August 2018 - The Kids Are Alright
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Friday, 27 July 2018 03:53
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Special flooring and lighting are among therapeutic amenities that give Katie Fisher’s equine “kids” a safe, tranquil place for healing.

by Kim F. Miller

In managing and upgrading her already-busy and fast-growing equine rehabilitation center, Katie Fisher thinks like a parent. “I try to think 18 steps ahead of a very bored child who’s had way too much candy, then been told to sit on a stool.”

Her business, Kingfisher Farm in California’s Santa Ynez Valley, cares mostly for racing Thoroughbreds. Cases range from horses recovering from severe injuries to those vacationing briefly from the track. Whatever their prescription, they were bred to run, so standing in a stall most of the day is a recipe for trouble.

That reality is one reason why the veteran rehabber knew that ComfortStall™ Sealed Orthopedic Flooring would be a must for each of the 56 stalls that house most of the horses in her care. “I’ve had horses literally pull up the stall mats out of boredom, and injure their tendons or suspensories and rip their shoes off in the process,” she recounts. Comfortstall’s single-piece IronClad™ TopCover is sealed to the stall walls with heavy duty anchor strips, preventing such uprooting.

Below the TopCover is the Precision Foam™ that also sold Katie on the flooring system. Her business consists of two properties, one of which has an original ComfortStall installation in its main barn. Although it’s been in service for at least a decade, the flooring still has plenty of give and support. “I’ve always been blown away by how soft that flooring is.” Minimizing concussion is critical to many rehab patients. Joint and tendon issues, chipped knees and ankles and tibia fractures are among common racetrack injuries and flooring that absorbs the load on them is essential to recovery.

Less bedding is another persuasive point. The amount of bedding required to maintain adequate cushion in stalls with other flooring “is astounding,” Katie relays.  ComfortStall drastically lessens the need for shavings to just enough to absorb urine. “It’s a win-win,” Katie says.

ComfortStall is one of several innovative stable products that are part of in-progress upgrades at Katie’s facilities. Her properties already have a VibePlate unit, and she’s building a dedicated stall for the vibrational therapy unit at Kingfisher Farm. From speeding bone healing to maintaining muscle for horses on stall rest, vibration therapy is “amazing,” Katie enthuses. She’s also looking into a “treading pool” for horses that has adjustable levels of water to address a range of therapeutic objectives.

Automated EquiLume performance lighting that brings the benefits of natural daylight into the stable and dust-free shavings are more features that give Katie’s program a powerful healing advantage: tranquility. “You walk into my barns and everybody, even these very high energy animals, is very quiet, happy and content. It’s nice!”

Katie’s Path To Care

Katie came to the Thoroughbred care world through many years working for Tom Hudson, longtime manager of the famous Magali Farms in the Santa Ynez Valley. Breeding, training, sale preparation, rehabilitation, lay-up and retirement were among Magali’s highly-regarded services.  Originally home to Magness Arabians, the 238-acre property was sold in the summer of 2017.

After serving as Tom’s assistant for many years, Katie struck out on her own five years ago. Arabians are her hobby and she competes on a Saddle Seat horse, leading her to purchase her own property in the beautiful and horse-dense valley east of Santa Barbara. This property is now called “the Annex,” and is home to Arroyo Arabians, a full-service training and boarding operation.

She and Tom stayed in close touch and, when Magali Farms changed hands, Tom called to ask, “What are you doing with the barn on the back of the property?” At first it was just a few horses, but Katie recently purchased a second property, nearby, to accommodate the growing influx of patients. The majority are Thoroughbreds affiliated with Tom, plus referrals from Alamo Pintado Equine Hospital, for whom she’s handled several horses over the years. A few are Arabians whose owners have discovered the range of high quality care Katie and her team provide. All the best equipment would not be effective without an excellent staff, she notes in appreciation of her team. Between the Annex and Kingfisher Farm, Katie has 20 acres with stalls, paddocks, and pasture space to meet wide-ranging needs.

Katie is proud to continue the practices she learned from her mentor Tom. She recalls him checking in early in their new arrangement, remarking on how exactly she was following his original care routines that involved time-intensive individualized care for each horse. “He remarked that nobody knew his program as well as I did.”

Healing horses is “soothing to the soul,” Katie reflects. That’s especially so when the horses involved are sons, daughters and grandkids of those she cared for while working at Magali Farms. She enjoys noting passed-down tendencies and appreciates the edge that knowledge provides her.