We strive to improve the health and well-being of each horse that trains here, no matter the duration of stay.
exercise and grooming
An individualized plan is created for each horse that comes to LaBarre Dressage for training. A fit, adult, dressage horse typically works six days, including a trail ride up our significant slope in fair weather. The mental and physical well being of the horse is our top priority, so intensity of training may vary horse by horse or even week by week. Our training packages are designed to be flexible to both the horse’s needs and budget needs.
Before each horse works, the horse receives a thorough massage grooming by one of the working students. Because we keep our herd small, the musculature and posture of each horse is carefully attended too. For that reason, we quickly notice any change in muscle tension, heat or swelling, or even changes of stance. The care after the workout depends upon the days intensity. Liniment is massaged into the deep muscles and or legs if necessary and depending on temperature, horses are either kept warm with coolers or hosed and dried off. Once the horse is completely cooled down they receive a second massage groom down to promote circulation and to provide a second evaluation of their overall health.
LaBarre Dressage has available to all clients an Electro Magnetic Blanket for use before and/or after work to further promote circulatory health in both the topline and legs. We have been using the blanket for many years and can attest to its effectiveness in helping warm up horses–particularly older horses and all horses in the winter.
We strive to get each horse as much turnout as weather permits. Turnout is either private, with another horse in view, or in pairs depending on the character of the horse. We are continuing to expand our paddock selection with very safe and visible vinyl Horse Rail fencing supported by four strands of ElectroBraid. Blanket changing according to temperature and keeping our horses legs clean and dry is part of the routine care each horse receives daily.
Due to the nature of the horses digestive tract, the hay ration is divided over five feedings spread throughout the day, including a late night feeding. Grain is divided into multiple feedings, most typically three, depending on the quantity a horse receives. The grain ration for each horse is tailored on a daily basis in response to the horse’s needs. We feed a variety of grains so that each horse can have what suits their health and work most appropriately. We supplement with flax seed and free choice mineral salt daily and electrolytes when needed. Naturally, we also feed any supplements the owner requires.
Our goal is that every horse that has a stay here improves in musculature, fitness, balance and overall health. We are very willing and hope to help horse owners learn about the value of proper grooming and nutrition to support their equine partner.
One of the greatest advantages to living in North East PA is that LaBarre Dressage has access to farrier Brian Gregory, a master of his craft. In collaboration with Michelle, Brian is able to create positive changes in a horse’s way of going and to create the best possible base of support from which he or she can then be fairly expected to work. With Brian’s expert work, Michelle has been able to overcome some significant odds in soundness and training issues. Brian comes weekly, so is able to respond quickly to the needs of each horse.
Most of our saddles are adjusted by Master Saddle Fitter, Katie Gussenhoffen. Saddles are custom fit to each horse and can be custom fit to the rider as well. Katie and Michelle spend many hours over many months working to balance each saddle and horse. As the training changes the topline, Michelle and her working students pay close attention to how the saddle is fitting the horse. Changes are made by Katie whenever necessary. Having a regular fitter means that she is able to get to know the habits and issues that come with each rider pair. Working only with wool flocking, lots can be done to make the adjustments necessary to get–and keep–the team working.
To the benefit of all of the horses in the barn, Dr. Heather Beaudry comes to LaBarre Dressage on a monthly basis. Michelle and Dr. Beaudry work together discussing the development of each horse and any trouble areas Dr. Beaudry isolates and Michelle is working through under saddle. The frequency of visits coupled with the Dr. Beaudry’s skills have allowed Michelle to help the horses in training develop and work to their full potential.