Eyore Was Dying and Nobody Knew Why?



Donated to Double H Equine Foundation, Sedona September 2014, Eyore had suffered neglect with his first owner, where he was kept on a dry lot with weeds and not fed a sufficient diet. When he first arrived at Double H Equine Foundation and Sanctuary in Sedona, he had rotting teeth, in fact all of his front teeth needed removing because they were so loose, leaving him with only molars for chewing, but he has no problem pulling grasses with his gums. Eyore also struggled with chronic diarrhoea. With a lot of nurturing, Eyore returned to good health, until April 2017 when he started to look like he was feeling ‘off’. Blood tests showed that he had a low-grade infection, and his liver enzymes were on the higher side of normal. He was treated with antibiotics that were mixed into his feed. After several months his health returned to normal, however, sometime in the autumn, it was thought that Eyore had colic and so he was treated for this.

Diana Hagemann-Milenkovitch, who runs the Double H Equine Foundation and Sanctuary, noticed that he was eating an excessive amount of juniper berries, so decided to sample his blood again because he still seemed ‘off.’ The results indicated that he still had a mild infection. Liver enzymes had only slightly improved since the last test, but because of his liver issues, more potent antibiotics could not be used. The vet felt that Eyore might be suffering from lung problems related to his age, in addition to possibly fighting a virus with his declining immune system.

Eyore’s health became a roller coaster. A few good days and then a bad day. He went into depression and would lay down for long periods of time. Vet visit after vet visit yielded no real diagnosis. His condition got worse when the weather got cold and his appetite became almost non-existent. The vet gave him Vitamin B shots to boost him, but deep down, it was feared that he was dying… although in his eyes he was not ready to leave. When pressed about his condition the vet reminded us that he was old with declining health, which was normal. Almost monthly Diana ran blood tests on him to see if there were any changes. He continued to present a low-grade infection and his red blood cell count was also low (the vet suspected some internal bleeding, possibly ulcers as a side effect of the pain medications). Once on ulcer medication, his eating habits improved a little, but he became very picky – eating one mash for a few days and then rejecting it. Each day was an adventure in getting Eyore to eat.

Eyore the Donkey Is Unwell

It was then realised Eyore always held his head very low to the ground, which had become so normal that it was thought that Eyore held his head like this because he liked to forage. It was only after an incident in early April, when he indicated pain by responding aggressively when touched, that it was realised his condition had become chronic, as this was highly uncharacteristic of him. The Eyore everyone knew and loved, would make a beeline for visitors to greet them and get scratches. X-rays were immediately requested. Eyore was found to have two fused vertebrae at the base of the skull and arthritis in the vertebrae going into the shoulders. With this information, it was concluded that he most likely had arthritis in other areas of his body too, particularly his hips and rear hocks, which he rubbed raw constantly. Eyore was started on Previcox for pain relief and UlcerGard to protect his stomach from the medications. There was a slight improvement over time; Eyore lay down less and moved around more. His poor eating habits continued, prompting an ongoing battle to get supplements into him (a liver support herbal blend and red cell iron blood booster). Diana had to resort to mixing supplements into apple sauce and administering it with a syringe. New blood tests on 2nd July 2018 showed the same low-grade infection, so once again Eyore was put on antibiotics. Dehydration was also an issue during the hot weather, so he was started on daily salt slurries to stimulate drinking, which helped a little.

When I first met Eyore in late July 2018, his hocks were bandaged to protect the wounds from his constant rubbing. They were not healing well, they were oozing although not infected. He had not really eaten much since November 2017, so I began by offering Eyore nutritious barley grass and rosehip shells to help give his body the chance to heal itself and to support enzymatic function. Eyore was also offered a selection of dried herbs; nettle, concentrated liquorice root (liver support), marigold flowers, chamomile flowers and comfrey. He was keen for concentrated liquorice root and took a lesser amount of comfrey leaf and marigold. When he had finished, I went on to offer lime to support his liver, since he was so keen on liquorice root. To my surprise, when I offered my hand with undiluted lime oil, instead of licking it, he pushed his head, shoulders, hips and hocks onto it. He pushed hard and with purpose. Perhaps, he was using the lime to help break down any calcification in his joints. After this, he selected small amounts of arnica CO2 and a little more wintergreen for his arthritic joints. I went on to address his wounds and sores. He selected yarrow, but when I touched it onto one of the sores he jumped away and tried to lick it off, indicating that it was not needed on that particular sore. Green clay has neutralising and powerful wound healing properties, so I covered all the open sores with generous amounts, applying more as it absorbed into them. Then I went on to offer other essential oils. Eyore inhaled quite a few but he was mainly interested in remedies to support his liver, as well as the anti-viral and anti-bacterial oils, and those for pain.

Eyore The Donkey With Head In BucketAt the end of the session Eyore was offered his mash and to everyone’s surprise and delight, he ate two bowls of mash and wanted more. However it was decided to stop there as colic was a concern. To be on the safe side I left Diana with peppermint and German chamomile, which have been selected many times to both prevent and cure colic. I also put 20-30 drops of his favourite oils - lime, melissa, thyme, wild carrot seed and wintergreen - in individual 5 litre buckets of water. Fresh water was also available. This would allow him to heal and treat himself as and when he needed to.

Update From The Sanctuary Two Weeks Later

“Eyore has been making tremendous progress since his session with you. I am blown away really. I actually cried this morning, as prior to your visit, we were struggling with the decision as to what was best for him, since we had tried so many things and our vet was at a loss. Eyore now eats with gusto and the green clay has performed miracles on his wounds… His hock sores are greatly reduced and the sores on his shoulders have almost completely gone. His coat is looking much healthier too. Yesterday was the best I have seen him in over a year. He followed along with some of the bigger horses on a hike around the property, actually keeping up at a trot. Everyone who knows him and has seen him lately has commented on his transformation since your visit. He has also shown an interest in meadowsweet herb, so I am now offering him this as well”.

Update Three Weeks Later

“Our vet was in awe, as was a friend of mine from out of state who visited today - she had experienced him at his worst. Leslie is from England and is familiar with your work. It was refreshing to use the word “zoopharmacognosy” and have someone understand what I meant. Well, both of them cannot believe the transformation and the biggest thing everyone notices is the quality of his coat. It is shiny and healthy. He is still eating very well but not getting fat, which is also amazing. And trotting all over the place! The years have come off him, and he behaves like a much younger donkey. Oh yes... and to add, I don’t know how this can be – he is not as swaybacked anymore. He used to look almost bent in half, the dip in his back was so low.”

“Eyore’s medicine chest includes rosehip shells, meadowsweet, barley grass powder and liquorice root. It varies daily as to whether he is more interested in the barley grass powder or rosehip shells, but those are his must-have nutrients. He has backed off from the meadowsweet - still eating some but stopped cleaning the bowl and asking for more. However, he has started taking chamomile flowers. The essential oils in water buckets are still available in his stall – carrot seed wild, lime and wintergreen – but he shows little interest in them and does not drink the water like he did on the first day. I use about 15 drops per 2.5 gallon bucket.”

Update Six Months Later

“The cold generally affects him, but this year he is full of energy, still eating all he wants of rosehip shells and sometimes dips into the meadowsweet. We still leave the water buckets out for him but he does not touch them now. He enjoys running and bucking when he follows along with the big horses.”

Eyore 6 Months Later Continues To Go From Strength To Strength


Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy


Khaleesi suffered a severe tie-up during a cattle drive. Her breeding indicated PSSM (Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy), a genetic muscle disorder that can be managed but not cured. Life on a rural cattle ranch is hard and who knows what would have happened to her if she had not been rescued by Diana Hagemann-Milenkovitch in Sedona at her Double H Equine Foundation. Khaleesi’s pain caused her to behave aggressively when she was touched; even a gentle brushing would bring on pinned ears and grinding teeth.

I met Khaleesi the day before I worked with her. Through her eyes I could see the pain in her body. I so was looking forward to working with her to see if I could help her relieve some of her symptoms and address the cause. One of the side effects of PSSM is liver damage, so offering medicinal plant extracts required extra time and consideration, meaning that after offering remedies to support the core (barley grass and rosehip shells), I needed to offer her plant extracts to strengthen her enzymatic system, to help with the detoxification of the plant secondary metabolites. So I needed to focus on extracts to support the liver. Initially I put out various herbs with the barley grass and rosehip shells. These included concentrated liquorice root, nettle, marigold and chamomile flowers. Unsurprisingly she selected concentrated liquorice root, which is well known for its effects on the liver. I then went on to offer essential oils that support liver function.

Khaleesi needed to take her time inhaling them. She began at a distance, taking a few sniffs, breaking for a minute or two before inhaling more. I worked like this for around an hour, offering and re-offering the remedies she had selected. After this, I offered St. John’s wort CO2 (chronic pain). Khaleesi was keen for it and selected at least a teaspoonful before moving on to select comfrey herb, which she could not seem to get enough of. Alongside comfrey, she selected small amounts of marigold petals, which she had previously not been interested in. Perhaps they supported her intake of comfrey, allowing her to take a full dose. Research has shown that marigold (Calendula) helps neutralise tannins found in acorns when they are eaten together. This is an example of sequential selection.

I hoped that she was now strong enough to take natural pain relief, so I began by offering wintergreen topically, but Khaleesi did not want any applied. She seemed to want it orally - she attempted to lick it, but didn’t, so I added 20 drops to a 5 litre bucket of water. Taking it this way would be a less direct route to the liver. As the bucket was put down, she immediately drank a good litre. Next to the wintergreen water bucket, was a 5 litre bucket of water with 15 drops of yarrow, which acts as a stomach guard to remedies such as wintergreen, that are similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Khaleesi alternated between the two buckets. I also left a 5 litre bucket of water containing 20 drops of wild carrot seed, then later, a 5 litre bucket of water containing 20 drops of birch oil.

Within A Week After Caroline’s Visit, Diana Hagemann-Milenkovitch Commented:-

Okay, believe it or not, we measure Khaleesi’s discomfort by how far she poops from the back of her stall. If she is feeling good, it looks like this. If she is in pain it is all over the place. Today is the first time I have seen a neat row along the fence line in months. More proof that Zoopharmacognosy is the real deal. Khaleesi continues to self medicate based on Caroline Ingraham’s recommendations. A volunteer who was not present over the weekend commented today that she looked like she was more relaxed and moving better. Thank you Caroline for opening my eyes to a new way of communicating with and healing our equines.

Khaleesi In Her Yard

Update Two Weeks Later From Diana

“Khaleesi trotted to the gate, for the first time since she arrived in April 2016, to greet me. She continues to crave comfrey leaf and is also drinking from both the wintergreen and the birch water buckets, as well as the wild carrot seed bucket, but I ran out of yarrow. Khaleesi continues to select barley grass and liquorice root, but in smaller quantities. Everyone is commenting on how much softer she looks and her movements seem to cause her less pain. When she is feeling good, she lines up her droppings at the back of the fence. She has not done this in a long time and is doing it again 🙂 She is still loving her herbs and oils. She drinks a bucketful of water with wintergreen added to it every day.”

A Facebook Post Read

“Kimberly... omg... this made me cry... I love her and have experienced her pain first hand... this is HUGE!”

Update Three Weeks Later From Diana

“My equine bodyworker came out on Monday, and for the first time since she has been working with Khaleesi (almost two years), she was able to touch her and get the release signals that a normal horse would give. Khaleesi allowed her to work parts of her shoulders that were absolutely off limits in the past. We can now hopefully help her muscles physically relax even further. We are also noticing that Khaleesi is no longer lying down for extended periods of time and when she is lying down she gets up right away when approached, walking off almost normally… No more tail swishing (from pain) or stiff, robotic movements.”

Khaleesi’s Current Medicine Chest Includes

Comfrey (and more comfrey), marigold flowers, chamomile flowers, barley grass powder and liquorice root powder. She goes for the comfrey first, always eating every bit and then she makes for the marigold, sometimes finishing all of that as well. Next, it might be chamomile flowers or barley grass powder (depends on the day) and she does not usually finish those in one go. She has not touched liquorice root in days… I also tried her on devil’s claw, she has days when she will take it and other times it stays untouched. Buckets of water include wild carrot seed, wintergreen and yarrow. Sometimes the wintergreen is untouched for a day, same with the yarrow. She almost always drinks most of the carrot seed. Other times all the wintergreen has gone, half the yarrow and half the carrot seed. Nothing has changed in her daily routine that gives me a clue as to why her intake is so varied.

Six Months On

Everyone is noticing the change in Khaleesi, remarking on how soft her eyes are and that she is moving so much better.

Latest Update

She is doing better this winter, although she is a touch stiffer now the cold weather has arrived, but not lying down nearly as much as she used to.

Extract from Animal Self-Medication: 2019

For more information on working with horses visit the Free Educational Resources page: Horse