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.

Freedom Farm in Port Angeles, Washington, is a business owned by veteran trainer and rider Mary Gallagher. “The Farm” provides boarding and training based on natural horsemanship principles, and teaches people natural horsemanship. Mary’s students travel to compete in hunter-jumper classes in major competitions around Washington State and beyond.

Because all the horses are out in pens or herds 24/7, there is not much stable-type work to do. I mostly help out with classes and lessons, and do some clean up. However, I also have time to work with several school horses and learn the basics of natural horsemanship. Josie, a pretty mare, was given to me as a project to work on during my time here. It is really nice to have a horse to bond and have fun with.

A natural way of living is a priority for this barn, therefore all the horses are barefoot—even the ones that compete. Riders learn to maintain their own horses’ feet, with support from professional trimmers as needed. Most riders work on the feet every two weeks to balance and support healthy hooves.

Mary believes very strongly in rider fitness, and tells her students “Don’t ride to get fit, get fit to ride.” She has developed a relationship with a local coach, Kenny Hall of Anytime Fitness in Sequim, so every Monday, Friday and Saturday morning there are opportunities to go the gym to “get fit to ride”.

During the weeks I have been here we have gone to two competitions, a big show in Auburn and a more local, schooling show on Bainbridge Island. Mary’s students had great results at both shows, and I could see an obvious difference in the training of the horses. Also, her students spend four afternoons a week at the Farm, working and playing with their horses as part of the Hoof Beats program,  and it shows.

On my days off I have been to Hurricane Ridge, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, and Sequim, plus two high-school football games.

I still have five weeks to go, and I cannot wait to see what will happen, and what learning opportunities will come around.

I am so grateful to Mary Gallagher and Jerry Schmidt for taking me in and giving me this amazing opportunity!

Jerry Schmidt working on Josie’s hooves.

Hoof Beat lesson on a Thursday afternoon.

The arena, free jumps, round pen and the blocked hill.

One of the Hoof Beat students, Ben Robertson on All About Me (Mimi, who is Josie's sister), at the competition in Auburn.

Another Hoof Beats student, Gracie Niemeyer with Code Breaker (Kody) on the competition in Auburn

The Wolves of Sequim High School, at my first football game.
Spending time with Josie in the Emerald Forest area of Freedom Farm. The arena roof is visible in the distance.

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