Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Lifestyle series 3: Conversation with a young trainer

By Mary Gallagher and Colton Crouch

Colton with two young trainees, Kiveaho (left) and Hilo (right).
I was talking to Colton Crouch, a former Freedom Farm student who now has his own training business, the other day. He said something that made me proud, and I was inspired to share it with you:

CC: Doing things the right way takes more time, and you have to work harder, but the end result is worth the extra time and effort.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A Visit to Freedom Farm

by Maya De Vogel
Woerden, Holland

Maya De Vogel has been visiting us since late August as part of a placement, or work experience, program at her university in Holland. A bachelors candidate in Animal Husbandry, Equine Sport & Business at Van Hall Larenstein University, she wrote the piece below as part of a longer report for her advisors. I thought it would be nice to share with our readers as a perspective on her time here. Maya has made herself a valued member of our little community over the past month or so, and we're not sure we are going to let her leave in November! -MG

Maya adds:
I contacted Freedom Farm because I was looking for something other than the ordinary, traditional stables, to learn about natural horsemanship and find out what it would mean for me. To summarize, it is not only a school placement, it is a personal adventure as well!

I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to come here to this amazing barn and to meet so many awesome people! It is my 6th week here already and I am absolutely not ready to leave.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Equestrian Lifestyle, Feet First, Part Two

by Mary Gallagher
Ben Robertson, 14,  on Joy Ride, Oregon Last of Summer Show, 2017

Our Freedom Farm Hoof Beats Horsemanship Team has competed successfully in a number of
A-rated shows around the Pacific Northwest this year. It has been a pleasure to watch these young people come into their own as competitors, and I am super proud of their horsemanship, sportsmanship, and superior talent. I've also been reflecting on the part that our horses’ herd lifestyle has played in their success.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Getting Fit to Ride (Part 2): Finding and Supporting Your Balance Point, Off the Horse

by Mary Gallagher
Jess asks Bucky for flexion.

Most would agree that good horsemanship involves a certain amount of grace. The rider is balanced, strong, and supportive of the horse, whose confidence and abilities benefit as a result. I often tell my students that if they want a more confident horse, they need to work on their own core strength, along with finding their balance point. Especially, I emphasize, OFF the horse. We can work on our core
and balance at home, at the gym, and at the barn, and bring a better prepared rider to our faithful

It’s that ‘don’t ride to get fit, get fit to ride’ thing. This article will focus on finding your balance point and building your core while off the horse, and safely developing that strength and grace while on the horse. I’ll also share a couple of exercises I’ve come to think of as preparations for riding.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Getting Fit to Ride (a series, part 1)

By Mary Gallagher

As Jess Crouch pointed out in her recent articles on preparing to ride and mounting safely, it is important to review the basics and really prepare the horse for mounting. With time and experience, ironically, it’s easy to get careless or automatic about mounting. So I got to thinking about how we should also prepare ourselves to ride. We are riders in the active sense of the word, not passengers, and riding entails muscle conditioning and balance for the human, as much as the horse.

With this idea in mind, I have begun incorporating targeted exercises for riders in many of my classes, as part of the ground work portion, or in preparation for riding. In this first article, I focus on preparing ourselves to mount safely and smoothly, and share an exercise to support both. It’s better for the horse, and it’s definitely better for us riders! -MG

Mounting a horse is an athletic act. Getting on smoothly and seamlessly, without disturbing the horse—not getting hung up on the cantle, or flinging our leg over the saddle in an imbalanced way— is a practiced motion and a real skill. We need to get good at it. Just like we use ground work to practice moves with our horse that we will repeat while riding, we can also develop our own moves and muscles while on the ground.

Beauty You Can Feel: An Appreciation

By Thomas Gallagher

Freedom Farm’s environment is a reflection of the happiness of its horses and humans. It is a place where both can learn from each other and grow together in a natural setting. As one of the premiere competition stables on the Olympic Peninsula, ‘the Farm’ is known for it’s professional yet peaceful environment. Owner Mary Gallagher maintains this balance between sportsmanship and serenity as she works alongside the like-minded individuals who help shape her vision into reality. One of those folks is Fred Voorhees, a landscaping professional who takes the utmost pride in providing the ranch with its aesthetic appeal.

When you arrive at Freedom Farm you notice Fred’s handiwork immediately.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Stop! Let’s Think About This: At the Mounting Block (Part 2 of 2)

by Jessica Crouch

So, by now you have gone through your basic pre-ride checks, and decided to ride. The horse feels ready, and you have a good idea of how much he knows and what state his mind is in. You have established a basic communication with him. Next question: To use a mounting block or not?

Almost all equine bodywork professionals will encourage you to use a mounting block as it is easier on the horse’s back.  The torque of a human pulling their weight up can cause significant pressure on a horse's spine. Many people simply need the extra height to get on.  I usually use a mounting block or fence to mount my horse, though I make sure my horses are comfortable with a person just mounting from the ground. So let’s start with the mounting block.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Stop! Don’t get on that horse! (Yet.) Part 1 of 2

by Jessica Crouch

Spring is finally here and many of you are eager to get riding again.  Maybe a friend has invited you for a trail ride and offered you a horse you don’t know well.  Maybe you are anxious to get your green horse going again and see if you can develop him a bit more this year.  YOU are anxious to get riding, but before swinging into the saddle, there are some basic things you should do to check if your HORSE is ready.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Calendar of Events for 2017 (so far...)

by Mary Gallagher

(Copied from our February 2017 Newsletter. -MG)

Our usual schedule of classes and arena use will stay basically the same, and is being updated on the Calendar page on the website as I type. You can save yourself a phone call by checking there first. Of course, I am happy to answer questions about upcoming events, and get your RSVPs for classes.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Relationship: Communicating on the Ground

by Mary Gallagher

I am always looking for a better way to be around horses—mine, my clients’, class and clinic participants’. Over many years, I have often heard people comment that they really prefer to just to get on and ride. So often the pressure we put on ourselves to achieve results and ‘get it done’ gets in the way of our relationship with our horse, which is why ground work makes so much sense.
Charlie and his owner having a conversation.

Ground communication makes going slow okay. It is all about the horse’s story, so going slowly and purposefully allows us to put our agenda aside, and begin to see and understand what the horse is telling us.

When approaching your horse from the ground, spend some time watching him. Really see him.  Don’t be hasty to judge, just give him time to let go of the show.  Let him impress you with what he knows. In his exuberance, he will most likely show you all his groovy moves.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Years Greetings, Appreciations, and News from Mary Gallagher

Dear Friends,

Good bye to 2016, hello to 2017!

Let's start with an appreciation....

I always feel that the start of a new year is the best time to express the gratitude I feel all year round, and say thank you to all the wonderful folks who have helped Freedom Farm grow and reach out to so many horse people all over the world.