BUHL, Idaho — Just like a puzzle, all the pieces in Mickey Young’s life fit with him becoming an equine and canine herbalist. But also just like a puzzle, it was hard to see the big picture until the pieces interlocked.
Today, that picture is a successful business promoting the health of horses and dogs through herbal nutrition.
But the story started even before Young was born.
His father, LaVern, grew up in Utah, picking up tips on doctoring animals with medicinal herbs from the Navajos who lived in the area. He later had a career with Bureau of Land Management as a range rider and wild horse and burro specialist, learning more about the plants those animals chose to graze.
Young’s mother, Ruth, was a successful naturopath at a time when naturopathy was little known.
“I learned some from each of them,” Young said.
And as a professional cowboy, champion bareback rider and stock contractor for the National Finals Rodeo, Young knew horses and the dogs that are inevitably a cowboy’s companion.
His parents moved to Idaho, where Young had settled during his rodeo days and opened a health store. His mother helped people with herbs and when they asked for help with their horses or dogs, she’d send them to Young.
“It grew from there, but it didn’t happen overnight,” Young said.
After selling his rodeo stock company, he was looking for something he could do to make a living.
“I had done the herb thing for many years, but I didn’t know there was a living in it,” he said.
A chance meeting with Heather Mack, a veterinarian who practices holistic horse health, would change his way of thinking.
Mack was impressed with the health of Young’s horses and started referring clients to him for his herbal mixtures. That gave Young the confidence to start telling people about the benefits of herbs.
Later, Mack started carrying his mixtures and was his first large, consistent client.
Word spread quickly due to the quality of the herbs and the effectiveness of Young’s formulas. Everything from wounds and digestive issues to kidney and liver ailments seemed to benefit from the herbs, Young said.
He and his wife, Lori, officially started Silver Lining Herbs 20 years ago.
Back then, “people weren’t that accepting of herbs for horses. It was a hard sale, but Mick started educating people,” Lori said.
The business went from mixing herbs in his mother’s shop to outgrowing a basement, then a garage and then a large shop to building a commercial facility.
It kind of started by accident but grew little by little into a full-grown business, Lori said.
Silver Lining Herbs produces about 30 herbal combinations for horses and 20 for dogs, ranging from daily health maintenance and early wormer to joint and lymphatic support. The company uses 80 to 100 different ingredients, sourced from five main suppliers in North America, Chance Schuknecht, the company’s sales and marketing manager, said.
The company has strict quality-control practices and is audited by the National Animal Supplement Council, which has awarded the business its Quality Seal.
The formulas are meant to provide the variety of healthful vegetation horses and dogs had when they could range freely to improve their quality of life, he said.
Young said his goal is to help as many horses and dogs as possible.
“There’re a lot out there that need it, and owners don’t know it,” he said.
He knows of cases where a horse or dog was euthanized because the practitioner or the owner didn’t think a problem could be fixed. In many cases, herbs are the answer, he said.
“I have seen what people would call miracles (using herbs) many years now,” he said.
And he hears it all the time from his customers — animals in advanced stages of illness completely recovering with herbs, he said.
“It’s pretty cool when you see it happen, and it happens a lot,” he said.
Silver Lining Herbs has hundreds of testimonials, but is unable to print them or advertise with them under Food and Drug Administration regulations, he said.
“I’ll always be an advocate for what it does. We’re all pretty passionate about this at Silver Lining,” he said.
Unfortunately, people have lost a lot of the knowledge they had before modern medicine, but it’s pretty hard to improve on nature, he said.
“God put everything we needed here; all we have to do is access it,” he said.