Thursday, 10 March 2011

An Introduction to Equine Iridology

(Sarah Asquith-Vallance - Equine Iridologist)

Iridology (the study of the iris of the eye) has been around for quite some time. The first people to study the iris were the ancient Egyptian healers who painted iris markings on ceramic eye models to record their findings and it has also evidenced in references in Hippocratic writings that the classical Greeks.

However, the technique and a map of the eye (as we know it today) was updated by the Hungarian physician Dr. Ignatz von Peczely (1822 – 1911). As a boy he found an owl with a broken leg, at the time he noticed that there was a dark mark in the owl’s eye. As the leg healed the mark in the eye became smaller and lighter and when the owl recovered all that was left of the mark in the iris as a white mark with a few dots surrounding it.

Using Iridology to supporting the health and wellbeing of the horse is a relatively new investigative technique enabling the practitioner to discover what is happening in the horse's body in a painless, non-invasive way. Changes to the iris are noticeable before problems can be physically detected in the body, by conventional means. It enables you to identify and treat the problem before it becomes a full blown illness, dis-ease or lameness.

So how is this done?
The eye is the only externally visible part of the central nervous system. In embryo the eye is part of the brain, and as the embryo grows and develops, it separates, but still remains connected.
It is actually the changes in the horses body’s biochemistry that leads to changes being observed in the iris and the markings and colouration of the iris change as the condition of the body tissue changes.

What can the horses eye tell you?
The iris shows where and which organs are under stress long before they become visually diseased, it can also tell you where there is an inherited weakness, where there are muscle spasms, if and why the horse has temperament issues, or whether these are due to other influences.
Constitutional weakness can be detected in the foal from 6 weeks old.

I use the system of homeopathic medicine to support horses and educate their humans and trainers working alongside vets. Homeopathy is used to direct the body towards natural self healing. Sarah first trained in human iridology with John Andrews in Yorkshire, UK, then went on to study equine iridology with Mercedes Colburn in the USA. She is currently undertaking advanced equine iridology studies with Ellen Collinson whom is based in France.If you would like more information or a consultation please email Sarah on

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Feeding Horses Naturally

I was taught at the Scottish Agricultural College that healthy equine nutrition plays a vital role if you want a happy, healthy horse. However, putting this into practice appears to be lacking for far too many of our equine friends, and the main culprit appears to be some of the massive feed companies, who claim to be “natural”.
The fundamental life style of the horse, especially their eating habits, has changed beyond all recognition to what the horses themselves instinctively and intuitively know.  It appears the main reasons for this are human convenience and business profit. How can a frozen, rehydrated, refined sugar filled diet be natural for herbivore who’s great pleasure is to grazing in free, wild, open spaces?
I would never advise the use of any pesticides or herbicides even if it claimed to be livestock safe, and unfortunately, much of today's modern pasture has been rendered poor in herbage diversity and near-toxic to horses by artificial nitrogen application. So what can be done for our horses?
I would like to see a more natural feeding program brought in. You can give your horse a new lease on life. You can start today. You can allow her to reach her full potential.
I’ll level with you
Can you imagine eating off the floor? No? Well a horse can and this is how they like to do it. They are designed to feed from the ground and find feed buckets fixed to the middle of the wall unnatural. It decreases their saliva, leads to uneven tooth wear and could lead to possible choking. So if possible feed your horse from the floor. They will thank you for it. So now we have that cleared up what next…

Feeding time
A horse’s digestive system needs small quantities of food numerous times daily. It’s just how they are designed. They can eat 2% of their body weight daily, but not in one sitting. They have a relatively small stomach and can hold only one to four gallons of food at any one time. This food in their digestive track moves very quickly, so don’t be surprised to hear that your feels hungry again about an hour after eating.
It has been documented that between 60%-90% of horses have gastric ulcers and this is something I also see a great deal when using equine iridology to investigate a horse’s health. It is a result of digestive acids damaging stomach tissue.  The horse’s intestinal bacteria balance is also often disturbed and this leads to
diarrhea, and colic. This infrequent feeding appears to be a strong contender in the reason why these health problems occur.

Out and about
Horses are designed to graze and forage on an almost continual basis, however, the majority of them are stabled for much of the time, and so unfortunately don’t get the opportunity to do this.
Horses constantly produce digestive acid for the breakdown of food. When there is food in the stomach, the acid is properly absorbed and neutralised. By allowing your horse access to pasture or grass hay and cutting down concentrated processed feeds, lowers his risk of developing problems and diseases of the digestive tract.

Hay, man!
The horses ‘main course’ should typically comprise of a variety of types of grass hay, Meadow hay (easier to digest than seed hay), Timothy, Orchard, Brome and Rye are good, Along with grass hay, VERY small amounts of alfalfa or grain hay could be added (these should only be fed in very small amounts because alfalfa can contain 50% more calories and protein than other grasses, and like other legumes, high anti-nutrientive factors. Intake can also lead to ‘stones’ hard mineral deposits, and alfalfa has a higher calcium: phosphorous ratio than a healthy horse requires).

Naturally, in the wild, horses would find only scatterings of highly calorific grain to supplement their diets, but particularly in winter when more calories are required they tend to try and increase their grain intake. So try to keep grain to a minimum.

Sugar and Starch and all things not nice
It has been found that the easiest way to play havoc with a horses sugar levels, give him a quick release of insulin and an adrenaline rush, is to feed him high levels of starch and sugar, and here we are talking grains and molasses, sucrose, dextrose, glucose etc.  Think how sugar affects you. Some people go hyper, as do some horses. After this adrenaline rush you will be left with one very lethargic and fatigued horse, but worst of all you could potentially have a horse whom cannot process glucose properly. Also, it affects the hindgut flora on which the horse is so dependent on for its health and immunity. Such sugars are often present in feeds and supplements so look out for and avoid them.  Try alternatives such as rice bran, wheat bran and beet pulp.
Taking the Flax
Flaxseed is a great introduction to a horse’s diet. It boosts the horse’s immune system, enhance mineral absorption, help chronic inflammatory conditions, improve hair, skin and hoof conditions, and may even alleviate allergies. It’s an all round great addition. Not forgetting it’s packed full of Omega3 fatty acids, a nutrient lacking in most horses that are fed only hay instead of pasture.

Supplementing the diet with a mineral and vitamin supplement can be a reasonable 'insurance' against imbalance but products should be checked very carefully for unsuitable or unhealthy ingredients and additives such as sugar or synthetic flavourings and colourings. There should be no need for MSM, a by-product of the wood-pulping industry, if a horse is fed properly.
Manufactured feeds and supplements, may be coated with animal by-products. There is no place in a horses diet for animal derived products such as gelatin, glucosamine, chondroitin from shark, shellfish pig or cattle. It has been found that some supplements contain milk. I do not recommend this product to be fed to horses. If horses were meant to ingest cow’s milk they would have been born calves.

The Importance of Mineral Balance
Horses are incredibly intuitive about what their bodies needs in way of energy production, fluid balance, bone formation, healing and proper cell function, and if they are able they will go and find it.
Mineral imbalances can be caused by stress, environmental toxins, un-balanced feed and can show up as disorders of the skin and hoof, allergies, low immune reserves and intestinal problems.

To find out if your horse has the required balance then a simple Hair Mineral Analysis, when done by a qualified practitioner. It’s a very effective tool for pinpointing mineral imbalances, and can be corrected by proper supplementation.

Variety is the Spice of Life
Most captive horses I work with using animal communication will tell me they are ‘bored’ of their diet, or they want something included more often, to spice it up. In the wild, horses will nibble on leaves, bark, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables.
This may not always be easy to do/find/ grow in the UK, however, as our aim is to feed horses as naturally as we can then we could go a long way to help by providing branches from a variety of trees. This not only lets your horse nibble leaves and bark for nutrients, but also gives him a chance to use his teeth naturally, helping to wear down sharp edges. This means fewer dental problems. Fruit, citrus and pine trees are usually fine but just check that it’s free from pesticides, thorns and is not poisonous.
I’m all for buying local and common foods that add variety are courgettes, citrus fruits, melon, bean sprouts, pumpkin & carrots.

This general feeding information is based on the advice given to clients who seek my services. It is opinion. I publish this information in good faith, with the motivation of sharing experiences and improving the health, longevity and well-being of our domestic animals. I make no profit from selling feeding products via this or any other web site and am independent from all manufacturers. No manufacturer or products have been singled out for particular criticism. We hope that this information is of value to you and your animal.