Feature Stories, Getting Started with Horses, Horse Health & Performance

Tally Riding Academy: Instructor’s love of horsemanship and learning is the foundation for fast growing program in Orange County.  

California horsewoman Maryam Edah-Tally is a natural born educator. Giving a tour at her Tally Riding Academy in Southern California, she pop-quizzes her students:

  • How many gallons of gastric acid does a horse produce every day?
    • Up to 16 gallons
  • What’s the longest a horse should go without eating?
    • Four hours
  • What are early signs of Cushings Disease?
    • Bigger belly and thick, curly hairs.

The 21-year-old professional’s passion for horses is matched only by her passion for knowledge about how to best care for them and the idea that hands-on is the best method of teaching horsemanship. Maryam shares the knowledge with enthusiasts of all ages and abilities in her Academy and with anyone else curious.

All ages and abilities are welcome at Tally Riding Academy.

Longtime horsewoman Denise Molle appreciates Maryam’s “from the ground up approach. Literally, as in starting with scooping poop.” Denise started as a stablemate of Maryam’s at the Anaheim Hills Saddle Club, in Orange County’s Anaheim Hills.

Denise Molle & Dakota

Denise’s appreciation for Maryam’s horsemanship led to a friendship that deepened as the young professional helped Denise learn of more holistic ways of maintaining her horse, Dakota’s, health. With the perspective of 18 years of horse ownership, Denise explains that Maryam’s dedication to students and horses, her own and everyone else’s, sets her apart.

“She treats everybody as an equal,” Denise shares. “She explains what she wants to have done and why it’s important, then tries to let students do things on their own without interfering to whatever extent is safe.” The philosophy applies to able-bodied riders and those with a range of challenges addressed by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship-certified instructor.

Maryam also holds certifications in Equine Welfare from the University of Florida and in Equine Management from UC Davis. That’s on top of a business degree and marketing savvy that enabled her, as a high school aged entrepreneur, to make Fleur À Cheval a globally-embraced equine accessory. The colorful flowers now appear in the manes and tails of parade, exhibition and show horses and often just for fun.

Education is Everything

Maryam’s parents own a Montessori school, and its trademark style of self-directed activity, hands-on learning and collaborative play is incorporated to the degree possible at the stable.

The standard 45-minute riding-only lessons offered at many public equestrian facilities are not an option at Tally Riding Academy and Tally Therapeutic Riding. Since its launch in May of 2021, the program has quickly attracted a clientele that appreciates her “buckets to bridles” dedication to developing knowledgeable, well-rounded horsemen. The Academy’s two-hour sessions include all aspects of horse care, nutrition, equipment, etc. Even the youngest riders chip in on barn chores.

Barefoot farrier care, bitless bridles and letting whiskers grow long are manifestations of Maryam’s desire to maintain horses in as close to their natural state as possible. Her constant quest for knowledge lead her online, where queries on several recent topics led to discover Haygain as a company whose products fit her horse care philosophies.

Last spring, Maryam’s interest became urgent: her 22-year-old Arabian, Ares, suffered a mild colic and she didn’t want it recurring. Knowing that chewing produces saliva that’s critical to neutralizing the ever-present acid in a horse’s stomach, she sought help ensuring he’d spend more time eating. Hay nets were tried until she learned that “They can cause crest pain and top line deformation.”

Maryam and Ares and The Forager Slow Feeder by Haygain

The Forager Slow Feeder by Haygain seemed a better option and has proven to be ideal for Ares. Along with the digestive benefits of having access to forage all day, Ares’ behavior is “much improved,” Maryam relays. The Arab she helped bring back from slaughter-ready status “can get a little sassy sometimes, especially at feeding time.”

As an educator, Maryam appreciates the extensive research and educational content that support Haygain’s horse health equipment. It’s all become part of her horsemanship curriculum working with able-bodied students and those with a range of physical and occupational challenges. All are introduced to Haygain Steamed Hay and the Forager and taught their benefits.

Slow Food

Now in his sixth year with Maryam, Ares is a teacher of able-bodied riders and individuals participating in equine-assisted therapy programs. When those sessions happened at mealtimes in the past, he was not happy. Food scarcity reactions can underpin nervous behaviors in domestic horses, but Ares no longer displays any since the Forager was added to his paddock.

Maryam notes that in many boarding situations, horses are fed twice daily. “On average it takes a horse 2.5 hours to eat a full flake of hay, leaving a lot of hours in the day when stomach acids build up.”

Ares is now one of three horses at Maryam’s base, the Anaheim Hills Saddle Club, happily nibbling out of Foragers. She notices that all three fret less around feeding time. They’re not the horses pawing the ground and banging the pipe corrals at mealtimes. “Eating is a brain activity: it keeps them busy.”

A few months after the Forager came, Maryam and stablemate Denise teamed up to buy a Haygain HG One High Temperature Hay Steamer. For Ares, Steamed Hay’s lowered dust content and increased water content is a good colic safeguard.

Denise’s 23-year-old Quarter Horse Dakota was recovering from sinusotomy surgery. She hoped he’d be helped by softer, more palatable hay that still had the needed nutrients. Experiments with hay nets, soaked pellets and dry hay led to two scary choking incidents and Denise wanted a better option.

“It’s Our Gold!”

“It was divine timing,” Denise says of Maryam mentioning her interest in a Haygain High Temperature Hay Steamer. Even without the choking incidents, Denise worried that soaked hay didn’t have the adequate nutrients and saw signs that dry hay irritated parts of Dakota’s nasal passages that were affected by the surgery.

Trial and erring hopeful solutions led some friends to consider her “crazy,” Denise recalls. “But I said, ‘No, we are going to save this boy!” Steamed Hay has helped her do that. Dakota is breathing easy and resuming his life as a trail partner through the beautiful hills that surround the public boarding facility.

Maryam and Denise partner in the daily steaming duties: Denise in the mornings and Maryam in the afternoons. They take meticulous care of the steamer. “It’s our gold!” Denise asserts.

Maryam feeds Ares and a client’s Andalusian pony Steamed Hay for its overall benefits to respiratory and digestive function and appetite. She’s had fun doing taste tests with Ares in which Haygain is always the clear favorite over dry hay.

The Forager and Hay Steamer have helped more than Maryam’s horses. “The Forager has saved me time, money, stress and given me peace of mind.” The combination of appealing Steamed Hay, served in The Forager, has helped her nearly halve her monthly hay purchases thanks to less waste.

Sharing horse health knowledge is a passion for Maryam.

Denise appreciates Maryam’s quiet, generous attitude toward helping any horse. “If she sees any horse at the ranch having an issue, she goes behind the scenes and looks things up. She’ll send a gracious email with suggestions that might help, but she’d never force anything on anyone. She is great to have around!”

When a friend sought help getting started with horses, Denise referred her to Maryam. The friend was starting completely from scratch, having bought ranch to fulfil a long-held dream of horse ownership. “I knew I could help her with the basics, but she wanted to learn everything from the ground up. I knew Maryam would be the perfect fit and my friend couldn’t be happier to have found her.”

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