Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Soleus and Gastroc Stretches: Good for Riders!

by Mary Gallagher, with Kenny Hall, fitness coach

I asked Kenny Hall, our Riders Fitness coach to give us some tips on maintaining great equitation by helping riders lower their center of gravity, utilizing the shock absorbing abilities in their ankles. Here is a summary of our exchange by email and during workouts. -MG

Mary Gallagher: Kenny, we coach riders in correct posture and center of gravity, supported by flexible, strong ankles. Can you give us some insight about that, and any exercise tips?

Kenny Hall: Sounds like you could focus on a commonly tight muscle in the body in the calf called the soleus. The soleus muscle helps us maintain good posture and keeps us from falling forward. Also, a flexible soleus muscle will act as a shock absorber for any athlete or rider, helping them to withstand impact while keeping a correct posture. Keeping this muscle toned and flexible is a must for a correct riding position.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Springtime means sunshine, green grass, and risk of laminitis!

by Barbara Noble

With the warmer weather and another early spring, laminitis is a good topic for all horse owners to have on their mind. Our northwestern grass will soon be growing high, and also high in sugar. All horse owners could benefit from knowing about the risk of laminitis, and being proactive in preventing it, whether or not their horse is showing symptoms. Horses prone to laminitis of the most common variety are thought to be horses with an inherited gene which predisposes them to obesity (the easy keeper type) and a different metabolism of carbohydrates. Even if your horse does not have laminitis, you can be proactive and possibly avoid this condition altogether.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Transformation of Niko: Mary Gallagher comments

by Mary Gallagher

Niko recently.
Michelle’s series on the transformation of her off-track Thoroughbred, Niko, is a testimony to time,
healing, balance and perseverance as cornerstones of natural horsemanship. We were privileged to welcome Niko to Freedom Farm and help with his transition from promising but challenged prospect, to the happy, healthy guy he is today. Michelle has done a great job of sharing her journey with Niko, and now Jess Crouch and I are relating some of our contributions along the way. I hope this article series will prove helpful and maybe even inspirational to anyone with a horse in need of transformation.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Transformation of Niko: Jessica Crouch Comments

by Jessica Crouch

This article is part of our "Transformation of Niko" series, by Michelle Grimmer, jumping and dressage instructor, and Niko's owner.  Our previous post was the fifth in the series, and has links to Michelle's first installment. -ed.

Michelle asked me to spend some time with Niko as her school year got busier. Obviously, the dressage/jumping work itself was being well covered by Mary and Michelle, so I decided to focus on groundwork and relationship building with Niko. One of the very most important things I look for from a horse is the feeling that they WANT to be with you and that they look forward to a new learning experience with enthusiasm.  This is sometimes very difficult to achieve - after all it's hard for a human to compete with the safety and comfort of a horse's herd mates. I noticed that Niko tended to prefer being with his herd rather than with people, and he seemed to worry quite a bit about the herd when he was out.  He also tended to do things a bit grudgingly - not really engaging with his person, even if he (Niko) was otherwise performing beautifully. With Niko, there is an added component that he is one of the more dominant horses in his herd so he has a strong need to look after his buddies. Also, because of whatever stresses he had in his past life, he had some definite worries.  So he would need to feel pretty secure and comfortable to let all that go and engage with a person.

The Transformation of Niko, Part 5

 By Michelle Grimmer

This article is the fifth in a series about Michelle’s thoroughbred Niko, whose journey to health is a study in holistic horse care and natural horsemanship. The earlier articles are highly recommended as background. You can find all Michelle’s articles by clicking on her name at right, or just start HERE, with the first installment of The Transformation of Niko (Part One).  - ed.

            One of the best things that ever happened to Niko was that I started nursing school just after I adopted him from his previous owner. While at times I felt frustrated that I could not do more with him on a daily basis to help him progress, the very thing he needed was for me to do things very slowly. In other words, less was more. The challenges present in his body and mind (which I came to think of as his ‘twistedness’) required strategic nudging and time for things to be sorted out. Niko is a tremendously talented horse who has always always been willing to try, and has always made progress, but I had a nagging sense that there was yet more inside Niko to work through, that there were still ‘stuck places’ in his body somewhere.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Barefoot Success at Horse Shows, 2015

by Mary Gallagher

Back in July, I wrote about Freedom Farm’s barefoot, herd-dwelling horses. With the end of the year fast approaching, it occurs to me that we’ve had quite a year outside the Farm, at a number of horse shows with our young riders in the Hoof Beats competition team. Looking back on their consistent success, I just wanted to bring our readers up to speed on our experiences showing, as possibly the only barefoot, natural-lifestyle competition stable on the circuit.

By any measure, you could say our riders had a phenomenal year, bringing home multiple wins, championships, reserves, and high point awards at every outing. With the consistency of their success, something had to be working in their favor. A few things were, actually, though here I want to focus on the barefoot aspect.

Healing by Secondary Intention: Bob's Story

by Kip Tulin M.D.

Bob's wound, Day One
In early December (a month before this writing) Bob, an older gelding in the Farm school program, sustained a deep laceration to the right side of his face, cause unknown. (Mary Gallagher discovered his plight in the course of a morning feeding and checked around the pen, with no luck.) As you can see from the photo, the cut went from just below his eye and way down the cheek, gaping open almost an inch. Mary examined the wound carefully, noting some places where the wound went all the way through; she could hear a sucking sound as Bob breathed.

Obviously such a deep cut needed to be stitched, right?