Recently, I hosted my new Self Selection and Whole foods class at Ohana Farm. This year I started teaching in addition to Herbs and Oils, Traditional Chinese Medicine Whole food offering. In the past couple of years it became apparent as I applied Self Selection to MANY areas of my work with horses and other animals (not just food and oil items) and as I studied more use of Healing with Whole foods from a TCM view point, That It could be applied in the same way.
So let’s look first at how we approach Self Selection and the general guidelines I follow. First, I refrain from offering blends or mixed ingredient items because I want to be sure the horse is picking a single item he/she wants. I also do NOT mix things in horses feed because they will eat it just because of that and not because they need it. Then it helps me when I use my charts to enter each item chosen by category and intensity of the horses response. Once, I have gone through a formal session, I have a “picture” of what my horses is trying to balance or bring into wellness.
By integrating the TCM aspect which my TCM vet helped me learn, as well as cross referencing my own research and experience, it helped me add another way to help my horses wellness. I was able to see what Whole foods the horses were selecting or not as it were and with my TCM food actions chart was able to get an idea of what the horses were trying to tell me.
In TCM foods have a temperature, a taste category (for example bitter, sweet, sour, pungent, salty) which in turn relates to an element, organs and emotions (for example: Sweet/ Earth element/Worry/Spleen and Stomach.
This changes completely how you have to look at food even the cereal grains. In TCM many of them have a medicinal purpose like Oats, Alfalfa, Flax, Barley etc. I now have learned to adjust my daily feeding with this in mind instead of just looking at nutrients and protein and fat content. By offering Whole foods as well as herbs and oils, we can not just balance nutrition but also help our horses wellness. Also, by offering and allowing our horses to “Tell” us what they need, we are practicing horse listening.
At the end of the class, we evaluated our spread sheets and there were clear patterns:
- One horse was selecting many sour foods items like berries and even a lime! as well as many powerful antiviral/antibacterial herbs
- One elder horse was only wanting the fresh herbs I had cut from the farm plants wild and cultivated and was very selective with seaweeds and oils
- One horse was taking hormone balancers in the form of herbs and oils and was quite clear about wanting specifically leaves or flowers or stems of certain plants
- One horse was voraciously selected celery and ate a bunch. as well as much burdock in root form, stalk and seed pod.
It’s important to exercise caution when introducing new feeds into your horses diet. I recommend 4 ounces as a good amount if your horse is selecting a lot of one item. Offer them the same item over several days until they lose interest. The objective is to have your horse eventually NOT want much of anything except small balancers NOT TO EAT EVERTYTHING all the time! When I get new horses in at the farm and they are eating everything I offer as fast as I can give it to them, they are way out of balance. Sometimes they will select certain things for weeks! These horses can look very healthy on the outside but they are looking for help! It is part of how we look under the hood or take care of the inside of our horse.
Many horses are very seldom on good quality grass if any at all and may be on restricted diets for health reasons. This is a great way to balance easy keepers diets. Even the best hay is lacking things and degrades over time. Processed feed diets often lack quality ingredients. Offering fresh and dried plants, whole fresh fruits, seeds, Oils, veggies and grains are great way to balance and help your horses well being. It’s something we practice everyday at Ohana Farm!