For years I struggled to destroy pathogens, infections and odours from stables and my horses (spraying and medicating with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal products). It did not always work and it was a lot of effort. Frog infections continued.
What was the key contributor? … Dirty and infectious footing? Poor management of the horse without sufficient turn-out and movement? Compromised or damaged hoof capsule enabling ingress of dirt and pathogenic activity? Ineffective medication or lack of discipline and accuracy in application? Poor immune system failing to eliminate & prevent pathogenic activity and not forcing the egress of infection? Ineffective gut function nullifying the benefits of supplementing diet? … and a host of other possibilities!
Aiming for total sterility in the management of horses seems like an impossible goal. It took me a long time to reverse my approach to working with, rather than against, the environment. My life seems like a constant experiment from which I assess what does or does not appear to work well … and of course what I discover is good or bad for me or my horses may prove very different with other animals in other situations but I share my thoughts in case they interest you.
What works elsewhere?
I had already experimented in related areas, in:
- My own kitchen and with the family diet to boost our gut health using fermentation (yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, lacto-fermented pickles and sauerkraut);
- Cultivation & nurturing of aerobic bacteria in composting kitchen & garden waste and horse manure to break-down detritus by natural means (thereby limiting landfill), to create a natural, beneficial & superior compost, to ensure complete elimination of pathogen, fungus & weed seed, to improve soil condition and pasture management;
- Expanding the bio-diversity of the pasture & hedges to benefit the horse microbiome with a wider variety of natural probiotic from different leaves (each leaf carries its own microbiome that can add to and support bacterial activity within the horse that supports health). Some believe that we support our horse’s internal microbiome by what we feed and there are others (or maybe the same people) who believe that we need to support the organs and digestive process of a horse because when those work well the horse can manufacture and support all of the microbial activity that he needs … like chicken & egg, which comes first? How do we know how best to support each element of digestion?
Focus on the good with Microbz products
Then I came across Dr Teruo Higa’s work on Effective Microorganisms and a fermented product called EM (or EM1 or EMA). Our environment and our own digestive health and general wellbeing relies upon the effective activity of billions of bacteria. It is incumbent on us to support their activity, to feed and encourage them to outweigh the preponderance of pathogen, fungus and virus. Rather than focusing on the ‘bad’ and struggling to eliminate it, let us focus on the ‘good’ and allow it to proliferate. As I mentioned, my mindset has changed and with it the ways I manage my horses. In some ways this is akin to the Feldenkrais Method principle of focusing on the easy & comfortable movement because, as that awareness grows, so we become less absorbed by pain and less fixed on the difficulties of movement.
With this in mind, I now spray Microbz products around stabling & barns and on the footing (as well as on the feed and fur of horses) and I am happy that every step they take gives the possibility of the introduction to the horse of another good strain of bacteria. I spray stabling with “Stable Fresh”, the compost with “Compost Activator” and the soil with “Soil Conditioner” and I add EM1 to the feed of the horses. I am reminded of a phrase I saw on a t-shirt “Whatever is good for the outside of a horse is good for the inside of me” and I’d like to expand that with “I like to use on the outside of a horse what is also good for his inside”. After all, what’s the point in spraying something around or on a horse that would be bad for his insides? They groom each other and they therefore eat whatever we put on their fur. Can we really believe that it would benefit a horse to sterilise his gut (any more than it would help us)? The 30m length of a horse’s digestive system might suggest we need to pay even more attention to ensuring its health.
Your chance to try out Microbz
For anyone interested in trying out Microbz products, the Coupon Code ALIGNED10 will give you a 10% discount and here’s the link to their website.