"A Healthy Horse the Natural Way – The Horse Owner's Guide to Using Herbs, Massage, Homeopathy, and Other Natural Therapies"
By Catherine Bird
© 2002 New Holland Publishers
ISBN 1-58574-576-6
US Publisher:
Lyons Press/Globe Pequot Press
PO Box 480
Guilford, CT 06437
Hard cover 6" x 9", 240 pages
$26.95 US

There is a new and greatly improved kind of horse owner's guide now available – like none other to date. "A Healthy Horse the Natural Way" by Catherine Bird may be similar to other horse owner's guides in that it is a comprehensive educational text as well as a useful reference book for specific conditions or ailments, however, it is wonderfully unique in that it presents the use of natural therapies from a completely holistic perspective. Catherine considers the whole picture and includes areas that have yet to be written about in other 'natural' guidebooks – she addresses aspects other than just the obvious and the physical to achieve whole health.

"A Healthy Horse the Natural Way" emphasizes the importance of the veterinarian, and Catherine advises her readers to involve the veterinarian. She stresses that the use of natural therapies is complementary and not meant to replace veterinary medicine, and that both disciplines have boundless areas in which they can and do enhance each other.

In user-friendly format throughout this book, Catherine presents practical information with "do no harm" as the rule. The horse's welfare is always the first consideration, and the horse is always viewed as an individual throughout the book. She explains that natural is not always safe, and she discusses precautions with the various topics presented.

As in "Horse Scents", another of Catherine's works, "A Healthy Horse the Natural Way" gives evidence that Catherine is committed to improving total horse health. Topics covered range from body temperature to exploring the soul. She discusses the innate ability horses have to heal themselves, naturally. Expressive, lovely graphics, drawn to fit the theme of the section, add a nice look and provide impact, some being humorous yet emphasizing a point. Catherine explains that in these pages she is sharing with the reader what she has learned so far, and that she will likely keep adding to these pages for years to come, because there is always more to learn.

In the introduction, Catherine likens the horse to a very complex jigsaw puzzle with this book helping to bring all of the pieces together, involving veterinarian, farrier, dentist, saddler, trainer, and caretaker, as each plays an important part in the horse's well-being. Catherine briefly discusses legislation and its value for the owner, the role of the veterinarian, diagnosis, owner's responsibilities, and cooperation among those involved with the horse's care.

Chapters include Herbs, Massage, Aromatherapy, Homoepathy, Biochemic Tissue Salts, Bach Flower Remedies, Emotions and Thoughts, and Putting It All Together. "A Healthy Horse the Natural Way" also features a Glossary, important contacts in Further Information, Further Reading, and a thorough 12-page Index.

In Herbs, Catherine covers how they work, how to and how much to give, ways to use herbs, combining herbs, herbs to avoid, and herb use while in competition. She presents practical dos and don'ts. Herbal terminology is defined, and over 40 herbs and their indications are discussed.

Massage is a more in-depth section covering the dos, don'ts, whys, hows, styles of massage, and massage strokes and techniques. Helpful black and white photos and drawings accompany the text. Muscles and their functions, along with some troubleshooting suggestions and ideas, are also discussed.

In Aromatherapy, Catherine presents the sensible usage of essential oils. She stresses 'asking the horse'. In addition to the hows and whys, topics include the importance of quality oils, synergy, blending, notes, and carrier oils. Over 30 Essential oils are described.

Homeopathy, a complex subject, is explained clearly and accurately. How remedies are selected, dosage, and potency are discussed. How to administer, how to know if a remedy is not the right one, first aid use, and storage are covered. Over two dozen common remedies are described. Schuessler's 12 tissue salts are explained and described as well, in a chapter of their own.

The Bach Flower Remedies chapter explains the benefits and uses of each of the 38 vibrational Bach essences, and their Rescue Remedy. Catherine explains that her experiences involve the Bach line, but that there are others available to select from as well. Individual essences and combining of essences is discussed; how an essence affects an individual is presented.

The Emotions and Thoughts chapter is the most unique. It explains how thoughts and emotions lodge in the physical body. Catherine discusses the subtle bodies, the 33 layers of personal energy that surround us and attract experiences to us. Also discussed are disease states, connections with others, and how horses sense, feel, and are affected by our emotions and the emotions of others surrounding them. Catherine lists and discusses various emotions, habitual positive and negative thoughts, and their effects, including parts of the body and why they may be affected physically from thoughts and attitudes. This chapter offers a good opportunity to reflect and become aware of our thoughts and attitudes and how much we affect our very sensitive horses, often unknowingly. Catherine presents this information kindly, pleasantly, and without blame; the purpose is to recognize another opportunity to heal the horse, through awareness of how we may be contributing to the horse's ill-health. In addition, Catherine offers ideas to make positive changes and to break a cycle. This chapter presents an uplifting look at life and how we can more readily take responsibility for our actions, thoughts, and emotions, and improve life, for ourselves and for our horses.

Putting It All Together, the final chapter, discusses the combining of natural therapies with one another for practical application. The philosophy behind the natural approach is discussed, and the use of natural therapies as complements to modern medical attention is again clarified. Various skin complaints, respiratory complaints, digestive complaints, hoof, leg, and muscle problems, older horse and mare concerns, and more are discussed, with appropriate suggestions for each using all of the previously discussed modalities. This section gives an understanding of how and where each therapy can fit into the jigsaw puzzle of the horse's whole health and well-being.

In "A Healthy Horse the Natural Way", Catherine Bird has brilliantly pieced together her knowledge of and experience with complementary therapies, and has done so in a way that the topics flow well from one to the next. She presents much that isn't taught in veterinary school and other educational institutions. This book makes a handy reference as well as an interesting read, and it offers interesting aspects on wellness that are not readily found elsewhere. Catherine explains that natural health care is a philosophy that must be embraced in its entirety, and she presents a common-sense approach about when it is best to consider natural therapies and when to employ conventional medications.

To have a healthy happy relationship with any horse, the natural way, this book is clearly an essential. Catherine says that the secret is 'to listen to your horse - he knows where he hurts and when he is not being treated fairly; actions speak louder than words in the equine world'.

"A Healthy Horse the Natural Way" is a first in its class with a truly whole-istic approach and an in-depth look at the more subtle aspects of well-being, going places where no other horse owner's guide has yet ventured. This unique book is an important reference tool and educational text with a very solid foundation, yet it is written with the flow and readability of an enjoyable novel, making it suitable for readers of any level of 'natural'. Catherine's new work not only leaves the reader well-informed, but also instills a good feeling about oneself, one's horse, and life in general. Thank you, Catherine, for putting forth the time and efforts to produce this generous and much needed work.