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Harnessing Hope and Healing

Harnessing Hope and Healing

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Newsletter August 29, 2018 Posted by Trina Wood Michael Muir has always been fascinated with genetics and breeding. As a child, he bred mice for different coat colors. By the age of nine, a family friend helped him start a small flock of sheep that he bred and raised for the local 4H in his hometown of Dixon, California.  By the age of 12, with the money he earned from selling prized lambs, Muir bought his first mare who happened to be in foal, with a filly by her side. More than 50 years later, Muir is still breeding horses and has relied on the expertise of the veterinary hospital’s Equine Field Service to help care for them. Initially, he worked closely with Drs. John Hughes and Irwin Liu. Along with a rotating group of students, they helped Muir in breeding more than a hundred mares annually in the 1970s. “They would bring the students out to Allendale Farms in Dixon, and I learned right alongside them,” said Muir, great-grandson of America’s visionary conservationist John Muir. “They taught me a lot about breeding and general medical care.” By the time Muir reached his late 30s, the multiple sclerosis he was diagnosed with in his teens made it difficult for him to ride in the saddle, so he shifted his focus to carriage driving. He started breeding what he calls the Stonewall Sporthorse—a blend of strength, stamina, beauty, and gentle disposition. “I didn’t let my disease stop me from being a horseman, although I have a good deal of help,” Muir said. “Driving is...