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Chapter 15/Principle 15 – THE COMPASSIONATE EQUESTRIAN – Integrating Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Health

We embrace a holistic, integrative approach to equine health care, merging the best of conventional and complementary approaches that help horses heal and relieve their pain and suffering as quickly as possible.

                             Dr. Schoen

This is one of my favourite subjects and it is the career path followed by the book’s co-author, a pioneer in integrative veterinary medicine, Dr. Allen Schoen DVM.

Trained as a conventional veterinarian, Dr. Schoen pursued the path of alternative medicine when he found that his standard training did not provide all the answers for ensuring the best possible outcome and wellness for his animal patients.

As with Dr. Schoen, I was in the right place at the right time in the early days of integrative methods becoming accepted by some veterinarians. Citing efficacy among humans with practices such as acupuncture, the advocates of holistic veterinary medicine began the process of certifying conventionally trained practitioners in integrative aspects that helped support their client’s animals using techniques not previously made available to them in a professional setting.

In my twenties I was injured several times, although thankfully not seriously. I had two falls with horses, and one incident in which a horse pulled back and yanked my shoulder out of place. It was a bit of a beating, nevertheless, and I sought the care of both conventional and alternative medical practitioners.

I visited a pharmacy that suggested the homeopathic remedy Traumeel as a solution to the damage in my shoulder, as opposed to the questionable injection of cortisone recommended by my sports medicine practitioner. What did I have to lose? I had been introduced to natural medicine thanks to another horse trainer friend who had great success with it.

Within a few days the mobility returned to my aching shoulder joint and the pain was almost gone. My sports medicine doctor confirmed that I could return to lifting weights to restore further strength. He was surprised at the quick turnaround, and wanted to know what I had done to recover in between our appointments!

I had been quite skeptical that a plain odourless cream and little bottle of inexpensive white pills could be effective. Yet, I decided to give it a try as I still had the opportunity to go with more conventional treatment. I have used homeopathic remedies ever since.

I realize a story is just that. Anecdotal evidence. But I quickly went from skeptic to convinced when I tried this for myself. Then I started to seek more non-invasive treatments for my horses and eventually found low-level laser therapy, which I speak about in the book. This is the modality that literally saved Willie’s life, and it only took a week’s worth of application.

We tend to view everything from our own perspectives and backgrounds, and sometimes that might require a change in thinking to enact the best possible outcome for our animals.

As Dr. Schoen says, “No one form of medicine has all the answers or cures all problems.” (The Compassionate Equestrian, page 263).

While one natural approach may not work for everyone, there are many other alternatives as well. You have to do research and talk to those who have experience with it. We have offered many resources in the book. I hope everyone can find their way to a holistic, integrative resource and practitioners that provide the best in complementary care for both humans and horses. In my humble opinion, it is well worth the time to explore your options.

See page 265 in The Compassionate Equestrian: Guidelines When Considering Complementary Therapies.

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