Monday, January 6, 2020

Looking Back on 2019

by Mary Gallagher

Advanced Hoof Beats riders heading for class.
Looking back on 2019. It sure was a rich year of learning, and I am thankful to our horses and to allof you for giving so much of yourselves as we grow in horsemanship together here at Freedom Farm. Writing this year-end note is always an exercise in acknowledgement and gratitude to the wonderful people who make Freedom Farm a great place to be. This year I found myself thinking about the different people and experiences that enriched us all:

We met new teachers and engaged in new ideas—especially through our first Advanced Prep for Performance 5-day class. It was a great week that generated new ideas and relationships while covering a number of horsemanship topics, from safety to teamwork, hoof care to body work, and much more. Several visiting instructors are continuing to be resources, including...

Aikido for equestrians with Neilu Naini. The stars lined up when local sensei (master teacher) Neilu introduced Aikido to the Hoof Beats team. I have always wanted a part of the program to address fitness and safety for our students, and Aikido, which emphasizes harmony and balance in physical training, is perfect for riders. We are pleased that Neilu will continue to offer Aikido here in 2020, for all our students. Classes are on second Saturdays and there’s room for more! Contact me if you’d like to join us.

Equine bodywork with Sarah Odell Fredrickson. Sarah led several sessions, starting during the Advanced Prep clinic, which were so appreciated by attendees (and happy horses!). We look forward to her return for more great sessions in 2020.

Teammanship with Coach Kenny Hall was as inspiring as ever, during the Advanced Prep clinic! Kenny has been a fitness coach for many of us Farm regulars, and we are always glad to have him visit for fitness wisdom and positive ideas.

I am also very grateful for and want to acknowledge Farm regulars Connie Paschall RN and Kip Tulin MD, who contributed medical wisdom and practical coaching in leading a session on safety and emergency management.

I took on new challenges. Jerry and I learn right along with you, as teachers, clinic participants, and as horsemen, every day. But a couple of areas stood out for me...

Long Distance learning—a new possibility. Many of you have met Wendy Comstock, my out-of-state student who has had several horses in training with us, and who travels up from Wensleydale Farm in Yamhill, Oregon, for coaching sessions. In addition, she and I communicate frequently through video lessons and coaching, which is something new. I have been recording pertinent instruction during the week, and sharing with her once a week. So when Wendy arrives to take part in classes or clinics, she is up to speed with our latest practice. I have enjoyed working with Wendy in this way, and look forward to working with more students at a distance.

My Connecting to the Feet Clinic – It was a pleasure to share my unique approach to connection, communication, and cooperation with so many enthusiastic learners. We welcomed many out of state students who have stayed in touch since. The positive response and high attendance at my inaugural Connecting to the Feet clinic in August was a real affirmation (and yes, we’ll be offering it again in 2020).

We continued to benefit from and deeply appreciate the wisdom and expertise of our team.

Jessica Crouch, our respected expert natural horsewoman and trainer, is instrumental in keeping the learning at Freedom Farm at the highest level. Her insight and techniques are impeccable. With unending kindness and skill, Jess inspires all of us to achieve better connection, communication, and cooperation with our horses.

Jerry Schmidt contributes so very much to our learning. Always busy and a man of few words, Jerry has a remarkable way of simplifying things down to core ideas that make sense—if you are lucky enough to catch him! We are very lucky to get time with Jerry once a month in our Feet First classes for discussions about hoof care, and lots of hands-on time with his coaching and problem solving expertise. (Join us on January 26! See calendar below.)

Hannah Crouch—who works with her mom Jess in their family business, Wild About Horses—is now teaching many beginning students and provides extra horse care services for our clients who are away or otherwise need support. Her quiet strength and work ethic are a treasured asset at the Farm.

Mike Stinson, Lester Hardy, and Jeremy Soderstrom are like our bold knights, giving their special support to horse or human, wherever needed. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

Mary Tulin helps me tell the world about Freedom Farm and Wise Horseman through this newsletter, our website, blog, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, with photos and videos scattered throughout. Thank you.

We saw tremendous growth in our Hoof Beats students.
Our Hoof Beats program continues to teach young equestrians the importance of natural lifestyle in our horsemanship curriculum, connection, communication, cooperation, safety, hoof care. Most of these young people show up four days a week to spend rich, quality time with their horses and each other, including coaching and practice, of course, but so much more. We also enjoyed special Hoof Beat activities such as Beach Camp and our new Advanced Preparation for Performance Camp mentioned above.

I so appreciate the parents of our Hoof Beats students for their support of their kids in a program that takes such extraordinary commitment. Thank you all!

We benefited from the efforts of volunteers at Freedom Farm  who contribute so much, giving their time and skills to better the lives of our school horses, help with keeping our facilities comfortable, and in so many ways providing a bit of extra care to our human/horse community. Phillip Powers helps out with school horses on most afternoons; Kip Tulin is often seen with his tool belt and bucket, fixing things and taking on projects that benefit us all. And a big thank you to everyone for keeping our classroom swept and tidy, and for those quiet heroes who have cleaned the bathrooms on several occasions—you are wonderful people.

We said good bye to an old friend.  This year our dear school horse Indy joined the herd of great teachers that now live in our hearts. Thank you for your loving service.
Indy, enjoying retirement, gets some love from Kip.
We welcomed new faces. Welcome to new boarders Sandy Jacobsen and her gelding Marty, Karen Chadwick and her mare Pinky, and Hieda Diefenderfer and her gelding Jumah. Nice to have you with us!

Heading into the New Year... I am hard at work scheduling all the wonderful horsemanship events of 2020, but a couple bear mentioning now:

Our YouTube video channel got lots and lots of views in 2019, largely thanks to Wise Horseman videos of Jerry Schmidt, produced by Angus McCullough, our videographer. Angus caught lots of amazing footage of Jerry working with horses, including a demo on dealing with needle-shy horses, as well as several more hoof care sessions. More of these videos will be posted to our YouTube channel in coming months, so if you are not a subscriber sign up to get the heads-up when they are available.

Dave Ellis will return for another 5 day clinic July 15th thru 19th. Horsemanship, Ranch Versatility, Cow Work, Cowboy Dressage—Dave always comes with renewed enthusiasm, imaginative exercises that improve our horsemanship, and songs around the camp fire. It is a pleasure and a whole lot of fun to welcome him back in 2020. Oh, and it is definitely NOT too early to sign up... drop me a note to reserve your space!

In closing...a final appreciation.

Over the years, Freedom Farm has grown into a unique community, in how we spend quality time with our horses and each other, working for the same goals in caring for our horses, sharing experiences and supporting each other. It’s a privilege to be a part of, and I want to thank you for including us in your horsemanship journey. It has been a pleasure getting to know each of you better, and watching you and your horses grow in connection, communication, and cooperation, here at Freedom Farm.

Happy New Year, 2020!

Mary Gallagher, Jerry Schmidt, and Flanders

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