Ringbone is rampant here in the hard rock country of Arizona, where horses are often fed diets of alfalfa and sweet feed and are galloped in the deep sand of dry river beds. Our hoof trimmer figures that the majority of horses he sees that are over five years old have some level of visible, if not yet debilitating, ringbone.
Ringbone is osteoarthritis (calcification) of a horse’s pastern and coffin joints. It can be extremely painful and debilitating. But the body doesn’t make any mistakes, it is laying down this extra calcium for a reason: the joint has been repeatedly overstretched and extended by poor shoeing, fast stops and turns, landing after jumping, etc. When exacerbated by a high-protein, low-mineral diet – the body can’t heal the overstretched connective tissue, so it stabilizes the joint with a bony shell.
We have found that the best long-term solution for reversing ringbone is a therapy approach of Cleanse * Nourish * Balance. We start by supporting the kidneys and the Kidney Meridian energy flow.
The organs of elimination (kidneys, liver, lungs, skin) are crucial in helping the body heal from any health challenge. When bone is involved always think about supporting “Kidney”. The kidneys control the pH balance of the body. When a horse is too acidic (from a diet high in proteins, starches and sugars and low in bioavailable minerals) the body holds on to water to dilute all the acid. This excess water retention causes joints to swell and tighten, becoming stiff and painful.
All the "itis" are tied to an overly acidic body - "arthritis", "bursitis", "tendonitis", etc. Osteoarthritis, or ringbone, happens when the body is trying to stabilize the pastern joint to limit, or correct, the pastern's range of motion.
During this time the energy, or Chi, flowing in Water Meridians - Bladder and Kidney become affected and Kidney is reduced in its ability to perform its jobs - detoxification, bone repair, pH balance, etc.
Along with correcting any other influences that are causing the ringbone, alkalizing the body and balancing Water Chi has shown to dramatically assist in the reversal of ringbone.
So how can we support and balance the Kidneys and Kidney Chi?
First - Cleanse. Add raw organic Apple Cider Vinegar to the drinking water. This will flush the kidneys and help to balance the pH. It sounds counter-intuitive to add acetic acid to an already acidic body - but the acetic acid in the vinegar is an aeromatic acid - the horse breathes it off through the lungs, and the minerals that remain are very alkaline. My favorite detoxifier is VivoZeoCompleteEQ - a zeolite and antioxidant blend that cleanes the liver and kidneys and is extremely alkalyzing.
Next - Nourish. Proper mineralization gives the body the tools to alkalyze the daily diet and prevent an acidic condition. We feed and recommend the basic Dynamite® feeding program to promote healthy horses with immune systems of iron. In addition, we move ringbone affected horses to only grass hay and give them access to the Dynamite® free choice minerals. If the horse needs additional calories, timothy pellets and coconut oil are added to the daily ration.
Finally - Balance. Balance the feet (proper trimming), balance the rider's posture, balance saddle weight - all those go along way to prevent further ringbone. But for reversing chronic or established ringbone - it is critical to energetically support "Kidney Chi" and the kidneys.
How do we balance the Kidney Meridian? We use and recommend Photopuncture (the targeted application of light to equine energy points), but acupressure, acupuncture, or any energetic therapies that balance Kidney and her Water Sister Bladder can speed up the reversal of ringbone, reduce pain levels as the body rebalances and keep the pH of the body at the proper level. This can be done via the Water Connecting points, Ting points (around the hoof) and/or the Association Points along the spine.
In addition we treat the area affected with ringbone each day with Dynamite® Balm and the Ankle Saver Light Therapy Wraps. These help to:
- Increase blood and lymph circulation helping the body to eliminate the excess calcium (it softens and turns to jelly before being absorbed)
- Warm the joints and increase flexibility
- Reduce pain level
- Increase fibroblast and collagen production to help replace the ringbone with healthy connective tissue.
This approach has repeatedly shown amazing results. Horses who had been assumed to be past any useful riding life are back on the trail and pain free. I truly believe that any calcium the body has put down, it can pick back up – when it no longer needs it to stabilize the joint. We can reverse the ringbone, but if the horse goes back to an inappropriate diet or overuse of the joints without proper support and care, the ringbone will be back.
Even if you don’t have access to a Photopuncture Technician in your area, you can help even the most severely affected horses with the Cleanse * Nourish * Balance approach and the InLightTherapy Wraps. These wraps are the single most cost-effective healing tool in my toolkit. I use them for the horses, dogs, husband, goat and even myself. If something hurts – Shine some light on it!