The fact is that horses are prone to leg and other injuries and any injury has the potential to become the site for osteo-arthritic degeneration at a later date.

Preventive treatment should always be used at the time, as even supposedly innocuous injuries can be the catalyst for arthritis which could seriously affect a horse’s career down the track.

The herbs stimulate the damaged tissue of any kind to heal better and faster than if left without support.   Structure governs function and if the structure is less than perfect so will the function be.

My herbal dispensary provides some great choices for treating various injuries to prevent arthritis after injury.

My client and friend (& publisher of my book) Mary Mumford had just such a scenario arise recently with one of her lovely Warmblood fillies – Roundhay Falina.

She is pictured with Jennie Loriston-Clarke at the recent AWHA Championship & Classification Tour where she achieved platinum status with a score of 86.60%.


Falina is by Fiji R (Imp) and her dam is Ella who suffered a broken neck as a 9 month old, but recovered with a year of herbal treatment from me and Bowen therapy from the late Margo Calton.  Ella has gone on to have three magnificent foals.  The case history of her recovery is in The Complete Horse Herbal and can be read at the end of this blog.  That is an extreme example of how important preventing arthritis really is.

Falina knocked her near hock playing with other young ones in the paddock and had a relatively minor swollen hock but was very lame.


Mary and her husband Geoff Hudson decided to play it safe and confined her for a time and got their vet to x-ray the hock, which showed some slight damage to bone but nothing serious.

Mary called me to discuss treatment for Falina and it was decided that she needed a course of herbal prescriptions to promote bone & cartilage repair, stimulate capillary circulation, strengthen bone and provide anti-inflammatory and promote healing to synovial membranes in the joint.

With the AWHA Classification inspections coming up, we weren’t sure if Falina would participate, but the vet was happy for her to show off her paces free in an arena setting, and she duly received her Platinum distinction which was very pleasing indeed.

Falina’s 3-year-old full sister Roundhay Feyisha also participated in the AWHA Tour and received a very good score of 81.78%.

But back to Ella – here is the story of her recovery from the neck fracture back in 2008.


Ella’s Story – I Can Jump Puddles – Again!

Geoff Hudson and Mary Mumford from Garfield, Vic, write …

Ella is a Warmblood/Thoroughbred frozen semen filly. She fractured her neck at nine months old running in a paddock with her half sister.

She could not lift her head off the ground and she just ate, almost maniacally, and moaned constantly with the pain.

The initial assessment was that Ella’s neck was not fractured, but the swelling was so great one really could not tell. Her head and neck were badly swollen and, until the initial pain killing medication took effect, she was moaning with pain at the same time as she was eating. After four weeks the swelling subsided enough to X-ray her. As the risk of travelling her was too great we contacted a specialist veterinary surgeon, who had a mobile X-ray unit. The X-rays showed fractures at the C3-C4 vertebrae. The vertebrae had a 10 mm gap (normal is approx. 3 mm) with bone missing and was “V” shaped instead of straight. She was very lucky to be alive!

Five months later she was X-rayed again. To the surprise of everyone concerned the break had healed. The bone had joined; possibly there had been a little piece of bone that was not visible on the first X-ray. We don’t know. The gap had closed to 4.5 mm, almost normal. The vertebrae are still “V” shaped but appear stable. Ella’s recovery has been incredible.

In the first week after the accident we contacted a Bowen Therapist. By the end of the first session Ella was able to lift her head up about 30 centimetres. This was something we really didn’t expect. Thereafter Ella had Bowen Therapy twice a week for several months and then weekly. The improvement in her neck movement progressed dramatically. As the swelling dissipated she gained more and more neck movement, to the extent that she can now very nearly reach her rump for a scratch. She was kept stabled at night so as to minimise her movements and allow her to rest in a safe place. Even now, after a recent brief spell out, we keep her stabled at night and she still has Bowen Therapy as needed. Veterinary advice was that this was one of the few safe therapies that Ella could have had with her injuries. The Bowen, which is a gentle massage, stops muscle spasms and promotes blood flow, essential for healing to start.

At one Bowen session the treatment was completed but Ella wanted more. She knows where she wants to be massaged and, on that occasion, it was in her shoulder. Ella kept the pressure on her Bowen Therapist’s hand and kept pushing until the hand was nearly hidden between her shoulder blade and her neck. At other times it has been her poll and at others her back.

Our other major contact was Victoria Ferguson to discuss the best herbal medications and diet to give Ella. Victoria supplied herbs in liquid form to assist in healing and pain management and a totally natural diet with herbal feed supplements. Ella was on herbs for nearly twelve months after her accident and is still on her VF Natural Diet. She became almost addicted to her herbs and would try to take the whole syringe in her mouth. Apart from the first week of veterinary treatment when she required strong painkillers and penicillin, Ella has only ever been on herbs for pain relief.

One week she was getting very cranky and difficult – even to the extent that she kicked out at us for no apparent reason. Ella had been off her herbal medicine for about a week, nor had she had any massage for some time, due to our Bowen Therapist having been burnt out in the Black Saturday Bushfires in February. As soon as she had a good massage and was back on her herbs we had our old Ella back.

For the first four weeks Ella could barely walk. She tried to trot but was unable to co-ordinate her legs. About 5 to 6 weeks after the accident she started to canter a little, very wobbly and unsteady. It was months before she produced a diagonal trot. Ella has progressed remarkably – so much so that we had to start being a quite firm with her. We had been very careful in our handling of her in the first months after her accident but as she became stronger physically she also became very strong willed! She was halter trained at birth but at times would test our patience with leading issues and rearing, which she was not supposed to be able to do. We believe it was this very strong will which kept her alive in the first instance.

She has been classified as a Stage 2 – 3 Wobbler and her off front hoof is having attention from the farrier as she has developed a club foot from injury pressure. Ella was a very big moving filly, she is now ungainly in her movement, but she has progressed to being able to walk, trot, canter, gallop, buck and rear (which is when we get nervous) around her paddock. We haven’t seen her roll over yet, and she may never, but she does lie down in the paddock and the stable and gets up and down easily.

Having got to this stage we cannot thank the people enough who have helped Ella and guided us through what has been a very traumatic time.

We are looking forward to the day we can have a foal from Ella – if Ella’s foals are anything like her then we will have been given something very special.

In the recent rains our drains were running and we had puddles in the paddocks. Not liking to get her feet any wetter than she must, with a great leap in the air, Ella jumped the drain and the puddles!

Mary and Geoff got their wish – for Ella to produce foals – and she has done a wonderful job, they are really high quality individuals.

Here is Falina as a young foal.