Horses Healing Humans

It’s no secret that the outside of the horse can bring out the best in any human. In fact, Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man,” is seen everywhere horses are prevalent. That’s why equine therapy has started growing in popularity and use.

Last year I wrote an article on Acri Verde Farm in the suburbs of Chicago for the Equine Chronicle. I talked with owner, Jannee Pugliani, who is a horsewoman and a wife of a veteran. While she was finishing her college degree, at 46 years young, she learned about a mode of therapy called equine-assisted psychotherapy and the Equine Growth and Learning Association (aka EAGALA). It is through this line of work she joined with SheForce for female veterans and has made a huge difference in so many lives in just a short amount of time. 65-80

I invite you to read more about Pugliani, Acri Verde Farm and EAGALA…

Read more: Horses Healing Humans — A Reflection of Hope


Behind the Stall Door: Extremely Hot Chips

October means it’s time for the All American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio. It’s the mecca for anyone showing stock horse–thousands of people make the pilgrimage to the Ohio State Fairgrounds to show, shop, and just experience the world’s largest single-breed horse show.

While working on another article for The Equine Chronicle, I met Russ Louderbeck, a hotel architect that lived approximately 30 minutes from me. He’s the owner of an up-and-coming Western pleasure stallion, Extremely Hot Chips, and I wanted to share their story. I came out to his farm, Louderbeck Ranch, and met him and the handsome dark brown boy. Not only did I get to know both parties, Russ invited me to take a few laps on his prized stallion–Are you kidding me!? I hadn’t swung my leg over a well-trained Western pleasure horse in years, and it was so much fun! It says a lot about Chip’s personality and attitude to come straight out his stall and allow a stranger to ride without much of a warm-up.

Extremely Hot Chips

That’s why it’s fun to share this stallion’s story. Russ, a hobby horseman and breeder, will be showing Chip at Congress later this month in the Select Amateur Western Pleasure. Last year they finished in the Top 5, and he hopes to replicate, or do better, this year. All without campaigning or a professional trainer. Again, another testament to this wonderful stallion.



Read the article from The Equine ChronicleBehind the Stall Door: Extremely Hot Chips

Horse Blanket Shopping Tips

The temperatures are starting to drop, and the nights are getting longer. Timer lights are being put into full use for some, and it’s time to do a little blanket shopping to keep your equine friend warm this winter. Here is a quick rundown to prepare you for blanket shopping:

Do You Really Need to Blanket?

This is the first question you should ask yourself when it comes to choosing a blanket for your horse. If you’re not trying to keep a short show coat throughout the winter, and you’re planning to turn your horse out for a few months, experts suggest it’s best to let Mother Nature handle the insulation. Blanketing your horse can flatten his coat, which causes it to lose its ability to insulate. As long as your horse has shelter from the wind and proper nutrition, they should be fine throughout the winter without a blanket. However, if the temperature dips below 10° Fahrenheit, you might want to have a blanket on hand to help with extreme chill.



Paging Dr. Mom – Juggling Motherhood & Horse Shows

As a new mom, I’m already learning the delicate balance you need to practice between your professional life and your home life. Last Fall I had the privilege of speaking with two women who seem to have figured it out, as they’ve grown successful medical careers while supporting their horse-crazy children.

Paging Dr. Mom

Two Moms Juggle Full-Time Jobs and Busy Horse Show Schedules

Being a doctor is a full-time job. It involves devoting your life to preserving the health and well-being of those around you. In the same respect, being a mother is a full-time job, as you devote your life to raising a child and helping him or her discover their own path.

Put the two together and you have Mom, MD, someone who has learned how to juggle a high-demand career with the high-demand home life of being a mother. Not only is life busy at the hospital, and at home, but add in the hustle and bustle of a weekend at the horse show and you might get a taste of what life is like for Kelly Stille, PsyD., and Susan Urba, MD. Both women are doctors at the top of their respective fields and mothers of horse show kids competing at the highest level of competition.


Dr. Susan Urba grew up in Chicago, far from the horse show world, and attended medical school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. While in medical school, one of her rotations involved working with cancer patients. That experience inspired her to continue her study of medical oncology. “It’s an exciting field that looks into treatments for cancer, but you also get to look at other issues that cancer patients have, such as the need for emotional support and other related illnesses. It’s a broad spectrum,” she explains.

Dr. Urba started doing a lot of clinical studies with esophageal cancer, but she has since moved onto developing more of a specialty with palliative care. Palliative care emphasizes pain and symptom management for cancer patients and, in some cases, it involves end-of-life care.

At the University of Michigan, Dr. Urba has helped develop a program called the Symptom Management and Supportive Care Program within the Cancer Center. She works with cancer patients who have particularly difficult-to-manage symptoms or who struggle with serious decisions such as when it might be in the patient’s best interest to discontinue treatment that’s resulting in a poor quality of life.


You can say that Dr. Stille is continuing the family business; she grew up with a mother who was a clinical psychologist.

“While growing up, I was exposed to psychology by seeing my mom’s testing materials and learning how to conceptualize cases,” Dr. Stille explains.

She also grew up showing horses, so she’s well aware of the demands it takes to be successful in the show pen. Because of her connections on the Paint Horse circuit, Dr. Stille attended college at Texas Christian University and then got her Masters and Doctorate in clinical psychology.

During that time, she also married her husband and had three children, all while she was doing internships and her dissertation.

She was still able to finish her degrees, including a postdoctorate in psycho-pharmacology while balancing raising three boys, two of which are twins Ryan and Austin Stille. For five years she has been running the neuropsychology program at John Peter Smith Hospital in the Level One Trauma Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Recently, Dr. Stille has become more involved in sports concussion research, which combines her interest in studying the human brain with her lifelong passion for horses. “Concussion is actually the fourth or fifth highest rate of traumatic brain injury for girls between the ages of 9-15,” she says. “It’s not widely publicized, so that’s been my goal, as of late, to increase awareness.”

Read more from the November/December 2014 issue of The Equine Chronicle.

Paging Dr. Mom

Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation: Second Chances

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” ~ Winston Churchill

Even when we’re at our worst, horses somehow manage to bring out our best. Even if a horse might be down and out, because it didn’t make much of a living on the racetrack or just aged out of use, he looks for and brings out the positive in the humans that provide him care. The horses that are part of the non-profit Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s (TRF) Second Chances inmate program are looking to be rehabilitated, while, at the same time, helping to rehabilitate men and women who have been incarcerated. It was my pleasure to share the story of two former inmates who credit the horse for turning their lives around and starting them back on a positive road in an article for the Equine Chronicle. 65-80 65-80   Read the complete story: Because Everyone Deserves a Second Chance

Helping Your Foal get a Head Start on Life

One of my favorite things about living in Lexington is springtime–not just the new flowers and foliage blooming, or the excitement of Keeneland’s spring meet starting up, but seeing all the new foals sprinting and frolicking across their lush, green pastures along the roads. I seriously think the accident rate goes up in Lexington in the spring because of everyone gawking at the foals.

As a breeder, you want ensure that your foal(s) get the best start on their life so they’re stronger, healthier, and happier. There are so many factors for that first year of life: first veterinarian and farrier visits, first time wearing a halter, new humans, and, of course, weaning. In the March/April issue of the Equine Chronicle, I spoke with seasoned breeders like Joan Schroeder (owner and breeder of AQHA stallion Blazing Hot), Shelley Donovan of BSB Quarter Horses, Anne Prince of Prince Farms, and Andrea Simons of Simons Performance Horses for how they help give foals a head start on life.

There’s a lot of work, a lot of common sense, and a lot of love that goes into foaling and raising babies. That’s why some people are more successful at it. It has to be a passion, in my opinion. You must love the horses themselves and they will most definitely prosper, as will your own business.”       Joan Schroeder

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Courtesy Equine Chronicle

Courtesy Equine Chronicle

Download the PDF & read the rest of the story: Helping Your Foal get a Head Start on Life

The Perks of Living in Horse Country

One of the perks of living in Lexington, Ky. is that you’re in the “Horse Capital of the World.” Yes, we know that Ocala, Fla., has that same tagline, and the surrounding area of Fort Worth, Texas, could even be considered that as well, so perhaps we should say the “Original Horse Capital of the World.”

The Stallion Barn at WinStar Farm

The Stallion Barn at WinStar Farm

It might not be an area full of Quarter Horses, but we’re still talking equine royalty and equine millionaires. According to a study published by the Lane Report, a third of the United States’ Thoroughbred foal crop was born in Kentucky in 2010. Of those foals, a handful would go on to win races at tracks across the country—some small allowance races, some larger graded stakes races (i.e., the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Travers Stakes), and a select few will earn millions of dollars on the track and then turn around and make millions as sires and mares in the breeding shed.

Every November and January, Thoroughbred farms in Central Kentucky open their doors to the general public for their stallion open houses, held during the breeding season and all age sales at Keeneland Race Course and Sales Pavilion in Lexington. Mare owners looking to breed are able to get an up-close inspection of potential sires, and fans are able to see the horses that captured their hearts on the track, now standing just a few feet away.

Read more about my experience with WinStar Farm’s stallion open house on the

Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver

Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver