Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Equestrian Lifestyle at Freedom Farm: Feet First

By Jerry Schmidt and Mary Gallagher

A natural lifestyle is the foundation of our horses' health at Freedom Farm. Foundational to that is the care of their feet, which are, without exception, barefoot. It's a great first topic of this series on natural equestrian lifestyle. -MG

Our boarding and training business, dedicated to keeping horses in a more natural environment, is a huge undertaking in the horse industry today. The way our horses live – moving barefoot with a herd, enjoying access to natural grasses and hay 24/7 – is not how horses are typically cared for, especially if you have competition aspirations. Yet that is how our horses live and compete: barefoot and in a herd environment.

Magnum’s Rough Year, Part Two: Oh No! Laminitis!

Not feeling well at all!
by Mary Tulin

Mary and Magnum's story of insulin resistance continues with more hard times, dealt with effectively. A good example of proper horse management. -MG

Magnum really wasn’t feeling well.

His move to a dirt pen with old pals had seemed like the perfect situation: get him off grass, keep him in a herd with room to play. The big dirt pen by the hay barn was roomy, with his old herd right next door. Within weeks after the move, however, he got worse again. Dirt pens are great, but this one was next to pasture, grass within easy reach of questing muzzles. Magnum munched freely, and paid dearly.

Friday, October 7, 2016

"Are you sure you still want him?" Scooter’s Story

by Breanna York and Dekker McKeever

It has been a pleasure to welcome Breanna  (a long-ago student of mine), her husband Dekker, and their two horses, Helo and Scooter, to Freedom Farm. I asked Breanna to share Scooter's story with us. He and Dekker are regulars in our Friday morning Ground Work class.  - MG

“Are you sure you still want him…???” Barry pleaded with me, his desperate eyes frantically scanning my face. He barely held back the rearing, bucking, flaring miniature stallion. The 10-month old miniature horse looked like a tiny woolly mammoth, painted with a smattering of chestnut red and summer sky white clouds. A tiny woolly mammoth whose name would be Scooter, fighting to flee his chicken coop stable. 

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.