Monday, March 2, 2015

"Surprise What A Pony!"

Howdy Friends,

Surprise will soon celebrate her 34th birthday and the beginning of her second decade as a Therapy Pony! More kids who are dealing with unkind life situations have learned to smile, sit straight and feel the glory of accomplishment while riding, leading or loving Surprise over the years than anyone could count.
Surprise in 2000
Surprise has always loved being a friend to all, a teacher, healer, confidant and cheer leader. All horses have the gift of being human’s best friend and even spiritual guide—some have an extra magical way of teaching us to hear them, learn from them, thrive with them. Surprise is one of those.

Half the children in Buckingham county VA have learned to ride with Surprise’s gentle guidance, or taken her to shows, or have had children of their own who have mastered equine essentials from the thoughtful tutelage of Surprise. You see, long before Surprise began her second career as a Therapy Pony, she had been a teacher, a lesson horse.
Surprise in 1998
She has always been an award winning show pony, and LaRue Dowd, our host at Sprouse’s Corner Ranch, and program director for Heartland Horse Heroes, remembers showing her own pony as a youth, and competing with Surprise. She remembers Surprise at VA State Fairs winning not only the blue ribbons for Gymkhana, but Hunter too. “Something few ponies do at the same show!” LaRue beams. Surprise has, over the years, introduced more children to the art, fun and excitement of showing, striving to be the best they can, and winning ribbons, than perhaps any other pony in VA. She has the heart, desire and love to teach. And does with grace.
Surprise and a few ribbons
Surprise has no plans on retiring any time soon. She continues to give regular riding lessons for beginners. She is also one of Heartland Horse Heroes primary Therapy Ponies. Often she’ll be the first new participants learn from, her understanding, compassionate ways, and short stature, easily overcoming fears some children bring to therapy about horses. She has often gotten youngsters over their fears allowing them in time to move on to taller horses. She loves her job, her life, and her kids.
Surprise teaching a youngster to sit tall and have courage in equine assisted therapy
Surprise the teaching pony. Short in stature, towering in human connection, teaching skills, love and understanding. She is a Therapy Horse, in every sense of the word.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Thursday, February 26, 2015

It's For The Horses

Howdy Friends! 

Editing, assembling, and cover design for my next book, “It’s For The Horses— Musings about horses, their needs, spirit, gifts and care from a horse advocate” are beginning. Troy Palmer, cover design magic person, just sent me a note asking for a back cover summary.
I sent her this... “This is not a book about riding, or training horses. This is a book on my thoughts, ideas and suggestions on how folks might find the joy in doing things for the horse, with the horses’ point of view as the leading guide. It is my hope to help as many people as possible learn to hear the horse, feel their spirit, and in that way help horses everywhere. Over the years I’ve met, and worked with horses who taught me about their feelings, their joys, their sadness, and their spirit. I’m a horse advocate. Having had the honor and privilege of working for a number of years rehabilitating TWHs, with my mentor Diane Sept, a Senior Certified Connected Riding® Instructor, I learned from her, and the horses, many things. Everything I do is from the horse’s perspective, including this little book. Every story, idea, suggestion and thought on these pages will be to suggest and share thoughts and ideas on how to maximize a relationship between horse and human – from the horse’s point of view.”

Now Bobbie Jo will need to work her editing magic yet, but it’s close. “It’s For The Horses” will be released in May.

Gitty Up, Dutch

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Blanketing Horses"

Howdy Friends,

Coffee Clutch friends and Facebook friends know my position on blanketing our horses is pretty much, guarded. I’ve chatted about horses and blanketing HERE and HERE, and always I say something to the effect, “Understanding there are exceptions, I’m in the anti blanket camp.”

Exceptions. There are always exceptions to and for everything and exceptions are noteworthy, important and viable, my only concern is they can also be used to self justify not making a change. Conversely exceptions can be the reasons folks use to make changes not in the best interest of their horse.
Kessy wears a blanket for the first time in the 5 years we've been together. Unusual weather, temps dropping from 50 to 0 in one day, and she is already shed out a lot ... She wore the blanket evening to mid morning the next day, temps were back up to 30 in 15 hours.
That’s why when I write about blankets and horses I don’t spend a lot of time on the exceptions as to why it’s good to blanket horses, there are valid exceptions, and some horses certainly need and fair better with them, but most would thrive much better without blankets.

My most vehement exception to blanketing horses is how many times it is overdone, improperly done and in far too many instances sloppily managed. We’ve all seen horses standing outside on sunny days of 40, 50 and even 60 degree days blanketed because their caregivers don’t know any better, or worse are simply too lazy or busy to remove them. I’ve personally known horses who have been forced to wear blankets from fall to spring without ever once the blanket being removed. I’ve seen horses with rain rot, sores and bare skin under the blankets. I’ve seen horses gone lame from blankets causing pressure on their shoulder points. On and on this list of bad management and misunderstanding goes on.

However blankets used and managed with the horse’s best care in mind can be extremely helpful. I believe blankets properly managed should be removed daily and the horse brushed. I believe no blanket should be allowed to hang on the horse without removal daily, the horse checked for rubbing and other issues. Temperatures must be watched closely, with the horse’s best interest in mind, not the convenience of the caregiver or owner. Blankets are not easy to manage correctly, and blanketing a horse should not be taken or managed lightly.

Having stated many of my anti-blanket views here it is my hope to give all our friends a chuckle, or at least a smile when I tell you, for the first time ever, I blanketed Kessy this weekend!

Here in Appomattox our average daytime temps this time of year, should be 50+, with nights in the 30’s. And we’d been enjoying them or temps close to that for a while, even with the snow days. Kessy is just about a third or more shed out. Then the other day, as a large chunk of the country, we were visited by that weather they’ve labeled a polar vortex—and temps plummeted. Daytime highs in the teens and clean down to zero overnight!

Kessy’s barn is an open three sided run in, easy to get out of the weather and wind, but it stays about the same air temp as outside. In cold weather she gets all the long stem forage she wants. Some days she’ll eat 35 pounds of hay! However with this huge and sudden swing in temperatures this weekend she needed a little help. I was forced to rummage through my old tack tubs and dig out a blanket I hadn’t seen for a long time. It only had half a dozen mice holes, but was still in good shape.

Kessy’s eyes widened when I introduced her to it, but stood nicely as I adjusted the straps and buckles, and I can’t be sure but I think she liked being swaddled in the overnight zero temps. I removed her blanket the next day when temps rose to near 30 and brushed her. Our weather is not yet settled, but temps in the 30’s or high 20’s are about where we are now, and she is happily au naturel again. And yes, this was one of those things we can call an exception.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Monday, February 16, 2015

My thoughts on a Healthy Diet and Weight Loss

Howdy Friends!
Many friends have asked how I’m doing since my cardio adventure and surgery, and thank you all for that! I’m doing wonderful! It has been, of course, a life changing event in so many aspects, the biggest is eating and nutrition. This lead to a paradigm shift in health, eating, foods and understanding the foods we eat, our diets, nutritional needs verses out dated ingrained wants.
This was back in November, at 180 pounds. I've shed 12 more since, with only about 15 more to go. YeeHa! I've gone from 2x shirts to large, (big shoulders, haha) 44 jeans to 34, and you bet, Kessy is smilin' too!
Last May I tipped the scales at 235. Today 168. Doc Lewis, my cardiologist, would like to see 160, I’m shootin’ for 155. Great weight for a short fella, only 5’6”. Side note here when Ravishin’ Robbie and I were married 39 years ago I was 5’10” but my bone condition has my spine collapsing so I lost 4”. I pleaded with Doc to take that into account. He smiled politely 8 months ago when he said, “160 is a good weight for you.” I now believe him.
A wonderful thing about our hospital’s cardio rehab program is how they incorporate nutrition in the training. A truly in depth and understandable course on healthy eating that can, and does, not only get a fella back on his feet, but shatters myths, old standby ideas and attitudes, setting the stage for years of healthy, vibrant living.

Now for myself, having grown up on a PA Dutch very old fashioned dairy farm in PA and proud of his meat and potato diet, this new fangled idea of “healthy eating” was not only a paradigm shift, but something I had doubted all my life. Along the lines of insisting horses needed iron shoes nailed to their hooves, I insisted on that for many years too. Oops.

Having learned the beginnings of an understanding of what a human body truly needs to thrive at re-hab, as I am wont to do, I dove headlong into a bit of research on my own. Having a fair understanding of research, interviews and compiling facts from my experience in writing for TrailBlazer and Natural Horse Magazines, I began to look up and contact cardiologists, nutritionists and dietitians who, like holistic and homeopathic veterinarians, are on the cutting edge of societal evolution.

A few things became abundantly clear. The first and, for me, the single biggest fact is, “It is impossible to lose weight and maintain that weight loss simply by eating less of the same foods we’ve always eaten.” The body mind and triggers will not reset, so folks set sail on years of what has become known as, yo-yo loss and gain, fad diets, struggles and disappointments.

We must realize, understand and accept that almost all foods produced in the U.S. are unhealthy, toxic and addicting. Did you know sugar and salt can be as addicting as nicotine and heroine? It is a fact, and the large companies, fast food outfits and even meat produces know it, and spend millions of dollars in research to create just the right blends of sugar and salt to feed the triggers in our brains to keep us over-eating—addicted. We’ll not even discuss diet sodas, except to say, none should ever enter your body, really no soft drinks should.

Way too much along the lines of “What not to eat and why” for a blog post, let’s focus on a few simple blunt facts that can, and will, change lives. And remember, this all came as hard for me as taking my horses barefoot, and other holistic care.

Again there are changes in what we eat, not just how much we eat, that are paramount to success, health and satisfaction. No processed foods of any kind, ever—they are the addiction triggers. If man made them do not eat them, period. If it is in a bag or box or frozen it is not for health. No butter, spreads, sauces, bread, very, very little pastry, salt or things you can now begin to see fall in this old habit category. So what is left?

Sadly, for me for sure, we can’t really turn to fresh meats, turkey, chicken, beef or even most fish. But especially beef, pork and poultry are so loaded with growth stimulants and other nasty things which of course then transfer to our bodies, we need to severely limit, (and shop extremely wisely) them as well. Ravishin’ Robbie and I now eat about 3 to 6 ounces of meat a week. Yup, that’s it. I know it was mighty tough for this ol’ boy to swallow too, but friends, trust me—for your health and your family.

For us, we decided to go raw. We eat about 90% raw veggies, and pretty big piles of them. We are totally organic, which nowadays is easy to do, and in fact is more affordable than you’d think. We were already headed this direction when Bobbie Jo Lieberman released her book, “Sassy Salads,” and that for us was the final push. I Highly, highly, recommend it! So much knowledge there in a fun easy to read and understand format.

But eating raw has changed everything. My nasty, nasty arthritis is much better. I have zero dizzy spells, no swelling in my legs, and perhaps most importantly, my mind is much more clear, focused and recharged. And before you jump to conclusions, no, those things are not a result of my heart surgery—my cardiologist has stated it is totally related to diet change, (which they started me on) and he asked me to write about it. He said, “We patched up your heart, your diet changes are doing the rest.”

Quickly now, some tips that help. No snacks of any kind in the house. Drink water, no ice, (ice kills digestive enzymes and is a habit) decaf coffee or tea, no sugar. Keep cut up raw veggies in the fridge, snack often on them throughout the day, you can take them to work or play with you. Build big beautiful salads for your main meals (To get you started check outBobbie’s book). Olive oil and vinegar dressings can be made in many exciting and fun ways. Nuts make good snacks too, and don’t forget fruits! We grow our own sprouts and the salmon and other meats we eat we grill or bake and shred on our salad, just a few ounces a time or two a week. Just about our only cooked food anymore is the few ounces of salad meats, and our morning 7 grain oatmeal breakfast—which saves money and time, haha!

One last big tip from the doctors—weight loss should average a pond or 2 a week. That’s it. In that way the mind and body can adjust and accept as the proper weight and not go into starvation fear, which trigger all the old addictions, and yo-yos.

There you have it, it is really quite simple. I like to say, it is less about how much you eat, and more about what you eat.  Like making the paradigm shift for your horse’s health, take this one for yours—it’ll rock your world!

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"Tom Named By Horse" Available Now!

Howdy Friends! ~ YeeHaw!! ... Tom Named By Horse is now available on Amazon! I’m sorry it took so long, but by golly here ya go! You can now ride through history and across the prairie with Tom, Soft Cloud, Buck, Chief Red Cloud, Buffalo Horn and the others.
Set just after the War Between The States and before what some refer to as the Plains Indian Wars it’s the story of tumultuous and harsh times. Tom Named By Horse is, at its core a love story, and just as love can be powerful and at the same time confusing, so were those times. Parallels between Tom Named By Horse's awakening and brutal changes washing over the great plains weave together telling the story of a time of struggle, conflict and confusion. While most of the characters are fictional, the struggles, love, hate, confusion and desperation are true. Tom Named By Horse's birth on the day of Chief Red Cloud's powerful vision of terrifying change sweeping over Grandmother Earth bind the two together in powerful ways.

EXCERPT~ 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. 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.
REVIEW ~ I was blessed to receive a free, review copy of Dutch Henry's new release 'Tom Named by Horse.' I was so excited as I had read his very first release 'We'll Have the Summer' and could not put that one down. 'Tom Named by Horse' met all my expectations and then some. Dutch does not disappoint!

The reality of the characters transcends mere physical descriptions as Dutch brings the reader into the heart and soul of every individual in this adventure. His depiction of daily life in the 1860s is as down-to-earth as it truly was. I am so invested in the struggles, strengths, and successes of Tom that I am greatly anticipating the next episode in this series. ~ Darlene C Hohensee

Friends if you’re looking for adventure, history and emotions rolled together in a story please go to Amazon and order your copy! For the paperback CLICK HERE ..... For the Ebook Kindle CLICK HERE ...

Or you can order from me for an autographed copy. If you’d like we can have Kessy autograph it too!

Winter 2015 the next in the series From The Banks Of Little Bear Creek will be released.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Thursday, February 5, 2015

"Bluebird Love"

Howdy Friends!
February is the time to start getting Bluebird nest boxes ready for the summer. Although in most parts of the country Bluebirds may, and often do hang around all year and use the nest boxes for nighttime huddling, as many as 6 or more snuggled in a box. February is when the males begin checking out and claiming boxes for the summer. Our daughter used to call those eager males the Bluebird real estate agents!
Bluebirds can and do bring real love and joy to us. There is an old saying they carry the blue of the sky on their wings. I like to say they have the magic to make every day, a Bluebird Day!

If you’ve never experienced the joy of Bluebirds nesting in a box you’ve put up for them, you’ve missed one of the sweetest treats a person can enjoy. They love their nest boxes and will reward you with much fun, tenderness and beauty. For over 20 years I had the pleasure of talking about on tours, and erecting and monitoring Bluebird Trails in PA State Parks when I served as a volunteer for the PA DEP. Oh the friends I made and the beautiful sights I saw. And the joy I had. That was some years ago, but her in VA I still maintain a Bluebird trail on our tiny spot of heaven.

Nothing much compares to the sweet sound of a male Bluebird singing his springtime tunes perched high on a branch or wire. Or the tender beauty of 5 little brand new naked babies snuggled in the nest box—or those same babies launching from the box a few weeks later on their first flight.

Friends, if you’ve never had the fun and thrills of welcoming Bluebirds into your world, I strongly encourage you to! It is really very simple. Nothing difficult or challenging about it.
There are really only a few basic guidelines that when followed will bring those sweet little beauties to you. The first bit of advice is, keep it simple. That’s important.

Now for the box, just a simple flat roofed box (about six inches tall and 4x6 size) with an inch and a half hole, no perch. Here is a picture of the plan I have used for over 35 years. Works like magic. I do recommend roughing up the inside of the front wall so the fledglings can get a toehold as they scurry up to launch. Also I make larger ventilation slots than the plan shows, just under the roof, on all four sides.
Click on picture to enlarge - This is all you need! One six foot 1x6 per box! Simple and inexpensive! I'll bet I've made close to 1,000 of these over the years!

Erect the boxes in wide open places at least 300 feet from woods, brush and buildings, on steel posts 4 to 6 feet from the ground. Closer to brush and buildings invite predators such as house sparrows and wrens, who will kill the mammas and babies on the nest.

If you are doing a trail, they need to be at least 350 feet apart—unless you also have Tree Swallows which are also a delight, then I recommend putting pairs of boxes. Two boxes about a foot apart every 350 feet. Tree Swallows and Bluebirds are great friends and Tree Swallows will defend both boxes.
4 little Bluebird eggs in a nest of grass
Monitor your boxes at least once a week. Keep a journal; you will delight in watching your broods grow! Yes it is okay to touch the eggs and nest, the Bluebirds don’t mind, and often sit right there with you. Best to do your monitoring early in the day, so your track is not there for predators to follow overnight. I once took part in a survey to monitor nest building and incubating and feeding and checked the boxes every hour in the daylight to record activity and nest construction. What a fascinating and learning time that was!
4 little babies about 5 days old. Look at those tiny blue feathers!
Clean your boxes after each batch of babies. You can usually count on 2 nests a year, but 3 is common and we’ve often had as many as 5! It takes about a week or 10 days to build the nest of soft grass or pine needles—though if in a hurry they will complete it a day or two! Another week to lay their 3 to 5 eggs, and about a week days to hatch. They will grow quickly and fledge in about 15 to 20 days. It can be great fun to sit and watch the busy parents feed their growing brood. I once placed a bowl of mealworms about 20 feet from the box and counted 50 trips to the box in half an hour!!

That’s about it. I hope you’ll give it try this year, you’ll love it. Takes little to no money, and the rewards are boundless! Feel free to ask me any questions and there are lots of books out there, and info on the internet ... But remember, “Keep it simple.”

You can find a wealth of information at THE BLUEBIRD SOCIETY OF PENNSYLVANIA  

I hope you’ll discover Bluebird love, if you haven’t already.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry