Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Magnum's Rough Year: What I learned about insulin resistance (his) and denial (mine).

by Mary Tulin, with Kip Tulin, MD

“Is your horse insulin resistant?”

“No. Uh, what’s that?” I asked, feeling oddly defensive. I was chatting with a woman participating in a clinic at Freedom Farm last year (2015), a fellow Morgan fancier.

“It’s kind of like diabetes, “ she replied. “My horse has it, and mature Morgans are prone to get it.” Her Morgan horse, a handsome, trim gelding, stood nearby.

I quizzed her further, sure that my 15-year old gelding Magnum was perfect in every way and destined to be healthy and fit into old age.

“Well, I noticed Magnum had some little bumps,” she pointed to his side. “My guy had those, so I had a vet check him.”

Bumps? Yep, there they were. But there weren’t very many. And even though a few professionals (riding coach, saddle fitter, etc.) had pointed out Magnum’s occasional crestiness, I’d never worried. He was a lively, feisty middle-aged horse and I was sure he was fine. Perfectly normal.
Magnum and me, a few months earlier. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Balanced Performance: making every moment with your horse count, from barn to gate, and beyond (a series)

 by Mary Gallagher

One lesson horses have consistently taught me over the years is to be present and address questions as they arise, before moving on. We don't know what future problem we are fixing in the present but most certainly, if we ignore the issue in the moment, it will show up again at the most inopportune time. Knowing this has shaped my teaching at home and on the road: make each moment you spend with your horse count!

In my last post, I shared how I had recently witnessed a horse's unwanted behavior at the in gate at a show, a perfect example of an issue showing up under pressure, at an inopportune time:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Koko and the Beginnings of Balanced Performance

by Mary Gallagher

Everyone in my family got to choose a special gift for their 13th birthday. I think that was my parents’ way of getting out of buying us cars at 16. Anyway, all 6 kids wanted their special thing, and mine was a horse. His name was Koko and we spent a lot of time together. He was 3 when I got him. I had been showing since I was 7 so I wasn’t a total beginner, but I was no trainer, either. I depended on my adult trainers for guidance on how to develop Koko.

There were lots of trails around our stable, so I rode him out after lessons whenever possible. We fox hunted and did horse trials along with dressage and jumping lessons, and horse shows. Koko was a great all around horse.

14-year old Mary Gallagher on Koko.
About 3 years into our life together, the showing part was beginning to develop a glitch. Koko did not want to leave the in gate; he developed a real aversion to it. Within a year we were regularly getting excused from the arena. I tried everything my trainer asked, and even had other trainers ride him at shows to help get him get over this behavior, but nothing seemed to work. Koko was one very arena sour guy.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Joey's Hind Leg and What We Learned About Wound Care

by Mary Gallagher (with comments from Kip Tulin, M.D.

This is a story I've been meaning to share since it happened. Meanwhile, I've continued to use the basic approach here with success. At the time it was a bit of a science experiment, which thankfully produced positive results. I'd be interested in comments from those of you who have had success with natural remedies for wound care as well. I also invited Dr. Kip Tulin, a Freedom Farm regular and retired physician, to comment below on the basics of this art. -MG

Joey injured his left hind leg very badly in May 2012. He had kicked through and then gotten tangled in his pen's electric fence. The wound was wide open and there was no way to stitch it. We first irrigated the wound very thoroughly with cold water. It was a large, deep wound so I must have kept the hose on it for 30 minutes. We then left it un-bandaged and applied herbal products, with the result that the granulating tissue nearly covered the area, with the exception of a small area in the center that drained constantly. Then one day it just got really swollen and split down the middle. It was horrendous. Out of ideas and very worried about Joey, we took him to the veterinary hospital. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Kenny's Fitness Corner: A Triple Whammy Squat

 by Mary Gallagher, with coach Kenny Hall, fitness trainer

During our Monday morning Fitness for Riders class, I asked Kenny to give me and our students an exercise to help with shoulder position, and he gave us a triple whammy: an exercise to work on our 1) balance, 2) seat position in the saddle, as I 3) open up our shoulders. Once again, I got to be the model for this post:

A Horse, a Human, and a Microbe walk into a Barn…..

by Kip Tulin

Note: There are quite a few 50-cent words in here which you may feel free to skip past in search of Dr. Tulin's point about feed and supplementation. Science geeks, enjoy! -MG

humans, horses, dog, and gazillions of microbes...
….and while hanging out around the treat bin, they decide to find out if they have anything at all in common. Horse and human, sure. But a microbe?? Turns out all three (human, horse, microbe) have more in common than you might think: they—and I might as well say ‘we’— all have DNA made up of the same four ‘letters’ (called nucleotides) and they all use groups of three of these letters (triplets) to code for the the same twenty ‘building blocks’ (amino acids). It is truly amazing to think that all of the immensely diverse living things on earth, whether single celled, plant, insect, or animal use the same basic code of life.

The Transformation of Niko's Feet: Progress Report

 by Mary Gallagher

“My horse has bad feet and can’t be ridden without shoes.” It’s a sentence I hear too often. At Freedom Farm, hoof care and rehabilitation are part of our creed and a cornerstone of our work. This post is about sharing one horse’s story, but it is certainly not unique to him! We’ll be sharing more and offering classes in trimming and hoof care, so I hope this post will offer some inspiration on the subject. - MG

As I was trimming Niko’s feet this week I thought it would be nice to give everyone a look at what has changed in the two years he has been without shoes.

Niko moved off the rubber floor and has been living out with one of the gelding herds 24/7 for about 8 months now and doing great. His training continues with less and less need for hoof boots.