DETOX That Horse!!
Posted 8/22/05
Updated December 2015
Let me preface this by saying that none of this is new...many people have thought - and acted - along the same lines, I am simply sharing my thoughts and experiences thus far on the matter.

For many years, I have believed (known) that there needs to be a way to stop the onset of laminitis in its tracks! I am not alone in that, vets use their drugs, old timers stand horses in cold streams (proven highly effective if done in the first 72 hours), most owners know to pull them off grain and off grass. But the process has already begun in the body's systems and those things do not truly stop the process that has its genesis in the gut. Additionally, most folks do not recognize the process AS a toxicity issue. Some people use detoxifying agents like ToxiBan (available online) or UAA Gel (available through veterinarians only) which acts in much the same way as the activated charcoal physicians use in emergency rooms to treat people who ingest poisons or over dose on drugs. Those can work well for the acute phase, the initial onset of a toxic event...but there are some safety concerns regarding their use. I wanted something else, something more user friendly and safer for the average user. I wanted something that would be in the body longer and do more to remove not only new toxins, but help flush out the toxins that have built up over time, long before the triggering founder event. This would include something to detox horses that have never foundered, but just need help to thrive.

You see, I (and many of us) believe that the domestic environment constantly/repeatedly makes our horses toxic: worming, vaccinating, frequent applications of chemical fly sprays, feeding processed feeds, feeding (God forbid!) feed-through fly control and daily wormers that basically amounts to poisoning your horse every day,  pesticides and fertilizers in the pastures, runoff of chemicals from nearby agriculture or construction into the water supply, and so on, leaves our horses toxic. In fact, all of us are! The effect may be subtle or profound. Often there is a very slow build up over time and can take years before the effects are obvious. Even then, the results are generally treated without recognizing the core issue is a toxic assault on the body's systems.

As I explored the options and products out there I called a friend and colleague, Steve Dick. Steve is one of the few hoof care practitioners I know who totally "gets it" about what it takes to bring a horse to barefoot soundness and keep him/her there. He is also one of the few that is not swayed by every popular theory that pops up out there. He stays true to the wild horse model.  As it turns out, Steve has been quietly promoting a detox program in his clientele for a long time and uses a detox product called MOP sold by Advance Biological Concepts. I have to admit I fussed at him for NOT TELLING ME ABOUT IT SOONER!!" He swears up and down that he did....maybe he did and my head was not ready to put the pieces together. Either way...I now ask clients to detox their horses, laminitic or not. The images below are a few examples and I will post more as I have time.

I  feel very strongly that a detox product should be in every barn's emergency kit. See emergency cases below.

I think it should also be part of a routine regimen. For example:
Most people do a round of vaccinations and worming in the spring. Often it is all given at once and the horse's body takes a hit as the total immune system is temporarily suppressed by the vaccines. Not to mention the addition of the chemical toxins in vaccines. So I suggest that if you insist on routine vaccinating/worming, routine detox should follow.

Additionally, perhaps another round of detox again in the late fall, just before winter. I think of it as a Power Drain-O approach...clean out those pipes (metaphorically speaking of course), so the horse is better able to utilize nutrients more efficiently and the immune system is unfettered by a toxic build up in the body.  This can help those hard keepers go through the winter much easier.

MOP Users: The main ingredient that detoxes is bentonite clay and you can get that by itself and use it safely Rare Calcilite Colloidal Bentonite Clay. The MOP formulation is primarily bentonite but also has a nice blend of beneficial herbs to help cleanse the body and strengthen the gastrointestinal tract. Regardless, the main detoxer is the clay, so you can just use the clay by itself. For the average horse, a tablespoon twice a day for 20 days should do it. If the horse is unstable, half the dosage (1/2 tbs twice daily) and go a bit longer (30 days) don't want to stress a fragile horse by detoxing too rapidly. Sometimes, horses (and even humans) can experience  what is known as a healing crisis when the body is cleansing and resetting itself. Here is a link to a site that helps explain the healing crisis in animals and humans.  READ about "Healing Crisis"   Pay close attention to the horse while detoxing.

2015 Update: Currently, my "go to" Detox is Foundation Equine Detox by Animal Element. It is a more simple, yet powerful blend with a base of Zeolite - a clay which functions similar to (and just as well as, if not better than) Bentonite. This detox blend also includes joint support.

(UAA Gel and ToxiBan are for emergency use only in the acute phase, not for long term or later use! You should use them under the guidance of a veterinarian. In most cases it is too late to use and the MOP or Bentonite will do the job just as well)

For the horses,
Cindy "Hawk" Sullivan

Emergency Cases
2005 - 20 year old mare. Acute post-partum laminitis from retained placenta. Started immediately on MOP, one ounce twice a day for 20 days. The lighter colored new growth, that marks seven weeks after the mare was put on the detox, amazingly doesn't even show a ripple in the wall to mark the laminitic event.

This mare was started on natural hoof care over a year ago. At the time she had massive cracks all around her feet some extending to the coronary band. With regular hoof care all the other cracks grew out. BUT...our excitement escalated when we noticed that her stubborn quarter crack, something she has had for years when she was shod and persisted even after the others had grown out, was stopped in its tracks at the new growth after her detox.
Zero detox

2006 - Two barefoot horses out of shoes for two years. They have been working sound for the entire time. The owner rides mountain patrol and has been thrilled with their success as barefoot horses. She went on vacation for two weeks and placed them at a friend's home for care while she was gone. Upon her return both horses were sore-footed. When she called me about it, the little tidbit of information that perked my ears was the mention that there were some black walnut trees in the pasture. I suggested that she have some MOP overnighted to her and to put them on it right away. In a matter of a few days after giving MOP, and with no other intervention,  they were sound once again.
Pictures unavailable

General Detox
2006 - Fat, cresty gelding of uncertain age - estimated to be in his teens. This horse had been living in a vast, very lush pasture with virtually no human care for a year. His hoof quality was very poor and his hair was very coarse...none of the sleek shiny coat healthy horses have in the summer.

Two distinct changes in hoof growth. The bottom section is the hoof quality prior to any regular care.

The middle section represents three trim cycles as the only change. The owners are as yet unable to change the pasture situation which is why I put this horse on a detox program. I had hopes that it would help prevent him going over the edge into founder.

The top section represents beautiful new growth just six weeks after detox. Note the profound change in that growth ring when the detox began!!

Needless to say I was astonished at the change and more than a bit dismayed at the damage to the bearing surface of the wall which resulted from the fact that the inch of  rapid new growth also meant there was an inch of wall extending beyond the sole. Wall of poor quality to be assured, but its excess length allowed for wall damage that makes it look like he's never been trimmed!

Goshen Ranch horse

Notes on vaccines...
I am not going to tell people here not to vaccinate, that is a decision you must make for yourself. I mention it because vaccines are a source of dangerous and cumulative toxins.
I do encourage owners to educate themselves and then have a meaningful dialog with their veterinarian on the subject to develop a health care plan that works best for you.
If you are opposed to vaccinating, arm yourself with information to make your argument and stand your ground. YOU are your horse's #1 advocate!!!

Learn more about vaccines, but do so with a critical eye. Not everyone who claims vaccines are evil is credible, nor is everyone who claims vaccines are the salvation of the modern world.  Just like learning about the differences in barefoot methods and theories...
just because someone glitters, doesn't mean they are golden!!

To learn about the growing opinions on the problems with routine vaccinations, do a  general search for vaccinosis and vaccine injury.
Most information will be on humans, but apply to any mammal. Add horse or animal to your search to get more specific information. Example: vaccinosis animals
  Critically evaluate both sides and listen to your gut!
I have a collection of human related articles here:

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