By Mary Gallagher
Keeping Freedom Farm running takes the combined efforts of a lot of wonderful people—which many of you can appreciate after these last two weeks of below freezing weather.
My Appreciations for 2021...
First off, a big thank you to Jeremy Soderstrom! In times like these we can see just how dedicated Jeremy is. When most can’t even get out of their driveways, there goes Jeremy and his trike, or if it’s too slippery for the trike, Jeremy walks to the Farm. So appreciated, Jeremy! And then we have Mike Stinson: it is pretty cool to have someone watching the place 24/7, but Mike keeps a close eye on the horses. Mike misses nothing when it comes them, and it is truly a gift and a blessing to know we’ll be alert to even slight changes from the norm. Lester Hardy, thank you for keeping the smiles on our faces and spirits high—never is a new face missed, with all being greeted and welcomed by Lester as he goes about his work. My appreciation also to Haleyanna Fell, for your wonderful efforts in making sure the little things are taken care of, and your total love for the animals.
We are so blessed to have a wealth of knowledge ready available right here at FF. Particular thanks to Jerry Schmidt and Jess Crouch, who always give when asked—advice, hands on help with a horse, you name it. Their horsemanship is the best—they know to observe and allow everyone space to work through challenges. Two more wise horsemen have become a permanent part of the fabric of Freedom Farm: Kathy Schmidt and Audrey Bryant have been here, heart and soul, from the beginning. They have each been with me for so long that they know how I think and can take the reins in a moment’s notice—true friends. Thank you so much.
With the help of instructors Hannah Crouch, Ava Rich, and Elise Dean, we are able to keep the Connection, Communication, and Cooperation flowing and alive for future Freedom Farm horsemanship. All these young wise horsemen coming up are a joy for us all to watch and I am so appreciative of their fresh perspectives.
Our clinicians—Being able to bring in master horsemen to supplement the progress of our horsemanship is a true blessing. Thank you Dave Ellis and Martin Black for so generously sharing your wisdom last year!
Two extremely generous people that keep me on track, on time, and in the right head space—Mary Tulin, and Kip Tulin, I could not do this without you. Website, photos, newsletter and endless beautiful social media posts allow me to share the heart beating at Freedom Farm. Kip is also a willing spare hand when things need fixing. Many, many thanks.
Extraordinary volunteers can make a difference in just a short amount of time: Thank you Bob Thompson and grandson Maliki! When these two drop by, the hay forks get lighter, the wheelbarrows move faster, and the smiles broaden. And thanks to Philip Powers who makes sure those forgotten hooves are never really forgotten. Thank you for keeping up with the herd!
My prayers for 2022…
For our Freedom Farm families, boarders, and students: I pray that you are blessed with good health—both two-legged and four-legged. For Freedom Farm: May we be blessed again with laughter (thanks Lester and Jeremy), great music (Jess, Hannah, Lester), great footing (Mike), beautiful jumps and courses (Lester), healthy horses, nutritious hay harvests (Jerry), and friends and partners gathering in the special connection that only comes through horsemanship.
And finally, again I remember Matt Niemeyer, long time Hoof Beats dad, great participant in all aspects of the program, and beyond—who personified for me the magnificence of life. Arriving on the Farm scene over a decade ago with smiles and endless support, Matt will be remembered for his never ending positivity and spirit of service. One example dear to my heart was how he recruited the Hoof Beats students to assist in taking care of Indy’s eye (Indy was one of our elderly, retired school horses). We all learned so much, and Matt (a brilliant eye surgeon) had a way of opening our eyes while educating our minds.
In closing, here at this beautiful facility, we only need to exercise our imaginations to keep learning interesting and fresh for ourselves and our horses. Everyday we experience new insights through horsemanship. Thank you to everyone for being a part of FF’s magic!