Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Wisdom of Sage

Since giving birth to Cassander, Shekhinah has followed in her mother's hoof prints (Tahoe, was my first horse as well as a rescue) and failed to stop producing milk after Cassander was weaned. Honestly, I never thought much of it since Tahoe had the same issue and I have known several other mares over the years who had the same condition. Then Shekhinah got mastitis and after that I realized that this is a problem and started looking into herbal solutions. It was suggested to me to try Sage for Shekhinah.

We didn't have the money in the budget at the time to purchase the herb, but we did have this one little Sage plant in the yard that appeared to have seen better days. As I have mentioned before, I am not much of a gardener, but I was willing to try anything to help Shekhinah. Every day I would go out with a grateful heart and trim a little off the plant to add to Shekhinah's supplements. Sage has always been a favorite of mine and I would breathe in the way it smelled and wish that I was a better tender of plants so that I could help this Sage be healthier. While harvesting what I needed for Kinah, I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of dead and unhealthy parts to the plant and I thought, well it probably doesn't need that, so I cut those off.

I was deeply concerned at first that by taking from the plant it would struggle more and possibly even die, so I was very careful where I cut and how much. Sometimes I would stop for a few weeks to give it time to grow. And grow it did. That was the wonderful thing about this Sage plant, the more I trimmed off the dead and tended to it, the better it did. I felt the healing energy of the Sage in all I did with it. Not being a gardener, I loved that I could make something grow and become healthy. I babied it. I talked to it. I thanked it. I appreciated and loved it.

In return, Sage taught me that sometimes even though something has been a part of us for a very long time it isn't helping us grow. Sage taught me that to grow and be healthy sometimes the best thing to do is cutting something out of our lives, and by attending to all aspects and parts of ourselves we can cultivate a healthier more alive overall being.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Proactive verses Reactive

I find one of the more difficult things for people, when learning to integrate herbal healing and health into their lives and the lives of their animal companions, is the change needed to one's mindset. Western medicine is based on the idea that we react to what is happening to our bodies. When our head hurts, we choose from a number of pills on the market designed to alleviate pain. When our stomach is upset, once again we choose from numerous products that can be taken to soothe heartburn, indigestion, or a variety of less than pleasant dietary upsets.

A more Eastern or holistic approach would be to look at the problem as a symptom, clue or small piece to a larger health paradigm. What type of headache is it? For example, is the pain dull or stabbing, general or localized? Diet plays an important role in most health conditions, so when people come to me for nutritional consults for their animals the first place I look is diet.

The reason holistic medicine is often referred to as "complimentary medicine" in modern society is that it tends to work over a long term integrative period. While there are many things that can provide immediate relief it is not the same as taking a pill. Frequently, when something is out of balance in a system, a critical key to success of any treatment is identification and changing that which is causing the disharmony in the first place. This requires most of us to take far greater responsibility for our lives, health and the health of our animals then most of us are accustomed to doing.

Long term change takes time and commitment. One of our goals with our Herbal Classes is to find ways to help, teach and support people in this process. Once people are able to get past what can sometimes feel like an overwhelming and impossible amount of information, understanding the needs of our bodies and those of our animals can stop being frustrating and start being fun. The geeky inner mad scientist in me loves discovering and researching new herbs and then going about trying them on myself or the horses to see if I have found better and more effective means of health enhancements. I love having a journal and documenting the changes I find and tracking the data. Perhaps because I am terrible at crosswords puzzles and these are puzzles I can solve that I find them a relaxing and enjoyable way to spend my time. Herbs are powerful and can have extreme side effects, so make certain that if you choose to experiment with them, that you do so from an educated and responsible place.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Animals as Herbalists

I have been extremely fortunate lately to have the opportunity to connect with a number of excellent Herbalists, (just one of the many good things that have been made possible from our friends at Mountain Rose Herbs), but for most of my previous herbal education I found some of the most influential teachers to be the animals themselves.

My first introduction to herbs for horses was from my first horse Tahoe. She had an affinity for Dandelions and Red Clover and whenever I would hand graze her she had this knack for locating them both. I remember asking my trainer at the time about it and she said it should be fine, but not to let her have too much clover because it can make them sick. There was nothing about what Dandelions or Red Clover could do to enhance Tahoe's health or why this horse might be craving them and seeking them out. I frequently feel as though I should apologize every day to Tahoe for my ignorance and Thank her for her patience. It is amazing to me that even though she died in 1997 the lessons she tried to teach me still affect me today, both in herbs and in working with other horses.

When we open ourselves up to guidance I feel that it shows up sometimes in unexpected places so we have to keep our eyes and our awareness open. My most recent guide to herbal medicine has come in a feathery form. Our neighbors have peafowl and for reasons I can't quite figure out, I adore them. This young male in particular has started hanging around every time I am making the horses supplements. It started out with him coming up to the doorway and watching me, but I have noticed this Fall he is doing a lot more than watching. He tips his head, clucking slightly and shakes his top notch. I began to offer him Borage, which now he will take right from my hand. I was concerned initially with just how much of the fresh Borage he ate, but I reminded myself that he probably knows what he is doing. This behavior I have seen in the horses and dogs as well. They will gobble up a bunch of an herb fresh, sometimes for several days in a row and then not want it at all for awhile. I know it frustrates the volunteers and people I try and help with herbal formulas because they always want ratios and timelines and more structure then I can provide. Herbs are personal and individual and we have to listen to those little voices and pay attention for them to be the most effective. Or, if all else fails, take advice from a peacock.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tumors and Turmeric

With the start of our recent Capital Campaign we have the opportunity to raise awareness as well as funding. Some people have followed us for years, but hopefully there are a lot of new faces who are not aware of our success with healing horses with cancer. For so many of us cancer is this dark shadow we live in fear of. We are like the Native Americans who have no reference for Columbus's ships and therefore can't see them on the horizon, but notice the disturbance in the water on the shore. I have had people tell me it's not possible to cure cancer or as my Dad says "Prove it." Now you see it, now you don't isn't exactly the response people want. We have horses that had cancer when they came to us and now they don't. In the past we have been too busy trying to save them to really document what we do, let alone share our results and treatments via blog and Facebook posts. We hope to be able change all of that with the support of our fans and their generous donations. We will start by sharing some of Nehalem's story.

If you aren't familiar with our mare Nehalem who suffers from Equine Lymphoma, please refer to our previous post regarding the disease. One of the main herbs we use in treating Nehalem's cancer is Turmeric.  Friends tease me that I am so passionate about Turmeric that if it were a man I would be married to it. In my defense, if I had a man who did as much as Turmeric, I would marry him. Turmeric is the one herb I rarely rotate off of. It does everything and it does it well. Liver, digestion, helps clean the blood, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmotic, anti-tumor, anti-fungal, anti-arthritic, anti-mircorbial and much more. Turmeric does not like abnormal tissue growth which is great for all kinds of obvious reasons, but the one that surprised me was it removes proud flesh (a form of scar tissue) on horses.

In addition to the Lymphoma, Nehalem has a sarcoid the about the size of a fist on her underside almost directly in front of her teats. We find sarcoids to be more common on horses with immune compromised issues and have used Turmeric successfully in treating other horses with them (including Konah). The sarcoid is currently about a quarter of the size it was and over the last year with us being able to keep Nehalem on her Turmeric fairly consistently we have had the opportunity to watch it change and peel off. It is currently going through a shedding cycle and we are hopeful that this may be it's last and that it fall off and be gone for good.

I do often say that if you can only afford one herb for your horse most of the time that herb should be Turmeric. My disclaimer being that if you fail to treat the system as a whole and try to make Turmeric take care of every need you have without helping him to do his job, you will not find the same result we have experienced here at 3TF. Most of us at one point or another have had a boss or co-worker who made our job much harder than it needed to be. That's what's like for Turmeric when you don't support the whole system.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall Favorite

One of the things we talk a great deal about with our Herb Walks is that to be really effective when using herbs it requires us to think differently. With so many horses depending on us for their well-being and money not always being available I will frequently re-research the herbs around the property that we have on hand. One of my favorite new combinations came about almost by accident.

I tend to be a bit like a fickle teenager when it comes to herbs. I get crushes on herbs and become completely infatuated with a new one and then for months everything is all about how amazing this herb is and I want to know everything there is to know about this herb because he is just so great! Then a few months later a new boy band appears on the scene and I'm off again into an equally dreaming state. Luckily, my room for herbal knowledge is great and even though my heart suddenly belongs to another I still remember my Spring (or Summer or Fall or Winter) crush.

Borage was my new Spring heart throb this year. I was looking for an herb that I could use in rotation with nettle to meet the horses needs for vitamins and although borage didn't really fit the bill for that I was excited by some of the other things he could do. We had an issue with several of the horses having spring coughs and borage seemed to be more than up for the task of lending assistance in that area. Borage can be a tad on the prickly side, although nothing like another favorite of mine nettle, he is a beautiful plant. I do not consider myself a gardener, as much as I am a gardener groupie. I have some friends who are amazing gardeners that I hang around and listen to and admire (and drool) over their creations. So the fact that I could grow amazing and beautiful borage plants in our garden deepened my love for borage by no small measure.

When feeding borage to the horses I cut it up with scissors immediately after harvesting it from the garden, as it doesn't tend to stay fresh for long. The horses have never seemed to mind the prickles, but I do try to get the younger, more tender looking, leaves or flowers. I notice especially when feeding fresh herbs the horses tend to pick what they want and leave the rest. The fresh cut borage smelled amazing. As the summer wore on I noticed the horses showing less of an interest and their coughs went away, so I stopped feeding it. By late summer, though borage had practically taken over the garden. I didn't want to see it go to waste so I decided to start feeding it again. It was around this same time that someone sent me an article about the benefits of using rosemary for coughs. Our Poppy pony has struggled ever since getting really sick a couple winters ago with a dry chronic cough. Even with the horses and dogs I still think the way herbs smell and taste together should play an important role in choosing what to give. Fresh borage and rosemary smell amazing together and make the most remarkable looking salad. I am tempted to wash it up and have it with a side dish for dinner. It has become all the horses' favorite Fall herbal combination.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Why 3TF Chooses Herbs

I get asked all the time about how and why I got involved in using herbs for horses. Right after college I was lucky enough to work for two different alternative veterinarians who introduced me to a different way of thinking about horse health care. One vet specialized in Acupuncture and Chiropractics and the other was trained in Homeopathy. I think that through my experiences with these women the door was opened to all kinds of possibility. Although I spent some time studying Chinese medicine and was first introduced to herbal healing through Chinese medicine I wanted to connect more with what was going on in my own backyard, so to speak. I love the forest of the Pacific Northwest and it seems I can never live anywhere for very long without feeling the pull to come home, so about ten years ago I started studying and experimenting with more local herbs and how they might enhance 3TF horses' health and performance.

With the economic decline I was forced to get more creative about meeting the health needs of 3TF's horses and I turned more and more to herbs for filling those requirements. I noticed that the more I looked the more I was able to find ways to help our horses by the plants I was finding around our Creswell location. For a few dollars in seeds as well as receiving donations from friends with abundant gardens we were able to significantly expand what we are able to produce here at home. We not only continue to invest in our own gardens as funding allows, but we have an abundance of several herbs and have been able to help others do the same do the same by sharing that which we have extra of. Live plants as well as seeds are always available for people attending our Herb Walks.

Our Herb Walks were born out of a desire to share and support others in similar difficult economic circumstances as well as being able to share the passion and excitement that comes with re-connecting with our natural environment. It is impossible to be connected to our environment and actively harming it at the same time. I can't begin to tell you how much more satisfying it is to go into the garden and harvest leaves from the plants we have, or take the dogs for a quick hike in the woods to grab some of what I need. Using herbs I feel also better connects me to my horses, because when I am with them I am checking for subtler things. Does Poppy's coughing sound dry and unproductive? Do her eyes appear to have excesses mucus? What's her energy level like? If it all sounds too much or too hard don't worry, once you start to get the hang of it, it becomes a rewarding challenge. It always reminds me a bit of my favorite childhood game Clue.

Our Herb Walks are designed to support people on their herbal journey. As we wrap up our 2012 Herb Walks we already have our sights set on even more wonderful and empowering herbal classes for people. We couldn't have done it without all the help from our friends at Mountain Rose Herbs who have made these Herb Walks possible for a number of disadvantaged youth and people working in equine rescue and we look forward to bringing herbs into many more people's lives in 2013.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Lemon Balm

One of the difficult things for us about Fall is we seem to find ourselves looking at all the things still left to do. There is a kind of denial that happens as the nights grow colder, but for me what really drove the point home was when the Lemon Balm started to turn. It is with a heavy heart that I cut the last of it by the fistfuls for the ponies at feeding time, knowing that we will not see each other again in this way until the spring. Luckily, if I miss Lemon Balm too much I can still find a high quality, organic source of it through our friends at Mountain Rose Herbs.

Lemon Balm was the Prom Queen of herbs for the 2012 Herb Walks. One of the things we try to teach people with our Herb Walks is how to open up to their natural intuition and find the herb that most speaks to them. This is a long forgotten skill for most of us and one of the things I deeply appreciate about working with animals and herbs is animals tend to still be fairly in touch with this intuitive side of themselves. I notice with animals, as with people, the closer we are to our natural environment and way of being the more this intuition expands. I have noticed over the years the longer the 3TF horses and ponies are on herbal supplements, the clearer they become about what their needs are making it easier for me to choose their herbal formulas.

One of the things we use Lemon Balm for is to help with horses and ponies who have thyroid problems. Many horse owners have experienced either first hand or through a friend's struggle with a horse that seems to gain weight on air. Problems with the thyroid are often related to problems with metabolic function. Lemon Balm is an excellent choice to try for horses who tend to have problems with excessive weight as it is a nice gentle herb that tends to blend easily with other herbs. With it's refreshing smell and taste there is just something about Lemon Balm that feels like summer. One of my favorite ways to let our horses and ponies choose their dose is to cut it up in the water trough.

Lemon Balm is also good for spasmodic colic and is considered a good choice for treating depression. Anyone who has smelled Lemon Balm can attest to it's uplifting quality. Like most herbs it is not a suitable choice for those who are pregnant and I would encourage and assume anyone who is pregnant to consult a professional before adding any supplements, herbal or otherwise to their diet.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bess and Corie

I met Ferronato Shen and became acquainted with Three Treasures Farms in the Spring of 2010 when I assisted in catching their beautiful stallion, Coppola, after he’d escaped from his stall.  He was so well-behaved that I had no idea he was a stallion until a few days later when I formally met Ferronato.  She was in the process of moving the program into Whispering Meadows Equestrian Center, where I was currently boarding my thoroughbred mare, Bess.  At the time, I was both actively coaching and coordinating the University of Oregon Equestrian Team and fully-enrolled in classes but I became so enamored with the amazing program that 3TF runs that I quickly found ways to become involved and do my part to help. 
My first hands-on experience with 3TF was when I introduced Bess to the Massage Intern Program.  I was amazed at Ferronato’s skill at handling and assessing the physical and emotional state of my sassy mare as well as how educated and professional her students were.  I put Bess into as many classes from then on as I could.  Being a college student (and a little horse-poor), however, I wasn’t able to pay to have Bess in all the classes I wanted her in.  So, I became one of 3TF’s working students and began my journey into the 3TF family.
I started off by cleaning stalls, turning out, blanketing, all the while picking Ferronato’s brain about nutrition and homeopathic supplementation.  I kept at it, working whenever I could and asking as many questions as I could think up.  Eventually, I passed the perseverance test and was introduced to the after-school program 3TF ran for underprivileged kids from Lane county.  I had an absolute BLAST working with the kids.  Ferronato had designed such an incredibly rewarding program and kids that might have shown up a little sad, or without wearing their smiles, would leave happy and fulfilled. 
The work I was doing with 3TF offered a kind of fulfillment that I wasn’t used to.  I’d been a working student throughout my entire show career- assisting with client horses, teaching lessons, performing general horse-keeping chores, but the work 3TF does allowed me to not only continue to grow as a horseperson, but also to directly affect the lives of both children and the horses in the program.  That feeling isn’t something I’d trade for the world.
As my time spent with 3TF increased, I was able to place not just my mare but also my Mom’s mare, Dolley, into the Massage classes.  About 30 minutes into her first class, you could not only see but actually feel Dolley’s overwhelming anxiety about the world just melt away.  To this day, Bess and Dolley become ecstatic when they see Ferronato or one of the first interns to work on them. 
After I graduated and moved back to Portland, I kept in touch with 3TF and updated on the program’s success stories.  Not 3 months after I left Eugene, I was back every other weekend taking Equine massage classes from Ferronato and, once again, learning as much as I could from her.  Being 2 hours away and only being a part of the 3TF team twice a month, I started helping out with grant proposals and recently took over as Donations Coordinator and PR person for 3TF.  I tried off and on to take a career path within the business world but I never quite found anything that left me feeling both happy and content with the path my life was taking.  Eventually, I ended up working as an assistant to a couple of training programs in Portland.  During a massage class I set up, Ferronato used her knowledge help a client’s horse who suffered from a sugar allergy.  He is still on the herbal supplements she recommended during that session, and is doing incredibly well.  I also used my massage knowledge to help rehab an injured horse in the other program I was working with.  The horse was high-strung and full of vinegar from his 6 month stint on stall rest.  I was only able to work with him successfully because of the in-hand work I learned while working with 3TF.
I am currently living in Corvallis, Oregon, and am about to start a job working with troubled youth and horses.  I continue to use my massage and nutrition knowledge with Bess and hope to show her this next show season.  The issues she was having prior to our relationship with Ferronato and 3TF have been almost completely resolved, and I know she and I will both continue to benefit from the experience, wisdom, and compassionate nature that Three Treasures Farms exudes.
My goals with 3TF are not just to help them raise the income that they need to continue to provide scholarships for their programs, such as the ones I received, but also to allow them to grow and reach more passionate, caring, horse-friendly, and hardworking individuals so that they can continue to influence the lives of those who need it the most. 

Corie Townsend

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fall Herb Walks

Our intention with the Herb Walks is not to make a student leave feeling like an herbal expert, but that they will take with them some powerful and simple tools which will enable them to sow the seed of change in their lives. It is no easy task to change our life style, even when it is a change for the better. Many of us end up in less than healthy patterns or cycles, whether it is the food we eat not being in the best interest of our bodies, too much work stress, or a lack of exercise. It is challenging to make the changes we need to feel better when we are in this place of depressed health. Modern society is not making it any easier with its conveniences designed to save time, which, in the end, ultimately steal it from us. Most of us know someone who lives a healthy lifestyle and we think: I would love to be able to do that. Given all the things going on in our lives, the distance between where we are and where we they are seems like an overwhelming distance to cover. We end up thinking: why bother? However, some of us are going to make that positive change next week, or next month or when that thing happens that will let us do what we need to.

I would love to be that person who was turned onto herbs and a holistic lifestyle who made a sudden, dramatic, and complete change. The truth is I didn’t (and I haven’t) and I still look to find the little subtle ways I can keep shifting my life towards that course of action. On the most basic level I find people really need three major things to shift to start feeling better. We attempt to touch on these three areas in our Herb Walks with real and simple solutions for people to try.

The first is to become more aware of how the foods we eat impact our bodies. For a long time I was unaware that I had some food allergies that were causing a variety of problems. Once I became aware of my allergies and took steps toward being more mindful of them when making food choices I saw a variety of health improvements. We have simple, sample foods and recipes available for people to try that will encourage them to incorporate herbs into their everyday eating habits in manageable ways.

The second is stress. Perhaps not everyone finds the forest as a relaxing as I do, but I think for most people it is far less stressful than the office and just the smell of certain herbs can lower heart rates. By getting people out into Nature we are able to reconnect, re-charge and remember what is possible for us. For those that need to hold onto reasons and agendas the Herb Walks allow one to be in nature with purpose by teaching people which herbs are helpful and can become useful parts of their health program. The kitchen part of the Walks teach people what to do with the herbs once they have them, in simple, easy to follow steps that can be duplicated outside of class.

Third is exercise. I am not a fan of the electronic era although I appreciate and value what technology allows us to do. I find that many electronic devices steal our energy and motivation. It is so much easier to sit and be entertained then go out and create our own adventures. Maybe walking isn’t exactly what you had in mind when making the New Year’s resolution to exercise more, but it is a start. You will find as you try and discover new places or when re-visiting old ones to test your Herbal IQ that you will start to feel better for having gotten out of the house and way from the TV. At each Walk we provide plants from our garden, so that for people who are ready to make a start have a jumping off point. We choose hardy and easy care for plants so that budding gardeners are inspired to get out and do more in and with their soil.

 There is so much information out there that it can feel overwhelming. We strive with our Herb Walks to provide fun and simple ways that you can take with you (a plant for your garden and samples of products you make) to start living a healthier life for yourself, your animal companions and the planet.

For more information regarding our Herb Walks check out our website, the Events section on our Facebook Fan Page or email us directly

Friday, September 7, 2012

Chase Community Giving Contest

What it is:
Chase Community Giving Contest provides grants ranging from $250,000 to $10,000 to qualifying non-profits based on our ability to achieve Votes from the public. One of the things that I appreciate about this grant contest that as we touch the lives of more and more people around the country with our services we are able to in turn have them express their appreciate and lend us assistance by taking just a few minutes to Vote for 3TF and share with others. The Chase Community Giving Contest also gives us a chance to really connect to a variety of people and spread 3TF’s mission of education and empowerment.
What we plan to do with the grant:
As we receive grants and donations we are able to provide more and more scholarships to youth in need. One of the things we strive for with our programs at Three Treasures Farms is sustainability. We find ways in which our scholarship students can help us to help them by creating income producing activities, such as with our Herb Walks. At our Herb Walks students are taught to identify, harvest and make products using the herbs they find during the Walk. Some of those herbs are dried and used to feed to the horses and ponies of 3TF while others are used to make tinctures that are either fed to the horses or sold to help provide income for the non-profit. Students are able to take a sample of what they make home for their own personal use as well. Money received from donations and grants like Chase Community Giving provide us with the seed money we need to purchase the supplies necessary for our programs and merchandise to sell, which not only brings income in, but also helps us spread the word to others about what we do.
Our class sizes are limited, but the internet allows for us to be more and more connected to those around the world and as technology continues to advance we at 3TF strive to keep up by providing free coverage of our classes and programs so that those who aren’t able to be with us in person can still benefit from the experience. This technology takes money, time and knowledgeable people to maintain it. We plan to invest some of our Chase Community Grant funding into being able to expand our use of technology, thereby reaching and sharing our knowledge with more people.
We hope that you will join us by Voting for us and sharing this link. For those able and interested we welcome donations of all kinds and as a 501c3 are able to provide tax deductible receipts.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Student of the Horse: A Closer Look at Love

I was born a horse person so it took me many years before I realized that there are non-horse people. And many more years to realize that some people can be good people and be non-horse people at the same time. Something I had previously considered a mutually exclusive occurrence. Make no mistake though - there are definitely two types of people in this world when it comes to horses. Students of the horse and people who like horses.

I hear it so often that I now tend to cringe when someone says, “I love horses. It is my dream to work with them.” One of my favorite dictionary definitions of love is “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for others.” What most people “love” is the idea of horses and what it means as a reflection on them, which is not actual love. True love is not a Disney story with puppies and butterflies. Rather, it is a story about sacrifice, hardship, and making the choices you do not want to make. It is about commitment and connection, and some days, it is even about bliss. For the true horse person it is a life journey that tends to be daily and one they simply cannot live without.

Given all their beauty and magnificence, I find it difficult to believe that there are people on the planet who are not moved by the grace and power that is the horse. I think most people can have those moments of awe and spiritual connection or awakening with horses, but still not be a horse person. Often times what people are really seeking so much more than riding lessons, although most people are not consciously aware of what that something might be.

I find it to be most beneficial for all involved, horse and rider, if the rider gets clear on what that thing they are really looking for is. There is nothing wrong with not being a student of the horse and simply liking them, or having an appreciation for them, or being someone who enjoys going on the occasional trail riding adventures, but feels no need to have a horse in their daily life. Horses are like people in that some come with lots of their own issues and needs, while others come across as angels of the earth, here to take care of our every emotional need. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Journey

In some of our up-coming posts we will be exploring the concept of being "a student of the horse" and how that differs from the traditional form of horse riding lessons. This week our journey begins with Cimarron...

Cimarron has been with me almost three months.  When he arrived, he didn't want to be haltered when at liberty in the pasture and would only let me pick up his front left foot after being haltered.   He was easy to lead on the left, but very difficult to approach, touch, or lead from the right.  The first day it took 50 minutes before he would stand in the pasture to put on his halter.  We began five days a week- one hour a day of halter and feet training combined with massage.  By the end of the first week it only took 15 minutes to get his halter on and by the end of six weeks he was coming to me to have it put on each day.  Now, if I make a kissy noise, he walks towards me and positions himself on my right with his head lowered and his neck bent towards me to have his halter put on.  He is just as calm when having the halter removed and stands or walks off calmly when it comes off instead of trotting away as he did in the beginning.  After 8 weeks he would let me clean all four feet and at 10 weeks our farrier, Megan Perkins, pulled his front shoes and trimmed his front feet.  That was a major milestone for Cimarron and after some education his owner has committed to keeping Cimarron barefoot.  

After 8 weeks, I began to include Cimarron's owner in one lesson a week.  His owner is also able to groom him, lead him, and pick up his feet.  Cimarron has also "joined up" with us both at different times and even breathes my breath on occasion.

Throughout this process, myself and Ferronato continued to work on his body.  Cimarron holds a lot of tension in his body and has a very strong "trauma response".  "Trauma response" for Cimarron means he has anxiety over every new situation- new expectations, new locations, new equipment, etc.  When his anxiety increases, so does his tension in his body.  At times, every muscle in his body would be clenched in fear in an extreme sympathetic nervous system response.  It is my belief that Cimarron has experienced some kind of trauma or abuse in his past.  He has two brands (one on each hip) and several scars on his legs.  The exact nature of this trauma is unclear and it is not necessary to know the details to see the effect it has on him.  His anxiety over grooming, hoof care, haltering, and leading have decreased significantly.  But any new experiences still causes a trauma response in his body.  So many of the tensions that have been released in his body return when his anxiety gets up again.  While I don't think Cimarron has a mean bone in his body, I am very clear that he is still dangerous because of his anxiety and fear gets too great he wouldn't hesitiate to run a person over in his attempt to escape.

We are now moving into a new phase of training for Cimarron.  His owner has put together a list of things he would like to do with Cimarron.  Specifically, he wants to do trail riding and mounted shooting.   

The other day, Ferronato and I took Cimarron for a walk on the trail to get a baseline of how much work it will take for Cimarron to comfortably and safely do those things.  We took him out in a rope halter and didn't go far because it was clearly stressful for Cimarron and unsafe for Ferronato, as well as myself and Cimarron.  He did not respect our personal space, he walked too fast and ahead of us.  He was very focused on the possible "dangers" all around him and not on the person holding his rope.  He got very nervous going under a train bridge.  And this was just walking down a wide open trail with no other people, dogs, horses, cars or the many other things that you can encounter on a trail ride.  Ferronato and I discussed how to use body work to interrupt the trauma response- using t-touch and mediterranean techniques to teach him to relax his body and release his stress (mental and physical).  We also started on a plan to break trail riding down into its most basic elements and go a little farther each time. We started with just going up and down the gravel driveway. Truly every thousand mile journey begins with the first step.

The owner has a belief that Cimarron is a much better horse under saddle than he is in hand.  I have only seen Cimarron under saddle once- after his owner took him on a short trail ride I met them at their place as thay were returning.  He was very physically and mentally stressed after that ride and I thought at that time that if they continued for another 20 minutes, Cimarron would probably have freaked out and thrown his person.  But the owner thought he "did great".  What I saw was wide eyes and trembling hamstrings.  Cimarron was complying, but he wasn't relaxed or in any way enjoying himself.  Even if a horse is great under saddle, you should still be able to walk your horse safely on a trail in case something happens and you can't ride home.  

I feel that we will have to continue to work though this "trauma response' and teach him a different way to handle stressful situations with confidence before he will be safe to go under saddle.  We will continue to use bodywork, energywork, and various training techniques to do this, but unfortunatley I can't predict how long it will take.  "It takes as long as it takes" says Ferronato.  It could be that he has a breakthrough next week and resets his nervous system and the trauma is over.  Or it could be years of "two steps forward, one step back".  

Let's be clear- Cimarron is a very smart horse.  "Dumb" is not one of his problems.  But fears are not always rational and therefore not always predictable.  I am so grateful to have this opportunity to learn how to help this horse.  And even more grateful on the horse's behalf that his owner has brought him into a program where he will be treated with respect and love as he learns to work through these issues.  As he continues to improve on all levels, I have hope that we will help Cimarron to discover his joy and purpose in life.

--Nicole Sulick 
Nicole is a Three Treasures Farms Equine Massage Intern; her bio and contact information is available on our Intern Page

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mountain Rose Herbs Scholarships

We recently received a very generous donation from Mountain Rose Herbs, an organic herbal company based out of Eugene, Oregon, which provides, among other things, a large variety of organic herbs and herbal supplies. Mountain Rose Herbs graciously provided a monetary donation and all of the supplies we need for all of our 2012 Herb Walks!

We rely heavily on donations like the one from Mountain Rose Herbs to provide funding for our various educational programs. As a way of honoring their contribution to our 2012 Herb Walk series, we will be providing special Mountain Rose Herbs Scholarships which will allow us to create three additional scholarships per Herb Walk. Scholarships will be awarded to disadvantaged youth and people who are within the horse industry working with youth and or rescue horses.

Disadvantaged Defined: People have less and less resources - especially in this economic decline. One of Three Treasures Farms goals is to teach sustainability and we feel that no one needs that assistance more than those on the bottom of the economic pyramid. For many it isn't a question of whether they want to live a better life so much as it is a question of not knowing how to make changes that will assist them in creating a better life for themselves. The children are very much our future and we focus what resources we receive on helping kids who are interested, but unlikely to have access to the kind of educational and life skills assistance that Three Treasures Farms programs provide for students.

Horse Rescue: Most horse people feel a strong commitment to horses and at some point in their lives come in contact with a horse or pony in need of rescuing. Few people are trained or qualified to lend rescue horses the assistance they truly need to heal. Now more than ever there is a need for qualified rescue workers and it is our goal to share the knowledge we have with others who are helping not only horses, but animals in general. We have developed many cost saving techniques to health care in our rescue work that we try to share with people whenever possible. Our Herb Walks educate animal guardians on sustainable cost effective herbs that assist in many areas of health care (including parasite control), which translates to saving the average horse guardian hundreds of dollars each year for the lifetime of their animal companions.

It is our goal to continue to create more scholarships and eventually have the funding for additional herbal educational programs that promote sustainable health to people and pets. If you would like to join Mountain Rose Herbs in helping us meet this goal by making a tax deductible donation please contact us directly or simply utilize our Donate Now button.

To find out more about dates and locations of future Herb Walks, please visit (and Like!) our Facebook page or contact us at

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Making Lemonade

The problems of the economy in recent years have in some ways been a mixed blessing for us. Without the economy tanking we would never have relocated to the Eugene area, and although we miss our Portland friends terribly, having horses in Eugene costs about half of what it did for us in Portland. The economy and lack of funding also forced me to find alternatives to supplements allowing for me to indulge in researching and using herbs to a much greater degree than I ever have in the past. It has allowed for us to share the knowledge and experiences we have had and in turn allowing others to be more empowered in the care they are providing their horses. 
I feel we have become overly reliant on processed supplements and food. We forget that Nature’s bounty is right outside our door. That once upon a time vitamins came from the earth in a variety of natural colors and flavors. I marvel at how despite our complete disrespect and disregard for the needs of our plant, it continues to provide everything we need, even though we are too ignorant most of the time to see it. It was such a huge eye opening experience for me to have spent years pulling annoying weeds from my horses’ pastures, only to turn around now and find I am harvesting them to feed to the horses to provide for their supplemental needs. How amazing is it that in multiple horses we have managed to eliminate a couple different cancers from their bodies altogether with various herbs and nutritional tweaks? We at Three Treasures Farms look forward to a future that with funding will allow us to do more for horses and provide for our research so that we are able to share our experience in more quantifiable ways with the horse world. We thank everyone who has supported us through the years.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Trailer Being

The other day, I tried to put a horse in a trailer. I didn’t want to do it, as I have no real experience with trailer loading. But I had an agenda; I needed the horse at my place for rehabilitation and some basic re-training, so I took my trailer to his place to pick him up and bring him home. The owner and I tried putting him in the trailer. He went in, and then he came out. I tried to convince him to stay in and he insisted on getting out. I didn’t want to fight with him but it was so frustrating to have him go inside only to immediately get right back out again. I just wanted to take him home and do great things with him, but the horse couldn’t understand my future intentions. All he knew is that when he went in the first time, we tried to trap him in a little metal box. I asked the horse to get back in the trailer again, but he wouldn’t. Other people arrived to “help” and they all claimed to know how to “get a horse in a trailer” and since I wasn’t having any luck I thought, why not? The whole focus was on getting him in and by now he wouldn’t go in, let alone stay in. Meanwhile the horse’s anxiety is increasing to the point of making him dangerous. The owner and I felt powerless and wanted to trust the more “experienced” people. After watching with a hopeful heart it unfortunately became clear however that the horse was being traumatized. The owner called a “stop” to it and Ferronato arrived in response to my SOS. She proceeded to show the horse’s owner and myself how to put a horse in a trailer in a manner that he would feel comfortable with the request. He went in. He came out. She said “cool” and let him get out. He went in. He came out. Each time he went in and out was smoother than the last and each time he was allowed to leave the trailer when his anxiety became too much for him. It was beautiful to watch the trust building between Ferronato and the horse as she helped him through this process. Each time he went in, he stayed a few seconds longer until he would feel anxious and back out. He was fine with trailer loading. He was not fine with TRAILER BEING.

The owner now had a choice. He could load the horse, slam the door and transport the horse despite his stress and anxiety. He could force him to endure the 45 minute drive while in a panic attack like state, causing him to continue to be stressed out whenever he has to be in a trailer in the future. Or he could accept his horse’s comfort level and allow him to take his time (in this case even extending the process to another lesson on a different day) becoming comfortable with being in the trailer. He could allow his horse to master trailer being which is defined by the horse being relaxed, comfortable and confident while in the trailer, a skill he will then always have.

Which one would you choose?

The owner chose to wait. Ferronato returned two days later and again let the horse go in and out of the trailer- being a smoother transition and a longer stay inside each time. Until finally the horse decided he was tired of going in and out and decided it was easier to stay inside the trailer. He was then smoothly and calmly transported to my place. Clearly, I had let my agenda override the horse’s need for additional training on trailer being. All too often we have an agenda or a checklist of things that we think need to happen (usually physical things like hoof care, vet procedures, or travel) when in fact we are overlooking the more powerful emotional and mental needs of our horses. Horses are often ruled by their emotions and are very sensitive to the energy of the situation. Think of a time when you went to a doctor and they had you in and out in five minutes, but never really made eye contact with you. They may have given you a medicine to treat a condition, but you leave feeling like they didn’t hear you or even see you. There was no emotional contact around that maybe you’re scared about being at the doctors or scared you might be getting a serious medical condition.

These needs are real for people and for horses. We have to learn to address all the needs of our horses equally: physical, mental, and emotional. In reality, it took less than two hours total of Ferronato working with this horse for him to become comfortable being inside the trailer. We were in such a hurry to get him in that first day that we overlooked the most important part of trailer loading: the horse's perspective. Now it seems silly to me that we would have rushed him into the trailer, but then have the same problems every time we tried to put him in a trailer after that. After watching and learning from Ferronato, I realize what a small investment of time two hours was, because trailer loading will be so much easier for that horse from now on. We may have to go through the same process again, but it will be shorter, safer, and more effective each time. What a gift to give that horse respect and understanding. I learned a lot from this experience. Unfortunately, a lot of what I learned is what NOT to do. But I also learned how to recognize when I might be putting my agenda before my horse’s anxieties and fears and to respect those feelings while still working through them. In the short term, I thought I wanted to get a horse in a trailer. Now I realize that I can teach horses how to be comfortable loading into and being inside a trailer. By helping them work through their fears, they will realize they can count on me to give them the time and support they need to work in out. To me, this is true partnership.

--Nicole Sulick
Nicole is a Three Treasures Farms Equine Massage Intern; her bio and contact information is available on our Intern Page.  You can meet Nicole at the 3TF Herb Walk on Sunday, May 20th. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Herb Walk Sunday, May 20th

One of the things I appreciate about our non-profit is we are able to focus on ways to help people and horses on a long term basis. My father used to say to me when I was young, "It's better to teach someone how to fish than it is to give them one." We hope that with these Herb Walks people are empowered to save themselves thousands of dollars in health care with the knowledge and skills we will provide them and that they take this learning and help others heal themselves and their animal companions as well.

When I started my herbal education about ten years ago one of the things that I found challenging, was that although there was a lot of great information out there, there wasn't as much hands on learning as I wanted in the courses I took. I like to really practice something over and over, so having someone show me once how to make a tincture or give me written instructions on how to make a poultice, wasn't very helpful. One of the things I am most excited about with these Herb Walks is that we have a space in which people will be able to practice making vinegar, tinctures, poultices and trying out recipes so that they can incorporate what they have learned about herbs easily into their daily lives. It is so easy and simple to start living a healthier life, that for most of us we don't believe it's possible until someone hand walks us through the experience. I am amazed at how the small shifts and subtle ways I have included herbs into my daily life have dramatically improved my health over the last year. I began studying herbs to improve the health of my animals and it's only recently that I started opening up my own awareness to the advantages herbs provide me for my own health. The cost for one of our Herb Walks is $75 per person. Tuition fees help cover the cost of the supplies we need to allow participants to make and take home sample tinctures, vinegar and our wonderful colored hand-outs so they can repeat the experience over and over again. All proceeds go to help care for the horses of Three Treasures Farms. Please join us on this marvelous learning adventure. 

A big Thank You to Nicole Sulick for lending her passion and years of expertise with herbs to teaching this class for us!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Buyer Beware

There is nothing unique about this experience. It happens frequently in the horse industry, but the point is it shouldn’t. A man buys a horse, the horse turns out to have problems man knew nothing about prior to purchase. Although a recent situation with a horse one of my Interns is working on inspired this post, it has been a recurring theme for my entire horse career, starting with my own purchase of my very first horse.  In the coming months we will be following Cimarron’s training with posts from both myself and my intern, Nicole Sulick.  We hope to educate and help keep others from making the all-too-common mistake of getting in over their head by purchasing a horse that turns out not to be what they bargained for. I would both encourage and caution you that if you are interested in purchasing a horse to pay a trained professional to assist you and to be careful that, if that professional is your trainer, they have your best interest at heart.

As part of 3TF’s Massage Intern program, Interns are required to work on horses under my supervision. Nicole had been working with Cimarron, a lovely brown Quarter Horse, since the end of January for massage, along with some training, as he was having some behavioral issues that affected Nicole’s ability to massage him. Nicole submitted notes for my review, and presented her experiences to the Intern class. I gave Nicole suggestions and recommendations, but she felt like she was continuing to struggle since the horse just didn’t seem to be making the progress other horses that she worked on did. She discussed her concerns with me, and at this point I felt it was time to see for myself what was going on. Nicole and I decided the best thing was for me to meet the horse and provide a professional massage for him, with Nicole available to observe and ask questions.

When we got to where Cimarron was boarded, he was standing tied to a horse trailer. I prefer to use a round pen or arena for a massage so that I can watch the horse move freely, which has the added benefit of warming up the muscles as well.  I also find horses tend to be more receptive to massage when not tied up. I find this method safer for me, too, as the horse does better when he sees he has room to move if he needs it and does feel trapped. I knew this facility did not have either. I could also tell just by looking at the horse when we pulled up that he wasn’t going to be comfortable, no matter what I did. Because of this, I decided to jump in and start working with the horse while he was tied.

The first thing that struck me was how tight Cimarron’s muscles were over his entire body. He held himself in such a state of anxiety that all his muscles appeared to be firing at once as though his entire nervous system were on fire and ready for flight or fight. I was told that he was going off to a trainer’s in a couple of days to try and “fix” his training issues. Over the years I have learned to listen to my intuition and when listening to the plan I got this sick feeling in my stomach that I get when I shouldn’t do something. I didn’t know the trainer, but from what I knew of the horse I thought it would take a fairly special person to be able to integrate the body issues of this horse with his training problems. I also felt Nicole would be a more suitable choice than an unknown trainer, since I knew Nicole would ask for help and not allow ego to stand in the way of helping a horse. The owner said he would feel much more comfortable with this choice as well.  Nicole made the arrangements for the horse to come to where she boards her horse, which does have a round pen. The next step (and blog post in this series) would be getting him there.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Continuing with our theme of misunderstood and underappreciated herbs, we come to Nettle (Urtica dioica). Most of us have spent our lives referring to this plant/weed/herb as “Stinging Nettles” because of the instant contact dermatitis reaction when we touch it. It hurts, it burns and it can leave lovely tiny blisters that continue to itch and burn.
Surprisingly, when it comes to taking Nettle internally, it’s like an entirely different plant. Nettle is a lovely mild herb internally that provides a wide variety of easily-assimilated minerals including calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins such as A, C, D, and B complex. It manages to do all this in a gentle manner that does not put stress on the liver, kidneys or digestive tract. Nettle is a great choice for those with chronic digestive or urinary tract problems. I have taken over half a cup in a day without noticing any unpleasant digestive consequences at all. I think I would get along better with vegetables if I could say that about more of them! Nettle is most associated with hair, skin and eyes, but it also provides relief for allergies when taken consistently.
Pre-flowering, Nettle can be harvested (long sleeves and gloves a must!) and dried, or it can be steamed and eaten as an asparagus substitute. I am not a good cooked vegetable eater, so I prefer my Nettle dried. I don’t notice a strong taste and I add it to everything, including tomato soup, eggs, oatmeal, and rice dishes. I don’t take vitamin supplements and since vegetables don’t always agree with me, Nettle has become my favorite way to insure I am getting a vitamin and mineral boost.
When it comes to the animals there are so many things I appreciate about Nettle. It makes everyone’s coat nicer. I have this purple measuring scoop which is about half a Tablespoon I use and the horses get anywhere from one and half scoops for Poppy, up to three scoops of the Nettle twice per day for some of larger horses. The way I gauge dosage is based primarily on coat hair quality. When their coats are nice and shiny and the dry flaky skin is gone, as just happened with Lucius, I know it’s the correct amount. Even though Nettle is associated with the eyes I was still surprised when I noticed several of my chronic “eye booger” horses (Konah, Poppy and Cassander) suddenly dried up, which is another way to help gauge when correct dosage has been achieved. I have been doing a great deal of work with my little dog Katie’s diet to help with some chronic dry, itchy skin issues on her hind end. Increasing her Nettle to a heaping tablespoon twice a day seems to have finally taken care of the problem. For Taylor, my digestively-challenged Great Dane, her coat took on a really beautiful hue of almost ebony black when her dose was increased to this amount as well.
Hopefully, the next time you are hiking and feel the burn, you will be able to appreciate this plant a little more than before.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yellow Dock

In keeping with our theme of “herbs that we mistook for weeds”, probably no other herb has been as underappreciated by me as Yellow Dock (rumex crispus-- also commonly known as Curly Dock, for the wavy edges of its long leaves). We had been treating Nehalem’s liver with Burdock Root, when we started running low on funds for her herbs. It was late summer and I had pretty much exhausted our supply of Dandelion. I went to Heather at Mrs. Thompson’s Herbs for a suggestion and she said Yellow Dock is plentiful--I probably had some around the property-- and was excellent choice for what I needed. Armed with feeding instructions from Heather, I went home and looked up a picture of Yellow Dock so that I could go on the hunt for it. Upon seeing the picture in my Herbs for Pets book I laughed out loud. I have spent years digging this annoying, pervasive weed out of my horses’ pastures because it has a way of coming in with hay and taking over. Despite eating an entire humble pie composed of Yellow Dock, when Rachel suggested collecting some of the seeds from the few existing plants we had on the property so that we could plant some, I vetoed the idea. I simply could not bring myself to actually plant something I had such a history of removing. I was confident that we wouldn’t be able to keep Yellow Dock out of the fields if we wanted to and since there was plenty around at Whispering Meadows Equestrian Center and at friends’ fields we kept to just foraging for it as needed.
Yellow Dock is primarily used for the digestive tract, liver and skin. It stimulates bile production and helps clean the blood (this is what we were looking for to help Nehalem with her lymphoma). It also acts as a laxative. Yellow Dock is considered a quick cleansing herb. You will notice as you read our other blog posts we place a great deal of focus on the importance of getting the liver and intestines healthy, and Yellow Dock is an herb that gets right down to business in that department. Yellow Dock is an aggressive herb and not one that should be used long term. It works well with Dandelion, Marshmallow, and Slippery Elm. This is an excellent herb to feed if the problem is related to a need for a systemic flush.
Since Yellow Dock has a way of appearing to most of us as an annoying weed, make certain that the Yellow Dock you feed has not been subjected to chemical treatment. Now, when you are digging Yellow Dock out of your pasture, you can save and dry the root to be used whenever your horse might need a quick detox or liver boost. Just remember: a little bit goes a long way, so start out feeding minimal amounts, and monitor your horse carefully before increasing the dose.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Sum of Our Parts

As we gear up to provide you with more stories and posts of our healing successes (and heartaches) it will be helpful to make certain we are all on the same page about Three Treasures Farms’ methods and beliefs when dealing with the health paradigm. We see all the horses as individuals and treat each horse on a case by case basis. We have also learned to focus on the big picture, recognizing symptoms for what they are (the tell-tale signs of underlying causes). This method requires a much higher degree of involvement, awareness and commitment than most Americans have traditionally experienced in health care. It also requires time, patience and a pro-active mind set. We will show you how we utilize the wisdom of alternative forms of health care while blending it with the advances of Western allopathic forms, in order to provide a more complete heath picture.
Most of us grew up learning that if you had a headache you took aspirin or Tylenol, if you had a stomachache you drank some pink stuff and it was fine. We never gave any thought to why we hurt or what our bodies might be trying to communicate to us with that pain. It takes a huge shift in the way we think to realize we are getting angry too easily and should therefore check in with how our liver is doing, or to try making the leap that the eczema on your leg may be due to a problem in the small intestines. Then there is the even greater leap in thinking about how the emotions you are experiencing and your thoughts may be planning a role in your health as well. Now imagine that you have to think about what is going on in the mind and emotional landscape of your animals accurately enough to use that information in choosing a healing route. It’s really not as easy as we make it look.
People tend to think in treatment terms of the antibiotic paradigm, which is you take this pill twice a day for ten days and the symptoms are gone. People will read about herbs or homeopathics and think “it does this” and when they take that herb or remedy they expect results instantly, and when they don’t get instant results they assume it’s because the herb or remedy doesn’t work. There is an art to working with herbs and homeopathic remedies that is not a linear equation. I tend to think of herbs in terms of friends. You have the friends you see regularly and depend on for emotional support. You have the friends you keep in touch with on Facebook. You have the friends you feel you don’t get to see enough, but love the time you have with them. You have the friends that can’t be around certain other friends, and you have the friends that you do things together with as a group. I often think about herbal formulas in terms of seating at a wedding reception. Mind you, I have never had to do this for myself, but have marveled at the headache it has caused several friends over the years. Over the next few months we will be introducing you to some of our healing friends and giving you the opportunity to make them your friends.
We invite you to take this interesting journey into a different health perspective and welcome your questions. We hope that you enjoy the process as much as we have.