Sunday, December 27, 2015
Cleanliness Is Next To......
… Neglect? Well, maybe.
We are just beginning to understand the importance of various microbes in the strengthening and development of our immune system. It is only in recent years that one has been able to purchase probiotics at mainstream grocery stores.
I have found that daily ingestion of sauerkraut and/or kimchi for at least 45 days in a row has drastically reduced the incidences of earaches and sinus infections that I have. Microbes found in these fermented foods fire up the immune system. Of course, it should be obvious to any observer of horses that horses instinctively fight efforts to keep them artificially clean. It is disappointing to see so many people complain that after they get their horse shiny and pretty the horse simply goes and wallows in the dust.
Of course the horse does! Shampooing horses removes the beneficial microbes that cover their skin and blows a hole in their immune system wide enough for a bus to drive through. The horse that rolls in the dust replenishes a portion of the microbes that have been forcibly removed from his wall of protection.
Similarly, after a long ride that produces a lot of salty sweat, a horse will also roll. The microbes that perish in the salt are replenished with each new injection of beneficial microbes.
Researchers are only beginning to understand the tremendous impact that maintenance of various beneficial microbes has on the immune system of mammals. I am not aware of any study that deals specifically with beneficial microbes that are picked up through drinking water. However, I believe that there is a strong possibility that we may one day find that horses need water that is in some degree biologically active in order to reach optimum health.
The concept of beneficial microbes, "germs", is very difficult for most people to accept. Unfortunately, we find ourselves espousing the belief analogous to Gen. Sherman's statement that "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." We find ourselves believing that the only safe environment is a sanitized environment.
Of course horses, like all mammals, are susceptible to a wide range of water born pathogens. I am not suggesting that horses benefit from your drinking water that is infested with pathogens but I strongly suspect that in our efforts to prevent that from occurring we are denying horses the opportunity to obtain needed microbes from their drinking water.
This is only a hunch-a hypothesis-and should not be placed on the same level as other principles of natural horse care which simply are beyond dispute. Such principles include the knowledge that horses were require movement, a wide range of forages, and a non-sugar and grain-based diet in order for their health to flourish.
But there is a chance, that 100 years from now people will look back and be shocked to learn that for the last 150 years in America most horses have been provided drinking water that had been "treated" to make it fit to drink.
( The picture above of a wild horse of Shackleford is on the cover of Bonnie Gruenberg's ground breaking work on the wild horses of the Atlantic. It is not meant to imply that Bonnie endorses the hypothesis set out above but is meant to imply that if you buy this book you will be glad that you did. I doubt that a better book will ever be written on the topic)
Posted by Steve Edwards