While outdoor adventure is the main focus at Mountain Hooves & Paws, it’s important to first ascertain that an animal is ready for traveling and being in the outdoors. We ask the questions: Does the animal have any physical problems? Is the animal able to live in as natural a setting as possible?
At Mountain Hooves & Paws, we use a variety of tools to monitor and enhance our animals’ health. We bring these same principles to our teaching programs. We believe our fellow outdoor adventurers should be in top shape to handle the challenges of travel and new experiences!
Our Approach at Home
Our dogs are constantly monitored for any deviation of normal behavior, and enjoy as much time outside as possible. Under the care of a holistic veterinarian, they receive limited vaccines (one vaccine every 3 years after they turn a year old) and a diet of homemade food to match their individual makeup.
The horses are on a forage based diet. We feed high quality hay and provide plenty of pasture grazing in the summer. We send the hay out for analysis every year, and add the necessary minerals and vitamins to make up for any deficiencies. We’ve studied both equine and canine nutrition with Dr. Eleanor Kellon and follow her recommendations.
Because observing horses is more difficult than observing dogs, we use the Masterson Method approach to equine bodywork as a way to “check in.” Jim Masterson has developed the Bladder Meridian exercise to help identify and release tension in a horse. This is a simple exercise which can be done before training – and especially before physical activities such as riding. The exercise helps alert handlers to any issues of tension (or pain) in a horse.
If any issues surface during the Bladder Meridian exercise, the Masterson Method techniques offer a variety of ways to help horses relax their bodies and release tension. We are actively studying these techniques and have completed the Masterson Method Weekend Seminar (held at our previous farm in Vermont in 2014 and 2015).
Our horses also receive natural hoof care using hoof expert Pete Ramey’s philosophies (we were host to Pete Ramey in June 2015). We (Gene) trim our horses and offer services for others. By maintaining the horses’ hooves in as natural and balanced a way as possible, the horses are set up to be out on the trails in comfort.