The equine therapist

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Plopped onto a horse at only a few months old, Jenny Norton Schamber, the owner and trainer of Rope This Ranch, cannot picture a life without them. With over 30 years of experience with horses, and with the ranch being open for 18 of those years, Schamber’s love of riding began at a young age.

“I was born riding on a horse,” she said.

An Upland native, Schamber completed her undergraduate degree in mathematical economics at Ball State University. She then went on to receive her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Indiana Wesleyan University. While at Ball State, she was on the equestrian team. In 1996, on Ball State’s team, she competed in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Nationals at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center and placed 3rd in the nation for Open Stock Seat.

Just four years later, she opened the ranch, located just two miles from Taylor’s campus. Currently, she is a counselor at Taylor’s Counseling Center, in addition to her regularly scheduled lessons at the ranch. Schamber has incorporated some equine therapy in her lessons, which is a type of therapy that involves horses.

She recalled using the therapy with some adolescent boys from a group home. As a result of the riding, the boys channeled their energy into a positive outlet instead of expressing themselves in negative ways.

“People say ‘When do you relax?’ but this is how I relax,” Schamber said, gesturing to the barn around her with a laugh. “There’s something therapeutic about being in the barn for me.

Casually dressed in jeans, a red sweatshirt layered with a black vest and riding boots one day last week, Schamber projected an easy going personality, much like the atmosphere surrounding her barn. The 120,000 square-foot indoor space is lined with dusty metal rails with dark, grainy sand covering the ground.

When the doors to the entrance of the barn are open and it’s lightly drizzling, the rain mixes with the smell of horses to produce a peaceful aura.

While training at a recent Tuesday night’s lesson, Schamber called out commands for the horse and rider duos to complete. Phrases like, “Round the yellow barrel” and “Heels down, eyes up” could be heard across the room, interspersed with encouraging comments.

She believes there are many ways we can learn from horses. Since she has worked with a lot of horses that have been abused, it is evident horses feel things, according to Schamber. She sees their initial mistrust and gradually gains it through baby steps, similar to how human beings relate to one another.

Despite the possible setbacks in the beginning, nothing compares to the proud feeling Schamber has when she sees a student succeed. One recent example involved a horse who would not pick up his legs, but after time and practice, jumped the hay bales one foot taller than necessary to clear them.

“(Seeing it,) it was like a horse and human team, seeing how far they’ve come in that,” Schamber said. “I get to see that happen a lot, which is really cool about my job.”

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Wondering how to keep your furry pal healthy?

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Getting yourself to the gym can be a significant challenge. It’s even tougher when you can’t drive, you lack opposable thumbs, and your primary skills are “Sit” and “Stay.”

Yes: Dogs need to focus on their fitness, too. And like any good workout partner, they depend on their fellow friends to keep them in shape.

For a primer on keeping your dog healthy, we talked to Ernie Ward, D.V.M., a veterinarian and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Ward is also the creator of K9 Fit Club, where personal trainers, dog trainers, and dog owners can take classes to exercise with their dogs. (They have over 46 locations around the country. You can check out other dog fitness centers near you.)

Ward walked me through the best exercises you can do to get your dog moving, and the exercises you should probably avoid. Here are a few workout scenarios for different types of canines.

When your dog thinks kettlebells are toys

Kettlebell swings make for a great at-home workout, until your 10-month old Labrador-mix puppy (like mine) decides to jump up and get involved.

“I’m kind of anti-kettlebells-around-dogs,” Ward says. “It’s critical to evaluate [how dangerous the exercise you’re doing] could be to your dog when you’re doing swift movements or you’re moving weight. Sometimes you can’t overcome that movement instantly—like the arc of a kettlebell swing—and if your dog is in the same room, you could injure them,” he said.

Before you start any exercise or activity, take a step back and ask yourself: What are the potential risks here for my dog or myself?

“We do lunges in K9 classes, but we actually have the dog under restraint when we’re doing big movements, because your dog may dash underneath you—then everybody gets injured.”

If you’re exercising near your dog, keep them on a leash. Knowing how your dog reacts will help you determine what exercises you can do while they’re around.

When your dog loves to tackle you (especially during planks and crunches)

Plenty of pet owners have found they can do workouts with their dogs out of their crates. But when I get on the floor to do planks or abs routines on a mat, my dog thinks this is the perfect opportunity to jump on me or barrage me with licks.

If you have a calmer dog that can lie nearby and chew a bone or relax while you’re on the floor, go ahead with one of our core routines. Otherwise, doing floor work may lead to injury—or, at the very least, a lackluster abs workout.

When your large dog gained weight and you’d like to help him shed the pounds

Veterinarians often see “spring-training injuries” in dogs that hibernated all winter, then started running again, Ward says. If your dog spent all winter on the couch, then they “aren’t ready to spring forward and play Frisbee, do agility exercises, or even swim.”

So, as with any new workout routine, ease yourself and your dog back into action.

“We see a lot of knee ligament tears in the spring from deconditioned dogs who have put on a few extra pounds or just lost muscle and strength,” Ward says. “Sometimes it’s a trauma injury where the dog falls off because their agility isn’t there. They’re just out of practice, so be aware this “spring-training” scenario is real for dogs…as well as people.”

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Natural Options That Work for Dog Skin Cancer

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Skin cancer isn’t just a disease in people … and it isn’t just caused by too much time spent in the sun without sunscreen. Half of all dogs get cancer, and all forms of cancer are on the rise, including dog skin cancer.

In fact, skin tumors are the most common tumors found in dogs.

Let’s look at the most common types of dog skin cancer, then we’ll look at two natural treatment options that will help your dog safely, without surgery.

Types of Dog Skin Cancer

There are several different types of dog skin cancer. Three of the most common are:

  • Melanoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Mast cell tumors

1. Melanoma

Melanomas are abnormal growths that involve melanocytes – the cells that produce pigments (color). These cells are found throughout your dog’s entire body, wherever tissues are colored. Melanomas can either be benign or malignant.

Benign melanomas:

  • Typically range in size from very small to 2.5 inches or more in diameter.
  • Are usually less concerning than malignant melanomas because the risk of them spreading is not very high.
  • Are black, brown, gray or red in color.
  • Usually found on areas of the skin that are covered with hair.

Malignant melanomas:

  • Are a more aggressive, invasive type that usually spread fairly quickly to other areas of the body.
  • Can spread to any area of the body, including the lymph nodes and lungs, making them a much more serious threat than benign melanomas.
  • Are most often in a dog’s mouth, around the lips, or on the feet (in toenail beds or on the pads).

The cause of melanoma in dogs isn’t clear. While melanoma in humans is usually caused by damage to the DNA of skin cells (especially by UV light), this isn’t likely with dogs since many of the melanomas occur in areas not directly exposed to UV light.

Genetics also seem to play a role. The breeds most at risk include:

  • Vizslas
  • Schnauzers
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Airedale Terriers
  • Bay Retrievers
  • Scottish Terriers

 

2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of cancer that originates in the outer layer of the skin, the squamous epithelium. Carcinomas are characteristically malignant and particularly invasive.

Squamous cell carcinomas:

  • Typically grow quickly, getting bigger with time.
  • Are usually resistant to healing.
  • May appear as crusty, bleeding sores that don’t heal for months, or hard, white-colored wart-like growths.
  • Are usually found on the belly, around the genitals, or the feet.

As with melanomas, there’s some debate over what causes squamous dog skin cancer. Extended exposure to sunlight, which is known to damage cells, is the most commonly accepted one. A weak immune system may help these cells become malignant. There may also be some association with the papilloma virus as a cause.

Genetics may also be a factor. The breeds most at risk are:

  • Keeshond
  • Standard Schnauzer
  • Basset Hound
  • Collie

 

3. Mast Cell Tumor

Mast cell tumors are the most common type of dog skin cancer. They occur in the mast cells, the immune cells that play a role in allergic reactions and inflammatory responses. These cells contain histamine, heparin and enzymes to fight off predatory foreign invaders, but damage from allergies or inflammation can cause problems.

Mast cell tumors:

  • Usually develop in the skin, but they can also develop internally, but this is less common.
  • Can vary widely in size, shape, appearance, texture and location.
  • May show up as an isolated lump or mass, although they can appear in clusters.
  • May grow in size, then shrink.
  • May appear red in color, could be hairless or could be ulcerated (an open wound).

Aside from the lump, most dogs won’t have any symptoms of irritation or illness.

Unfortunately, the causes of mast cell tumors in dogs are not clear. The sun is a potential culprit, but genetics also seem to play a role. The dogs most at risk include:

  • Boxers
  • Bulldogs
  • Pugs
  • Boston Terriers
  • Beagles
  • Bullmastiffs
  • Dachshunds
  • Schnauzers

 

Why Not Surgery?

If it’s cancer, why not just have it surgically removed? There are several reasons.

Surgery’s invasive. Any time you cut into your dog’s body, there are risks from the anesthesia, blood clots and post-op infections.

Also, to attack any of the remaining cancer cells, the conventional veterinary approach is to bombard an already compromised body with chemical poisons and radiation through chemotherapy and radiation.

Natural Solutions for Dog Skin Cancer

Here are the two most effective natural treatment options for dog skin cancer.

1. Neoplasene

Neoplasene is a cream made from bloodroot extract. It works by causing apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. Once applied to the tumor, the tumor cells actually die and the tissue will eventually slough off.

The Pros: It works and it’s not as invasive as surgery. With surgery it’s really hard to get all of the microsopic cancer cells but neoplasene seeks them out and helps the immune system seek and destroy them.

The Cons: It can only be used under veterinary supervision. Because the cancerous tissue sloughs off, a hole is left and proper wound management is crucial. It can also be painful for the dog which is hard for some dog owners to accept.

 

 

2. Turmeric

Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin – which is essentially its active ingredient. Curcumin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, wound healing and anticancer activities.

There have been literally thousands of studies done on turmeric, and nearly 1/3 of the studies done on it are cancer research … and the results are very promising. It’s been shown to not only kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing but to stop precancerous changes from becoming cancer in the first place. And, not only does it kill tumor cells, it does so selectively, leaving healthy cells alone.

The American Cancer Society has said “Curcumin interferes with cancer development, growth, and spread.”

The Pros: Turmeric works, it’s inexpensive, it isn’t painful and you can use it to treat dog skin cancer at home.

The Cons: Turmeric stains your hands, carpets and furniture so you have to wrap it after each application.

 

 

One of the easiest ways to use it is with a salve. Here’s a recipe

Recipe For Healing Salve For Dogs

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 part organic turmeric powder
  • 1 part raw coconut oil (cold pressed)
  • 1 part organic lecithin powder

Mix the ingredients together to form a paste and store in a glass jar. Keep it refrigerated.

Here’s how to use it:

  • Apply it once a day for 7 days
  • After 7 days, let it air for 24 hours
  • If there is still a lump, reapply for 2-5 more days, until the lump pops or falls off

 

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Beetroot juice supplements may help certain heart failure patients

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Beetroot juice supplements may help certain heart failure patients by enhancing their exercise capacity, according to a study. Exercise capacity is a key factor linked to these patients’ quality of life and even survival. The study examined the impact of dietary nitrate in the form of beetroot juice supplements on the exercise capacity of eight heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction, a condition in which the heart muscle doesn’t contract effectively and can’t get enough oxygen-rich blood to the body. Tens of millions of people suffer from heart failure. In about half of all such people, the ejection fraction of the heart is reduced. Because of their condition, these patients exhibit labored breathing, have diminished peak oxygen uptake and use more energy while exercising than would otherwise be the case.

Researchers found that the beetroot supplement resulted in significant increases in exercise duration, peak power and peak oxygen uptake while exercising. Those improvements were not accompanied by any changes in the breathing responses of the patients, and there was no change in their exercise efficiency, a measure of how much external work a person gets for a certain input of energy.

“Abnormalities in aerobic exercise responses play a major role in the disability, loss of independence and reduced quality of life that accompany heart failure,” said Andrew Coggan, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology in the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management at IUPUI and one of the researchers who conducted the study.

“Perhaps more importantly, elevations in ventilatory demand and decreases in peak oxygen uptake are highly predictive of mortality in patients with heart failure.”

A second important aspect of the study is there were no untoward side effects from the dietary nitrate, Coggan said: “In this case, lack of any significant changes is good news.”

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Is there such a thing as Cat Acne?

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Turns out teenagers aren’t the only ones at risk for acne! Believe it or not, your furry feline friends can get it too. Cat acne is not dangerous but can require lifelong treatment to keep flare-ups under control. Here’s everything you need to know, straight from a vet.

What is cat acne?

Cat acne, also called chin acne, is just that. Acne. Just like the kind people get. It can appear as small blackheads on the chin called comedones or can progress into pimples that may or may not develop a whitehead or rupture. Some cats are unaffected by acne, meaning it doesn’t bother them at all or cause any pain, while others show obvious signs of itchiness or discomfort. There is no one specific cause, but cat acne can be triggered by several things. Stress (kenneling or a move), dirty food bowls, allergies, or oily skin are all known to cause acne flare-ups in cats.

Does my cat have chin acne?

No particular breed of cat is predisposed to chin acne. It is more visible in hairless cats and those with white or light colored coats, so it may be diagnosed more frequently on these types of felines.

Cat acne should be diagnosed by a veterinarian. Many skin conditions present with similar symptoms, and it’s important that your vet rule out more serious problems before prescribing medication or beginning treatment. Some medications, if used incorrectly, can exacerbate skin conditions, and some skin problems are symptoms of a more serious disease process at work. Veterinarians can perform different tests, looking at both skin cells and blood work, to determine if there is anything more serious to worry about.

How to prevent and treat cat acne

Once your veterinarian has diagnosed your cat’s chin acne, there are a few different things he or she may recommend to control and prevent future breakouts. Changing from plastic food bowls to ceramic or stainless steel is the simplest. Plastic bowls have a porous surface and harbor bacteria and dirt. Every time your cat eats or drinks, she recontaminates her skin. Stainless and ceramic bowls have solid surfaces, so they are much easier to clean and are more sanitary.

Your veterinarian will also recommend daily cleaning of the affected area with mild soap and warm water or an antimicrobial solution like betadine or chlorhexadine. Care must be taken using chlorhexadine near the eyes as it can cause severe ocular damage.
For more serious cases, antibiotics (oral, injectible, or topical) or corticosteroids might be used as an adjunct to other treatments.

If you suspect your pet has cat chin acne, make an appointment for a physical exam with your veterinarian before beginning treatment.

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Fight The Flu Like An Elite Athlete

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Former Alabama runner Katelyn Greenleaf, now a registered dietitian, competes at the 2015 NCAA DI Outdoor Nationals in the 3K steeplechase

 

It seems like everyone is getting bit by the flu bug lately and athletes are no exception. Former Florida high school distance standout and University of Alabama alumna Katelyn Greenleaf, now a registered dietitian, delves into the best way to fight the flu.

Did anyone else get the flu this season?

The flu can be a real downer, especially if it hits an athlete in the middle of their competitive season. Even though people try to avoid the sickness by washing their hands and disinfecting surfaces, sometimes it is impossible to come out of flu season unaffected. There are a lot of beliefs and theories of how a person can recover quickly from the flu and get back to their school, work, and training schedule, but did you know that nutrition plays a huge role in this process?

I have recently paid my dues with the flu and have made my recovery. Since I am a dietitian, I would love to share some of my nutrition knowledge with the athletes out there who cannot afford to be sick and take multiple days off. By following these tips, you will be happy, healthy, and back on the track before you know it!

Tip #1: Drink plenty of water and electrolytes. Whether you are drinking Gatorade, Powerade Zero, or Zipfizz, it is important to stay hydrated!  Hydration will help your body carry the proper nutrients to the cells in need.

Tip #2: Eat something. I know (from personal experience) the last thing you want to do when sick is to get out of your bed, but it is essential that your body has fuel. Keep it simple and focus on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. These foods will provide you with vitamins and minerals that will help your body’s immune system.

Tip #3: Sleep and rest. Sleep has been proven to promote faster recovery and healing. Even though you might want to jump back into practice ASAP, you should listen to your body and give yourself time for a full recovery. Even if you can make it back to practice shortly after your run-in with the flu, communicate with your coach and ask if you can ease back into training with some lighter efforts during your next few runs. 

(Pictured is a bowl of Cheerios with a glass of skim milk. This is an excellent source of whole grains and zinc and a perfect low-maintenance snack for when you are feeling under the weather.)

Tip #4: Probiotics have been associated with positive effects on health. In multiple different studies, probiotics were seen to reduce infection compared to those who did not take probiotics. You can find probiotics in supplements or common foods at the grocery store such as yogurts (I especially recommend Greek yogurt for the extra protein benefits).

Tips #5: Zinc can help the immune system work properly. It has been shown in research to significantly decrease the severity of the flu and common colds. Significant sources of zinc include poultry, milk, whole grain products, beans, seeds, and nuts. Zinc supplements have also proven effective.

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The Truth About Skin, Hair, And Nail Supplements

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Spoiler alert: Some work while others are a total waste of money.

 

 

 

Can a powder or pill really give you a glowing complexion, strong, shiny strands, or nails that grow quickly and never crack?

Sure, there are plenty of products out there promising to do these very things. And we’ve all seen a celebrity or beauty blogger who swears by her daily collagen smoothie or biotin supplement. But despite the hype, there’s actually not much science backing up the validity of beauty supplement claims.

“Most of us dermatologists just don’t recommend oral supplements to healthy people,” says Sheryl Hoyer, MD, a dermatologist with Northwestern Medicine.

But does that mean all supplements are a waste of your money? Or are there any that might actually be beneficial? Here’s what you need to know about things like biotin, keratin, collagen, and other popular pills, straight from the experts.

​ Do Hair, Skin, And Nails Vitamins Actually Work?
Biotin

Also known as vitamin B7, biotin plays an important role in helping the body metabolize proteins—which are needed to produce healthy skin, hair, and nail cells. People who are severely deficient often end up with hair loss, eczema, and brittle nails, and supplementing can help correct those problems, explains Melanie Palm, MD assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California-San Diego and founder of The Art of Skin.

But if you already get the recommended 30 mcg of biotin daily, loading up on extra won’t give you a beauty boost, according to a reent review of 18 studies.c And as long as you eat a balanced diet, you’re almost certainly getting your fill. The nutrient is found in eggs, salmon, pork chops, hamburgers, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, almonds, broccoli, and spinach.

 

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Prenatal vitamins

Pregnant women are known for having thick, lustrous hair that grows really fast. But contrary to popular belief, it’s not because they’re taking prenatal vitamins. “It’s more likely the hormones of pregnancy, not the vitamins, that are enhancing hair growth,” says Hoyer.

In fact, there’s zero evidence that prenatals do anything for hair growth—whether you’re pregnant or not, she adds. So unless you’re having a baby (or trying for one) don’t bother buying these.

​ Do Hair, Skin, And Nails Vitamins Actually Work?
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Keratin

Keratin is the structural protein that makes up the outermost layer of hair, skin, and nails. Our bodies make plenty of it on their own, but beauty buffs often claim that supplementing can make hair stronger and shinier.

Again though, there’s no evidence to back this up. In fact, keratin is highly resistant to the digestive acids in your stomach—so taking a supplement could cause more harm than good. “Cats who regularly groom themselves with their tongues often form hairballs in their intestines that they eventually vomit, because they can’t ingest the keratin in their fur,” Hoyer says. You don’t want to end up like that, do you?

​ Do Hair, Skin, And Nails Vitamins Actually Work?
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Collagen

Like keratin, collagen is a naturally occurring structural protein that gives skin its smooth, plump appearance. And when production dips with age, wrinkles start to form.

So is supplementing the fountain of youth? One industry-funded study did show that women who took about three tablespoons of a collagen-based product for 60 days experienced less skin dryness and fewer wrinkles. (Independent studies are far and few between.)

But it’s not a surefire solution. “In your gut, collagen [that you consume through food or a supplement] is broken down into amino acids. And it’s at your body’s discretion how those amino acids are used,” Palm says. “It could become proteins to help your blood vessels, repair your liver, or stimulate your brain—not necessarily amino acids to produce collagen.” In other words, collagen might be a beneficial anti-ager, but there’s no guarantee.

​ Do Hair, Skin, And Nails Vitamins Actually Work?
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Vitamin C

It’s an antioxidant—and a potentially potent one at that. Vitamin C has been shown to protect against aging and skin cancers by boosting the production of collagen, preventing collagen from degrading, and fighting the formation of melanin (skin pigmentation), Hoyer says.

The problem? Even at high doses, only a fraction of that vitamin C supplement actually makes its way into your skin. Topical products that contain vitamin C are more effective—but even then, there’s not a ton of evidence to support their use, says Hoyer. “Because of all this, I’m not a big proponent of vitamin C yet. But I don’t think there’s much harm in it.”

​ Do Hair, Skin, And Nails Vitamins Actually Work?
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Omega-3s

Here’s the one supplement that might actually do you some legit good. These essential fatty acids provide must-have nutrition for healthy hair and skin cells. “Our skin cell membranes are composed of a cholesterol-derived layer, and omega-3s are needed to help maintain that. In the same way, they help with the integrity of the hair,” Palm says.

In other words, getting your fill just might contribute to a glowier complexion and shinier strands. If you don’t regularly eat fish like salmon and tuna, aim for 500 mg of DHA and EPA (the most potent types of omega-3s, which are found in fatty fish) daily, Palm recommends. Nature Made Fish Oil Pearls will help you hit the daily mark.

​ Do Hair, Skin, And Nails Vitamins Actually Work?
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