I’m a big fan of Chris Cooper. He’s the American character actor who played Tom Smith in the movie Seabiscuit. I thought it was a brilliant performance that managed to capture the quiet and introspective nature of this humble horseman who trained Seabiscuit to be a thoroughbred champion; that became a national hero to millions of depression weary Americans in the 1930’s. I somehow identified with him because he was a man The Lost Book of Herbal of few words and deep experience, and very holistic in his approach to animal health and wellbeing. So being inspired by the movie somewhat I went out and bought the book.
Now here’s the thing. I read the book Seabiscuit, An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand, and was not only swept off my feet by this epic tale, but I also was surprised to learn that Tom Smith worked entirely with herbal and natural remedies to cure and support the finest racehorse in the world. Can you imagine how that might sound today?
Throughout the 339 pages of the narrative, there are dozens of examples of how Tom treated Seabiscuit’s track injuries; calling in the vet only when it was absolutely necessary in which X-Ray’s had to be taken to reveal a sliver fracture in a foreleg after a race.
From what I can deduce, Smith made sure Seabiscuit’s feed was rich in calcium and he used homemade liniment on his legs, which was a herbal concoction that he made himself that was mostly composed of eucalyptus or peppermint and stimulating herbs such as cayenne and possibly ginger — mixed together with essential oils and married to a rubbing or grain alcohol as a base. But whatever the true mix he used, and its secret is now lost forever, Tom Smith the lone horseman from the western plains was a holistic healer far ahead of his time. A true horse whisperer.