Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Welcome to the New Year

By Mary Gallagher

Sugar and friends
Saying 'so long' to 2018.  If ever there was a year of challenges—extreme ups and downs, deep happiness as well as real sadness—2018 was that year. As a result, this year's letter is a bit longer...

For me, with every challenge there followed reflection on why something had happened, and on whether it could have been different. And after sad events, thankfully, came healing and growth. At times the difficulties truly seemed like bullets striking home, one after another. On reflection, though, each painful 'bullet' brought with it the opportunity to heal old wounds and resolve old memories of similar experiences, as if the present situation had brought with it a kind of cleansing rain.

Thankfully, because of all those challenges and the process of getting through them, we leave 2018 enriched, with many growth opportunities ahead, and so much to remember. I have promised myself, as I write this, to try to do justice to the memories as well as the opportunities, but I hope the reader will be kind if I have missed anything, as it's especially daunting to wrap my arms around all of it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Balanced Performance—good health, versatility, and fun as a path to excellence

by Mary Gallagher

In my recent posts, I have been sharing the progress and development of a 4-year old warmblood named Zeus who is in training with me. He came into our lives thanks to Joe Wolter’s clinic here last August. Zeus’s owner, Wendy Comstock, had brought Zeus all the way from her home in Yamhill, Oregon for the clinic. Joe, as always, was incredibly wise and helpful, and Wendy and I also connected regarding Zeus’s further training. At the end of the clinic, Wendy left him with us and he has been a pretty popular guy at the Farm, with his handsome good looks, easygoing, willing personality and eagerness to learn.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Balanced Performance and the Teeth—Honoring Nature's Model

By Mary Gallagher

November Freedom Farm Newsletter readers! Our apologies, this is last month's article. The blog post you want is here. -MG

In my last post I talked about connecting to the feet in order to foster balanced performance. Taking the example of recent arrival Zeus, a  4-year old with us for training, I emphasized how important the well-balanced, healthy, unshod hoof is to our working horses, as well as training the horse to think with his feet. This time, continuing with Zeus, I want to focus on the relationship of the horse's mouth to his health, well-being, and balanced performance.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Connecting to the Feet—A Case Study

By Mary Gallagher

Getting connected to the horse’s feet has become a passion of mine over the years; teaching horses to be careful with their feet is an art. So when I was recently asked to work with a promising 4-year old named Zeus, developing him for various kinds of showing, as well as to be a steady, well-rounded horse, I started with his feet.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

A One of a Kind Blessing Named Shorty (2010-2018)

by Mary Gallagher

Shorty came to us in 2014 from Joe Wolter’s Texas ranch. Joe thought this little horse would make a great children’s horse and I was glad to take him on at Freedom Farm. He was as promising as they get—smart, willing, and talented. But Shorty had something more, a sweetness of spirit that drew anyone that spent time around him, closer. I have always felt that the Universe planted a special seed here at the Farm, in the form of Shorty.

This handsome guy grew into the talented and all around great kid’s horse that Joe and I had expected, carrying my best students through many a jump course, out to play with the cows, and on the trail. He not only accepted hugs, but was okay with multiple kids hovering close, as he stood at the tie rail or reclined in his paddock.

He was a great horse and a love, and sadly, he was taken from us too soon. We will always remember Shorty as a one of a kind blessing to Freedom Farm. This is a brief photo (and video) remembrance of our friend and companion.

Handsome horse in a compact package!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Emotion and Consequences for Predator and Prey

 by Mary Gallagher

Mary Gallagher and student.
I was reading this week’s excellent short article by Grace Mitchell, one of my students, on consequences in horse training. She pointed out that effective consequences—our actions—in communicating with our horses needed to be appropriate in degree and timing to correct or reinforce behaviors in the horse. Importantly, Grace also reminded us that consequences are either positive or negative, and that we create consequences intentionally or unintentionally which impact our horse’s learning.

Timing and Degree of Consequences in Training Horses

Grace and Cysco in conversation.

By Grace Mitchell

Hoof Beats Beach camp is our best horsemanship camp for our advanced students. Each summer we spend 5 days at the beach immersing ourselves in our horsemanship as well as having a lot of fun with our horses.

We combine ground skills, on line and at liberty, to test the strength of our connection, and define the weaknesses in our communication so we can progress in our relationship with our horses.

Model student Grace Mitchell had some very wise insights to share with her fellow students this camp. I was so impressed with her ability to articulate this to the other students I asked her to write her thoughts down for our online students (and wrote a companion piece). Here are her words. -MG