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How was.... the Horseherbal (Lóherba) book made?

Today is 20 December 2022. Last night I laid down a huge burden that I have been carrying for over 20 years. The revision of the Cloverleaf book is finally finished. I reflected on how much everyone(!) and everything has contributed to making this book a reality. I look back to the beginning, which is also the story of my own life. What an interweaving! Pieces of the puzzle of my life come together to form a whole picture.

Obviously, the starting point was my interest in horses, which manifested itself in my kindergarten years. In the middle group (5-6 years old, around 1985), I remember that the kindergarten teacher drew a castle on paper for each child to colour in. And then they took it a step further where I sat next to the kindergarten teacher and drew a horse next to each castle. I don't have a lot of memories from when I was a little kid, but it's ingrained. Thanks to the kindergarten teacher at the time, who gave me positive reinforcement for the first steps of my drawing career!

Then, around the age of 7 or 8, I started learning to ride a horse. When I was 14, my father bought me my first horse, Ruppert, a dismounted racehorse. Thanks to this horse I met my best riding friend as a teenager, Ildiko Fonyódi. Through good, bad, mud and blazing sun together...

When I saw the others competing in show jumping, I wanted to have a horse that could do it. I still don't know whether life punished me for my infidelity with the events that followed, or whether I simply stepped on my path and taught me. For after that, my father bought horses from the slaughterhouse from his friend Kupec, who always, without exception, sold him, and us, terminally ill but apparently serviceable, rideable "racehorses". Until he died with a shotgun barrel in his mouth. Shouldn't make business with the Ukrainian mafia - so they said.

Ruppert, az első nagy Ő

At the time, but especially later, I resented my father for always buying cheap, sick horses when he could have bought healthy ones for his daughter. I still don't understand it, but I am ultimately grateful to him, because without the sick horses I would not have learned so much about equine diseases and I would not have developed such compassion for the owners of sick horses. It was a painful series of lessons...

In these 10+ years of part miserable, part wonderful, I have learned about many equine diseases, up close and personal. I was heartbroken many times, but my addiction to horses would not let me rest any longer, I could not live without horses. It was at this time that I met Dr. András Bába and Dr. Gábor Péntek, who were always ready to explain why they were doing what they were doing on horses, and I drank in every word they said. Thanks and gratitude to them for teaching me!

I had the idea that I wanted to be a veterinarian, so I made chemistry and biology a priority in high school. As I failed several times in my admissions, I started to study agricultural engineering in Gödöllő. As disappointed as I was at this event, I feel so grateful that I did not become a veterinarian. The two courses are completely different. For me it was what I needed: comprehensive knowledge on a wide range of subjects. Seeing connections and recognising the links between seemingly separate things is one of my strengths.

Madonna, akinek a gyógynövényes pályafutásomat köszönhetem

In 2000, our horse Madonna caught a cold and I treated her with chamomile tea, successfully. Then in 2002 he got the throat and was waiting to die. I tried a Maria Treben recipe that helped her, and my father rode her for many years after that. Thanks to the Austrian herbalist!

Buoyed by her success, I thought I would write the riders a success story. I well remembered Raven, who was put to sleep in the yard because he couldn't breathe, he was so throaty. He was one of my horse mentors. Thanks to the horses who taught me with their illnesses!

In 2003 I spent the summer in the USA, working as a riding instructor at a camp. My intermediate "C" level language exam didn't mean much because I didn't understand a word at first. All the other riding girls were from other countries: England, Australia, Sweden, Scotland and the USA. They understood each other very well. After two weeks I got used to the situation and, after receiving an original copy of the British Pony Club's riding book, I read and learned the whole thing.

During a field trip, the stable manager took us to Seabiscuit's birthplace in Lexington, Kentucky, where we had breakfast next to the thoroughbred exercise yard and then spent the day around the stables. Compared to the English thoroughbreds there, the Hungarian thoroughbreds looked like a dwarf skeleton. It was very unpleasant to return home to the cold and shabby Hungarian reality. I don't think I have fully come to terms with that since. Thank goodness for the English I learned here!

In 2004 I defended my thesis on "Herbs in horse feeding" in Gödöllő. One of the referees was Professor Miklós Mézes, head of the Department of Animal Nutrition, who has been helping me a lot with proofreading ever since. Another judge was Dr. Gábor Márkus, who, seeing my interest in EU legislation, recruited me as a feed officer at the then OMMI, now NÉBIH. I am grateful to them for confirming me in the right choice of topic and for helping and teaching me in this profession!

Around 2004-2005, I wrote an article on equestrian herbal medicine for a then, now defunct, equestrian magazine, which brought me to the attention of the editor of the magazine. We talked and he persuaded me to write a book on the subject. I took the plunge and started working on my thesis.

At that time I was going to the meetings of the Standing Committee on Animal Health in Brussels 1-2 times a month, with my colleagues or alone, and I used the (boring) airport waiting times of several hours to write the book on my laptop. I also have a herbal story from here.

At one of the committee meetings, a manufacturer's request was submitted, for a feed rights situation for an herbal product. Most of the member states, especially Germany, were against it, and the committee insisted that herbs are animal feed. I was outraged. "Herbs are closer to medicines, which I know for a fact!".

As an enthusiastic young 'feed lawyer' I drafted a proposal for a legislative amendment, which was of course rejected. Then the Commission President took me aside for a coffee and paternalistically explained that I should not poke my nose into the subject if I did not want to be taken under his wing by the pharmaceutical lobby. I considered it and then took his advice. I am grateful for those times, as without them I would not have known about the Community Authority legislation.

The book was written, albeit slowly. I commuted to work by train, a 70-minute journey. This was convenient for reading the literature and writing the text on the laptop. I was constantly carrying that heavy thing around, but how valuable the information was to me! Thanks to the OMMI (now NÉBIH) for the laptop for the service trips to Brussels!

In 2005, the original, first Lóherba book was finally finished, with hard work. I am grateful to the staff of the then Equinter publishing house, Dr. Árpád Mátray, veterinarian (proofreading) and Nagy Lovas Kft. (financing), who helped me to publish it. And also to the riders who bought the book, sending me a signal that "Yes, there is a need for this approach, for herbs!". 3000 copies have been sold in about 10 years.

Dr Árpád Mátray also asked me to give a lecture at the University of Veterinary Medicine. The course was called "Alternative Medicine in Veterinary Medicine", in which Equine Phytotherapy became my lecture. Later on, I added the canine-herbal experience, and the organization of the training was taken over by Dr. Katalin Sipos, who is a great help in proofreading my articles and infographics on dogs. I have since been honoured to take on this role, and I thank Árpád and Kata for the opportunity, and even the University of Veterinary Medicine (I was included in the list of veterinary lecturers)!

In 2007, when my little boy was born, I wrote the book Horse Aromatherapy.

In 2008, my small family and I went to Germany for a year, where I took part in a 10-month administrative scholarship at federal and state level. My grateful thanks to Bosch Stiftung, among other things for the total refreshment and improvement of my German language skills. Interestingly, the fact that I was interested in quality management of official food chain safety controls as an EU feed law officer did not excite the interviewers too much, but when one of the Hungarian interviewers remarked that "Not incidentally, she has also written a book" - referring to me and the book Lóherba, the tables were turned. My grateful thanks to the Robert Bosch Foundation and my Hungarian and German colleagues from the Food Safety Inspectorate!

On my return from Germany in 2009, I was disappointed to find that the quality management department of NÉBIH did not want to talk to me. I decided to change my career. There were constant reorganisations and downsizing anyway, it was simply not possible to work normally and efficiently. But I really liked the well-organised efficiency in the USA and in Germany.

At my husband's urging, we started marketing herbal mixtures, although, to be honest, I didn't really believe in it. "Who would buy herbs for their horse?". We started small, very small. In the attic, 2 or 3 sachets at a time, initially sent to the riders in empty cereal boxes. We made a crappy website, then a better one, and I gave advice on the forum. Well, you have to start everything somehow. Thanks and thanks to Rózsahegyi Ltd. for the herbs, they have been our suppliers ever since, thanks to, especially Dorottya Magyar, for the opportunity to participate in the forum!

I first came across Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine in 2010. Thanks to Zsolt Bertalan, Dr. József Németh Vendel and Dr. József Molnár, who independently recommended me to read and study it almost at the same time, within a few months, and even lent me some literature. It was an amazing combination, it was impossible to say no. I found the whole Chinese concept terribly incomprehensible at first, but I couldn't turn my back on the subject. Then, after about six months of agonising, I suddenly had an epiphany and felt as if I had always known it. For a long, long time...

Ismerkedés a földi munkával (Liló)

Meanwhile, my second son was born. I started to study the Parelli method from videos and to "ride" a 3 year old Arabian mare with this method. It was a bit busy, but I enjoyed it, I was spinning, because I was in the flow of everything!

In 2011, we renamed the Lóherba equestrian products, which had been on the market for a few years at that time, to FitoCavallo. Thanks to Andrea Janászik for the idea for the name! Soon after, at the suggestion of Nóra Lenner, the dog products were given the name FitoCanini.

In 2014, the idea of rewriting and updating the Lóherba book first came up. It would have been too big a job, given our precarious situation at the time: rented property, two homeschooled children and a growing herbal herb business... It remained a dream for a while. Meanwhile, not having a horse, I struggled with my horse addiction. Did you know it was a disease? It's an addiction like alcohol or drugs. You can be clean, with great struggle, but never cured. I think that's a feeling many riders know... In the meantime, I put the old Clover book on my shelf to remind me of my goal every single day.

In 2016, we caught our breath after a very, very depressing period. Before that, as a start-up with a capital shortage, we had been getting the cold shoulder from investors and, in general, from life. Ultimately, I am grateful for everything because, despite all the stress, they helped in one way or another. Roland Hagen helped us by financing the dog book (Herbs for dogs) and some tools. And another investor candidate simply reassured me with his promise to put capital into the company if the opportunity arose. Which, fortunately, never happened. Thank you to them for what they were able to give us!

Since 2016, I have started to rewrite and update the Cloverleaf book, in the little free and me time I had. Does the name Sisyphus from mythology tell you something? Well, I think I understand how the poor man must have felt. In the meantime, I wrote/write articles and then a series for Horse Nation and Pegasus magazine. I've improved a lot in the meantime, for example, I've been testing and publishing my infographics in them, testing month by month which font size, font, placement and colour choice is the most appropriate. My gratitude and thanks to the editors of these two magazines for the opportunity!

The 800-page book was completed by 2018. Impossible in today's world. I thought at the time that I wouldn't even be able to find an editor, and it wouldn't be cheap to publish. Who would buy it anyway? I could probably count on one hand the number of people who would pay for such a book in Hungary today...

A 2005-ös kiadású Lóherba könyv borítója

Finally, I sent the first chapter to a botanical proofreader, I will not name him. I have never had to deal with such an inconsiderate and arrogant person. I was under my breath for 3 days after receiving his cruel and abusive proofreading. He was not right about everything, but he was right about some things. After 3 days of licking my wounds I got up, sucked it up and started again. From the beginning. I bought the latest textbooks and pored over them all.

I realised that my theoretical knowledge on some subjects was really out of date. Not the practical part, because I think I am, and we are, one of the first in the world in that respect. In the end, I am grateful to this tutor because, like a bull's-eye on a target, he has been a mentor and an inspiration to me. To stop making mistakes, to be more ruthless with myself, otherwise others will try to run me into the ground and trample me. It's also a form of teaching...

2019 - Thoughts kept clacking around in my head. Chapter II of the book Clover is about equine diseases. "What right do I have to write about equine diseases when I am not a veterinarian, just an agricultural engineer who has studied, read and experienced a lot? I don't like to let anything go out of my hands without proofreading, because there are always mistakes and errors. I'm not going to play around with horses' lives..."

Fortunately, I had help from the start. Dr. András Bába, Dr. Orsolya Kutasi, Dr. Ákos Hevesi, Dr. Annamária Nagy, Dr. Miklós Jármy, Dr. Gergely Csépányi, Dr. József Molnár, Dr. Ildikó Járos and more recently Dr. Glória Apáti, who has been working on veterinary issues, Dr. Dr. Miklós Mézes (member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) has assisted and proofread in the field of feed and feed toxicology, and Dr. Dániel Cserhalmi has assisted in the field of toxic plants.

As all of them, without exception, worked completely free of charge(!), I could not think of asking for money for their work. That's how the Clover blog came to life. The result of a team effort of selfless, horse-loving people. Without them, you wouldn't be reading my writings on the Lóherba blog! I express my gratitude and thanks to them, also on behalf of the riders!

2020 - COVID came in, we had to cancel our planned big lecture on equine health at the National University of Public Service. In revenge (against Covid), I translated and wrote the Sustainable Worming brochure and published it for free online download. I can count on one hand the number of people who have written back to say thank you or anything else (even mistakes, I'm happy about that). For such a society of horsemen, why write? People might not even read it. Sure, I know, you can count the downloads. What for? The pdf can be forwarded. I mean, I bury my head in the sand so I don't have to face the fact that there is little interest in my work.

Many of my own drawings have already appeared in this publication on worming. Meanwhile, slowly all my articles are infographics in full or in half. I almost NEVER get feedback, except from editors and proofreaders (thank you, it's nice, I need it!). Maybe my drawings look lame, but no one mentions it out of politeness? :-)

Spring 2021 - Since I'm posting everything about equine diseases on the Clover blog, I've left Chapter I (Treatment Principles) and Chapter III (Herbs) of the Clover book in book form. With renewed vigour, refreshed knowledge and now 11 years of FitoCavallo experience, I have rewritten everything again, from the first letter to the last. So that there are no mistakes, so that nothing is left out. I have already planned for next year.

Spring 2021 - Burn out. I overdid it. Minimum 3 months total break from the subject. Painted the house, alone. It felt good, but it's not something I want to do for the next 10 years...

Lucával... mosoly az arcon

Winter 2021 - I've been working ahead with the two magazine series, so I'll have the summer free to concentrate on nothing but the book. Meanwhile, a foal came into my life, waiting to be ridden. After 8 years without horses, I am back on the horse. My addiction to horses is back, but I'm no longer fighting it. I won once, why keep winning, right?

Summer 2022 - I spent the entire summer sitting in front of the computer 16 hours a day writing, drawing and editing 36 infographics. I had a daily quota of one figure, and by around 5pm I couldn't speak in coherent sentences from exhaustion. Every other day, because on odd days, I would jot the text down in notebooks to be redrawn the next day with the drawing program. It was a terrible effort. But every day I sat down at my drawing board, at my computer, with renewed vigour, and did it without wavering. Then the summer was over, the drawings were done. And I put it all aside as autumn schooling, article writing and dog-herb advice began.

October 2022 - In my spare time, I slowly redrew the infographics. All of them, all of them. Different size, different design. I tried out what it would be like to appear on In English. Maybe there would be more interest than at home.

Az infogrfaikák és a szöveg első változata. Azóta négyszer átírva, átrajzolva...

November 2022 - I received the professionally proofread text from Prof. Mézes. I could not find a vet to read 60 pages for me. I will correct everything. Rereading again, for the umpteenth time. My eyes roll over the words. I print out the text, read it again. I find more spelling mistakes, less often technical, and correct them again. In the meantime, I need further modification of the infographics, so I open them one by one, transform, save, export. It is starting to evolve. Thanks to Prof. Mézes for proofreading, I am very grateful!

December 2022 - here we are. I sent the manuscript to the graphic design team (Berkana Ltd.) with whom we have been working for many years. I know they will do a professional job and the book will be in good hands. Even during the drawing process, I received an amazing amount of tips and help from Helga Králik, the head of the company. Thank you!

We are in no hurry. The book is not intended as a Christmas present. 2023 will be the year of publication. The Hungarian edition will be published in a small number of copies, as much as the few horse people, or vets, who want to know my behind-the-scenes secrets, really want. Some people have already indicated on FB, by e-mail, that they are waiting for the book. I thank them, because in the hard times (and there have been a few) it also keeps me going to continue the work I have started.

If I'm honest, it was with a heavy heart that I wrote down the concepts that have contributed in significant part to my, I mean FitoCavallo's, success. It is difficult to publish, to share "closely guarded" secrets. It is said that knowledge belongs to everyone. I have it, I have to pass it on. To the next generation, or something like that...

I'm grateful to the riders (a few thousand of them!) who have treated their horses with the FitoCavallo recipes since 2005, since 2011 with Lóherba, given feedback, in short, they and their horses have taught me. Thank you for your trust!

Last but not least, I am grateful to my parents, just in general, for keeping me alive, and also for raising me, financing my equestrian experiences. I'm very, very grateful to my husband, who believed in this whole herbal-horse thing more than I did, and for carrying on the production and marketing of FitoCavallo and FitoCanini products with uninterrupted, unbroken precision, thus financing my writing and creative work. I can be terrible when I'm in a creative fever - almost unbearable. And I'm grateful to my children, because they help and support me in so many ways.

The future... The price of the book is something to think about - I hate that part the most. The first word that pops into my head is: priceless. There's no money for all the self-sacrificing, self-sacrificing, self-sacrificing effort I've put in. Part of my life is in it. A small but precious piece, an essence. And that's just the book. The knowledge that I acquired before (the price of textbooks I think everyone knows, horror), and then by the time I had absorbed it, processed it, tested it in practice, analysed the results, finally put it into a transferable form... for 20 years... So it's all really priceless.

Fortunately, I don't have to decide on this now, nor do I have a quote for the release. Based on current calculations, the cost of publishing a book will be at least 4000Ft. Good God! Maybe it's not for me to decide, it's better not to be emotional. One thing is for sure. I'm not in it for the money. Because it really is priceless. I've got a lot of work to do, but it's also true that it'll be a huge relief to finally get my hands on it. A revised, updated and expanded version of Cloverleaf Volume I. Approximately 150 pages, with 36 full pages of infographics.

A Lóherba könyv 2023-as kiadásának tervezett borítója

To you, dear reader, who have made it this far in your reading, allow me to thank you for your interest. All I can say about the book now is that it is due to be published around January-February 2023. It has the essence of equine physiotherapy and equine aromatherapy that you can't get or read elsewhere. I know, because I know 98% of the international literature. What is missing from the book: the description of the herbs or the equine diseases, you will find in almost any book of high quality. Why write about that?

The new Clover book is not an easy read, nor are the illustrations, but it is substantial and informative. I find it readable and easy to understand. For anyone who treats their horse with herbs and/or essential oils, it is a treasure - in my humble opinion. Even if you just buy a product in a horse shop or webshop, because it is not written on the label what makes the treatment safe or even dangerous. The dark side of herbs is rarely discussed. Well, I do that too, because it makes the story whole and rounded.

Happy Holidays!

Nyíregyháza, 20 December 2022.

Zsófia Marton

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