Monday, March 23, 2015

Why Chief Red Cloud? – “Tom Named By Horse, behind the scenes in a writer’s mind-1”

Howdy Friends,
Why did I select Chief Red Cloud as a central figure for my Tom Named By Horse series? This is the first of a few Coffee Clutch posts where I’ll share a bit of my “behind the scenes in a writer’s mind,” about writing these three novels. First I’ve always been fascinated by the American Indians of the plains. Is it their connection with spirituality, horses, and nature? Perhaps. Do I credit them with more than is reality? Perhaps. However I have been, and remain so.
The vision for my Tom Named By Horse series came to me in a tsunami of rushing waves. His is not the only powerful spirit that guided my stylist on the keyboard, but from the first thoughts of the story, I felt he walked with me.

Chief Red Cloud was a visionary, a powerful and talented warrior, and also a very wise man. He gained his respect and honor during the Lakota and Crow wars, where he proved his tactical genius. He held that respect and honor until his death in 1903 at the Pine Ridge Agency. He visited with President Grant, who also respected this great leader’s wisdom, though failed to follow it.

The struggles Chief Red Cloud faced for me, I felt could, serve my story well, allowing me to weave in the parallels of his knowing peace would be best for his people, yet needing to stand for what he also understood was necessary. This is the same struggle Tom faced all through the years of the Plains Indian Wars, and beyond. Chief Red Cloud is the only Chief to ever have won surrender from the US Military, when after a year of bloody battles General Sherman was forced to surrender and abandon the forts along the Bozeman trail.

The Sioux believe all things must be done with respect. Battles, taking of buffalo and game, cutting trees for firewood and lodge poles, these must all be done with respect. Tom feels that as well, and struggles with the tasks asked of him by Red cloud, and finding his way in a strange new world.

Chief Red Cloud faced sweeping changes, he knew he could not control, for his people, their lands and beliefs. Tom confronts changes to his life, his beliefs and even his ignorance about life. Just as Tom is overwhelmed with learning the ways of the world away from the hider, so is Red Cloud often overwhelmed by managing the threat, changes and horrors brought to his people.

Red Cloud must find a way to preserve his people’s heritage, honor, and future, he knows fighting is often the only way, but he understand futility too. Tom understands killing, and is good at it, he struggles with understanding the need, but accepts it waiting for the lessons.

Chief Red Cloud also offers a unique perspective of weighing hostilities, cooperation, and managing his position as a respected leader. Not all of his people are so eager for a peaceful solution. This was a time in our country’s past laced with uncertainty, changes and upheaval, and Red Cloud was forced to deal with things never before imagined by him, his people or those forcing the changes. Tom never could imagine the changes he must face the day he killed the hider. Red Cloud, the country and Tom all change together.

I’ll leave you with the opening of “Tom Named By Horse.” These words are exactly as the first draft I ever wrote, as they came to me. Did Red Cloud speak to me? I don’t know, but never a word has been changed. — The rolling grasslands spread before him as far as his eye could reach, as broad as the universe itself. Each rise gave way to the valley beyond it. Every valley was the beginning of the next hill. Rain, falling hard from the hands of Grandfather Mystery, soaked Grandmother Earth.
Chief Red Cloud sat on his favorite war pony all that dark day, and allowed the skies to beat him with raindrops pounding like rocks. He had told his uncle, Chief Smoke, of his terrifying vision. With sad eyes he looked into the rain. Today Red Cloud knew even Grandfather Mystery could not wash away the change about to sweep over their ancestral hunting grounds. His tears mixed with cold rain as he turned his faithful pony toward his village.
 You can purchase Tom Named By Horse here on Amazon or email me to buy an autographed copy. 
Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"Susan Domizi—SOURCE Micronutrients"

Howdy Friends,

Yesterday I had the honor of interviewing Susan Domizi, innovator, entrepreneur, and a woman of vision. Over 40 years ago she founded SOURCE(R) Micronutrients, a seaweed-based supplement supplying the micronutrients so lacking in today’s foods, plants and so necessary for optimum health. My full story will appear in my Holistic Hall Of Fame column in the July/Aug/Sept issue of Natural Horse Magazine, and I thought I’d share excerpts here for our Coffee Clutch Friends.

How does a company stay in business forty years? Commitment to being the very best it can be in all aspects from product development, customer service, research, and most of all honesty. Honesty in everything they do for, and with, the products they produce, and the people, horses and animals they serve. At the core of SOURCE Micronutrients are founder Susan Domizi’s desire, pledge, and heart to produce the very best, highest quality, seaweed-based supplement possible with the God given nutrition in tack. Her commitment and diligence have become self evident in the health and longevity of those she serves. And the longevity of her company. 

From harvesting the many varied types of seaweed, to processing, to testing, packaging and shipping, and customer service, every detail is managed by the team. No products are purchased; everything is harvested, processed and packaged by SOURCE Micronutrients. A promise no other company can match. This absolute commitment to quality guarantee has been often recognized worldwide. From the very first bucket of SOURCE Micronutrients sold, a money back guarantee has been in place, with no regrets.

From the earliest days when Susan began formulating SOURCE she quickly learned there are vast differences in seaweed. Realizing that purchasing seaweed from mass suppliers and “mixing her own formulas” was not nearly good enough, it was certainly not reliable in any quality control standards she held, Susan set about learning the highest and best types of seaweed for each particular micronutrient, where it grew, and how to harvest. Today, and from the beginning, they stand alone as the only company to totally control each and every aspect of their seaweed-based product. From selection, to harvesting to drying, packaging, shipping and customer service it is all done by the Source team. 

But what are micronutrients and why should you care, or feed seaweed to your horse? Today’s farmed, and even wild plant life, have been shown to be alarmingly low in micronutrients. Most vitamins and mineral supplements are as well. Essentially every metabolic process in the body requires micronutrients to function properly. It is impossible to achieve optimum health without adequate micronutrients. It is little wonder we are witnessing the proliferation of auto immune diseases in our horses, for instance the widespread occurrences of insulin resistant horses.

Longevity, not only the company has stood the test of time, but their products have too. And the horses who benefit from them have proven it. Several years ago a major feed company ran a campaign to find the oldest living horse to kick off its own, “senior feed.” The two horses proven to be the oldest in the country were both fifty years old. Both owners had been feeding SOURCE for decades. It truly makes a difference, a big and noticeable difference.

Our Holistic Hall of Fame column exists to honor and pay tribute to “Those individuals who have made a difference in the horse world, holistically.” Susan Domizi most certainly has. It is an honor to know her and celebrate her—and recommend SOURCE Micronutrients. She, her products and her company can and do make a difference, every day.

To learn more about this amazing woman, her team and the products they produce for our horses, pets and humans, please CLICK HERE to visit their website. You’ll be glad you did.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Sounds Of Spring

Howdy Friends,

Coffee Clutch this morning offered the first bird song chorus of the season. Yea I know Spring is officially with us yet, but the weather is. Spring peepers have been peeping the past few evenings, and afternoons too. I reckon they are so excited they’re putting in extra shows! 
I settled into my chair next to Kessy, poured my first cup and toasted the morning. The woods around the barn danced with melodies, solos and quartets. A true concert of majesty and talent.

A pileated woodpecker pounded out a rhythm almost too fast to follow, then let go his, “yak, yak, yak, yak” single note tune. Cardinals sang their duo from high in opposing trees. Mr. blue bird from his perch added a soft trill, almost blending with the more lively robin. Phoebes sang softly, “Phoebe ... phoebe,” chickadees their little shuffle of chatter sounding almost like a strumming washboard.

Truly a concert in the wild, what a perfect way to start the day! We hope yours is perfect too!

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Monday, March 9, 2015

Grandpop, “There’s a difference between gettin’ and earnin’”

Howdy Friends, 

Grandpop is a series of stories I started in June of 2013, based loosely on my Uncle Ed, a WWII Vet, and real life cowboy. He grew up cowboyin’ on the famous XIT ranch in Texas until he left to join the war with a few of his range riding buddies. His daddy ran one of the general stores on the ranch. I never knew my Uncle until I graduated High School, the folks who had me on the farm allowed no outside contact, but when I met him I was immediately hooked on his quiet ways, wisdom and kindness toward all, animal and human. Uncle Ed is the personification of the Cowboy Code. I never had a father figure until I met Uncle Ed, and our visits over the years have served as guideposts to me. Our visits with Grandpop here in the Coffee Clutch are based sometimes on the chats he and I had on his farm in PA, and other times on chats as I imagined we would have them if we’d had the chance. Uncle Ed moved back to Texas, about 10 years ago, onto a little spread only a few miles from the Canadian River Breaks he cowboyed in his youth. His wisdom, it seems, is even more important now. You can have a read of our first ever visit with Grandpop HERE (with links to go on) – I hope you’ll enjoy our visits with Grandpop.
Kessy, Saturday and me writin' a story

“There’s a difference between gettin’ and earnin’”

His friendly smiles always took charge of the moment, times and situations I knew I’d handle differently, most certainly with less effect and understanding. Grandpop always knew how to make things understandable, on a higher level. Sometimes with just that smile of his. And a twinkle in his eyes. I could see the lad was still frustrated, perhaps even angry, but Grandpop’s smile, and purposeful hesitation, had the young fella thinking.

“You can get all the tangles out without cutting,” Grandpop encouraged from his seat on a straw bale. He sent me a silly grin. He’d been coaching the boy on the fine art of horse grooming but the tangled wind-braids in the mane looked to be more than the youngster wanted to deal with. “Take a few strands and pull ‘em up through one at a time, and little by little you’ll get ‘er. Then you’ll have a clean beautiful thick mane all wavy and plush, much better than just choppin’ it off to get done. You’ll feel better about it too.”

The glare the boy shot Grandpop telegraphed his disbelief and perhaps disinterest. “I wanna get done, you said if I clean him up we’d get to go riding. I’m at this ten minutes already and I want to get to ride before I go home.”

Grandpop’s soft chuckle always disarmed and didn’t fail this time.

“What? I just want to get to ride!” The boy tugged harder than necessary on a tangle. The patient horse leaned into the tug.

“Yup, I hear that.” Grandpop braced on his cane, stood and eased to the horse. With weathered fingers grown unsteady with age, he gently pulled a few strands free from tangle. He gave the boy a knowing smile. “See it’s really that easy. I’ll just sit on my straw throne and watch you finish up."

Some fifteen minutes later the boy beamed as he ran a brush through the tangle free, glossy white mane of Grandpop’s second favorite horse. The pride of a job well done painted on the young man’s face. “Looks pretty good doesn’t it?” He ran his fingers through the blonde hair. I’m ready to ride, I earned it!”

“You sure 'nough did!”

As they saddled Grandpop asked the boy about riding, and a bit about his life at home. I was busy tacking up my own mare, and missed some of it, but heard enough to know the lad a rough road at home. “I wish I could stay here.” I heard his voice trail away.

“I know young fella, and I wish I could keep all the young ‘ins like you who visit.” They stopped at the mounting block. “Take this with you when you head for home, it’ll help ya. There’s a difference between gettin’ something and earnin’ it. Ya see, when you just get something ‘cause you just reach out and get it, or can borrow enough money to buy it, the satisfaction is fleeting, unfulfilling and you need to run out to get the next thing you want, always not quite satisfied, because it means nothing. But if you work to earn it, put the time into truly possess it; it’ll have a lasting value. It’ll mean something. It’ll always give you a true sense of lasting satisfaction.”

Grandpop boosted the boy into the saddle. “That’s a problem with a lot of folks today. They just want to get, don’t even ever have the chance to feel the joy, the power of earning what they want. Don’t let that be you.”

We rode toward the mountain, I trailed a bit behind, but could see the boy sitting tall, happy and proud.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Thursday, March 5, 2015

"I’m A Horse Advocate – so what’s my position on Horse Slaughter?"

Howdy Friends,
The other day when I posted a note on Facebook about my soon to be released book, “It’s For The Horses—Musings about their needs, spirit, gifts and care from a horse advocate,” I was asked a question. “If you are a horse advocate, what is your position on horse slaughter and why don’t you write about that?”
Why have I never written about horse slaughter? As a horse advocate I have written about many negatives regarding horses. Pregnant mare Urine farms, and horrible pee lines, TWH Soring, and the torture, Nurse Mare Farms, and the heartbreak, the Bureau of Land Management and the wanton mistreatment of our Wild Horses, to mention a few.

I could write many more stories of horrendous treatments of the noblest animal God ever created, almost every breed of equine suffers at the hand of man. I’ll not delineate the long list of horrors here, but we all know them. Each of us can name breeds, showing and techniques, bits, and other mechanical devices, management, care and use. These stories are painful and difficult to write, and it is not really my style. I prefer to write positive. I subscribe to the belief, the hope—that by sending out positive thoughts the positive energy may help make a change.

A friend once told me, “When horses and money compete, horses lose.” Sadly this is all too often proven true. And of course the horses pay the price, with their pain, mental and physical, their freedom, their contentment, and even their very lives. For that reason I try to write stories in support of humane, fun and healthy for the horse, care and management—in the hope that more folks may begin to consider a new dynamic. A paradigm shift to, in everything they do, consider the horse’s point of view first. Ask themselves, “Am I doing this for me? For the ribbon? The glory? The money? Or am I doing it for the horse. What will the horse get out of this?

I believe if all horse caregivers considered the “horse first” in every aspect, so much would change. It would have to.

How could a person who thinks, “horse first,” even consider torturing a magnificent TWH with chemicals, chains, stacks and plantation shoes? How could BLM management chase horses and foals to near death, (and death) with helicopters and stack them in corrals to suffer unsheltered in backing sun or frigid cold? How could trainers employ tail sets, rollkur, and a plethora of other horrible training techniques and mechanical devices? How could they breed nurse mare foals? How could they stand mares in pee lines for 8 months a year and deprive them of water to produce rich urine to create a drug known to kill the very women they pretend to help? How could they start horses at such a young age their bones, and minds, are damaged for life? How could they bred so many horses in the hope of producing a money maker, and toss aside the ones who don’t make the count? How could they ride a horse in a saddle that doesn’t fit? How could they stand a horse in a stall for days on end? And yes, how could they support horse slaughter? I’d wager if they thought “horse first” there would be changes.

I suppose I could write story after story detailing the negatives, abuse, neglect and horrors horses endure at the hand of man. And I will from time to time...But I’d rather do my best to write happy—to write stories suggesting better ways—ways in keeping with a “horse first” paradigm, and work to help more folks realize the exact same goals can be achieved, and achieved at even higher levels, if the horse comes first.
Where do I stand on horse slaughter? I reckon you can guess.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry