Monday, January 26, 2015

"An Open Letter to Kids and Adults About Bullying"

Howdy Friends,

Recently I was at a meeting where a mother was very upset about her son who was the victim of “bullying.” I put the word here in quotes because I despise the word, the action, and the suggestion it gives. In our society today it seems we need to name everything. I heartily disagree with that need. You see every time we name something we get more of it. It instantly becomes a fad, a thing to do, to be part of, and in the case of bullying, it makes those vulnerable have their antenna up, more aware of and sensitive to the act. It weakens them and makes it more difficult to brush off the offense, or perceived offense.
Back to the mother at the meeting, we chatted a bit, she was so distraught at first she could barely function. “It’s been going on for years,” she said with sadness washing her face. Pity, stress and worry consumed her and it showed. Going on for years? Wow. Among other things I told her, in my opinion, the worst thing a parent or guardian can do is to swaddle the youth in pity. Pity can be perceived as a reward, and it becomes addicting, and the child will seek more of it, making him/her more vulnerable, subject to and in a dangerous place at the hands of those who would torment. Pity does absolutely nothing to prepare the child to deal with the real world. Rather it sets them up for a life of low self-esteem, self doubt and too often failure. 

Who am I to give advice on this subject? I lived it, horribly. I was abandon as a kid on a dairy farm. A farm that did not have indoor plumbing, electric or other niceties we take for granted. Before I was abandon I had spent 3 years locked in a room, my own father hated to look at me. You see I was born with several birth defects, misshapen hands, big arms and a humpback. My father and stepmother did not want to “Look at a freak” so they locked me away. I never knew for sure but I believe now authorities got wind of it, so they dumped me off on this farm.

At the farm I usually had two sets of clothes, milked and did other chores in pretty much the same clothes I went to school in. I was called, stinky, big hands, humpback, and other nasty things for a lot of years. I ate alone at lunch because no one wanted to be with a kid who used “ode de barnyard” cologne. So while I’m not “educated” in any way to give advice to you kids and adults, I’ve walked in your shoes.

Today I’m president of “Heartland Horse Heroes” equine assisted therapy center, and one of the programs we conduct there is Michael McMeel’s “Inner City Slickers.” A program for what society labels at-risk youths. Strong in that program is teaching self-respect, trust in themselves and others, respect for others—and “you can do it, and never give up!”

I tell the kids bullying is nothing new, it just has a name now, so it’s in style—in a bad way.

Sadly today kids don’t get enough contact with nature, or they would see how establishing position is actually a part of life. Chickens do it, the phrase “pecking order” comes from them. Puppies and kittens do it, who hasn’t seen balls of fur wrestling for fun, and dominance. Horse do it, think of the phrase “alpha mare.” It happens for kids and adults too, and all through life in play, and work. We need to learn to respect ourselves so we can master it, not let it master us. And pity, while soft, fuzzy and nice feeling, does little other than weaken us.

Another thing about bullies. Remember, bullies are cowards. Honest. That’s why there are always bullies in a pack, or the lead bully always seems to have team mates. They are cowards, can’t do anything on their own so they put like minded cowards on their team and pick out someone they can gang up on for their own pleasure and feeling of self-importance.

Bullies are often jealous of those whom they pick on. That’s why they do it. To try to tear their victim down. They want to build themselves up by stepping on the backs of those who are better than they are...Sometimes being picked on is great praise indeed. Smile and say, “Thank you.”

Today bullying is tough to avoid with so many youngsters growing up in broken homes, few actual role models and heroes. And the dog-gone electronic age. It is more difficult for kids to get away from bullies. Kids, I know social media is a huge part of life now, but if you think you are being picked on, shut it down. Really, leave it. It will only connect you with anxiety. Or find a way to make it so private only your few closest friends can connect. Don’t text or receive texts on your phone. If someone wants to talk to you, make them talk!

Try to remember, you, and only you can define who you are. TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE! If there are negative people in your life avoid them as much as possible. Negativity is contagious. You don’t need it! Find a mentor, a role module. Don’t seek out pity or codling. TAKE CHARGE.

One last thing, if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, smile. It will totally disarm them. Don’t let them take the reins of your life from your happy hands!

God Bless & Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Thursday, January 22, 2015

"A Few Tips To Trim Your Barefoot Horse"

Howdy Friends,

Trimming your own barefoot horse is easy to do, and I encourage folks to learn how. One key piece of advice I like to give is, keep it simple. There seems to be a lot of conversation out there making a simple thing complicated. Pete Ramey says it all, “Take care of the toes and the heels take care of themselves.”

You can see here Kessy's foot is 4 1/2 inches front to back. The apex of her beautiful frog is at 1 1/2 inches, exactly 1/3 of her hoof is forward of the apex. You can also see her lovely sole and no black lines. The sole merges with the wall.
How do we know how long the toe should be? A horse should be standing up on her foot, not angled back off it, no matter how slight. Sighting down from the hairline will point out any dish forming in the wall, no matter how slight. We want a straight line down to the bottom of the foot. And your horse will most often give you a “wear” spot on the tip of her toe, even on a 3 week schedule, which is what I recommend for a trimming schedule. No more than 1/3 of the foot should be ahead of the apex of the frog.

Rasp from the top down. Simple and easy. I never need or use a nippers. You can see here the angle I like to hold the rasp. Often you will see a flat wear place on the toe. I will begin at the heel, holding the rasp on this angle and rasp to the end of the toe flat spot . Then I'll go to the other side of the hoof, rasp from the heel to the flat spot on the toe. When all things align, I'll blend in the hoof into the perfect shape, and end with the bevel at the edge, which should be there if I've held the rasp on the proper angle. I do not believe the hoof wall from the bevel up to the hairline should ever be rasped, the blending I reference is around the hoof where the bevel is. If the horse is maintained on about a 3 week schedule there should almost never be a flare. It takes me about 2 minutes a hoof. That's it, easy simple. Now this is a maintenance trim, not corrective, that friends could be a whole other story.
Do all your work with a rasp, from the top down. Do not rasp the outer hoof more than the bottom edge you are working on for the trim and bevel, it removes live tissue on the wall needed for hoof health. Do not trim the frog or pare the sole (my gosh why do people do that?!) That also removes live tissue needed for hoof health. Simply rasp around the outer edge from the top down (the only way you can preserve the natural arch in the hoof). If done correctly you will never again see anything but a beautiful sole extending all the way to the hoof wall with no black line of separation, ever. Like Kessy’s here. If you see a black line, your toes are too long causing unhealthy flexing and stretching of the lamina.

Kessy's perfect feet
And that’s it. Simple, fun and healthy.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Monday, January 19, 2015

"Horses Taught Me Emotional Writing, and Seeing"

Howdy Friends!

An editor once told me I am an emotional writer. She explained it was easy to "feel" the emotions of my characters, and indeed my story. Many of the reviews on Amazon about my novel We'll Have The Summer, have commented on being able to feel the emotions of Mary and Sam, and all the characters.
Kessy's emotions run deep.
One negative I do get is that I don't describe my characters physically often, or deeply enough. And that is true. I don't invest a lot of words on that. I don't really see my characters as what they are as much as who they are. I drop hints as I feel and see them, enough so that the reader can see and understand them, but their aura that is them is what I really see and guides me in my description.

It's the same way, and always has been, for horses with me. I never really notice conformation; I would make a lousy judge! I see them, and their aura as who they are, their emotions, attitudes and personalities. I may not even notice if they have one white sock or three, or none. Physical characteristics are so much less important to me than the spirit. And that's how I write.

Horses taught me to see their spirit and who they are, not what they are. That's how they talk to me. That's what they taught me, and that's how I write. And of course that's how I see people, too. Who they are, not what they are. I see their spirit, aura, personalities, emotions, and that's how I remember—and write.

Here is one of my all time favorite character descriptions I ever wrote for Anaba in my novel We'll Have The Summer.  "First, Sam removed Bullet’s saddle and bridle then turned him free to pick at the wiry grass. Then he simply folded his legs and squatted next to the fire, facing the old Navajo. He sucked a deep breath from the pipe handed him, held the rank smoke long enough to burn his mouth, puckered his lips, and allowed it to drift out. Sam looked across the fire at his dear friend and studied the faded shirt covering shoulders made uneven by the many years, and the deeply furrowed skin sagging around Anaba’s still keen eyes. Such a man was Anaba, that it was necessary to study his worn-out body closely to notice the wear of it. The spirit living in those rich black eyes created a cloaking aura which prevented all but the most determined examiner from seeing the toll the years had taken on the mortal Navajo. But even in the quickest glance, that vibrant spirit was abundantly obvious."

I thank my teachers, horses I've met, for showing me how to be an emotional writer.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Friday, January 9, 2015

"Listening not Whispering"

Howdy Friends,
I sat in the car waiting as I often do while Ravishin' Robbie ran into the store to grab a few groceries. It's not so much I don't enjoy shopping, but walking in stores is sometimes a bother to my legs. And it offers a great time to people watch. The other day I was "people watchin'" when I noticed a child of, I suppose 7 or so, trying oh so hard to get her mother's understanding of a matter of what must have been great importance by the demonstration of arm flailing and hurried loud outbursts. Of course I couldn't understand the words, but the volume and tone sent a clear, "Are You Listening?" I chuckled because I knew the answer was a resounding, NO! For the mother was every bit as determined to make her point, at the same time.
Kessy knows she can count on me to listen

I never got the impression they were angry, quite the opposite, they seemed happy and excited, but were not able to communicate whatever was so exciting.
This made me think of a seminar I went to for sales training years ago. "Learning effective ways to listen." Never forgot it. But I must admit I'm not that great a listener, either. Unless I use this little trick. And you bet, I'm gonna share how I modified it for listing to your horse.
The trick isn't to watch the other person's lips or focus on their eyes or get in sync with their breathing, or any of the standard "rules for good listening." In fact you can do this with your eyes closed. Well with people you can. With horses you pretty much gotta look at them.
But with people it is really simple … Here it is … "Listen to every word as if you must jump in and finish the sentence." … That's it ... No gimmicks, no tricks. Just pretend at any moment you'll need to pick it up and finish the sentence. We even did role playing in the seminar, which I remember was a hoot!
So how do you finish the sentence your horse is saying? Well you listen closely; it will enrich your connection ... A brief side note here … When I'm doing my "Therapy For Therapy Horses" exercises, within a few moments of starting I'll get signals from the horse where they want my hands to go next. It is one reason why I'd love for anyone who has or works with horses to learn at least the basics of these. These exercises will teach folks to "listen to their horse" in a most comprehensive way.
But I'd like to share the other way you can finish your horse's sentence. Think about when you're leading her, and she stops. I'd like to suggest, you stop. Don't just think what you want, where you are going or want to go, but pause a second or three and look where your horse is looking. Sometimes it's obvious, she's worried about something she sees, ears and eyes focused right on it. That's an easy one and you should look at it too and wait a few seconds before asking her to move on. Finish the sentence together.
The real opportunity to finish your horse's sentence will come when she stops as you're leading her, you turn to look at her … and she isn't really looking at anything. She's just standing with soft eyes, relaxed ears and no concern on her face. This is your chance to hear her, and finish her sentence. If you stay soft, open your heart, mind and intuitiveness you'll pick up on it. It'll be a moment of deep connection. Think then of the end of her sentence ... Will she walk on to follow you, or relax another moment? Think a bit, wait for it, and then you'll see, your thoughts were in tune. You heard her – because you were listening … The opposite is also true … If when she stops you tug on the lead to move her on with no more than a brief glance her way shouting in your mind, "Come On!" … You will have missed what she was trying to tell you when she said, "I'm really loving this walk together."
I'm a big fan of ground work with a horse and doing slow easy things together will give you many opportunities to finish your horse's sentences. Remember to pause, join her thoughts and "predict" what she wants to do next, by finishing her sentence. While trail riding is another great chance to "learn to listen well," if she stops along the trail, pause, look and listen to her. The key to listening well is finishing the sentence in the way the "talker" would finish it. You know then, you are in tune.
Happy listening!
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"My Thoughts on Horse Vaccination"

Howdy Friends,
Often I've been asked about my thoughts on horse vaccinations. Thoughts on vaccinations, as do many homeopathic, holistic and natural practices such as "all forage diets," no stalls," no shoes" often cause quiet vigorous debates. I've resisted writing about vaccinations because it is so scary to so many horse lovers, owners and caregivers, I simply did not want to get into the debate. My own opinion though is we way, way over-vaccinate – to the health detriment of our horses (dogs, cats and children too).
Kessy love kisses
Recently I had the thrill, honor and privilege of interviewing Dr. Will Falconer, one of this country's most respected homeopathic veterinarians, for a story in Natural Horse Magazine. Like most homeopathic veterinarians his career began as doctor of veterinarian medicine. He is one of many homeopathic veterinarians or holistic practitioners I've interviewed over the years, and I've noticed a common thread of ideas, thoughts and concerns running through the minds of all these educated and experienced folks. In one way or another they all found they wanted to do better. They wanted to find ways to truly help their patients live healthier, more thriving lives. Another common thread running through all their comments during our interviews was their concerns about vaccinations. My interview with Dr. Falconer finally caused me to pen my thoughts on vaccinations.

I'll start with a quote from Dr. Falconer. "People simply do not relate or understand the harm that over vaccination does to the system. If there were one thing I could wave a magic wand and fix, it would be the attitude toward vaccinations." Dr. Falconer explained that repeated vaccinations impair and confuse the immune system.

"Most vaccinations for horses are for viruses, and veterinarian immunologists have proven scientifically that, once vaccinated for a virus, resulting immunity lasts a very long time, perhaps a lifetime." Dr. Falconer explained that repeated vaccinations not only confuse the immune system, but often cause it to turn on itself, and even attack healthy red blood cells.

"The horse is the most over-vaccinated animal, even more than dogs and cats, and repeated vaccinations do more damage than any other management practice. Repeated vaccination causes a plethora of ill effects that people fail to connect to the vaccine including allergies, skin conditions, thrush and even changes in temperament. These are long-lasting effects that take their toll. If people would just have one awakening in their journey to have a vital, thriving animal, I wish it could be that they would understand we now know, all vaccinations for viruses last a very long time, and repeated vaccinations to an already immune horse adds nothing, but it does compound the ill effects. In the late 1970’s, vaccine researcher Dr. Ronald Schultz discovered that rabies and the core vaccines last for the life of the animal in nearly all cases."

I chose to use Dr. Falconer's quotes because he succinctly put some of the concerns that I've heard many times from others. So many ailments in our horses can be linked to repeated vaccinations, as Dr. Falconer said above, and more than listed here. However, many veterinarians advise only, "Watch for symptoms for a few days," or words to that effect. While the truth is underlying chronic health issues that cause moderate to severe pain, lethargy, disinterest, or even poor temperament are chronic health issues related to vaccines that can show up weeks or months later and last a lifetime.

Worry about thrush, white line and founder? We all know that toxins in the horse migrate to the foot. There are toxins in vaccines that never really leave the body. Toxins put into vaccines purposely to "stimulate the immune response." If it were not so horrendous that phrase would be silly, reminds me of the equally silly oxymoron, "corrective shoeing."

Another problem with vaccinations is the way they short circuit the immune system. The immune system comes about 75% from the gut. Healthy digestive system, healthy immune system. But it is also supported by defenses throughout the body. The first line of defense is the nose, the throat and even tears. Each of these begins to attack the invader and signal the immune system to defend, attack and repel. Each of these areas of defense helps to educate and bolster the immune system. When we inject vaccinations directly into the body we skip all the front line defenses, thus robbing the body of that knowledge and power. Another thing Dr. Falconer, and others I've interviewed, said was how we are seeing so many horses coming up with wide varieties of allergies. Immunologists have linked this to confused immune systems.

A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccination. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal…… Furthermore, revaccination with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate an anamnestic (secondary) response…. The practice of annual vaccination in our opinion should be considered of questionable efficacy…”EXCERPT FROM - Current Veterinary Therapy, Volume XI, published in 1992 (a very well-respected, peer-reviewed textbook that is updated every four years). The authors are veterinary immunologists Dr. Ronald Schultz (University of Wisconsin) and Dr. Tom Phillips (Scrips Research Institute).

Immunology has recognized for a great many years that viruses provide a long-lived immunity. This is why your physician is not sending you postcards to repeat your small pox or polio vaccinations annually.

So why do so many veterinarians prescribe and recommend repeated vaccinations? That is a question only they can answer. Money? Profit? They truly believe it is best for their clients? The interesting thing is how many of them are beginning to question it. The whole vaccine issue is so difficult to get a handle on. Veterinarians are not taught much about immunology, just as they are not taught much about nutrition.

Many horse owners struggle with peer pressure inflicting fear, self doubt. Or you need to vaccinate to show, do you really? Many folks believe they need vaccination certificates to travel, not true, I believe I'm accurate in saying no states require certificates of vaccination, only the Coggins test, and perhaps a veterinarian's health certificate. Some boarding barns require vaccinations, can this be negotiated? I would move my horse.

These are just my thoughts, I'm sharing them in the hopes you might think about it, and do some research of your own. There is plenty of information out there today. I believe in the "once is enough treatment for vaccinations." It is far better to learn how to help your horse build the strongest possible immune system that can defend against invaders, viruses included. Tetanus is the only vaccination that needs to be repeated every 7 years. 
For me and my mare Kessy, she'll never have another vaccination, or shoe. Oh, and she has not been chemically wormed in 4 years either, just did a fecal count, no worms.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry