It's Elementary - The Earth Element

Steady as a rock

Imagine a stocky school horse plodding around the school ring with a young rider on his back - our quintessential Earth horse. These old troopers carry young students around the ring patiently as they learn the basics of equitation. They are kind and slow, providing a safe and steady ride. Not all Earth horses are easy to handle but at their best, they are dependable and generous. With a big round belly filled with treats from grateful students, the Earth horse is worth his weight in gold.

The canine equivalent is a nice old Labrador retriever. He is a bit overweight but kind and gentle- the ideal family dog. He tolerates the toddlers who try to ride him like a pony and pull his ears and loves going on all of the family strolls in the forest – as long as they are not to strenuous. He is the happy face and wagging tail that greets you at the door after a long hard day as if to say “Come sit on your favorite couch with me and let go of all that work day stress by giving me a long petting session! His friendly nature is forgiving and patient – just what makes him “man’s best friend.

While Fire and Earth animals both have friendly temperaments, the Earth animal is a simpler character, easy-going and basically just a “good guy. The Earth animal enjoys company and connection but isn’t as dependent on attention as the Fire animal. Earth’s biggest motivation is comfort and ease. He avoids unnecessary movement unless it takes him closer to his food. But because he is an agreeable fellow, the Earth animal usually perks up after initial reluctance and enjoys his outings. And don’t call him lazy, he has impressive endurance once his motor is running. 

Easy does it

When training an Earth animal you’ll need lots of patience – as much patience as your Earth horse gives to a novice rider. He is not a quick thinker and may take longer than others to learn. He does best with short, clear lessons presented in bite-sized bits that can be easily mastered. When he does well, build his confidence with generous praise and recognition. The good news is that once he has learned a lesson, he will hold it forever; his memory is excellent. And don’t mistake his slower mind for lack of intelligence, the Earth animal can be quite clever. Just remember not to push him by over-doing the pace of your lessons. If you push him too fast, he will resist. His performance will become lackluster and his abundant patience will turn into a formidable stubbornness. Learn to honor his slower pace and you will have a work partner who will give you years of faithful companionship.

Animal gourmet

Once the saddle is off, the Earth horse is ready to get back to his favorite occupation: leisure. He loves nothing more than resting in a field of lush pasture. Much to his disappointment, he is often an “easy keeper. Since he seems to gain weight just by looking at grain, his diet is often restricted. Earth dogs are the same – breaking up their nap time with dinner and then back again, if possible. Regular exercise is necessary to keep them trim. In addition they prone to all manner of digestive conditions including colic, diarrhea, digestive upset and dental issues. For horses, make sure that you find a skilled dental practitioner and have your horse checked regularly – simple filing is often not enough. For dogs, take good care of  his teeth and have them checked by the vet if you have trouble. Many Earth animals are “food focused and can display uncharacteristic impatience and aggression around dinner time. Overindulging their sweet tooth may lead to distracted and unmanageable behavior. Use pets and praise instead or you may end up with a horse that habitually nips and forcefully nose-nudges your jacket pocket or a dog that is an incorrigible beggar.

Routine success

Regular routines and gentle understanding are the keys to a happy Earth animal. Routines are a comfort to him; they give him a sense of security and competence. Because he is not a quick thinker, routines allow him to relax into familiar rhythms without having to think on his feet. Activities that require prolonged periods of rapid thinking increase emotional stress and should be minimized. If you plan to change his routines, whether it is a small shift (like a new neighbor in the next stall or a new puppy in the home) or a major transformation (like changing barns or homes) give him lots of support and time to adjust. For example, prepare him for the change by visiting the new place for an afternoon and explaining that a change is imminent. This step will reduce the stress of the transition. Be kind and understanding and the Earth horse will return the favor gratefully.

On a physical level, Earth animals have several health conditions that they are prone to. Knowing about these “weak links can help you to act promptly if they surface. They include stifle issues, growths including warts, sarcoids, melanoma and cancer or fatty tumors, edema including wind puffs and stocking up, thrush, weak or sway backs (often due to weight gain) and excessive passing of gas or bad breath. If your animal has any of these conditions or those mentioned in the previous paragraphs, try to find an acupressure or acupuncture practitioner in your area to see if your animal would benefit from treatment. Herbs can also be wonderfully effective for many of these conditions.

The Earth Element at a Glance

Five Element theory separates body functions, emotional characteristics and other aspects of health and well-being into five categories or “Elements. These distinctions help you determine which Element needs healing and support. Below are the Earth Element qualities. For example, a horse who is prone to digestive issues and has stifle pain may be an Earth horse. Earth animals benefit from herbs, acupressure and lifestyle changes that balance the Earth Element.

Emotional Characteristics of the Earth Animal

Emotional strengths: Dependability, stability, steadiness, gentleness, easy-going nature, friendly

Stressed by: Lack of routine, humans who expect mental quickness, complicated requests, handlers who take advantage of the Earth animal’s forgiving nature

Balanced by: Genuine praise, touch, slow and grounded activities, routines, peaceful atmosphere, grazing time, comfort

Vulnerable to: Stubbornness, worry, lack of confidence, lethargy, apathy, dull-mindedness, slow learning, getting in a rut

Responds to stress with: Stopping to integrate the experience, refusal to move forward, shutting down emotionally, resigned cooperation

Learning style: Benefits from: slow methodical lessons with lots of praise that teach concepts in bite-sized pieces, ending early on a successful bit of learning instead of forging forth to something new, a calm learning environment 

Tips for Success: Be PATIENT and supportive, praise small steps to build rock-solid competence

Physical Characteristics of the Earth Animal

Favorite sports: Horses: Anything of low to moderate exertion after possible reluctance during the warm-up; a great lesson horse o especially for beginners and children; excellent therapy horse; good pleasure horse, good trail horse – long distance fine when pace is slow and steady; not the best horse for vigorous and challenging competition
Dogs: these dogs are happiest when they are just a beloved family dog

Common ailments: Digestive issues, diarrhea, colic of all types, weight issues, overly food focused. passing gas, cancer, melanomas, warts, growths of all types, wind puffs, stocking up, edema of all types, hay bloat, stifle issues, rain rot/ rain scald, thrush, sway back from a big belly, sweet tooth, dental issues, lethargy or sluggish behavior

Tips for Well-being: Regular moderate exercise, moderate diet with limited sweets, turn out/regular walks for keeping the animal active, regular dental care, “belly lifts for strengthening the back 


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