Equine Therapy with Dave Fries

You’ve met Deena Fries on this blog–the woman behind some of the toughest barrel horses this side of the Mississippi. But now you’ll get to meet her secret weapon, who really is getting less secretive by the day. Dave Fries and his equine therapy have helped countless horses, and by reading this you can find out how Dave just might help you. 

Tell us all about your business. 

My business is called Equine Therapy by Dave Fries. My website is www.friesequinetherapy.com and on Facebook at “Equine Therapy by Dave Fries.” I got started almost 10 years ago now on the advice of a friend of ours (Speedy Graham) who actually used to work on our horses. He told me where he went when he started, and I then also went to the different training sources.

  • I currently offer the following services/ therapies to my clients:
  • Massage
  • Range of motion adjustments – and stretching
  • Infrared thermograpy
  • MicroCurrent Therapy
  • Infrared therapy (blanket set and hand held)
  • Infra-sound Massage
  • And a limited amount of In house rehab and therapy – utilizing any of the necessary therapies and following vet instructions and training tune-ups if needed by Deena.

I do it to help the horses – and make them feel the best that they can so that the work that we ask them to do is easier, and hopefully pain free. I have found that working on the horses gives me a great feeling of pride when I know that I have helped, and it was always a great way to ground myself and keep from getting overwhelmed, before I retired from my previous career.

How did you learn this type of horse care?

It all started with reading a lot about different therapies, trying some to see what worked best and then getting as much training as I could for any of the therapies. For the massage I went to Equissage and Mary Schreiber – in Round Hill, Va. She is one of the oldest equine massage schools and she gave me a great base. I attended a class/seminar put on by Dr. Kamen – initially for the animal adjustment techniques, and I have continued to learn and network with other professionals in the field. I went to Kentucky to become trained in the Equine Thermograpy, ( and member of EquineIR) after having become a Certified Infrared Thermographer and am able to take infrared pictures of the horses with a high resolution FLIR camera – which are then used to determine where there are hot and or cold spots (imbalances from side to side) and can also pick up problem spots up to two weeks before the horse is visibly lame. The thermography classes also covered a saddle fit process.

I use and am also completing the process to become certified as an instructor by Matrix Therapy Systems in Portland Oregon in Microcurrent therapy – utilizing the Avazzia Best Vet system. Which is a very portable and designed to give/receive automatic feedback and adjustments as the horse is being treated. MicroCurrent is great at treating tears and sprains – speeding the healing time, increasing cellular development, reducing pain levels and increasing the general well being.
I also have available a Thermotex Blanket and Neck set which provides infrared heat to the horses when they wear it. The Thermotex blanket has been show to help significantly when used pre-race (even helping bleeders), and is also great as therapeutic treatment at any time. I also have and use an infrared /laser.

How are you expanding your services?

I am expanding my services – by learning new techniques and also being more available – it used to be that when I was working full time I had to try and schedule horses either before or after work which limited where and when I could go – and now that I “retired” I am available to travel further and work longer at a location. I am also interested in making the In House therapy a bigger portion – as it is certainly easier to have the horse here – where I/we are able to give extended and more intense therapy to speed the healing times.

What are the benefits to this expanded service?

The benefits of the expanded service – is that I can help more equine athletes hopefully feel better and perform better, by having been able to go for additional training, and learning new therapies that I am able to use to treat the horses.

We know you treat barrel horses, what other types of equine athletes can you treat?

I treat everything from a 28” mini – that drives, Race horses, Jumpers, Dressage horses, and everything else up to a set of pulling draft horses, there really is no equine athlete that won’t benefit from the assorted therapies.

How does your knowledge of the barrel racing industry affect your work?

The years of watching thousands of horses and riders compete has given me a great sense of form and movement and what is the most efficient way for them to move, and what happens when it falls apart and they get injured, so I am a BIG believer in preventative therapy, and stretching to keep the horse’s muscles fluid and flexible.

What are your goals for your business?

Ideally – my business goals (which will probably require me hitting the lottery) would be to have a one stop Equine Therapy Station – where anyone could bring their horse for treatment and we would have all of the best and brightest available to treat what ails them, having all of the specialists (vets, farriers, dentists, therapists, nutritionists, herbalists, and communicators) all available to consult at one place as needed. But more to the immediate side – my goal is to be able to treat and help as many horses as I can get pain free.


Meet Alaina Houpt from Equisport Therapy

The acuscope machine

What’s this Acuscope thing you hear people (often top area barrel racers) talking about? It’s a treatment that is relatively new to our barrel racing world, but not new to the medical community. It’s been FDA-approved since the 1980s, and it’s catching on like wildfire across the horse world. One local woman is leading the charge in the Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia barrel racing communities, and she’s here at The Barrel Racing Blog to tell you all about how this treatment could very well help your horse. 

What IS Acuscope?
The Electro Acuscope Therapy System is an FDA-approved non-invasive microcurrent instrument that has been proven effective in providing pain management, accelerate the healing process of injuries by 50% or more, and also to optimize performance. The Acuscope normalizes the electrical current in the cells. The Acuscope works through the central nervous system.

How was it developed and how long has it been around?
The instrument was invented by Dr. Anthony Nebrinsky whose knowledge also assisted with the invention of the EKG, EMG, and U.S. Missles. In 1976 the first human calibrated Acuscope was born and the FDA approval came in the early 1980’s. The animal calibrated Acuscope came in the late 1980’s.

How does it help horses?
The Acuscope can help with a variety of equine issues. For instance: nerve damage, bone/tendon/ligament issues, pain management, and accelerated healing of injuries. It works amazingly well to help the horse heal itself with navicular syndrome/symptoms, strained/bowed tendons, any inflammation, healing of open wounds (you can see a difference in 24-48 hours), back soreness, arthritis, and laminitis, among many other issues.

What do licensed vets think of Acuscope? Is this something vets are skeptical of?
I have provided a few local vets with live demonstrations. The vets are familiar with microcurrent therapy but they have not seen the Electro Acuscope Therapy System in action. Some vets have welcomed it, while others have not yet opened up to outside therapies yet. Vets who have seen the benefits are Ruth Haislip DVM, Allen Schoen DVM, and Karl Yurko DVM. I am available for demostrations to any equine/small animal clinic.

How long does Acuscope take?
The Acuscope is first done with an initial series of 3 consecutive sessions within a 72-hour window. It is needed because the cells initially hold a charge for 24 hours until they are taught to hold a charge for longer, which results in the 72-hour window. The first of three treatments takes approx. 1 hour and it includes a hands-on evaluation, an Acuscope evaluation, and a treatment. The second and third in the series are all treatments and can range from 1-2 hours. Follow up appointments range from 1- 1.5 hours, depending on the horse.

How many times should you use Acuscope?
You should Acuscope according to your horse’s numbers/readings. The numbers/readings are retrieved by the instrument’s biofeedback system. The readings are the conductivity level in the cells reading the resistance, impedance, and chemistry of the cells. On my instrument you want the numbers to be between 98-118 to be a healthy reading. Low numbers are unhealthy, too high is hyperactive. A good rule of measure for how often to treat is after the initial series, we evaluate, and can treat again as early as a week or move out 3-4 weeks.

How much does a treatment cost?
The initial series cost is $150 (that’s all 3 treatments!) and follow up appointments are $55. Trip fee is modest and based upon location.

Are there any negative side effects of Acuscope?
There are not really any negative side effects with the Acuscope. The Acuscopes goal is to achieve a balanced healthy state. The instruments biofeedback modulation protects the horses cells from overstimulation. Sometimes a healing crisis may occur. That is where the issue gets worse before it gets better. But a healing crisis is something to work towards and treat because the horse’s body is healing itself.

How can someone get in touch with you to find out more?
I can be reached via cell phone: 724-504-2280.
Email: equisporttherapy@hotmail.com.
Website: www.equisporttherapy.webs.com
Facebook: Equisport Therapy

“It’s All in the Details” with Barrel Racer Deena Fries

It’s the smallest fragments of time that separate the good from the great in the barrel racing world. Trainer Deena Fries has figured out the secrets to cutting those thousandths of a second off her time to make her one of barrel racing’s greats. We can all learn something from Deena’s attention to detail, and below she’ll go over some of the little things that help make her a top contender in the barrel racing arena and the training pen. Thanks to Deena for being a great sport and answering ALL of my many many questions all week! Next time you see Deena at a show, stop and say hi!  

What vet do you use for your horse?

Currently using Dr. Nicole Drummond, from New Bethlelem PA., as the primary provider. She is very progressive and into learning. She is able to do Accupuncture when needed (trained at the Xi Institute) and isn’t afraid to use or recommend alternative therapies when they would be appropriate.

What veterinary maintenance do you do to keep your horses healthy and sound?

Not much – I will inject when needed but with the therapies my husband does, I don’t need too very often.

What other maintenance do you do to keep your horses running?

I am very lucky here in that my husband is very interested and very good at holistic therapies – he does massage, MicroCurrent, adjustments and now has the ability to do Infrared Thermograpy (infrared pictures that show hot and cold spots) – Equine Therapy by Dave Fries (on facebook)

How many days a week are you on the back of a horse?

Typically 5-7 days a week – I might not ride every horse every day – but it depends on the training needs and goals, and show schedule.

What do you feed your horses?

Whole Oats and Flax

What supplements do you use?

Animal Element and Dynamite products

What splint boots do you prefer to use?

Classic Equine

What is your favorite saddle to ride?

Currently riding in two Roohides – but always looking for the best fit for the horses.

What is your favorite saddle pad?

I’ve been using Saddleright pads for the last 18 years or so – I think they do a great job. Another real nice thing about them is the lifetime guarantee.

What is the one rule you live by in the barrel racing world?

There’s a barrel race next week, forget about what happen this week.

When you’re not barrel racing or riding horses, what are you doing?

Harassing my husband to work on my horses, and searching the internet.

Secrets to Success: Bert Thompson’s Training Philosophies

With a Congress title, multiple top ten finishes and more than a handful of IBRA and NBHA titles, Bert Thompson has to have some secrets to producing top horses, year after year. She said Wednesday she was raised by her parents’ “work-your-way-to-the-top theory”, and in our final day with Bert we’ll learn what exactly that means. 

How early do you like a horse to be started?

I like to get colts broke as 2 year olds. I don’t want a lot of pressure on them; I just want them to have a strong foundation. I generally will begin working a pattern on them around January or February of their 3-year-old year and begin hauling them and exhibitioning them around March or April.

What are some of your favorite training exercises for young horses?

On young horses I tend to do a lot of flexing and counter arcs. I like to work poles to get the colts responding to my hands and feet. It helps to teach them to lift their shoulders and move forward. I also love trail riding young horses or galloping them. It gives them a break and helps with their minds.

What is your favorite bit?

My favorite bit is an o-ring. Depending on the horse I will switch mouthpieces. I also like to ride in a Loomis.

What is your favorite training tool (round pen, martingale, draw reins, etc.)?

My favorite training tool is a German Martingale. It helps you to position and fix things without a stressful fight. It aids in helping the horse learn how his body should be positioned and makes it a natural reaction when you take it off.

What is your favorite saddle?

My favorite saddle is an Ammerman. I also ride in Circle Y’s, and Billy Cooks. It depends on which one fits a particular horse.

What do you feed your horses?

We feed a 14% mixed feed and alfalfa hay.

What vetting do you rely on regularly?

I use Adequan once a month. I like Surpass for joints, DMSO, and E.A.F Gel for legs and muscles.

I want to thank Jim Zeliff of Alleghany Equine, Aaron Stingle of Woodland Run, Karl Yurko of K.E.Y Animal Hospital, Scott Heckert, Farriers Don Beckner and Jeff Sigman. If any physical issues with the horses they aid in getting them back on track!

What supplements do you most believe in?

I feed extra Soy Bean meal for fat content and Healthy Coat.

Do you ever run rodeos? If not, why?

No, I haven’t run rodeos. I’m not opposed to them, I just haven’t tried them yet. I have always preferred open shows and futurities.

What are your riding ethics – where is the line between winning and pushing a horse too far?

Horses are all different.  If they are not ready, I will not push them. They will come together when the time is right. Some of my best horses were late bloomers. As much as I hate it, not all horses want to be barrel horses either, but that doesn’t mean that they will not excel at another discipline.

If you could get training or riding advice from one professional, dead or alive, who would it be?

I would have to say Dena Kirkpatrick. I like her views and philosophies, plus she is a nice lady.

What are your ultimate training/riding goals?

My goal is to be the best rider and trainer that I can be, always keep pushing myself to a higher level. I would love to win the OKC World Futurity someday and to be able to keep doing what I love!!!


Thoroughbreds vs. Olympians – the evolution in speed of man and horse

My friends at Silver Lining Herbs contacted me earlier this month about a story they featured on their blog – SilverLiningHerbs/blog.com – that tracks the changes in man’s speed versus the change’s in horse’s speed since 1896. Though I’ve never shared a company’s story like this before, I found the points brought up in this feature very interesting, and I thought you all might, too. Let me know what you think!

May 6, 1896 marked the first Kentucky Derby victory on the standard course of 1.25 miles, as Thoroughbred Ben Brush crossed the finish line with a time of 127.8 seconds.  The very same year, Edwin Flack of Australia earned the first Olympic Gold medal in the men’s 1500 meter run with a time of 4:33.2 – that’s 273.2 seconds.  In the years following these monumental victories, a casual observer might suspect that Olympic 1500 meter times and subsequent Kentucky Derby winning times would follow a long-term pattern of decreasing times as training methods and nutrition improved.  That is almost the case.

After analyzing the winning times of each race over the course of 112 years, a surprising pattern appears.  The Olympic 1500 meter times do in fact steadily improve, while the winning times of the Kentucky Derby remain strikingly even across the time span.  This poses an interesting question: Why are human beings progressively improving their speed in comparison to horses?

Mark Roozen, DVM says the major difference comes down to available improvement in genetics.  “The comparison of human versus equine on race times must be more defined as human versus thoroughbred. The simple reason for the divergence of record times relates to the available genetic pool for improvement. By design the thoroughbred industry has a closed gene pool. Hence, any performance improvement must come from other non – genetic factors like nutrition or training.”

In Stephen Budiansky’s boo The Nature of Horses he explains that “…it is hard to make horses better because they are naturally built to operate at the very limits of what heart, lungs, and muscles can do.”

Budiansky goes into further detail on the subject, pointing out how horses generate nearly four times the expected energy output for a mammal its size when exercising at maximum capacity.  So by nature horses are ahead of the curve, not to mention that race horses have been bred for generations to be the best they can be.  Humans, on the other hand, continue to grow bigger, faster and stronger at a (comparatively) very rapid pace.  Which leads one to wonder, at what point will human beings reach their genetic plateau?


This article by provided by Silver Lining Herbs, a leader in horse supplments and dog supplements.

Editorial: Teddy Terrific and Our Sport

Occasionally, there comes a horse that brings the crowd to their feet, not just because of its speed, or its turns, but because of its presence. When Teddy Terrific comes down an alleyway, people take pause, and some cheer, and when he crosses the timer line after a run, a collective gasp comes out of the crowd. It’s because of horses like Teddy that we run – be it poles, barrels or anything else – just for the chance to maybe, someday, have a Teddy.

Bryan Ford and Teddy Terrific at the Congress is 2008.

A lot of the feedback The Barrel Racing Blog received in the last week on Teddy’s story centered on that theme – the idea that readers were awed at Teddy’s excellence and would love to just once have a horse like that.

Jessie Ford, one of the Ford siblings that runs Teddy, called Teddy that once-in-a-lifetime horse, and that really captures it, I believe. For Jessie to have the foresight to say that Teddy is a once-in-a-lifetime horse says something for her family’s character, too. Teddy isn’t just a horse of theirs that’s been good to them, he wasn’t just a futurity prospect, or a good senior horse, he was their big one. While everyone would love to have a barn full of Teddys for years and years, it takes humility and respect for a horse to appreciate what that once-in-a-lifetime horse is.

For many of us, our big one might be the horse that we win a saddle with, a local series, a few rodeos or even the NFR. But it’s the constant search for our own Teddy that drives us.

I’m struck by the love the Fords have for Teddy, and for the care they’ve given him. With a horse that fast, that good, it would be tempting for some to stick a needle in his neck to see just how much more he could give with just a little dose of something. But, the Fords weren’t even tempted – they recognized what is best for Teddy, and they have taken impeccable care of him. His one injury in 2002 came at the Quarter Horse Congress when he fell during the Pole Sweepstakes and suffered a soft tissue tear to his bladder. Because of the Fords careful treatment of his injury, the next year at the Congress Teddy came back with a vengeance to win the Senior Horse Poles, his first Congress title.

Again, The Barrel Racing Blog would like to thank the Fords for what they’ve done for barrel racing and pole bending alike by letting us all get to know Teddy and what an amazing animal he really is.

Natalie Overholt’s Plans for the IFR

When The Barrel Racing Blog first interviewed Natalie Overholt, she was coming off a sizzling Fourth of July weekend, where she topped some of the toughest the IPRA had to offer on her mare, Casey. She’ll try to do the same this weekend at the International Finals Rodeo, where she sits number 15 in the world.

What was the high point of your year so far?
Probably 4th of July weekend.

What was the low point of your IPRA season?
There was a week of rodeos very close to home that I did bad. It just happen to be she needed her stifles injected and ran horrible all week.

What horse(s) will you run at the finals this year?

Fols Fancy Jet “Casey” she is a 13 year old bay mare. I run her the most often at rodeos. She is the only horse I brought to the finals with me.

What about that horse makes it a good candidate to run there?

She is the most seasoned and in better shaper than any of the other horses I have.

What was it about your work ethic that has gotten you to the finals again this year?

Winning isn’t just what happens the day of the race, but the months, weeks before. If you are well prepared and having a bad day itis easier to overcome the obstactles. The horse is one of the biggest assest for a barrel racer. Making sure I excersice my horse and take care of her. Got to have a horse to win – a good solid barrel horse can take a while to make.

What was your game plan this year that got you to the IFR?

Other than to do the best I can I didn’t have much of a game plan. I kind of just got lucky at some rodeos.

Who else will you be sure to watch at the IFR?

I’ll try to watch most of the IFR to see all the other competitors I can.

How many days in advance do you go to Oklahoma to let your horses prepare?

I actually didn’t g0 to Oklahoma until the Wednesday before the finals.

What is your routine at the IFR?

My plan is to: Approximately an hour before I run: Brush my horse looking over her for any possible sore spots then I put linement on her (Listerine mouth was in a spray bottle). I saddle her up and put leg protection boots on. Then I start warming up by walking, trotting and loping cirlcle. I flex her both directions, do counter arcs. If she feels stiff I try to flex her more to loosen up. After loping some slow circles in each lead I make sure my saddle is tight then lope her both directions. If she feels “choppy” while loping circles I try to open her up some because it seems to help her run better and more freely.
Casey has a tendency to want to buck a little or else not pay attention so I will have her turn back along the fence to make sure the buck is out of her plus it gets her attention and thinking about turning quick. From the ground stretch her front legs straight out and stretch her back legs if she’ll let me ( Casey has a temper and sometimes it is hard to work with her back legs without her trying to cow kick). Then I walk her a little so she can be sure to catch her breath before I run. Before I start getting my horse ready I get something to eat to make sure my sugar level is okay. A lot of people can’t eat before they running, but for me it is a

Do you plan to do any vetting before finals?
Yes. I had my horse checked to see if she needed any injections. I got her Knees, coffin bone, and hocks injected. However she has had stifle problems in the past that needed injections. I am hoping her stifles are in good in shape.

What is your approach to the arena at the IFR?
To make sure my horse is paying attention and my head is clear and I am thinking.