changes in the horses in these videos as a result of new knowledge, time, patience, and dedication on the part of the people. Ellen makes the learning fun, and the riders can once again enjoy life with their horses. At the end of Part 2, the people are interviewed to reflect on their accomplishments and what was learned, giving the viewer insight into what it was like before and after arriving at this new level of horsemanship.

"Horses With Problems" is an excellently produced set of videos that presents much more that just some common problems and sensible and effective solutions. Equine bodywork and equine dentistry are introduced, as well as insight into what, in most cases, are the causes of problems. The viewer also benefits from the very effective use of slow motion and stop action frames to zero in on the specific behaviors at precise moments that could otherwise go unnoticed. Ellen's teachings are not about correcting the horse as much as they are about helping the horse understand. This beautifully produced video set is one that belongs in every horse-hold, whether or not there seem to be problems!