Is ‘natural’ living the best thing for horses?


In the summer we took a trip to Colorado stopping in Larkspur to do a clinic and then exploring the state. One of our stops was Mesa Verde. It was well worth the trip. As we drove Jesse offered the boys a dollar to anyone who saw unusual animals and of course, wild horses.

On our last day, driving out of Mesa Verde a small herd was spotted. In excitement we backed the van up for a closer look. The group was a bachelor band of stallions. It was hot and they were not very active. I noticed one horse in particular while were watching. I wish I had my better camera (not just my phone) in hand to zoom in more.

This horse had an injury to his ‘private part’ that was very swollen and could not be retracted fully. It made me wonder what would happen to him in the dry heat. There were some flies, less than Ohio, but still it makes me wonder how friendly ‘natural’ is.


  1. catherinetodd3 on August 2, 2012 at 12:18 am

    PS: Todd, I saw NOTHING “condescending” in your comments. In fact, I found the exact opposite to be true and the person complaining was unfortunately very condescending and arrogant. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with narrow and closed-minded people like that who have so little regard for others, be they animals or people. You did well; and were much more polite than I would have been! Thank you again for setting the record straight.

  2. catherine on August 2, 2012 at 12:16 am

    Todd M. Trzcinski, your comments and responses were exactly right. Leaving flies to re-infect wounds and “brushing against twigs and brush to clean wounds” is the farthest thing from proper medical care I have ever heard. I can’t imagine where this thinking comes from. Coming from a family of vetrinarians, they would be horrified to see this written as “advice” and I am very glad for your corrections.

    There is no need to apologize or refrain from commenting in the future when you are saving an animal’s life by correcting misconceptions held by a very few persons. Thank you for your considerate and informed advice. We would never leave our children injured in the wild this way, and since we are here to take care of animals, we should never leave them injured either. Scientists do not interfere with true “natural” habitats, but those types of places are few and far between.

    Thank you for your kindness and consideration. The world needs more people like YOU!

  3. Todd M. Trzcinski on November 21, 2011 at 11:30 am

    A special thank-you to all who have commented and stated more elequently what I was so feebly trying to say.
    God bless!

  4. Joe on November 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Both of you have valid points, but you need not disagree. Is the wild better than a home with a cruel and inhumane owner? You bet! Is he better off than in a loving home doing a job he enjoys and takes pride in? I doubt it.God also takes care of one of the greatest animals on earth through us.The fittest does survive in the wild, but does that mean a timid horse should die? We have had several horses that would be too shy to survive in the wild, but lived long and very usefull lives taking care of us. At the end of the day, it is up to us to thank God for sending the world this wonderfull animal by learning about , and protecting him.

  5. Richard Woolley on November 18, 2011 at 1:35 am

    Guess thats the sort of thing that happens in the wild and probably in a herd situation thats nature. Trouble is same things and worse happen to them in captivity with some people.

  6. Kerri Pitts on November 18, 2011 at 12:31 am

    There are no ‘wild’ horses in America… they died out after the last Ice Age about 10,000 years ago. The mustangs that you see today are all domesticated horse (equus caballus ferus) that have become feral. The only ‘wild’ horse left today is the Przewalski horse and it is carefully monitored and protected on the Mongolian steppes.
    The ‘domesticated’ horse today is very different from its wild ancestors due to our interference over thousands of years of selective breeding.
    However, I do believe that the mustang (feral) herds should be protected as an integral part of the social and cultural history of America as well as the fact that Equus family actually evolve in America and spread out to the rest of the world across the Ice Age landbridges (beringia), before dying out on this continent.
    If we do want them to be part of our environment then I think we do have to humanely manage the herds. This would involve macro-management of their resources (feed and water) not micro-management of individual horses.
    PS Flys are never good for wounds. If you have ever seen fly strike on sheep you will know that the sheep die a slow and painful death by being slowly eaten alive. Sorry to say the most humane thing for this individual horse would be a bullet by a good marksman.

  7. cathy on November 17, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Unfortunately, totally natural is a thing of the past in most areas. Nature is not kind in general. It promotes survival of the fittest. That is not bad, it is what it is. That is simply a fact. Humans, well meaning or otherwise have tipped the balance of nature. We may like to think that the wild mustangs (or other species) are truly wild, and instinctually they are, however, being forced into changing migratory behaviors produces everything from health issues to inbreeding to starvation, because of lack of food(crowding), parasite load, over breeding (lack of predation), or disease (not common back in the day). What may appear to be hundreds of acres of open space… not. I think we, as the ultimate predatory species have an obligation to promote the well being of other species. Since we may have disrupted, or destroyed habitat, we are ultimately responsible for the best management…best management…of what we have left. Mangement being the key word here!

  8. malinda on November 17, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    a male stallion can devolep what is called a ‘bean” from excessive protein on his genitals. don’t kow if this is the issue with this stallion and wonder if or what the cure would be in nature. If he was a pet or personal companion animal it would NEED to be tended to. so not sure how mother nature would deal with this.

    • Erica on November 20, 2011 at 11:56 pm

      If he did develop a bean his urethra would eventually block rendering him unable to urinate and his bladder would burst. Unfortunately, I’ve dealt with a similar case.

  9. Erica on November 17, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    As a veterinary technician at one of the top equine hospitals in the northwest, I can pretty much assure you that this isn’t a birth defect. Most likely it is the result of a kick from another horse. I have helped treat many injuries of this sort, and without using some sort of sling to help hold the penis up, it will rarely ever retract on it’s own. As the edema continues to build up the weight will make it to heavy to retract. Brushing against brush and bushes would in no way “keep it clean” but more likely it would be painful and most likely cause further injury. Flies would not help “keep the infection down” in any way, shape, or form.
    I know that this is a wild horse and it would be practically impossible to treat him safely. I don’t think that natural is always better. Domestic horses now live to be 30+ years old with good preventative care. It makes me sad to think of all the horses that starve because their teeth no longer allow them to chew or die of infection from a wound that could have been easily treated. I know that wild animals are just that and we can’t treat them all. It still doesn’t make it any easier for me to think of the horrible deaths that many of them are subjected to 🙁

  10. Stina on November 17, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Accidents can happen in field like this and also in a more organized stable with paddocks. How do you think horses should be kept Stacy?
    I keep my herd of 7 together, they walk outside always and have big fields, they have a shelter and their pasture is set up so they walk so much they keep their hooves in self trim.
    They eat grass apr 7-10 hours a day, depending on need and always have something to “chew” on in the area where they live.

  11. Todd M. Trzcinski on November 15, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    As I had mentioned,I no longer have any comments on this matter.
    God Bless~

  12. Janet on November 15, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Yes Todd the question was is natural better and Yes I do believe natural is better. And as far as your comment goes, about wild horses are you saying then that the Mustangs in the Rockies are not wild, even though they have not been touched by man and his medicine. I am not saying that some of these horses have not been turned lose from someone’s ranch years ago but the fact is that they have survide on their own, and none the less they are farrel and they have surrvied for years in the wilderness, which does make them wild at least in this part of North America. And if we are talking strickly of this particular stallion, who know, he may become cougar bait, I can’t perdict his fate. All I’m saying is that it’s really not up to me to decide that because I believe him to be wild and I believe in letting nature takes it course in these matters. And if you have ever seen them round up a herd of farrel horses, it’s not pretty because of the fact that a horse is a pray animal and it will either fight or flight and nine times out of ten it will flight. And when in the mode of flight they will do anything to get away even jump off a cliff to their own death, and that my dear man is do man. If you ever get the chance to watch a herd of wild horse, take the oppertunity and drink in it’s majic, maybe you will understand why I am so adimit about hands off.

    And yes you did come across as condesecending because you judged what I had said with out really thinking about it. As for me being offeded I’m not… your intitled to what you believe is to be true.

    In closing I have enjoyed this debate with you Todd and I’m alway tougher behind the key board, if we were face to face I would probley duck and run.

    Take care and God grant you privledge of taking notice of what he has created in the wilderness for us to enjoy untouched and untamed.

  13. Todd M. Trzcinski on November 15, 2011 at 11:12 am

    As I mentioned in the start,I was trying to be gentle.I was not meaning to come across as condescending to you.You have my most sincere apologies for making you feel offended.And my intentions were never to enter into a debate.To make you feel threatened or by any means to question who you are in Christ.My emotions have nothing to do with my responses.

    The question was”is natural” better for horses?

    Horses are,and have been domesticated by humans for thousands and thousands of years.The term “wild” horse is a misnomer in most applications.Very few breeds of wild horses remain in the world.Any creature that has been robbed of it’s natural abilities stands little if no chance without the continued care of humans.That is the case with “wild” horses in north America.Their “natural” abililities to fend for themselves and survive in an environment severly affected by humans has been more than compromised.I may have stated it poorly,but my only intention was for all of us to be mindfull of what types of advise we give towards the proper care and maintenance of our animals.Be they horse,dog,cattle ect.You never know who may be reading what you say.
    I think, in the future I shall refrain from offering any comments in regaurds to other readers statements.

  14. Angelique Aia Hill on November 15, 2011 at 11:08 am

    im not saying that we should treat our horses like this but, this horse might have been born with this or he failed in defending him self, in nature only the strong ones survive and that makes the wild horses stronger, faster and more intelligent. i do not believe that fly`s make a wound heal faster, my firs thought was that they could make it infected…
    i love my horse and i would never let his wounds be untreated, i use aloe vera a lot on my horses.
    BUT he is a tamed horse, he could`nt survive out there in the wild but these horses are born to do so, and some might die but its life right? life is tuff and if you don`t fight you die. There is a great movie about mustangs in the Rockies, its called ” Cloud wild stallion of the Rockies” you get to se a lot of wild horse behavior, and i think its really important to see.

  15. Erica on November 14, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    I know its a little off subject but when I had my boy gelded the vet said the flies can help in a way. Because with the flies being around, it would make him move around&help the drainage.

  16. Janet on November 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Yep Linda, all my friend tell me I have a spelling problem but the way I think that if you understood what I tried to spell then my point got across. LOL. And Todd I don’t mean to get rude here but get over yourself. There is a natural balance in nature, and that is why animals and humans have survived for such a long time, It is humans with all there knowledge and wisdom that up set that natural balance we let out emotions or lack there of take over and we bicker over what is right or wrong, I would like to challange you to go out and catch that animal without you being punted into next year. I do agree it could be a birth defect but more then likely he recieve the injury from a kick from another stallion. This horse that we are looking at and with the information giving is a WILD ANIMAL not a pasture pet and in the wild nature has it’s way of taking care of things on it’s own. I’m not a Vet but I know mine has told me on several occations let nature take it course and it will heal on it’s own, and yes sometimes leaving a wound open is the best thing that we can do for it, would I take care of a family memeber wound or one of my animals darn straight I would, but when it comes to something that is naturally in the wild, then I would have to say leave it alone for it is part of the food chain and there fore should be untouched by man.

    I apaulogize Stacy for using you site to defend my beliefs, and I will try not to do so in the future, We’ll chalk this one up to having a crappy Monday and move on towards the next week.

    Oh and Todd just so you understand I am a steward and I take my job that the Lord has bestowed on me very seriously, and I thank him evey day for granting me that title.

  17. Danny Schane on November 14, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Nature is just that, natural. It has its own way of taking care of things. No, I dont believe nature is kind, but it has its own system for sure. It has a way of weeding out the weak, no matter how unpleasant. Hard for us humans to take, yes. But as a branch off this subject….it also poses yet another question. How natural should we ”keep” our horses? Im not talking medically anymore, but a way of life. I say as natural as possible. Out to pasture, free to run, and socialize. No stalls, and little high buckets of feed…..but to make the best effort to ”mimic” nature as we can. A happy, healthier horse will surface. Most problems horses have is due to us trying to turn them into something they arent.

  18. Alicia Sims on November 14, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    I am torn on the issue myself. I think that things could be done better than they have been in the past, but I also very muchly hate to see photos like these –

  19. Todd M. Trzcinski on November 14, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Ladies~Please let me as gentle as possible with what I’m about to say.
    Flies do NOT help in the stopping or healing of any open wound.I think you may be thinking about maggots(fly larvea) that can and will feed on dead tissue.There is a certain amount of truth in that.We have all heard the stories ……..Also brushing against things with an open wound can only aggrivate and exsasperate things further.I urge you to think about both of these suggestions next time you,or someone you love has a nasty cut or scrape.Would you allow flies to lay eggs in the wound,or go out and rubb it on brush or branches?This type of thinking “flys” in the face of good vetrinary medicine.Lets keep in mind that someone may read what we say here on this blogg and make descisions based upon what they have read.
    I like Stacy’s comment on not having a better photo of the afflicted horse.Could we be looking at a birth deffect,or a simple physical defformation? I’m not sure.Thing is this……The question Stacy posses is the one of “is natural” better for “horses”?In the grand scheme of things<I think not.Gods world and nature has its own set of rules that may sometimes seem cruel to us.Survival of the fittest ensures the continueing success of ANY species.Our animals(gifts from God) are much better off and have a greater chance of a healthy,happy long life when they are subject to our PROPER care,especially when it comes to accident or injury to our beloved horses.God has endowed us with intelligence and placed us in his garden to be good stewards of ALL his creations.This is the huge responsability we take when we make the decision to become horse owners.It is not a desicion to be taken lighty.

  20. LINDA on November 14, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Janet, you flunked the spelling ‘Bee” however you excelled in expressing your clear thoughts on the simple complexity of Nature’s balance. I really agree with and appreciate what all you posted. You said it so well.

  21. Janet on November 14, 2011 at 6:31 am

    I have always been a fan of how nature takes care of things and how God has made thing work not only for us but our animals as well, This is gross but the flies would probley keep the infection down and as far as the retacting going with him wonder around in the bush he would brush against the bushes which would help to keep it clean. I think that sometime as compassionate people we sometimes forget the fact that there is a balance in nature sometimes it is curl for us to watch but it is a nessassary thing, And sometimes us humans upset that balance by letting out emotions get in the way. I think that we do more harm then good because we can’t keep it simple. Wow I just had an iphanie,(I hope I spelt that word right), Thanks for the thought Stacy

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