Lady is an eight-year-old German warm blood mare, trained in dressage. In July 2008 she started exhibiting anger following long riding lessons, even throwing her rider. She also developed muscle pain and loose stools. Eight weeks prior to onset, the mare was started in training of flying lead changes at the canter.
July, 20, 2008: First Visit
Lady is currently on no medication or supplements as the owner states she will not eat them. Owner describes Lady as active, dominant, easily irritated, though previously well managed under saddle. These traits characterize her as a Wood horse.
- Shen: Lady is angry, and irritable
- Surface: Good hair coat, athletic appearance
- Tongue: red, purple and swollen
- Pulse: wiry and forceful
- Stool: loose, wet
- Appetite: Previously a good eater, but during the last 4 weeks displays decreased appetite.
The mare reacts angrily upon touch. Muscles in her back are rigid. She cannot be held in a quiet position, attempts to bite and I am not able to examine her Shu Points.
Given that the horse was managed well under saddle until the flying lead changes at canter, it can be presumed that the emotional issues appeared due to the excessive training and possible overworking. The anger, muscle pain, physical TCVM findings all point to Liver Qi Stagnation.
Each of the five Zang Fu pertains to one of the five Elements. There are two cycles (Sheng Cycle and Ke Cycle) keeping the body in balance. In the Inter-Restraining Cycle (Ke Cycle), each Element restrains and controls another. The Wood controls the Earth. By interacting too strongly, Wood can damage the Earth. In this case, appetite and stools had altered from previous history. The stress causing the Liver Qi Stagnation, coupled with weak Middle Jiao and damp accumulation led to diarrhea and decreased appetite.
TCVM Diagnosis: Disharmony Liver Spleen – Liver is overacting or invading the Spleen
Treatment Strategies: Regulate Liver Qi, tonify and strengthen Spleen, regulate the Middle Jiao, stop diarrhea, relieve pain, and dispel damp
LIV 3 -- clear Liver Qi
BL 18/19 -- regulate Liver Qi
GV1 -- regulate MJ stop diarrhea
BL 21/20 -- strengthen Spleen
ST 36 and LI10 -- tonify & regulate Qi
GB34 -- sooth the Liver Qi
Herbal Formula: Liver Happy
Dosage: 15g twice daily as top dressing on feed
Chai Hu (Bupleurum) -- relieve LIV Qi Stagnation
Bo He (Mentha) -- move LIV Qi
Dang Gui (Angelica) -- tonify and move Blood
Bai Shao (Paeonia) -- regulate LIV Qi, relieve pain and nourish Blood
Mu Dan Pi (Moutan) -- clear LIV Heat, cool blood
Zhi Zi (Gardenia) -- clear Damp Heat, detoxify
Mu Xiang (Saussurea) -- move Qi, relieve pain,
harmonize LIV and Spleen, regulate Middle Jiao
Xiang Fu Zi (Cyperus)--resolve LIV Qi stasis, relieve pain
Zhi Gan Cao (Glycyrrhiza) -- harmonize
Home Care Recommendation
For the next 10 days, allow Lady to go out into the paddock and the grass pasture as often as possible. No riding.
August 6, 2008: Second Visit
At the second visit Lady is still dominant, but exhibits no muscle pain and tolerates being touched. Her appetite is fine and the stool is still a little soft and wet. Her owner is very happy about the change in Lady’s behavior. We agree that she will start the training back slowly and avoid overworking. The mare will continue on Liver Happy in half doses for 3 weeks.
September 23, 2008
The owner calls to report that the horse is doing well. She is performing flying lead changes and the owner is very pleased with her dominant Wood horse.
I was happy to see the mare so soon after she began exhibiting this condition. These types of cases often emerge during heavy training. It is important to recognize the root as an emotional problem that produces the branches; which in this case clinically are presented as diarrhea and muscle pain. This impressive case demonstrates how quickly Chinese Herbs can propel the animal to recovery.
1. Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine Volume 1, Elementary
Principals, 2005, Huisheng Xie, Vanessa Priest
2. Xie’s Veterinary Acupuncture, 2007, Huisheng Xie, Vanessa Priest
3. Chinese Veterinary Herbal Handbook , 2004, Huisheng
Xie, Vanessa Priest