(Published in Wellness Times, June 21, 2012) http://soundofheart.org/galacticfreepress/content/wellness-news-top-3-healing-flowers
Sweet Violets – Viola odorada
Little sweet violets are the perfect harbinger of spring, with their quiet, humble purple faces cheerfully appearing amidst their heart shaped leaves. Native to Europe, violets are now found throughout the world and are known as sweet violets, English violets, wood violets, or common violet. Traditionally, violets are considered to “gladden the heart”, and their sweet aroma and flavor are unique and so very recognizable. Often used in cosmetics and perfume, the violet is also used in both culinary and medicinal ways. Violets are often candied and used in gourmet pastries, and both the leaves and the flowers can be added to salads. Violets have been used traditionally to promote relaxed sleep and bring mental balance and good cheer. Medicinally, it’s long been used as a cough remedy, especially useful in the treatment of bronchitis. An old recipe for Violet Syrup calls for taking 1 pound of fresh violet flowers and add 2 ½ pints of boiling water. Infuse this for 24 hours in a glass vessel, and then strain the liquid. Add double the liquid weight in fine sugar, and heat it into syrup, being careful not to let it boil. This syrup can be used for both medicinal and culinary purposes.
California Poppy – Eschscholzia california
This popular perennial flower is the official state flower of California (and it is illegal to pick it wild in California). It can be found growing both wild, and in the garden. Wild, it is found throughout California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico and Texas. The leaves are a feathery blue-green, and the flower color ranges from a vibrant orange to a pale yellow. This member of the poppy family is considered to be safe and non-addictive, while still possessing some of the sedative properties of it’s far more powerful cousins. California poppy has been used widely and safely with children of all ages to help combat over-excitedness, and promote health sleep patterns. It’s also an anti-spasmodic herb, and can be used effectively to treat stomach or bowel upset or cramping. Carefully dry the aerial parts, including the stem, leaves, and flower, and make a gentle tea of a cup of boiling water poured over 1 teaspoon of the dried herb. Allow this to steep for about ten minutes, add a bit of honey, and drink this at bedtime for a night of restful sleep. Dosage is one or two cups a day, as an excess can create feelings of lethargy the next day.
Yarrow – Achillea millefolium
Also known both in wild places and in the garden, yarrow is a delicate plant with feathery leaves and a beautiful head of bunches of tiny flowers. Cultivated varieties can be light or dark pink, but the best yarrow for medicinal purposes is the wild white. Yarrow has been known for centuries as a plant to assist in the healing of wounds, and was considered “the soldiers’ woundwort” for its ability to stanch the bleeding of wounds of battle. This ability led to its being named after the legendary warrior, Achilles. The Highlanders of Scotland make an wound ointment from the plant. The feathery leaves can be placed directly on a superficial cut or scrape as a “natural” band aid. Yarrow was also called “Nosebleed”; the leaves rolled up and placed in the nose are reputed to immediately stop the bleeding. Yarrow has also been traditionally used to aid the body in dealing with fevers by being a diaphoretic (creating perspiration), and is useful as a tea in early stages of colds and flu. A famous old recipes calls for equal parts yarrow, boneset, peppermint, and elder flower as the most effective anti-fever tea. It dilates the blood vessels and is effective in stimulating the digestion. The above ground parts of the plant are used, and should be harvested when the flowers are at their peak in summer. These can then be dried and used as a tea. Along with it’s many medicinal uses, yarrow has been used in many cultures as a tool of divination. The long stalks are dried and used in the I Ching, and the leaves, when placed under the pillow, are said to bring visions of one’s future spouse.
by Sara Stewart Martinelli
Searching for a good boarding facility for your horse can be overwhelming. Not only do prices usually range on a wide scale, but so do the amenities, services, and quality of the facilities. Before you even begin your search, determine what you need in the way of care and amenities. Make a list of the things that are most important to you, and determine the areas in which you might be able to settle for less.
We all want the very best for our equine friends, but sometimes our budget doesn’t cooperate with our dreams. The good news is that horses are not bothered by the same aesthetics as we often are. Their needs are much more simple, but there are some areas in which you should not compromise.
Safe Fencing, Stalls, Paddocks –
The first thing to check is the condition of the fencing, stalls, and any other building or area that your horse may be kept. Age doesn’t really matter, but condition does. Check areas for exposed nails, sharp edges on panels, or broken wires in the fencing. Horses will find ways to hurt themselves no matter what we do to protect them, but ensuring that they are safely housed, both in pasture and in the barn, is a must
Experienced, on-site Staff-
You are boarding your horse because you can’t keep him at home, so you need to be able to trust the staff at the facility to care for him. Staff should be readily available to you and willing to talk to you about your horse at any time. You need to be able to trust them to do whatever needs to be done in an emergency, and to always put the best interests of your horse first. Additional services, like blanketing, putting on fly masks, exercising and turnout are often available at higher end facilities, and you need to be sure that the staff is experience and capable at handling horses.
Good Quality Hay and Feed –
Ask to see the hay before you agree to board somewhere. Take a little time to ensure the hay is high quality, not dusty, and stored properly. Ask where the hay comes from, and how often they take delivery. You should see a nice stock of hay – avoid facilities where they are clearly only purchasing enough hay to get by. This could be a sign of financial trouble. If there is pasture turnout and your horse will be getting a portion of his nutrition from fresh grazing, you need to walk the pasture and inspect what’s growing. If your horse eats a grain ration, or additional supplements, ask in advance how the facility handles that. Some facilities will custom feed your horse whatever you ask, while others will require you to measure and bag up meal size baggies so they don’t have to do that.
Facility Maintenance –
Cleanliness of the Barn, Aisle, Stalls, and Tack Room – in addition to checking the buildings, barn aisle, pastures, and fences for safety, you should also look with a critical eye to see how the facility is maintained on a daily basis. Is it clean? Are the stalls cleaned daily? Does the tack room, and tack, look tidy and well-kept? Do things look organized and easy to find, like First Aid supplies? Are the barn aisles, grooming areas, wash racks clean, organized, and free of clutter? Observing how the facility is generally maintained can give you a good idea into the general culture of the facility. Remember, things don’t need to be fancy and new to be clean and well organized.
Fly Control –
Although some might consider this a luxury, flies can become quite a problem. Not only are they annoying to both humans and horses, but they can carry disease. A good facility will make efforts to mitigate fly problems and will practice some kinds of fly control. Clean stalls and paddocks are a must, but additional efforts like using Fly Predators or even overhead fly mist dispensers can greatly reduce the fly populations at the facility.
Secure Tack Room and Tack Storage –
“Missing” tack is a notorious problem at even the nicest boarding facilities. People often borrow your supplies, thinking you won’t mind, and then forget to put it back or replace it. Does the facility have a secure tack room where you know your supplies are safe from theft or unwanted borrowing? Is there enough storage for all your tack and supplies on site?
Don’t forget to look at the restrooms. It might not seem like a big deal until you board somewhere where they don’t have these facilities. Really. It’s not fun. Ideally, the restrooms will be clean and functional, but experience has shown that most barn restrooms are just pit stops for people who have mud and horse poop on their boots all the time. Don’t be too critical!
Good Arena Footing –
Depending on your individual needs, a fancy, indoor arena may not be necessary. Whether you are training for upper level Hunter/Jumpers or are just a weekend trail rider, you need a safe place to exercise your horse. If they have an area that is used for this, check that the footing is suitable for your riding style. Even if it’s just a flattened outdoor area with no commercial style footing, you need to make sure the area is generally safe, flat, and not slick. Check the arena, round pen, and any other area that is used as an exercise area. Ask about how it holds up to the rain; does it puddle? How long does it take for it to drain? And, on the opposite end, ask how they facility controls the dust when it’s overly dry?
Drama- Free Culture –
A larger equestrian facility can offer a lively and fun social community, but sometimes that can come with a large dose of drama. If this isn’t your thing, ask around to get a feel for the reputation of the place. Make sure that your personality will fit the culture of the facility. If you are a laid back, casual rider who just enjoys spending time with your horse, then a fancy dressage barn might not suit you. On the flip side, if you are seriously competitive and working toward specific goals, you might not be happy in a more casual facility.
This is so important that maybe it should have been number one. Although often we have to drive relatively long distances to get to a facility, you need to determine if your boarding choice is close enough that you’ll be able to get there as much as you want to. If you think that distance might ever become a reason that you have to skip going to the barn that day, you might want to look for a facility closer. Your horse would much rather spend time with you than have a fancy stall door, and you never want visiting your horse to become a burden.
Choosing a boarding facility to care for your treasured horse is hard, but with a little forethought, planning, and a critical eye, you can make the process a little easier.
This fall has been a bit challenging for the Equines at Three Leaf Farm. Everyone’s favorite character, Tip, our young Arabian gelding, was diagnosed with juvenile osteo-arthritis and had to have two hocks fused surgically. And Cricket, one of our famous minis, had to have an eye removed after months of unsuccessfully trying to heal his injured iris. Both horses went up to CSU Equine Veterinary Teaching Hospital for their procedures, and both are doing great! Tip is expected to make a full recovery and be back to his competition form by the end of the year! And little Cricket is adjusting easily to the loss of the eye; we’ve been assured by the doctors up at CSU, and by many equestrian friends who’ve experience similar issues, that horses are perfectly happy with a single eye and they can go on to live a normal, healthy and happy life. Cricket is expected to be up to his antics with his partner, Merlin, within the next week or so.
We are so grateful to the doctors and technicians at CSU who took such good care of our horses (and us!) through this process. We’re so fortunate to have a top-notch, cutting-edge university equine hospital so nearby.
Well, its a done deal! Blue and her chosen stallion, Bit, have successfully completed the act (with a little help) and now we are in the waiting stage to see if it all worked as planned. The entire experience was not nearly as traumatic as I thought it would be, and the part that made it easier is that it was obvious that Blue was receptive.
Bit, of course, performed his duties with equine grace and virility, and the whole process seemed pretty natural.
The general plan is to take the mare to the stallion every other day while she is in heat. This gives more opportunity for the mare to have viable sperm in her reproductive tract at the time that she ovulates. As soon as she ovulates, she will go out of heat.
Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately), we were only able to get one successful breeding in this cycle. Due to a long horse show, and the week-long rains, we might have missed the beginning of Blue’s heat cycle since we were unable to see her behavior in the normal herd (she was kept in her stall). The second time we brought Blue to visit Bit, she wanted nothing to do with him. She had clearly completed her heat cycle, meaning that she had ovulated. Timing wise, we can be almost certain that she did, then, have viable sperm in her when she ovulated. Now we wait to see if she goes into heat again. If she does, then that means that she is not pregnant. If we don’t see any signs of another heat cycle within 21 – 28 days, we’ll get an ultrasound for her and then we will know!
We’ve decided that Blue’s experience was kind of personal, and in order to show her respect, we aren’t going to post any pics of it. But here’s a great photo of Blue learning to play polo with Finn!
Blue had her “checkup” today. The vet needs to check to make sure that she is healthy and that she has no infection or problem with her uterus. What I learned : horses are big inside! The vet had to reach all the way into poor Blue (who was gently sedated for this intrusive procedure).
Equine Vet Dr. Downey cultures Blue to make sure she is safe to breed.
In the meantime, I blended Blue a special Pre-Natal Herbal mix. The herbs I used are tonic herbs to the reproductive system, and will hopefully prevent major problems and improve general health to prepare Blue for the hard work of growing a foal. The blend includes:
Raspberry Leaf (Rubus ssp) – Raspberry leaf has been used during pregnancy for centuries and is known as one of nature’s strongest allies to nourish and strengthen the muscles of the pelvic region, and especially of the uterus. It’s high in Vitamins C, E, A, and B, and is rich in minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorous and potassium. Its been known to increase fertility and prevents miscarriage. It can ease morning sickness and other digestive issues during pregnancy. During foaling and post partum, it can ease labor by strengthen the uterine muscles, helps to increase milk production, and improves the process of expelling the afterbirth.
Nettle Leaf (Urtica dioca) – This rich, nourishing tonic is a valuable to whole body health. Highly rich in vitamins and minerals, the herb increases health to numerous areas of the body in a safe, gentle manner perfect for pregnancy. Like raspberry, it helps to increase fertility. Nettles will nourish both the mare and the foal, and strengthens the blood vessels which prevents hemorrhage after foaling. Nettles also help increase milk production and the nutritive value of the milk.
Dandelion Leaf (Taraxacum officinale) – Dandelion is one of natures most useful weeds, and can be especially useful during pregnancy due to it’s ability to aid the body in eliminating toxins by supporting the liver and kidneys, and also as a mild diuretic that can help prevent edema, water retention, and hypertension. Dandelion is considered one of the five most nutritious vegetables on earth and all parts of the plant are edible.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) – One of my all time favorite plants, Lemon balm is a member of the mint family. Lemon balm is a safe and gentle relaxing herb that can help alleviate anxiety and create a feeling of calm content. It’s an excellent addition to a pregnancy blend because in addition to it’s calming properties, it’s also one of nature’s strongest antiviral herbs.
Blue will get a cup of this herb blend in the morning, and a cup at night. I like to add it to a little bit of soaked beet pulp to add moisture to the herbs and make them more delicious, but she seems to love them dry just as much.
The final blend: 1 lb raspberry leaf, 1 lb nettle leaf, 1/4 lb dandelion leaf, 1/4 lb lemon balm.
After lots and lots of contemplation, we’ve decided to breed our beautiful Paint mare, Blue. This blog will chronicle the journey.
The decision to breed did not come easy. Ask any one what they think, and you’ll get a different opinion every time, often with a great deal of passionate conviction. People have strong thoughts about breeding, so, in the end, we made the choice based on our own values and thoughts.
Breeding a new horse isn’t like choosing to have puppies or kittens. There’s a lot to consider: Are the dam and sire worthy of breeding? What will you do with the foal? Can you afford another horse? What if something goes wrong?
In the end, the choice was made because we wanted to experience the miracle of a new foal. We have our own small barn and the necessary facilities. We found a beautiful, majestic stallion and the mix of the two horses will give us exactly the breed that we’re looking for. We have a fantastic support system in place to help us and hold our hands during this new and exciting adventure.
The first step, after making the choice, was to sign a breeding contract. The stallion we chose is owned by a friend, Dean. His stallion, Bit of Connection, is a gorgeous, majestic Arabian. Hopefully Blue will find him equally appealing!
The Stallion – Bit of Connection