The Coprophagic Mare…Penny the Poop-Eater

The Coprophagic Mare…Penny the Poop-Eater

By: Diane Wilson and Lynn Caldwell, Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Practitioners

Penny is a 10-year-old Paint Mare with a long-standing habit of manure eating – her own manure and others’. Bleh! Healthy in every other respect, and having been assessed by her veterinarian with no conclusive medical issues, her owners called us, hoping acupressure might help to eliminate (excuse the pun) this behavior. 

It’s unknown when Penny’s manure habit started. She came to her current home just one year ago. Prior to that, she had had at least six different owners, one Amish. When she came to what is now, hopefully, her forever home, Penny made a strong bond with a gelding who died within a couple of months after her arrival.

Lots of thoughts…was her behavior learned from another horse somewhere along the way? …was she expressing an emotional behavior due to stress, grief, and loss? …had she been deprived of food at some point, and took to manure eating in order not to starve? …could she be self-medicating an ulcer? These were a few of our many ‘Penny scenarios.’

Curious, and with lots of vitality behind her bright eyes and robust appearance, Penny presented as a most pleasant client. And when the first session started, out came a minor demon quick to pin her ears, swivel her head and snap her teeth in the direction of whoever touched her…or, whoever was closer. Yikes.

This was when the owners came clean, that, yes… she was a bit of a challenge in this respect, and was also quite ‘girthy.’ More questions…was this significant to her manure eating behavior, or just an added bonus?

We survived that session and three more. One amazing facet to Penny was her force field. At the slightest touch of her shoulder during the Opening, Penny’s skin was apt to shudder repeatedly. During the Opening of the third session, you could SEE the energy between Lynn’s hands and Penny’s body! Her reaction to most touch was extreme – snapping, sometimes kicking, with skin twitches and palpable irritation. She seemed to expect the worst from a touch.

Trying to sort through this puzzle within the framework of the Five-Element Theory, Penny’s Metal element initially showed significant imbalance. In addition, she was extremely reactive to an assessment of Liv 14 and Ki 27. During point work, Lynn frequently cupped her hand over a point, as actual touch was just too much for Penny; though, within a minute or so, Lynn would often be able to work the point directly.

Points were chosen based specifically on Association Point assessment. First session points worked were: Bl 13, Bl 18, Lu 9, Liv 3, and Sp 21 (Penny wouldn’t tolerate Lu 1 or Ki 27); Second session: Ki 27, Lu 7, Ht 9, Liv 14, and Bl 64. Third session: CV 14, Pe 6, Ht 7/Pe7; Lu 7, Sp 4. Though she was showing signs of an energy shift, her owners reported the manure piles in her stall continued to disappear and no other changes were evident.

Before Penny’s fourth session, we studied an article and video regarding ulcer diagnostics, put out by Kerry Ridgeway, DVM. Prior to beginning this session, we asked the owner to walk Penny for us (per Dr. Ridgeway’s assessment suggestions). Though our intent was not to diagnose Penny, this was our last session with her, and we wanted to be thorough in our observations. If that pointed toward cause for further veterinary evaluation, we wanted substantiation for suggesting this to the client.

It was at this point the owner announced Penny had been leaving her manure alone – he was now picking out piles from her stall; he also reported making a change in her diet: to half her previous grain ration with additional hay. He was pleased. (Yes – we silently, secretly danced the happy, happy joy dance!)

To be sure about Dr. Ridgeway’s ulcer point indicators, we worked through those before beginning the session, but Penny was not reactive. Her Association Point reactivity, though, showed a distinct shift in her energy toward the Wood Element with Liv and GB. Points worked this last session were Ki 27 (she was tolerant), Liv 3, GB 37, GB 40, Liv 5, BL 18, and Bl 19.

As Tallgrass suggested when we approached the Tg Forum for advice, we suspect Penny’s Metal Element wasn’t strong enough to control Wood, and Wood, in turn, was overreacting with Earth.

We hope to be back to see Penny in a few weeks for a ‘Spring Tune-Up.’ We’ll find out if this change in behavior has held. We’d also like to get to the root of that ‘minor demon’ within. There are lots of ‘layers of the onion’ to uncover with this girl. We’ll see. One point at a time.