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The Women & Horses Newsletter - January 2010

Give Our Youngsters A Solid Foundation
by Mary D. Midkiff

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Mary & Redge
Mary & Redge

Thank you for joining me in my communications with horse people from all over the world! We all love horses, we have that beautiful passion together and we also have in common that we are human beings. My Women & Horses newsletter covers topics related to horses, all things equine and the people that surround them. There's so much that horses can teach us, so much horses have to say, so much horses provide in our lives; a journey with horses is truly unlimited.

From newsletter to newsletter I provide insights, observations, questions and solutions to numerous inquiries around horses and the world they live in. I also provide useful resources, web links, experts, books and articles that I feel might be helpful to all horse interests.

The Women & Horses newsletter stands for all horse and pony breeds as well as donkeys and mules, all disciplines and uses of the horse and wild horses. Past newsletters have been archived on the website for you to check out anytime and I'm always open to receiving your inquiries via email.

Check out my website calendar often to find out if I will be speaking or conducting clinics in your area. I look forward to meeting you and your horse(s) and find out what you are up to.


Mary D. Midkiff

Give Our Youngsters A Solid Foundation

Happy New Year to all of you and your horses! I always love this time of year to create something new and possible in the future. I had a fruitful year in 2009 full of learning and observing; a real education in providing holistic healing for horses in 24/7 confinement and high pressure performance.

Taking care of performance horsesI thought I would share some of my insights into how we can support these horses before, during and after their performance careers. There are always going to be horses performing in high level sport activities and we are responsible for replacing what they are missing which is clean air, light, grazing and movement and free choice water, minerals and nutrients provided when they are on open pasture.

In June, July and August I provided mental and physical therapy as well as caretaking and horse keeping recommendations for two world champion Saddlebreds and went through the World Championship Horse Show week with them. I gained a tremendous amount of respect and honor for how hard these horses work, give their hearts and deal with all that humans ask of them.

Bonnie, a 9 year old champion, had just about had it with humans and their demands on her. She was unridable, tense, upset and out of her mind. Between the trainer, her very generous owner, her groom, my chiropractor and myself we were able to keep her happy and comfortable leading up to and during the World Show. She became trainable and ridable again and was willing to give it her all. She competed in an open championship class and took 7th which was a real achievement for her. Lynn, a 6 year old champion, was doing well in her training but was bracing against the bit and not salivating. Again our team was able to shift her discomfort, her jaw loosened and her mouth was comfortable and moist and she earned a 3rd in the World Championship class against stallions.

Being present with these horses every minute your are with them is crucially important. I try never to be attached to the results of my work because that can affect who I am being in the present. I am proud of these two amazing mares and their heart and courage in doing their jobs.

In September, October and November I provided therapy for two Thoroughbred fillies in training at Churchill Downs racetrack. I worked with the trainer and his staff and their compassionate owner to create the best possible environment for them. The education of being in their world on a daily basis was invaluable.

At first meeting the 3 year old filly stood in her stall with her head low to the ground, her coat dull and her ribs evident. She also came out of the stall down in her back end with her back leg movement uncoordinated. With a team effort we were able to turn her around and make her comfortable so she is back in training and is happy to see her owner show up everday. The 4 year old was doing okay but she was very tight in her neck, unequally developed, she had inflammed nerve endings making her front legs weak and C7 was out. Our team went to work and she is now training better than ever.

Again very rewarding and I do what I can in a very limiting environment. But it is worth doing something, you never know how you may be affecting the horse's future, the mind-set of the humans around them and the space all the horses live in.

After these experiences, I could really see how crucial the first few years of horse handling, feeding and training are to their future well being. The idea is to provide them with a strong, hardy immune system and a well balanced nervous system so that when they leave for the show barn or the racetrack they are prepared to handle the high pressure lifestyle of performance and confinement.

Young horses need attention and management from us so they understand what is being asked of them, accept and trust our guidance and feel good about their interaction with their human leaders. This happens on a daily basis with ground work in a connected and thoughtful manner. No more than 20 minutes at a time take your young horse into a round pen or small dry lot area and get to know each other through body language, body movement, verbal language, watching each other's foot movement, offering questions and challenges and waiting for the answers, rewarding answers and then allowing them to be free in your space. Please do everything with the horse on both sides!!

You will start adding a snug fitting halter, soft rope and I use the Linda Tellington Jones white wand as an extension of my arm stroking him all over, then tapping gently to drive the horse forward, back or sideways, and begin by walking with the horse at his shoulder, asking him to turn with you, back up with you, sidestep with you (on both sides) then again release and let him have some free space to roll or smell or stand and think or play. Once you have this connection then you can begin to lengthen the rope and have the horse go around you in connection and you can send them further out on a circle. And continue in this way until your horse will lunge in connection and feel good about all the positive ways you communicate.

Again you are teaching mental exercises which extends to the physical lessons.

If you have this kind of beginning with a youngster you will be able to walk them quietly in and out of the barn to turn out, up to and into a horse trailer and take on anything you ask. Adding a surcingle or saddle into this process is then just another step and the horse will come from trust as you are the human leader.

Once you are mounted you again work from the mental exercise point of view. Only when they get the mental challenges managed at the walk do you then add the trot, canter, gallop and so on. They need the world around them to slow down to understand what you are asking, processing then giving an answer. They cannot compute at speed until they have figured it out in slow work.

In your feeding program, keep it very simple with whole oats and free choice salt and minerals, plenty of the best hay you can afford and clean water. No sugar, no fillers are needed. Make sure the youngsters are getting plenty of sunlight, plenty of free movement and time on their own.

I choose to vaccinate and worm only when needed. And when I do have to vaccinate I always detox afterward. Unfortunately this approach is controversial and not recommended by most vets and most stables. Horses are the most over vaccinated animals on the planet and as a result have become very toxic, mentally foggy, weak in their kidneys and livers, subject to ulcerating, damaged intestinally and simply compromised in their ability to be healthy and strong.

So guess what, we create an animal that is so toxic they cannot think or process education or training, they are very uncomfortable physically and we send them off to the racetrack or show stable. No wonder many of them just don't work out!

In order to enter horse show grounds, stables and racetracks you have to provide proof of vaccinations. There are going to be times when you have to vaccinate to go places with your horse. If that's the case then always be prepared to detox for 30 days after. If you can get this done before you travel, even better. Go to www.purplechanges.com and www.healerswhoshare.com to find out more about detoxing your horse.

Instead of worming on a regular basis I send a stool sample to www.horsemenslab.com once every three months. This lab checks for all types of worms and sends a report back via email or snail mail. It's inexpensive and if the report is negative then there is no need to worm. More and more people are going this route instead of putting heavy toxic wormers into their horse's systems every few weeks or even daily.

If horses could start out this way - a clean, clear, healthy approach to performance - their performance career will have every chance to be successful, healthy, sound and long. Next newsletter I will discuss what can be done while horses are confined and performing. In the meantime check out www.thenaturalhorsevet.com.

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Mary Midkiff, 1119 Merrick Drive #362a, Lexington KY 40502
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