Name: Candice Johnson
Location: Northeast Ohio
Certifications through Angel's Animals: Currently I have completed and received my certification in Holistic Equine Nutrition and am currently working toward certifications in Equine Massage, Craniosacral, Kinesiology, Laser and Light Therapy, and Animal Reiki!
When did you decide that you wanted to work with animals? Haha well from the age of three I was obsessed with horses and was always saving baby bunnies and birds. Many of my earliest memories as a child are of family pets. The most vivid memory being of riding a rodeo roping mare owned by a friend and coworker of my father's when I was around age four. From then on I was hooked! I always knew I wanted to work with animals and had started my path toward veterinary studies during high school. However, while volunteering for my local lesson barn, I witnessed one of the most gut wrenching events in my time with horses. It had been an unusually hot summer day and at some point late that evening a yearling filly had cast herself against her stall wall. We had successfully gotten her to her feet only to realize the worst was not over. The filly had gone down hard with severe colic and her owner had no way of getting to the stable to comfort and assist her. The stable owner and I took shifts hand walking the distraught filly waiting for the emergency vet to arrive. Hours and Hours had passed and still no vet. It was late now and dark outside as we attempted to make her as comfortable as possible. I remember massaging her face and back; anything to keep her from throwing herself to the ground. Finally, around 11pm the vet arrived to examine her. Despite all our combined efforts the yearling filly was humanely euthanized early the next morning. The vet concluded that she had twisted intestines and the damage at that point would have been irreversible even with surgery. Large portions of her intestine had begun to die from lack of blood flow and she was in unimaginable pain. Her owner had arrived just in time to receive the news in person and had asked if there was any way it could have been prevented. The vet sighed and replied unequivocally, yes. This filly had lived the majority of her short life confined to a stall waiting hours between meals. She was fed a large amount of high starch/sugar feed with a comparatively small amount of hay. The only exercise she received was a half hour vacation to the indoor arena long enough to have her stall cleaned daily or an hour of lunging/groundwork courtesy of her owner. This unfortunate filly endured a perfect storm of conditions that all contributed to her colic episode that ultimately led to her untimely death. She was so young. The moment the vet explained how all of these conditions lead to this colic episode would stay with me forever. Her diet, environment, and lack of species appropriate care, and her owners lack of education is what killed this filly. Her colic was an end stage symptom of many underlying health problems. From that day on I poured myself into learning everything I could about equine health and wellness so that I could educate horse owners in an effort to empower them to make life changing and saving decisions for the animals they love.
What animal influenced you the most growing up? Definitely horses! Three in particular come to mind. A very sweet and sensitive Chincoteague Pony gelding who I rode during lessons around the age of twelve. He was always so particular about how he was ridden and how his tack was fitted. He taught me so much about reading horses and recognizing when they are in discomfort or pain. He is the first horse who sparked my interest in learning about body work and the importance of saddle fit. Second is my stock grade gelding who has changed tremendously over the years through nutrition and understanding of equine biomechanics. When we met poor Top was the definition of a hot mess. He was beautiful and full of potential but unfortunately his body was in constant pain from head to hoof. He struggled with many hoof and back problems, it was a wonder the horse could even stand let alone walk. While he has spent his life with me unridden he has proved himself a great teacher and has helped many learn the importance of good care and putting the horse's wellbeing above riding goals. The third is my Spotted Draft mare Rose. Over the years we've been together she has taught me so many valuable lessons but it wasn't until she was diagnosed with PPID that my knowledge of equine health and wellness was put to the test. It's been five years now since her initial diagnosis and at age 24 Rose is going strong being supported and managed for her disease through diet, herbs, environment, and bodywork. We often get comments from vets on how great she looks and how it's difficult to tell she even has PPID just by looking at her! I've even been told by her vet that she is a poster child for what holistic care can do. High praise coming from a typical allopathic vet!
What animals do you currently own? All of them haha! I have four horses, two seniors and two youngsters, three rescue dogs and two very spoiled barn cats.
What makes your animal practice stand out? While I have not officially started my career in animal bodywork, I like to think that what will make my practice stand out is my passion and dedication to and for the horse not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually as well. As all animal lovers I think can agree, our animals are every bit as complex as we are and experience life on many plans much like we do. So for me it makes perfect sense to offer them support for whatever is off balance be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual in nature. I think one of the most beautiful aspects of Holistic Care is that as practitioners we have so many different arrows in our quiver with which to choose from and can approach a health issue from many different angles in an effort to bring the animal back into balance often in the most gentle way. I love being able to be hands on helping them feel their best so they can live happy and healthy!
What message would you like to share with potential clients? Our horses are often asked to give us their all and many do despite not feeling their best. Some will even continue to perform while in pain. Most don't realize they have a choice. Many are never offered one. As their caregivers it's up to us to be our horse's advocates and give them a voice. All animals benefit from proper nutrition and bodywork regardless of whether or not they are ridden, show or compete. They give us so much of themselves the very least we can do in return is offer them the best quality of life we can. It's my pleasure to offer holistic support for health and wellness to animals of all ages and stages!
What message would you like to share with others who are thinking about pursuing a career with animals? There's a lot to learn but it's absolutely worth it! There's no feeling quite like helping an animal release discomfort or pain with your own two hands or seeing the expression on their face when they realize you understand where it hurts. My favorite thing personally is a tie between witnessing the mental and emotional changes in horses who have lived with discomfort or pain, and seeing horses blossom with species appropriate nutrition. It never ceases to amaze me how seemingly small adjustments to the diet can change their life for the better and in some cases save it. Angel's Animals has made learning all these valuable therapy methods easy, fun, and most importantly for me accessible!
Every month Dr. Barbara acknowledges and showcases one of her certified practitioners! You could be next!