BRUSH WITH DEATH
While I am not a professional writer, this letter
factually relates our experiences with an extremely "heavie"
horse and the amazing "cure" that resulted from
reading an article that appeared in your magazine.
One of the most disheartening sounds to a horse
owner is the sound of coughing coming from the barn. There
must be hundreds of horse owners who have experienced
feelings of hopelessness and despair brought on by a coughing
horse. A "heavie" horse can mean anything from
occasional reduced time in the saddle to having the afflicted
animal put down. And, although there are alternative feed
products and medications that offer relief to the suffering
equine, the results are, for the most part, temporary
at best. Most of us who have found ourselves with a heavie
horse have desperately tried everything from beet pulp
to cortisone injections.
While our other two horses remained healthy, "Brushie,"
our 20-year-old Quarter Horse mare, suddenly developed
heaves, and in two years time her health, her attitude
and her body deteriorated to the point where there was
very little quality of life left for her. Instinctively
I knew the best thing I could do for my loyal old friend
was to give her death with dignity. However, just a few
short months ago, while I was struggling with that weighty
decision, I chanced upon an article that gave her a stay
One day while looking for new, fresh material to
read regarding horses, I chanced upon the Summer 1989
issue of THE WESTERN HORSE magazine that was to turn our
lives around. An article by L. Sellnow, entitled, "MSM:
A Wonder Nutrient," proved to be the timely answer
to my prayers. Although the article primarily advocated
the effects of MSM on horses suffering from laminitis
(which had no real bearing on any of my horses' immediate
needs), I thankfully read the article to its conclusion,
because well into the article, it briefly stated: "(MSM
has) ... had success in clearing up both lung noises and
heaves."That sentence struck me like a bolt out of
the blue! The word "success"fueled the flames
of my last gasp of hope. Before the magazine dropped onto
my coffee table, I was on the phone ordering this wonderful
and mysterious MSM.
(MSM is a registered acronym trademark* for methylsulfonylmethane,
a fine white powder credited with clearing up a myriad
of equine ailments including epiphysitis, arthritis, lameness,
and inflammation as well as increasing circulation. A
very impressive list of claims not to be taken lightly!)
Brushie's heaves had reached the stage where lasix, azium
powder, and cortisone shots no longer offered her any
relief. Up until the spring of '89, the cortisone shots,
which were kept as a last resort - for the really wracking
bouts of coughing, could always be counted on to give
her at least two weeks of easy breathing, but they no
longer afforded her even an hour of relief.
Once the cortisone shots proved ineffective, I desperately
grasped at the old wives' tale that fresh garlic eases
bronchial ailments and began sprinkling her grain with
diced garlic. The first dose of garlic caught Brushie
off guard; she drew the deepest breath she had drawn in
months, her nostrils flared, her eyes watered, and her
breath from that point on, was enough to melt down the
barn!!! Bizarre as it sounds, the fresh garlic gave her
a modicum of comfort. It seemed to offer her more comfort
than the cortisone shots did at this point and it was
considerably less expensive, but it wasn't long before
she refused her grain because of the taste and smell of
the garlic. She was, quite frankly, just a few weeks away
from death's door.
When I began adding MSM to her feed it was
with the idea that we had tried everything else and had
nothing left to lose. If the MSM didn't give Brushie any
relief in a very short period of time, she would have
to be put down without further delay. MSM was the last
Miraculously, by the end of the first week, it was obvious
that Brushie was not only breathing more comfortably,
but her constant coughing had subsided to only an occasional
cough. By the end of the second week, even the occasional
coughing ceased and her appetite increased. Once the coughing
stopped, we cut the dosage in half. This was indeed a
miracle! After a little more than two years of more or
less constant bronchial problems, it was sheer joy not
to hear hacking coughs and labored breathing coming from
Although my husband and I were truly impressed by the
results of this wonderful white powder thus far, there
were still more to come. By the end of the third week,
it was all too apparent that Brushie's mental attitude
was improving along with her physical condition as she
reclaimed her former position as the "Backyard Boss"
with the vigor and enthusiasm of a much younger horse.
In her recovery she has gained back the weight she lost
and she is once again an alert, healthy animal with a
shiny coat, bright eyes and head held high. It's now been
more than six months since Brushie took her first dose
of MSM. The transformation is truly amazing. The "ol'
girl" in her rejuvenated state can out run our three-year-old
Thoroughbred without getting winded, and she looks and
acts half her age!
Although Brushie had dropped several hundred pounds
during her lengthy illness and was nearly emaciated, she's
eating "like a horse" again and looks sleek
and healthy. And, all because of a white powder that offers
relief to lame horses.
While I realize that more than two years may seem like
a long time for an animal to suffer through heaves, I
was guided by my veterinarian's advice that Brushie had
a strong will to live and was still reasonably comfortable
although her riding days seemed to be over. I also held
out hope for finding a cure. Brushie wasn't suffering
from a mere "touch" of heaves; she was nearing
the end of her rope and yet, just after a month of taking
MSM twice a day, it was obvious to all who had been in
contact with her over the last couple of years that she
was not only getting relief, but that she was back on
the road to good health. As of this writing, she is perky
and frisky. We're trail riding again, doing light cantering,
and Brushie is looking forward to her 23rd birthday! Best
of all, Brushie is no longer plagued by lung noises and
coughing. Thank you WESTERN HORSE magazine and L. Sellnow
for the introduction to MSM. My horse and I owe you a
great big debt of gratitude!
South Deerfield, MA
Reprinted with permission from Fancy Publications and
The Western Horse, 1997.
*No longer trademarked - Ed.