Whether you are a rider, professional equine body worker, veterinarian, trainer, or farrier, Bach Flower Remedies can help you – and your horse.
Horses can feel intensely. While all emotions have their place, they can cause illness or injury if out of balance (too strong or long in duration). Take the foal or adult horse that panics when separated from the herd. He may run into a fence or straight over the top of his human handler as he desperately seeks the other horses. Meanwhile, the horse who doesn’t find new companionship following the loss of a friend may lose her appetite and slowly waste away. An irritable, easily-angered horse may attack other horses or people, biting or kicking with great force and damage. Fortunately, there is a simple and inexpensive way to ease equine emotions – Bach Flower Remedies.
Achieving balance with flower essences
Bach Flower Remedies are liquid formulas that work quickly (often within minutes) to balance a wide variety of emotional states. They are prepared under strict standards for human consumption and work like magic to address emotional states in horses. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes the essences as GRAS (generally recognized as safe), which is the same category used for most human foods.
How the remedies were developed
The Bach Flower Remedies were developed by English physician Dr. Edward Bach about 70 years ago. While working in a traditional hospital practice and in medical research, Dr. Bach saw the limitations of treating only the physical manifestations of a person’s “dis-ease”. He felt the root cause of physical illness was emotional imbalance. In 1930, he gave up his practice and returned to the countryside to seek out remedies in nature that would heal mental, emotional and spiritual unrest.
During his search, Dr. Bach not only discovered specific wild plants, trees and bushes that address emotional states, but also brand new ways to prepare them. The sun method, for example, mimics the way dew on a plant interacts with the sun. It creates an energetic imprint of the plant in the water, and no physical substance from the plant remains. The result is a liquid product with the ability to relieve emotional stress in a gentle way without side effects.
“Each flower was found to embody the positive and harmonizing force for a negative emotional state, be it fear, resentment, or despair,” write Julian and Martine Barnard in their book The Healing Herbs of Edward Bach. “In order to transfer this healing force to a patient, Bach prepared essences from the flowers. This essence, diluted to some extent, could then be taken as a medicine. He found that as the negative moods changed so the person would return towards health.”
Dr. Bach created 38 single essences that transform unwanted negative emotions. He also mixed five of these remedies into a combination formula called Rescue Remedy. Today, these remedies are used by holistic practitioners and laypeople worldwide. In the U.S., they are available at health food stores or by mail order.
It may seem impossible that a few drops of flower-infused water could change the behavior and health of a 1,000- pound horse, but my first experience with Bach Flower Remedies was so profound it left no room for doubt.
Because my father loved horses, my sisters and I rode as children, at one point caring for four horses in our backyard. Thanks to this early experience and passion, I started training horses for a Quarter Horse ranch while still in high school, and became a full time professional in 1980.
In 1985, I was rehabilitating a race horse named Timothy’s Hope, who was prone to severe anxiety and panic attacks. He was so restless and tense he wasn’t able to eat, sleep or work well. When he was saddled, he froze in place, literally paralyzed with fear, and I had to slowly coax him into going out on an easy ride. In my efforts to help him calm down, I used various types of massage, acupressure and TTEAM methods. I took him for walks, gave him plenty of grazing time and introduced him to calm horse friends. Nothing relaxed him for any length of time, so I contacted my veterinarian, Dr. Bob Anderson of Dallas, Oregon, who was one of the first holistic practitioners in the region.
Dr. Bob gave me a small dropper bottle of water-like liquid labeled Rock Rose. He told me to put a dropperful of the remedy on Timothy’s tongue every hour until bedtime. The next morning, Timothy’s behavior and health shifted dramatically. His appetite and ability to rest and work returned to almost normal. The disconnected look in his eyes shifted to a more present, settled state. I continued to use the essence over the next few days, and it greatly helped stabilize Timothy’s emotional frame of mind, improving his physical health and overcoming his fear of training.
Watching Timothy transform literally overnight sent me on a quest to learn more about Bach Flower Remedies. Since that day almost 25 years ago, I’ve used them to calm frightened and injured animals, lift the spirits of abused or sick horses, build confidence in performance horses and tone down belligerent pasture bullies. I’ve mixed formulas that help horses (and their owners) cope with allergies, fear of trailer loading and stage fright during competition. The essences have helped an orphan foal move out of depression and an older horse reclaim his place in the herd.
How to begin
An easy way to start using Bach Flower remedies is to experiment with Rescue Remedy. To create it, Dr. Bach combined five single essences: Rock Rose, Clematis, Cherry Plum, Star of Bethlehem and Impatiens. Today, several companies market this formula and the 38 single essences. The original Bach brand from Nelson’s uses the original name of Rescue Remedy. Healing Herbs calls it Five-Flower Formula, while a version called Calming Essence is available from Traditional Flowers.
Diluting the essences
1. Add a minimum of four drops of Rescue Remedy to one ounce of water in a dropper bottle or spray mister bottle. If you are using a two-ounce bottle, use eight drops. If you are using single essences, add a minimum of two drops of each to one ounce of water.
2. Add water to fill the dosage bottle. Use the best quality water you have on hand. Avoid chlorinated tap water and do not use distilled water.
3. Potentize the formula after you mix it up, and whenever you use it, by shaking it straight up and down and pounding it on the heel of your hand 20 to 30 times.
4. If you’re not going to use the formula within four to five days, add at least one tablespoon of brandy or two to four tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the formula to prevent the growth of bacteria. The liquid should be clear when it is held up to the light. If it is fuzzy, discard it.
• Put the liquid on your hand and offer it to the horse to sniff or lick.
• Wipe it on his face.
• Mist it onto his nose.
• Mist it down the horse’s spine, and on large areas of the body.
• Mist over injured areas.
• Apply it to acupressure points.
• Massage the horse’s gums with the liquid.
• Mist or put drops on his treats and food and in his drinking water. When adding the remedy to a large bucket of water, use ten drops of stock essence or ¼ to ½ ounce of diluted essence.
To help your horse overcome a pattern of behavior that he or she has had for a long time, dose him two to four times a day for at least one to two weeks before assessing the value of the remedy. I like to dose the horse during training and bodywork sessions, and put it in the drinking water.
Bach Flower Remedies can aid you and your horse in numerous situations and scenarios. They are relatively easy to acquire and administer, and the benefits can be immediate and long lasting. Whether you are a rider, professional equine body worker, veterinarian, trainer, or farrier, both you and your horse will benefit greatly from this gentle gift of nature.
Healing Herbs (www.healingherbs.co.uk) makes Five-Flower Formula and the 38 single Bach essences. Distributed in the U.S. by Flower Essence Services, 1-800-548-0075 or www.Fesflowers.com.
The original Bach Flower Essence brand is distributed by Nelson Bach USA , 1-800-314-2224 or www.Nelsonbach.com.
The Calming Essence version of Rescue Remedy and single essences are available in health food stores or by mail order at www.Traditionalflowers.com.
For more about Dr. Edward Bach, see www.edwardbach.org.
Diana Thompson teaches horse owners how to use equine acupressure, massage, Bach Flowers and gentle horse training and rehabilitation methods. She is the author of the new book Acupressure Point Charts for Horses, An Illustrated Guide to 127 Point Locations. The 230-page text includes 330 high-quality photos and 100 anatomical illustrations showing the positions of the points and energy channel pathways. Diana offers classes at her facility in Northern California and other locations. Phone (707) 542-4646 or visit: www.dianathompson.com