Lessons Learned: A Journey to Natural Equine Medicine
I love what I do. I assist horses to recover from various maladies through a combination of dietary changes, body work and personalised herbal medicine prescriptions. Herbal medicine can help to prevent, manage and cure conditions in place of pharmaceutical medicines for pretty much all medical complaints, and this path is one I explore more deeply every day.
But I didn’t start out on a direct career path to naturopathy.
When I completed high school, my Uncle asked me if I was going to apply to study medicine. I suppose the question was reasonable given my grades and interests, but my answer was, “No”. I hated hospitals, didn’t like to see people in distress and couldn’t stomach the idea of working with sick people. In retrospect, I now understand the Universe’s design in my aversion to study medicine, as the Western medical paradigm no longer sits well with me.
Instead, I went to University and obtained a double business degree. I had worked as a trainee at a horse riding centre as a teenager and would most likely have had the opportunity to gain paid employment there, but I didn’t want to spend my life working for minimal pay in the pursuit of something that I enjoyed.
I ended up working in Human Resources for a large multinational, doing everything from recruitment to training to performance management, before completing additional training in the specialised field of Worker’s Compensation. I spent a number of years managing the claims of injured workers before becoming a Rehabilitation Consultant. I was responsible for coordinating the treatment, recovery and return to work of employees with workplace injuries. I developed and closely monitored rehabilitation plans for my workers, questioned doctors on their treatment protocol, pressed allied health practitioners on their treatment outcomes and kept employees focused on the end goal of recovery and return to work.
After years of doing this I was exhausted. The Western medical system and the insurance scheme was failing these people. Workers were not getting better, or taking years to recover from injuries that should have been resolved after a few months. Allied health professionals were dragging workers back for treatment after treatment with no measurable improvement. Workers became addicted to pharmaceutical medications that were prescribed for too long and were disempowered by the system, failing to accept that they could question the expertise of their medical professionals about their ongoing lack of improvement.
While I was working in this field, I had my own health issues. Undiagnosed digestive complaints for which I had been prescribed nothing more than meditation and a change of occupation, plus symptomatic bulging discs from a riding accident for which I had been told to take anti-inflammatories for the rest of my days.
Having been trained to question everything and accept nothing but recovery, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I sought out a Traditional Chinese Medical Practitioner who had worked as a doctor in China prior to the Tiananmen Square incident. She had practiced both Western and Chinese Traditional Medicine in China and now offered Traditional Chinese Medicine in Australia.
Amazingly, my digestive problems which has been untreatable under Western Medicine were suddenly controlled through the prescription of herbs, vitamins and some simple dietary changes. I also sought out a bodyworker recommended to me by a friend who completely resolved my back pain and sciatica in only four sessions after years of discomfort.
I came to understand the body’s innate ability to heal itself with the simplest of methods, using that which nature has always provided. I referred friends to my Chinese medical practitioner and they were being cured of everything from severe asthma to cardiovascular issues and severe fatigue.
Now knowing that healing was far easier and more natural than we have been led to believe, I could no longer work in a field where medical practices were entrenching my clients in sickness behaviours rather than providing recovery.
With no desire for the career track I’d been on, I turned to my passion – horses. Horses are truly one with nature. They flow with the cycles of the seasons and are able to self-medicate through diet and lifestyle when given the opportunity. They are naturally robust creatures and don’t “suffer” from long term maladies in the way that we do as humans.
That being said, as humans, our well-intended actions sometimes inadvertently cause our horse companions to become unwell unnecessarily. So, I decided to explore natural health and wellbeing options for horses, leading me to study Equine Naturopathy.
Just as my Chinese doctor did for me, I am now able to assist horses to recover through a combination of dietary changes, body work and personalised herbal medicine prescriptions. I have personally been able to assist horses to recover from long-standing digestive issues, maintain weight, manage their arthritis so that they can gallop again, control cardiovascular conditions and much, much more. What I love about my work is that horses of all breeds and disciplines, living in all sorts of environments, are able to heal using the plants that nature has given us. Horses truly live and breathe nature, so it makes sense that nature should heal them, with our support.
Having come from an industry in which patients became disempowered by the medical paradigm, I also came to understand the importance of educating and empowering individuals to take control of their own circumstances. As a result, my Equine Naturopathy has a strong focus on education, so that all of you can understand the needs of your horses, take steps to manage their health and wellbeing, and not be afraid to question any expert on the advice that they give.
While the Rehabilitation work that I did with humans was tough, I am so glad for all that it taught me. I am also grateful for the few health challenges that I experienced myself so that I could take the journey to find a natural and successful form of treating illness without pharmaceutical medications, which tend to mask symptoms rather than resolve the underlying issue. Even more so, I am glad for the gift of health that I can give to horses and the education and empowerment that I am able to provide to their owners.
Gizelle Hamilton‘s Tele Summit talk is Wednesday, February 22.
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