Kelly Geiger is a riding instructor and trainer out of Sunny Slope Stables in Damascus, Oregon (just minutes outside the city of Portland).
Her specialties include dressage and natural horsemanship. Kelly believes in using core dressage fundamentals in a variety of disciplines to improve strength and balance in both the horse and rider. These values, combined with foundation principles of natural horsemanship, help to develop strong connections between horse and rider.
Recently, I was able to go on vacation and take part in something called… total relaxation.
I left my horses in good hands and felt confident that, upon my return, they would be of good nature and ready to get back to work as well. I spent a great deal of time reading- which is rare for me because I am never able to justify sitting in one spot for more than 10 minutes.
I chose to read “Centered Riding” by Sally Swift. I won’t say it changed my life but I WILL say it enhanced everything I believe in as a rider. Swift was on the forefront of discovering the connection of body mechanics between horse & rider- she is a legend in the dressage world, although, I believe her words would be beneficial to any style of proper riding.
As a visual learner, I sincerely appreciated the pictorials and graphics that coincided with the text. Here are a few goodies to share:
This is Armani, I named him myself because he didn’t have a name when I got him. He is about 16 hands and gorgeous- that’s all I really know for sure. I purchased Armani for $200 at the Eugene Livestock Auction in Eugene, Oregon. His charming personality, pitiful eyes, and my weakness for grays is what sold me.
At first, I was hesitant on bidding because of his hooves. He has a large crack up his inside left hoof wall that meets his coronet band. It looks ugly, but doesn’t seem to be affecting his movement. With corrective trimmings and proper upkeep, I think this cosmetic mishap can dissipate over time. His weight was average but he was tied up in his stall/cell waiting for the auction to begin… the fact that he was tied was my real “Red Flag”. I untied him and walked him around a bit in his stall. Then asked him to trot a little for me, he was definitely off but it wasn’t clear (in that small of an area) what was hurting- or what was hurting the most. As the auction began, I clenched my number tight as I waited for him to come out. I thought maybe if I could see him move better in the bidding arena, I would be able to make a more educated and rational decision. He came out. He came out lame, and I threw my number up anyway.
I unloaded him from the trailer around 8 PM that night and it wasn’t until close to midnight that I left the barn. With the help of my partner and farrier, we discovered at least one abscess on each hoof. This was good news for me! I can manage abscesses all day long, no problem.
After a 2 week (apprx.) healing period, the work began. He was sore in his hind end- not the giant crack in his front left but his HIND end! I’ve dealt with hock issues and this was certainly not a road I wanted to travel. In effort to rule out my fear of routine hock maintenance and expenses… I called Sarah Orloff of Topline Massage. She came out and worked wonders! It was magical. She worked his knots and stretched him out like no tomorrow. Plus, she gave me a massage and stretching routine to keep him soft and supple. I immediately noticed a difference and continued to see results after following through with my exercises.
I’ve made the decision to continue to take it slow with Armani because he is still a work in progress both muscle-wise and also under saddle. I have no idea of his training prior to being with me, so I am treating him as I would any unstarted horse- with a respectful amount of consistency and caution.
In addition to Armani’s massage and stretching routine, I have also added a joint supplement to his diet; Dynamite’s Free & Easy® along with DynaHoof® to help strengthen and stimulate regrowth in his hooves and Dynamite Plus® to assist in regulating his pH levels. I hope to keep track of his progress and share his story with you, here on my blog, as he advances in his recovery to become a sound, healthy and happy horse.
Kelly Geiger is now an official product representative & distributor for Dynamite Supplements. Dynamite’s mission is to improve the lives of all living creatures by empowering people with the truth and knowledge about health. Dynamite® provides a wide range of supplements for equines, canines, and even humans to help promote a healthy lifestyle. Contact Kelly to place your order today!
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- 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup bran
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 cup grated carrot or apple
Preheat oven to 375. Put aside a small bowl of white sugar and a drinking glass with a flat bottom.
In a large bowl mix all the ingredients thoroughly. The mixture shouldn’t be too wet, and should stick together. Add more flour to make the mixture firmer and hold together if necessary. Drop by teaspoonfuls, about 1 ½ inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Grease the bottom of the glass, dip it in the sugar, and stamp the cookies to flatten them slightly. Bake for about 10 minutes.
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 carrots or an apple
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup water
- Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roughly chop carrots or apple and mix with dry ingredients. Stir in all wet ingredients and the fill a baking sheet. Score into sections and spray with a small amount of oil. Bake for 15 minutes.
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup mollases
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sugar
- Any extra treats such as apple/oats/carrots/pepperments crushed/grated
Preheat oven for 350 degrees F. First, mix sugar, flour, and crushed/grated goods. Then add liquid goods. Stir until well blended. The mix should be sticky, but not too runny. If it is too runny, add flour, if it is to thick, add a little more mollasses and oil. Cook for 10-15 min. Apply more time if it’s neccessary. they should be crunchy when you are done, let cool in fridge.
I had often referred to my Haflinger as a total gym. He was a horse that used to require a lot of focus, leg, & patience. To me the art of riding is very much a sport even though I do not typically compete for ribbons.
I feel pain
I know my body
I challenge both my horse and myself, and to some degree, I win every day.
I’ve been asked many times if riding horses is a good workout. My answer is always this:
“It depends on how you ride”.
The exercise of horseback riding actually grounds the rider in the saddle. The hips of the rider are pushed into the saddle and reinforced by the movements of the horse. The movement from the core of the horse will help your core, coming from the hips being ground into the saddle, to get stronger. The muscles, such as the postural muscles around your body’s core, will become strengthened through the process of horseback riding.
As the horse moves, you will need to utilize strong muscles to stay in place and to keep in control of the horse’s movements. This pressure will make those muscles stronger and more controlled, helping keep your balance in the saddle and maintain that balance during the various speeds of the horse’s trot. Throughout this, you will also be using your coordination skills to move your body as the horse moves and reposition yourself and your hips in the saddle as the horse approaches different speeds or as it turns different directions.
This type of exercise calls for good overall muscle tone and good overall flexibility. As you try horseback riding as exercise for the first couple of times, you will begin to be aware of different types of pain in various muscle areas. This will pass, however, as you continue. Your muscles and joints will adapt to the new forms of impact being placed on them and will become stronger in the process. This type of strengthening of the muscles and joints is as effective as typical weight-bearing exercise, as experienced in many gym exercise programs.
The regions that benefit from using horseback riding as exercise are typically the buttocks, back and legs. The ankles, knees and hips are also affected by horseback riding, as the joints are strengthened as the riding styles change. The participation of the entire body’s muscle and joint groups are needed, so there are many minor muscle groups that will also get a significant workout from horseback riding. If you already have high muscle tone, you may find that learning to relax some of your muscles while you ride will benefit your exercise program more.
In addition to riding, I also go to the gym at least 3x per week just to keep my strength up and consistent. Since I ride different horses every day, all with different problem areas, it is important for me to stay physically balanced. I try to keep my strength evenly distributed throughout my body so one aid doesn’t overpower the others. I also throw in a 10-15 minute morning & evening yoga routine to stretch out sore muscles before and after a days work, this helps my muscles and mind stay fresh!
This week I had the pleasure of working with Scooter, a well rounded middle-aged quarter horse mare with a WINNING personality. Previous to her new owner, Scooter had a spat with heaves last year during her time in a dusty barn. The vet prescribed her to be pastured outside where there was more airflow and less dust to infiltrate her lungs. She made a full recovery going into Spring but now, with light work, she has started to indicate that the heaves may be coming back by wheezing during her training. Heaves is also known as a lung condition called COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD is often called “Equine Asthma” because it is similar to asthma in people. This condition accounts for half of all lung diseases seen in performance horses.
Fortunately, living in the Northwest, COPD is not as common because of our temperate climate. COPD is most likely to develop in colder climates in mature horses (over 6) that are stabled in the winter rather than pastured. A stable can host a wide variety of allergens (straw bedding and hay being the most common). Even clean hay can contain small amounts of mold, dust mites, pollen and other debris. If conditions are humid or damp, bacteria and mold can grow. These conditions can be especially risky to a horse diagnosed with COPD.
In Scooter’s case, she could just be having a reaction to an air borne allergen that she is more recently exposed to, as she has not been medically diagnosed. The wacky weather of Spring is sure to trigger allergy issues, as I am sure anyone with allergies will tell you!
My own horse, Baron, had a similar allergy issue. He hadn’t been exposed to too many locations/climates during his 13 years of life so it could be that his immune system isn’t as strong against different allergens or it could also be the nerves which weakened his system for the same reason. After about 2 weeks of having Baron at his new home, a temperature shift hit and all of a sudden it was at least 15 degrees warmer (per day on avg.). The airflow in the barn where he was stalled wasn’t enough for him, as he developed a wet mucus cough and a runny nose. He didn’t seem to have a fever, but I called the vet out of worry. I just got this horse, he can’t be broken!
Turns out, it was just allergies. Now, instead of being stalled inside- Baron is enjoying the outdoors in a covered run-in situation and is completely allergy free!
During my appointment, I picked up a few helpful tips from the vet. If your horse is sick, or you think he/she may be sick but you are unsure of how much exercise they should endure; use the three cough rule. If your horse coughs more than three times during your warm-up, call it quits after ending on a good note at the walk. The other tip is more of a trick, and that is getting your horse to cough. Sometimes when trying to diagnose your horse, you need to narrow down what kind of cough they are having. Is it wet or dry? Can you hear it in their lungs? By pinching the throat up near the cheek where the throat latch falls, you can make your horse cough instantly. It is important to do this ONLY once or twice as coughing inflames the throat and could worsen your horse’s condition.
Remember, a healthy horse is a happy horse!
Reference article: http://www.equinawellness.com/equine-respiratory.html