The Five Elements Theory is a significant part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and has been in use for thousands of years. It’s believed that the five elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water) can be related to different aspects of the body and the surrounding natural world. This issue’s column is all about the Wood horse – see if you can recognize any of these traits in your own equine!
Wood is a symbol of life. We use it to build our homes and the furniture inside them. It’s strong yet flexible, and creates heat to warm us. When forests are cleared of heavy underbrush, they make wonderful shaded home sites. Conversely, if they are left to grow wild they can become the fuel for massive forest fires.
The Wood horse is also full of life. He is strong and athletic, and loves to run and play hard. He likes to work but also wants his work to challenge him. The Wood horse has a self-assured presence that makes him stand out in a crowd. When his energy is directed towards competition, it can produce a breathtaking performance. If the Wood horse is allowed to grow restless and is not given a goal, he can easily become a dangerous outlaw.
Training the Wood Horse
The Wood horse is born bold and willful. He is not only competitive, but also wants to dominate his opponent. He is the horse that plays roughest with others. When the young Wood horse is turned out with older horses, he will often receive multiple kick and bite injuries as his pasture mates attempt to discipline him. He is not one to back down or take no for an answer.
When working with a Wood horse, you may not want to stay focused too long on a solid foundation. He will learn best within the context of a challenging job. Perfect his stopping and turning skills by following a cow or negotiating a jump course. The Wood horse gets bored very easily, so be sure and take him to new places and teach him new things on a regular basis. You never want to fight with him, but be prepared to stand your ground when differences of opinion occur. The Wood horse does not enjoy working harder than needed, so make extra work a consequence of bad behavior. Let him learn patience by standing tied to an overhead tree branch, where he can stay occupied by watching other horses work.
Feeding the Wood Horse
Wood needs just the right amount of moisture to maintain its usefulness. Too much and it will rot; too little and it becomes brittle. If the Wood horse is fed too much rich food he will build up dampness in his system, which shows as stocking up in the legs. He can also become hard to handle if excess rich food causes his system to overheat. At the same time, he needs plenty of blood to nourish his connective tissues and keep them supple. Chlorophyll is a tree’s blood and chlorophyll-rich foods, such as blue green algae and alfalfa hay, are very beneficial.
The liver is potentially the weakest organ in the Wood horse. It is responsible for detoxifying the body and maintaining steady sugar levels in the blood. To make the liver’s job easier, feed the Wood horse a simple low carbohydrate diet. Avoid multiple formulated supplements or herbal mixes. Milk thistle on its own is good for liver support.
Madalyn Ward is trained in Veterinary Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Bowen Therapy, Network Chiropractic and Equine Osteopathy. Memberships include the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners and American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. She has authored three books, Holistic Horsekeeping, Horse Harmony, Understanding Horse Types and Temperaments and Horse Harmony Five Element Feeding Guide. Holistichorsekeeping.com, Horseharmony.com.