I recently had my quarter horse Dean diagnosed with iron deficiency and needing a blood builder. I thought I would share how we used to Self Selection and what herbs we used to help bring Dean back into balance.

My vet uses Chinese herbs and Acupuncture to help our animals. He is able to suggest whole foods and herbs which may help our horses through their health issues.

I thought it might be good to give a little history on Dean and why we had him checked. When I first got him, He was a little under weight and he had been out to pasture for about a year or two under the care of a friend who took him in as rescue. We proceeded to offer him herbs, oils and he got Chiropractic work and Acupuncture several times over the year we’ve had him. He had back issues and I set about creating a Whole approach program to bring him back to balanced health.

One of his primary stresses was separation anxiety. Due to his previous history, It was clear to me that he had no connection or desire to connect to humans. He found security and peace only with other equines. He quickly bonded to Mercury and was quite upset when separated from him.

My experiences at Ohana have allowed me to study even more closely the Equine to Equine relationship, The Human to Equine relationship and the Inter-species to Equine relationship in a way that has deepened my knowledge and experience even further. I have seen and participated in many fascinating exchanges and social encounters in my herds. I have been able to experience and observe true herd family dynamics.

Part of Dean’s healing was to bolster his self esteem and confidence in his own spirit so that he can stand on his own four feet. Since he has been here, he has come out of his shell with people and found value in exchanging ideas with us. He is a wise teacher and is now affectionately known as “The Dean of studies”

This summer Dean was very lethargic and was seemingly “sleepy” all the time. He was reluctant to move but otherwise appeared healthy. Upon vet examination, the Iron deficiency Anemia and what my vet called Deficient Chi came to light. He had some Acupuncture to help and I set about looking for the herbs that would support him. Several Herbs and Whole foods came up and I offered them all to him. Our vet recommended Buckwheat, Turmeric, and Cinnamon. I offered Spinach, Beets, Dandelion root powder, Barley Grass, Raspberry Leaf, Bladderwrack, Kelp and Licorice.

Of all those items, Dean took a very small amount of Buckwheat one day, 2 beets, A lot of Dandelion root powder, a lot of Barley Grass, A lot of Rasberry Leaf, and a small amount of Kelp and Bladderwrack. The clear big choices were Dandelion root powder, Barley grass, and Rasberry leaf.

Incidently, someone at our barn had an iron mineral supplement for horses which I offered in my hand and he took approximately four handfuls and then didn’t want anymore. This is done over the course of several days.

If you look up Rasberry leaf and Dandelion root uses, Dandelion is commonly used to treat Iron deficiency. Rasberry leaf is also known for being iron rich. More importantly, what I find fascinating about Self Selection is that Dean told me specifically which items he wanted in which amounts. He also was clear about which items he wanted the most of.

Dean lives with two others horses and they too have selected the items they needed in completely different choices and amounts. This makes me think about not supplementing several horses with the same things long term as is standard practice traditionally. In my experience, horses never pick exactly the same things as their pasture mates.

I have seen a notable brightness come back to Dean’s eye and more energy in his step. He also doesn’t get cold like he did this time last year. Herbs for thought!

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