Quick rundown on what homeopathics are: Do you remember learning in chemistry class that molecules vibrate? And that molecules are different from each other and they vibrate at different speeds from each other? (Molecular frequency.) That’s part of what makes up your body. The tissue in your body vibrates differently than the molecules in the tomatoes growing in your garden. Similarly, a rock’s molecules will vibrate differently than those in bee venom. Slightly odd sounding, perhaps, but true nonetheless. There are plenty of “skeptics” who think homeopathy is just goofy nonsense and who, using non-molecular vibration-related tests, try to debunk it as quackery, and fine if they feel that way. But you don’t really have to understand how something works for it to actually work. And my personal experience (along with hundreds of thousands of other people’s) has been that, when chosen correctly, homeopathics absolutely do work. They correct a slight imbalance in the vibrations in your body, bringing about physical and/or mental balance and healing. The problem I find with homeopathics is that it is not easy in many cases to choose the correct remedy. Sometimes it’s a no-brainer. You get stung, as my daughter did this week, and you take apis mellifica. The vibrational resonance of bee venom. And it acts on the homeopathic principle that “like cures like.” That’s all I’ll tell you. If you want to know more there are a lot of resources out there with more information. And no, you can’t just rub bee venom on your sting or take bee venom internally. It has to be homeopathically prepared. In fact, some of these substances in pure form could really harm you or even kill you. But the vibrational resonance that they give off can affect the balance of your mind and body without the negative consequences of the actual substance.
So that being out of the way, one set of homeopathics that I really do like and find easy to diagnose and use is the Bach Flower Remedies. These flower remedies affect primarily mental symptoms. If you are burned out and tired from overwork and overcare, such as when taking care of an ill loved one, you take Olive, several drops in a glass of water, all day long for a week or a month or even several months depending on the severity. That’s one example. Sometimes the flower remedies do also affect physical symptoms you may be having in a positive way, but primarily they are used for mental symptoms.
I’ve used them on myself – Centaury to help me learn, after some 38 years, that I don’t have to let people walk all over me, tell me what to do, or make me feel guilty. I’ve used them on my children – Vine to take pushy, bossy characteristics and turn them into their positive form – great leadership! Or Water Violet to help my once very aloof, independent, and private daughter to open up and let the rest of us into her private world. I’ve used Willow on another child who tends to become very self-pitying from time to time and evades responsibility. A few doses and he’s back to himself, accepting the blame for things he’s responsible for without feeling sorry for himself. And on friends – a dear friend who lived in daily despair, wishing she could die and join her baby son who had died suddenly two years before tried Star of Bethlehem on my insistence (that’s what friends are for – to push you when you need a push, right?) The flower remedy took hold and brought her back to the land of the living. The change was so amazing and obvious in her that some of her teenaged children spent some of their own money to buy themselves flower remedies they thought would help with whatever aches and pains they had in their own hearts at the time. And I’ve experimented with them as often as possible. You can take half a dozen at time if needed, but by focusing on your top three complaints, you can get those out of the way and see if you really need any others or if you’re simply out of balance due to the few things that are bothering you the most.
My first introduction to using flower remedies with horses or other animals came last spring when we brought our haflinger Sophie home from Whispering Hope Ranch where she’d been staying for about a year and a half. We had temporarily traded her for Betsy’s mare Lacy, as we did not want to keep five horses at the time – our facilities were only half the size we have now. Lacy is one of the sweetest, best horses a little girl could have… patient, kind, totally calm. Sophie, on the other hand, was anti-social, resistant to training and leadership, scared, and stubborn. We hoped they could use Sophie as part of their string, but she was a little too bouncy for the older riders and too stubborn for the younger ones. So finally they sent her back to us. As I was thinking about how on earth I could help her to become more friendly and more malleable for training, it occurred to me I ought to give her some Walnut remedy in her water to help her adjust to the change of leaving the herd at the Ranch and returning to our home. And as I thought about that, I realized I could give her other remedies as well, so I looked up which ones would help with her particular personality challenges. Water Violet was a definite yes. Most horses, being herd animals, need to be around other horses. Not Sophie. She wanted everyone – people and horses – to go away and leave her alone. Being intolerant of her human handlers called for Beech, being resistent to training and learning new exercises called for Chestnut Bud, her resignation and apathy needed Wild Rose and Gentian would be for depression and discouragement. Not being able to talk to her, obviously, I had to observe her behavior and guess that she was discouraged and depressed (she didn’t want to be around anyone – that was either Water Violet or Gentian, so I tried both since the wrong choice can’t harm you – it just won’t help.) With animals it’s a bit of a guessing game sometimes, since we can’t ask them questions. It’s much like working with children, actually, who may not be able to articulate what they are feeling.
The upshot of this Bach Remedy Cocktail was very, very positive! I was thrilled to see Sophie settle into our home, and within a week she went from being her same morose self that she had been before we ever took her to The Ranch and after we brought her home to being almost a completely different horse. She is still stubborn, which Danny absolutely loves (silly boy!), but she is friendly – always hanging out with Saxton and the first one to the stall door to get her face rubbed. Yes, this is amazing to me. She would walk away from us if we approached her before the remedies. Now she wants treats and petting? Wow! She had no trouble adjusting to the change, is now what I would consider a “happy” personality instead of morose and discouraged, and while I would never consider her a fast learner, she can concentrate on her lessons and make progress now instead of just being a lunatic! LOL!
I won’t give you every instance where I’ve used homeopathics with animals and people, though I’d love to. It would become a little e-book and we just don’t want to go there! LOL! But our elderly mare Lacy was having such a hard time eating hay or grass because her teeth hurt. It just hurt to chew. She’s ancient. My teeth would hurt, too! So we give her constitutional doses of Calcarea Carbonica (calc. carb.) for “teeth problems” – which we’ve had great success with in our humans here, too, healing tooth abscesses (Who knew!) and helping new teeth come in and such. So I thought it would work for her and it has. She has no trouble eating hay or grass now. Calc Carb is not a Bach remedy, by the way.
So on to my present-day adventure. Saxton is my fabulous, gorgeous, amazing gelding. He’s smart, he loves to learn new things (which is great because I love to teach him new stuff – tricks, useful exercises, groundwork, to work at liberty (meaning that he is essentially free and can come and go as he pleases, but he chooses to stay with me and do what I ask of him.) When I first got him in 2009 he’d sat, unused, for four years. So he bucked me off the first few times I asked him to work. Reflecting on it, I think it was more that he was afraid than anything, but there was definitely an element of simply not wanting to do what I asked. So I began putting him through Clinton Anderson’s “Groundwork for Respect” series, and I got hooked. I love Anderson’s exercises, and I love teaching Saxton new things. He enjoys it, too, and responds very well to learning new things. But from that first year when he bucked me off repeatedly, I got to be very timid about riding. Saxton is a spooky horse. We go out on the trail and he is looking everywhere in an “I’m kinda freaked out – what is that noise” kind of way. And it scares the bejeebers out of me. I’m afraid he’s going to buck or bolt or do something stupid. He hasn’t. Not since he was new here, before the groundwork series. He has, however, spooked. I just expect him to spook once almost every time I ride. He usually spooks in place, I lose my balance a little, then collect him and we move on. But last year, if you remember, he spooked, and before I could regain my balance he spooked again. And I fell off. And hurt myself. Badly.
I haven’t ridden since then because I’ve been afraid to. Oh, I’ve taken Mimulus – the remedy for “fear of known things” but in spite of no longer being terrified, I just have this certain, peaceful knowledge that getting on that horse is a bad idea for me. I’m not confident, I don’t have a good seat, and the older I get, the harder it is for me to recover from injury – which is no fun in the first place. In fact, I had given Saxton the Mimulus remedy last year as well, hoping it would help him in the spooking department. Nope.
I adore Lacy, who is a million years old, because I know that she wouldn’t spook or buck or take off in a million years. But she’s also little and old and can’t carry my 125-pound carcass along with a 30-pound saddle. So this spring I finally, reluctantly, sadly, put Saxton up for sale. He’s a gaited Missouri Foxtrotter, which is an attractive feature, but he’s 19. And whoever rides him would have to be totally confident and have a good seat, because when he spooks, they need to be able to keep their balance. But I hate, hate, hate to lose him. He’s perfect for me in every way except the spooky horse/timid rider combination.
Saxton: Regal, gorgeous, smart, malleable, respectful … and spooky! (And slightly goofy looking wearing hay on his head – but Hey! He loves his food!)
Then it occurred to me. Mimulus had never been the right remedy for Saxton. I was afraid of something I know. Riding a spooky horse that could hurt me. He is afraid of everything he doesn’t know. Spooky noises, fluttery objects, movement in the trees, noises in the distance. And he gets panicky when he gets afraid of all those things. Aha! That indicates Aspen for “fear of unknown things” and “Rock Rose” for terror. So early this week I put an online order in at my favorite Bach Remedy supplier feelbach.com, where the remedies are inexpensive and their partner site bachflower.org has fantastic, pretty thorough descriptions of each of the 38 remedies to help me decide which is the right choice.
My two remedies arrived in the mail last night. I realize that they may not work. Horses are prey animals and are designed to flee from danger. That’s their defense mechanism. But some horses have a more highly attuned flight mechanism. I may end up replacing Saxton with this little paint mare I’m looking at that belonged to a pre-teen and is a lot like our Lacy – calm, steady, dependable – but younger, stronger, and able to carry my weight just fine. But with all the success I’ve had with Bach remedies in the past, I can’t let Saxton go to a new home without at least giving him a chance at finding the right remedy if it will help him. And who’s to say that even if he does calm down and become steady and unafraid, that I won’t still be too timid to ride him? But I won’t at least give him up without a fight!
Sometimes we take the long way around through training/education, trying physical remedies such as chiropractic and such, resort to allopathic drugs with potential negative side-effects, or just put up with undesirable characteristics. It may be that sometimes taking a little time to look into an inexpensive, albeit alternative remedy that may not be as widely accepted as we are comfortable with, nor as familiar as other solutions may be – can be just the ticket to an easy, practically painless solution to whatever ails us – or our horses, dogs, cats, or other animals or loved ones. If this sounds interesting or promising, I suggest you check out Philip M. Chancellor’s book “Illustrated Handbook of the Bach Flower Remedies” and the descriptions of each of the 38 Bach Remedies at bachflower.org.
It is important to note, however, that the Bach remedies are not a cure-all. Sometimes other issues need to be addressed, such as poor saddle fit, the need for chiropractic adjustment, possible hoof imbalance issues, and so forth. But they can be a valuable addition in even such instances, to a holistic approach to horse care.