Jeff Griffith’s Doughnut

For some time, folks have been telling me to check out horseman Jeff Griffith. I did and loved what I saw and heard.

jeffGriffith worked alongside Buck Brannaman for years, managed the La Cense Horsemanship program in western Montana, and developed an instructional DVD series for the American Quarter Horse Association.

The Montanan visited Iowa recently and held colt starting and horsemanship clinics at Kirkwood Community College, home of the Iowa Equestrian Center.
Griffith has a nifty way of setting up a round pen like a doughnut with a doughnut hole. Or, it’s a big round pen with a lil’ one inside it. The design encourages more fluid traffic movement and is especially helpful when there’s a big group.
During the morning colt-starting sessions, Griffith had all the students put the colts in the doughnut-ed round pen. He watched them and moved them for several minutes, giving him the opportunity to assess the horses AND giving the horses time to move and sort themselves out.
In this video, he talks about the challenge of teaching his young saddle horse not to simply go with the other horses, but to listen to his cues.

Check it out:

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One woman’s journey to ‘Feel’

jackie1Jackie St. Thomas was one of several riders to work with Leslie Desmond at a recent clinic in Marion, Massachusetts.

St. Thomas initially discovered Desmond years ago through “True Horsemanship Through Feel,” the book Desmond co-wrote with Bill Dorrance. Then she signed up for a 2011 Desmond clinic and brought Storm, a challenging Craig’s List purchase.

The Cape Cod rider said, “I wanted to learn how to work so it’s much more harmonious.”

She recalled an intense experience at that clinic:

At one point, Desmond asked to work with Storm, a 16.3 hand Irish Sport Horse. St. Thomas handed over the reins and started walking away.

“Leslie said, ‘you need to tell him, it’s ok,’” said St. Thomas.

“So I responded with my thought, telling him it was ok. He relaxed his head and let out this huge sigh. All the auditors there could see the reaction.
“I’ll never forget it. I learned just how connected we can be with our horses. I notice those connections now. I might not have noticed them before becoming aware of this whole approach. I’m more thoughtful and patient now. Rather than doing things to a horse, I allow him to guide me.”

beachJust recently, St. Thomas was reminded again of her horse-human connection. The two were attacked by a dog while beach riding. The dog went for Storm’s throat and chased them for three miles, according to the Cape Cod Times. They finally got free, but then encountered another dog.

“Storm was really frightened,” said St. Thomas. “I told him, it’s ok. It’s not the same dog. Then he exhaled, dropped his neck and moved forward.”
St. Thomas has learned, she said, “to respond to my horse in the moment. To watch his reactions and let him respond.”

Hats off to you, Jackie!

Read more about the concept of Feel.

Don’t toss it!

Toss the milk but not the cereal.
That’s what I’d do if both had passed their expiration dates.

Turns out we can be equally as selective when it comes to horse medications, too.
Dr. David Ramey weighed in with this article.


Dr. Rachel Flaherty

Both he and Dr. Rachel Flaherty of Maine Equine Associates say the decision depends on a few factors:
How you keep them:

  • It’s best to keep them not too hot or cold and at a constant temperature. In the fridge is often a good option for many. Bad options? Your truck. Your trailer. Your barn (unless it’s climate-controlled).

What you’re using them for:

  • Wormers are one thing. But if you’re relying on a medication in a critical situation, it might be best to stay ahead of expiration dates.

“You never want to be worried about the effectiveness of your Banamine (flunixin meglumine) during a colic,” said Dr. Flaherty. “So certainly it can be used for about a year after its expiration date for lameness or musculoskeletal issues.”

banamine syringe_tcm130-277929Another heads up:

  • Be aware of spreading germs from one use to the next, especially if you’re trying to reuse a medication on more than one horse, said Flaherty.

“Eye ointments really should not be used multiple times on multiple horses. Once you’re using it for a specific treatment you should get rid of it afterwards. A lot of germs can live on the surface of the ointment or the container.”

MEA offers a nifty program if you’ve bought medications from them — Return them unopened and with still a few months before their expiration date and you can exchange them for newer ones.

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