Sunday, May 11, 2008

Is Traveller’s Rest a “holistic” facility?

We recently read a description of a horse rescue organization caring for an injured horse in what they described as a “holistic” manner. The horse had been examined by a veterinarian who recommended surgery as the best method of offering the horse a comfortable future. The caregivers declined, saying they were “holistic” and did not believe in surgical intervention. They opted for “natural” treatment.

Is that holism?
What IS holism?
In Complete Holistic Care and Healing for Horses, Mary L Brennan, DVM defines “holistic” as “a view of the patient as a whole being – body, mind and spirit. A holistic approach tends to be more detailed, emphasizing study of the whole horse, including his environment, his diet, and even his mental well-being. ”

By that definition, the term “holism” merely means that the well-being of a person or animal is approached from a “big picture” point of view. It does not restrict health care to natural, alternative, or any other single category. Holism does not exclude surgery or pharmaceuticals if that is best for an individual patient at that time. It advocates looking at ALL aspects of well-being and how each relates to the others and affects the total package. At TREES, we do not refer to “non-traditional” healing methods as “alternative,” but as “complimentary.” Our goal is to find techniques that work together, not to exclude an option that may help a horse just because it is defined by a specific modality.

If a horse’s arthritis has progressed to the point that supplements no longer keep him comfortable, and he is denied a more effective medication because it is not “natural,’ he is not being offered holistic care. If an owner buys his horse only the best quality organic feeds, but turns a horse out with a very aggressive pasture mate, causing his horse constant mental stress, he is not offering holistic care. If an owner hires the best barefoot trimmer in the state, but keeps his horse isolated in a stall 24 hours a day, he is not offering holistic care.

Back to the question: Is Traveller’s Rest a holistic facility?

We try our best to follow holistic philosophy. Each horse is evaluated as an individual. All facets of care are considered, including (but not limited to) diet, housing, dentition, choice of pasture mates, temperaments, prior history, and previous treatments of illnesses or injuries. What works for one horse may not work for another, so no healing method or management style is assumed to be effective or non-effective until it is tried for the one animal in question.

So, are we holistic? We’re trying!

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