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13: How to set expectations for your horse's health journey
Episode 132nd January 2024 • Healing Horses with Elisha • Elisha Edwards
00:00:00 00:44:48

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Happy New Year, and welcome to the first episode of Healing Horses with Elisha for 2024! 

I am excited to kick this year off with a topic to spark your thoughts about health goals for your horses for 2024. In mid-February, I will host my free webinar series, called Become Your Horse’s Healer, again. Today, I will cover some of what I have discussed in that series to help you set your expectations for your horse's health in the coming year.

Understanding Healing Patterns

Horses usually respond to healing programs in four different ways. Some horses respond positively to a new program and show rapid improvement. Others experience a temporary worsening of their conditions as their bodies start the healing process, often marked by fatigue or increased inflammation. Some horses show initial improvement followed by a later setback, while others progress gradually.

Emotional and Physical Health Interplay

Healing is a complex journey involving physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health. In addition to addressing the physical symptoms, owners must understand the emotional aspects that might impact their horse's wellbeing of their horse. Challenges may arise when a horse’s physical and emotional health are misaligned. Recognizing all the interconnected elements is essential for comprehensive care and successful healing.

Setting Realistic Expectations and Goals

When starting a health journey, it is essential to set realistic expectations. Each horse has a unique healing trajectory, and patience is paramount. Making rushed decisions due to having unrealistic expectations could lead to setbacks. Owners need to acknowledge their horse's individuality, taking their age, constitution, and any chronic conditions they may have into account. Horses with a more robust constitution and those at risk due to breed characteristics may respond differently. Understanding these factors allows owners to tailor their expectations and approaches accordingly. Setting achievable goals and celebrating small victories allow owners to navigate the healing process with more of a positive mindset.

Addressing Obstacles to Recovery

In some instances, despite your well-intentioned efforts, obstacles may still hinder your horse’s progress. That is why it is crucial to identify physical and emotional sources of toxicity, or address the lifestyle factors that impede the healing process. Gradual changes, observation, and responsiveness to the horse's cues help create a more effective healing environment.

Chronic Nature of Diseases and Pathology 

Chronic diseases in horses are particularly challenging. Conditions like side bone, ring bone, and bone remodeling in the feet or joints that show tissue changes complicate issues. Horse owners must learn to distinguish inflammation from degeneration because once tissues (especially bone) undergo changes, it complicates recovery. Setting realistic expectations is crucial for determining whether or not full recovery is possible. 

Genetic Predispositions and Melanomas 

Genetic predispositions, like melanomas or related conditions, impact a horse's health. (White and grey horses often have melanomas due to genetic factors.) Improvement is possible in those cases, especially when owners are able to recognize the genes that influence the disease expression. Managing a horse’s diet, nutrition, and lifestyle is crucial for modulating genetic expression and keeping detrimental genes turned off to mitigate the effects of those conditions.

Constitution and Environmental Factors 

The constitution of a horse gets influenced by factors starting in the womb. In some horses, constitutional weaknesses shows up as susceptibility to allergies or illnesses. Strengthening a horse's constitution is possible through proper care. With certain breeds, especially easy keepers predisposed to conditions like insulin resistance, owners may need to tailor their expectations to incorporate genetic and environmental factors.

Managing Expectations for Aging Horses 

Owners of senior horses must manage their expectations. They need to understand that complete recovery may not always be possible and shift their focus instead to preventing further damage and supporting connective tissue for prolonged mobility. Adjusting expectations for older horses with long-term conditions like PPIID involves looking for visible improvements, such as higher energy levels and reduced inflammation, rather than expecting rapid recovery.

Obstacles to Recovery 

It is essential to recognize any obstacles to recovery, like sources of toxicity or stressful lifestyle factors. Parasite infections, viruses, bacteria, and medications can all hinder progress. Emotional factors can also impact a horse's wellbeing. Identifying and addressing those obstacles requires a comprehensive approach. The absence of any change might suggest the need to reevaluate the strategy to pinpoint any elements omitted in the care plan. 

Emotional Connection Between Horses and Owners 

The emotional connection between horses and their owners is significant because it influences how the horse responds to stressors. Some horses may even prioritize the wellbeing of their owner over their health. 

Making Gradual Changes

Owners must make gradual changes to avoid becoming overwhelmed or overwhelming their horse. By changing one aspect at a time, owners can be more focused while assessing the horse's response, reducing guesswork and potential self-sabotage in their care plan.


Navigating a horse's health journey involves embracing the unpredictable nature of healing patterns and considering various factors influencing the recovery. By understanding those dynamics, owners can set realistic expectations, foster a positive healing environment, and celebrate the gradual progress that ultimately leads to improved wellbeing.

Free Webinar Series

I will release the sign-up information for my free webinar series before the webinar begins. Please check the opt-in page at the bottom of the show notes. 

Links and resources:

Connect with Elisha Edwards on her website 

Free Webinar Masterclass: Four Steps to Solving EquineMetabolic Syndrome Naturally

Join my email list to be notified about new podcast releases and upcoming webinars.




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