Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fall Vaccine/shots question

This blog will be about giving shots. Many times we give our own shots and in many cases our own vaccines. Anytime you give your horse a shot you are putting the needle through the skin into the muscle. Blood vessels are all over the body so there is a likelihood of passing your needle through blood vessel. This is not a problem for the vast majority of drugs, with the notable exception of procaine penicillin. If any of the procaine penicillin gets into the bloodstream there is a risk of very serious reaction. With vaccinations this concern is not there.

If you see a bit of blood or lump appearing after you get a shot off it may be that you passed through a blood vessel just below the skin. What happens is that you make a hole in the blood vessel with a needle and when you withdraw the needle, the blood vessel has a hole in it so the blood leaks out. You see a few drops of blood on the surface, but underneath the surface of skin there may have a small hematoma (small collection of blood) which leaves little swelling It is harmless and was likely gone by the next day.

When giving vaccinations there are other things that can happen, some of which can be more serious. We tend to think and are taught that vaccination is harmless. However, vaccines are very powerful drugs and can have some considerable side effects. We should always think carefully before giving a vaccine as to whether it is needed or not and whether the disease is prevalent in our area or not. Read the article on my website for further information to help decide what is important in your area. (

If you choose to vaccinate and to give your own shots, you have the opportunity to spread the shots out so that you are not overloading the horses immune system. If you are going to give vaccinations is really best to give one at a time, then wait three weeks or four weeks and give the next one. This gives the horses immune system time to respond and does not wear it out.

Many horses get local swellings at the site of a vaccine, some of which can be quite painful and some can go on to abscess. These types of swellings are a direct result of the body’s reaction to the drug. These can range from mild (and be gone within a day or two) to severe such that the horse can barely move its neck. To combat the negative effects of vaccination and to help with the immediate soreness using a natural approach, the homeopathic remedy Ledum 30 C or X can be given immediately after the vaccine, and for one to two days afterwards if needed. The dose would be 6 to 8 little pellets. These can be obtained at a health food store or online (

Some horses have such a severe reaction that they really should not be vaccinated, but some veterinarians, usually holistic ones, can draw blood for a vaccine titer. This is a measure of how well the horses immune system has responded to the previous vaccines and though not perfect gives us a good idea if the horse is still protected from its previous vaccines.

Other horses will show different symptoms after being vaccinated. Some horses are very lethargic for a few days, some horses may run a fever and other horses may show different symptoms. Sometimes the symptoms mimic the disease they have been vaccinated for. And occasionally these symptoms are extremely severe and include things like laminitis, colic, diarrhea and neurologic symptoms. It is important to call your vet if you see any signs of illness even several weeks after vaccinating. Many vets will not believe the reaction is related to the vaccination that is holistic vets we see these adverse reactions all the time. And in many cases vaccination can reverse homeopathic remedies, so keep that in mind if you are thinking about vaccinating a horse under holistic care.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Healers on Healing

In place of my blog on fly control that i spent last weekend working on, only to have the computer eat it :(, here is a quick book review of one of my all-time favorites. I promise the fly control blog this week sometime. You can get this book on Amazon or from your favorite used bookstore.

Healers on Healing
An anthology edited by Richard Carlson PhD and Benjamin Shield
Publisher: Jeremy Tarcher, Inc., Los Angeles

This book is required reading for anyone interestes in the holistic healing fields. The book was compiled by asking many prominent alternative healers a single question “What, in your experience, is the key element or golden thread that unites the healing processes?”. The list of people contributing to this reads like the who’s who of natural healing – people like Bernie Siegal, Louise Hay, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Ted Kaptchuk and many others. The amazing thing about Healers on Healing is that the same message comes across from many different angles – love, intent, giving the power of healing back to the individual, that the relationship of the person healing and the facilitator of healing is healthy, and that the method of healing is not the most important factor.

Throughout the book it is emphasized that each person heals in a unique way and whatever technique works for one person may not work for the next person. Some people will heal with minimal assistance, while others will not be healed no matter what technique is used. The healer or person aho helps guide the healing also needs to be healthy and actively working on thier own process of healing.

Healers on Healing is a book that can be read and reread starting at any point. New insights into healing will be discovered each time. The truth strikes deep into people’s hearts and this book should reach deep into each one of us, hopefully helping us along the path of self-discovery as a “healer”. Open the book to any page and you will find gems to live by each day, such as this one from Lynn Andrews: “A growing number (of therapists) seem to be aware of the need to look at what really matters, what can make their approach to healing have a real impact.” Or this one from Elizabeth Kübler-Ross: “Healers must understand that love does not only mean love for others; it also means love for oneself.” Read, enjoy and take the lessons to heart.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Muzzles and grass, blessings or curses?

Spring grass brings blessings to some and curses to those with easy keeping and fat horses. We are going to take a look at some of the ways to manage all that spring grass.

The main choices to manage grass intake are to reduce time on grass or to reduce the amount of grass eaten. To manage grass intake often requires fencing off a small area as a fat pen or dirt paddock. This is only feasible if you own your own place and have a spot to put the paddock with adequate water and shelter. You also need a horse who will stay by himself or hopefully with another buddy. You can also leave your horse in a stall for a large portion of the day, however he/she will get very little exercise that way.

The other way to reduce grass intake is to use a muzzle. Muzzles can seem a barbaric answer, however, for many horses it allows them to be out in the pasture with their friends getting exercise. A muzzle fits over the horses nose and allows them to eat only a small amount of grass with each bite. This way they have to work hard for small rewards.

Muzzles are tolerated well by some horses, while others will do everything in their power to remove them. A few horses will refuse to graze while wearing one, and occasionally one will refuse to drink. Some horses will ask their buddies to remove the muzzle. The muzzle carried by Harmany Equine Clinic ( is more open and more comfortable to many horses than the common webbed muzzle such as the Best Friends.

A muzzle should fit loosely enough that the horse can open his mouth without hitting the edges. The bottom of the muzzle should be about one to 1 1/2 inches from his mouth. If the edges rub the skin, get some real sheepskin and line the areas that areas that are rubbed. Do not use the fake sheepskin-- it will mat and rub more easily. The halter should always have breakaway straps.

What happens if you find your horse without a muzzle in the morning? You have no idea how long he's been grazing. The best thing to do is use the homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica 30, which can be obtained from most health food stores. It is for over-eating and can help prevent laminitis or colic. To read more about homeopathic remedies see my first aid booklet (

When you first put the muzzle on, and for many horses each time you put it on, give them a small treat usually placing it inside the muzzle or giving it after the muzzle is over the nose. Show them some nice grass so they learn to eat quickly. Be sure to check that they are drinking water and that the muzzle will fit into an automatic waterer.

Please share your tips for managing muzzles and your stories about how your horses handle or remove the muzzles.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Insulin Resistance, cinnamon, herbs

As spring approaches in most parts of the country, we have to turn our thoughts to the flush of spring grass. For many of us, that beautiful spring green has become a curse as our horses gain weight and consider foundering or becoming Insulin Resistant (IR). We spend hours researching the latest information and wind up more confused than ever. The Harmany Equine ( website is at the forefront of safe, credible information and will be updated this spring with more information.

Here is this week's tip. Cinnamon is an herb that has received some press about its effectiveness in treating obesity and IR. Many supplements now contain cinnamon, some contain large amounts. Lets try to understand this herb, its actions and where it is useful and where it is dangerous. Just because an herb is "natural" does not mean it is safe.

Herbs have many properties that determine how best to use them. Some herbs, such as Chamomile, are relaxing, some are stimulating such as green tea. Some herbs are cooling such as peppermint, while some are warming, such as cinnamon. Think about a cup of hot cinnamon tea or hot chocolate with cinnamon. In the winter that sounds fantastic, but if i offer that to you on a hot summer day, you would think i was nuts. But you would drink that peppermint tea.

Internally some of run warm–think about the spouse that always turns the heat down or the horse that always removes his blankets. Some of run cold–think about your grandmother who has the heat at 90 and is wearing a sweater, or the horse (often an older one) who shivers easily and really loves his blankets. And herb that is appropriate for the warm horse may be inappropriate for the cool horse and vice versa. In fact, the inappropriate herb may actually be bad for the wrong horse.

This is where information about cinnamon is important. Yes, there is research that shows it helps IR. But, the problem lies in identifying which horses are cool, where cinnamon would helpful and which are warm, where adding more warmth could precipitate a case of laminitis. I see this happen on a regular basis in my practice, someone buys a supplement with cinnamon, feeds it to an already warm horse and the horse founders. It could be 2 weeks, it might not be for 6 months. The people most qualified to determine a horses internal temperature are acupuncturists and vets trained in Chinese medicine. You cannot take your horse's temperature to find this out, it is a Chinese medical diagnosis.

This idea of warm and cool also applies to other herbal products, especially Chinese herbs sold through the internet. Chinese herbal formulas are very specific in their actions, while western herbal products are less so.

Look for IR updates and tips to keep you out of trouble this spring. The safest basic IR formula is OB Formula form Harmany Equine (

Enjoy the warmer weather.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What is homeopathy, can it benefit my horse?

Homeopathic medicine has been practiced around the world for about two hundred years; it is presently receiving more recognition because of its non-invasive but effective powers of healing. Veterinarians are becoming interested in homeopathy as an alternative to conventional drugs, especially in some of the chronic problems horses have. Horse owners are interested because homeopathy is an excellent treatment for many simple acute problems. When used correctly there are no side effects.

Homeopathy utilizes medicines derived from plants, animals and minerals. The medicines, or remedies as they are often called, are made under FDA regulation, by diluting each substance many times, and "succeeding" or shaking the solution between each dilution. The diluted remedy is generally put onto a small lactose or sugar pellet, making a very palatable and easily administered medicine.

To understand how homeopathy works it is easiest to use an example. If a person has a red itchy, hot rash that feels better under hot water, like poison ivy often does, the remedy would be the dilute homeopathic form of poison ivy, called Rhus Tox. This would trigger the body to heal itself from that specific problem.

Homeopathy can be used easily by the horse-owner to treat the every-day problems horses create for themselves, such as wounds, bruises and colds. Some other chronic conditions treated with homeopathy are: colic, "heaves", tendonitis, laminitis, allergies, behavior problems and skin diseases. It is important that the person prescribing remedies for chronic disease problems in your horse be a veterinarian trained in homeopathy, because a diagnosis is always required in order to accurately select the remedy. There are veterinarians knowledgeable about homeopathy throughout the world (link to organization for homeopathic vets).

You can learn more about homeopathy through reading (my First Aid booklet is a great starting place) and occasional courses that we will list here. Books are also available at some health food and book stores. The homeopathic remedies are available at many health food stores as well as on our web site – the ones for humans are the same ones we use for the animals.

Welcome to our blog

Welcome to Harmany Equine's blog. I, Dr. Joyce Harman will write notes, tips and present new findings in the world of natural medicine for horses (with a few dog tips also :). i hope you check back often to keep up with the latest information. For a natural medicine web site and blog that have lots of information already up, check out We are also on Facebook at Harmany Equine.