Sleep deprivation

Lynn Williams <lynjwilliams@...>

All animals evolved to work - us included. We are not designed to sit
on our (ever increasing) butts watching tv and eating highly
processed, high salt, high saturated fat, high sugar 'food'.

The result of this grossly unnatural lifestyle is an epidemic of
metabolic disorders - a state of disequilibrium - induced by our
lifestyle. Don't even get me started on the people who promote this to
make profits.

Because modern medicine works within a symptomatic paradigm - it
treats the symptoms and, unless there's money to be made from it,
largely ignores the causes.

Same with horses. There has been an explosion of equestrianism as a
leisure pursuit (accompanying the post-WW2 increase in leisure time
and disposable income throughout the 'developed' world), which markets
have responded to and in turn promoted. We have seen changes in the
social and cultural status of horses, from working animals to pets or
leisure accessories - and recently - problems of the locomotor system
(which, from the advent of shoeing, have been the major cause of
health problems in the horse) are being overtaken by problems of the
digestive and metabolic systems. In particular, disruptions of the
highly complex messenging and regulating neuro-endocrine and
peptidergic nervous systems.

As with us, these problems exist in a context of environmental
pollutants, social stress, mineral imbalances, poor nutrition,
inadequate rest, a sedentary lifestyle etc etc.

OK - this is a simplistic view for the purposes of illustrating a
point. Sleep deprivation in humans: too much fat, salt and sugar, too
little quality protein - too little movement - body is full of the
wrong sort of energy, not physically tired, brain is too full of
cyber-junk and the person doesn't sleep properly. The levels of
hormones that signal satiety drop off, those that promote appetite
increase. The person gets up not fully rested - physically or mentally
- and wants to eat. And so it goes - once the weight starts to pile
on, both the desire to and possibility of exercise reduce - muscular
skeletal and heart muscle damage ensure that. Vicious circle.

The person is pretty soon locked into a degenerative cycle and the
younger they go into it, the longer they are in it, the harder it is
to break - until chaos ensues and all bets are off because the system
regulators don't work according to the known rules anymore. And not
only do they not work, they have effects we cannot predict. We can do
little more than manage the symptoms - or helplessly watch the decline.

We can fully understand the cyclical and dynamic nature of this only
if we look at humans in their broad social context - same with horses.

OK - back on my hobby horse. We all know the nature of horses - herd,
prey, flight instinct, movement, trickle feeders, efficient processors
of high fibre/ low sugar forage, hierarchical (place in herd
renegotiated constantly), sleeps standing up and lies down for only a
couple of hours and flat out for less, natural posture head low etc etc.

Disruptions to those basic species requirements ALWAYS have an effect;
some effects are cumulative and increase with age; some interact and
exacerbate each other.

Disruptions to the horse's skeletal balance are at the very foundation
of its physical and mental health because, if it cannot operate its
stay apparatus or properly engage its dorsal ligaments, it cannot
fully regenerate muscles whilst upright - it has to use its propulsive
muscles constantly just to remain upright - for 90+% of its life. If,
in addition to that, it is too stressed, too insecure, too stiff to
lie down when it needs to - it is in a state of perpetual physical and
mental stress.

As a prey animal the horse hides distress very well and it manifests
in different ways according to the nature of the individual horse and
its relationships. The ones at most risk sadly - are the stoical,
kindly, gentle souls who just persevere.

For me, the consequences of an unbalanced skeleton cannot be
overstated. Far from it being the proverbial straw, they are in fact
the huge burden the horse carries all the time; and the triggers for
metabolic disorders - are the straws that break its back.

The foundation of the skeleton is the ground parallel pedal bone and
its protective shell - the hoof. And look at what we have done to the
hoof over the past 20-30 years. We've added to the catalogue of
disorders that accompany shoeing by promoting a high heel hoof form
and 'orthopaedic' shoes - as the answer to problems that are caused by

How iron-ic is that?


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