Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"Understanding the Why"

Understanding the why can begin in the eye ... This is my girl Kessy
Howdy Friends,

Understanding the “WHY” ... My horse won’t stand for the trimmer ... My horse won’t stand to mount ... My horse bucks when asked to canter ... My horse pushes me when I lead her ... My horse (insert anything here) ... These friends are NOT training or discipline issues, they are comfort issues. It is our job to understand why your horse is shouting those signals to you.

There is always a “why” and that why is almost always rooted in physical and mental comfort—and more training, repetition and discipline can’t cure it.

Most (if not all) things horses have difficulty doing are directly related to proper posture, self awareness, and body carriage, period. Fix that and the “bad things” simply go away. Sounds bold, I know, but I also know it to be true. To be fair we need always to address the why; stiffness, tightness, balance, self awareness, foot awareness, ease or lack of ease of fluidity and movement and posture before addressing the things we as humans focus on.

Think of it like baking an apple pie. If you’re told to bake an apple pie and you are indeed a superb pasty chef, but not given any apples, you could protest all you want and your boss would get frustrated and demand that you bake his pie ... But you simply can’t, without apples. You have the dough, the sugar, the spices and everything you need, almost. And your boss doesn’t get it and becomes louder and more demanding; you grow to be more and more confused. You want to please him, but there simply is no way you can, not without apples. So you try to protest—he won’t hear it ... That is the world the horse finds themselves in if we refuse to seek out the why.

Then your boss suddenly realizes something is not good with you and for the first time he asks you, “Why can’t you bake my apple pie?” You show him you’ve got no apples. He provides apples and you bake a wonderful pie—you needed no training or discipline, or repetition, you only needed the why answered.

Take time to give your horse all she needs, and not focus on what you want. Then what you want will be given to you in more glorious ways than you could have ever imagined. It begins with finding the why, and that why is always (yes I said always) in the horse’s ability to move in comfort, feel great about her posture and self awareness. The next time something, anything, goes a bit off I implore you to step back and ask why. Change the focus from “results” to “possibilities.” Those possibilities can always be found by giving to the horse, not insisting.

You can find how to accomplish this posture and comfort in my book “It’s for the Horses; An advocate’s musings about their needs, spirit, gifts and care,” HERE. I promise it can change your worlds. 

You might also enjoy our Coffee Clutch story, "Sometimes the horse just can’t ... It’s Not disobeying."
Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What is Horse Communication?

Howdy Friends,

What is horse communication? Lots of things. Lots of things in many different ways to many different people. A lot of people do indeed want to “communicate” with their horse, some on a spiritual level, some on a physical level, some on a level of cooperation, and some on a dominance level.

I don’t believe we can truly communicate with our horses if can’t see, feel and hear the spirit living inside. You see communication should not be about training, which sadly is mostly what folks think about with their horse. They figure their horse must “learn” to do this, that and a bunch of other things—and learn to do them better and better. No they don’t! They already know how to do anything we ask!

It is WE who need “training” in the art of doing this, that and the other thing—With our horses. They already know how. We must learn to communicate, and not by learning cues, leg aids, the “art” of using mechanical devices, that is not communicating. But too often that is what is taught, practiced and promoted.

I’ll admit I go on and on about the release and relax exercises of Peggy Cummings that I believe in and promote. I do this because they work. They work on many, many levels from creating proper posture to teaching US to hear, and therefore communicate with our horses. Just the few basic exercises I promote will open the door to communication, the inner spirit. Once we find the inner spirit of our horses, communication just begins to happen, if it is allowed. If it is welcomed. Then any training, learning and growing together becomes easier, more graceful and bonded.

There is a real spiritual being inside a horse, and more and more folks are beginning to understand and discover that fact. Horses are not, and should not be viewed as means to an end, equipment or tools. They are not slaves, nor simply objects we own “for what we get out of it.” They indeed have feelings, thoughts and can feel love, affection, stress, worry and fear. How than can we not communicate with them?

Horse communication, to me, is the ability to hear the horse and understand their point of view, their comfort, desire and needs. When we begin to understand that is important, our horses will indeed communicate with us in a way we can feel—and hear. And I don’t mean the standard outward communication like pinned ears, stomping foot, or greeting nicker. Those are the horse shouting. What communication is, is hearing the whispers, feeling the thoughts. And yes we can all learn this, if we believe and try.

Most folks who don’t believe have not really tried, and their horses know it so they quit whispering and only shout, or worse yet, they shut off communication—then the person feels compelled to train and often resort to mechanical devices, which will often have the effect of creating compliance, but not communication.

Horse communication? It is inside the horse quietly waiting for us to receive. Try it, you’ll like it.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

P.S. If you've not yet read my book, "It's for the Horses: An advocate's musings about their needs, spirit, gifts and care," Please have a look here www.itsforthehorses.com 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"We'll Have The Summer"

Howdy Friends!

I’d like to ask for your help ... As you may know Nov 19-Nov 22 I’ll be at the Equus Film Festival in NY as a featured author. Of course there will be many films and documentaries, full length, shorts and everything in between featured. There will be a lot of producers, screen writers, etc. there for sure. ... So here is the HELP I’m requesting ... If you have read “WE’LL HAVE THE SUMMER,” and believe it should be a movie, PLEASE email me a short note with your thoughts about the story and why you think it should be a movie. I know this is may be crazy , but who knows who I might meet there—and be able to show them your note?! ... my email is dutchhenry@hughes.net ... Together we may just make this happen! Please ask your friends too & share this post.

THANKS and Gitty Up, Dutch Henry!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"A First Horse"

Howdy Friends,

Recently a young girl who is reading “It’s for the Horses” emailed me with this question; “I know it all depends on the horse and its personality, but do you have an opinion on what someone's first horse should be?”

I assured her I do, and that opinion is a first horse should be one who has been around awhile and has a lot of experience. I think a horse around 18 or 20 years old who has “been there, done that” would be the best teacher someone could ever find.

Perhaps one in their twenties, don’t back away from a wise old boy because there’s a nick or two. The wisdom a senior horse can impart can’t be overlooked, or treasured too highly. For anyone just starting out the very best teacher, confidant and friend will be their horse.

Too often folks will be steered to a young horse for reasons that seem to make sense; you can learn together, you’ll be together for years to come, young horses are more healthy, and on and on. The problem with these seemingly sound rationales is they can set a beginner up for disappointment—or worse.

Any horse at any age can develop a nick, sickness or other health issue. A 20 year old horse has a lot of great years to go, and they will be safe, educational and precious years. Learning as a beginner with a young inexperienced horse can not only be frustrating and expensive, it can also be dangerous.

Learning from, and with, a wise old horse will be a fun life changing, course setting experience. We all fall in love with our horses, and our horses develop affection for us. Older horses tend to be thoughtful, more solidly aware and will recognize a heart offering love and support. They have years of wisdom, experience and adventures to draw on—and these experiences he can translate into learning for their new person.

Yes older horses will have baggage as well, but if we keep our hearts and minds open we can navigate our way around any difficulties. An experienced horse will guide their person through troubled waters—that knowledge and understanding which comes from having a history. And they will share their wisdom, if we listen.

I also hope folks looking for their first horse, or any horse, will have a look at rescues in their area. There are a lot of horses out there just hoping for someone to adopt and love them. And the folks at the rescues will often know a lot about the horse, and be able to offer a bit of advice.

So there you have it, I believe a beginner’s first horse should be a wise old boy who can be a teacher as well as a friend.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

To have a look at my book, "It's for the Horses: An advocate's musings about their needs, spirit, gifts and care," go to www.itsforthehorses.com 

Monday, October 12, 2015

"Dutch Henry Clinic at our little outfit-Oct 17

Howdy Friends!

Settin' the posts for the ring for our Dutch Henry clinic.
Gettin’ ready for our Dutch Henry clinic coming up this weekend, Oct 17 at our place. Mowed the field for the ring, camping, picnicking, and having fun with friends of like minds. This is one of the most beautiful places on our little outfit and will add serenity to our fun experience. We’ll have a fun time of learning and friendship for horses and their people. In a setting swaddled by the quiet, tenderness and power of nature we’ll explore and learn exercises that help our horses regain proper posture, body carriage, self awareness and confidence, and learn to hear our horses in new and exciting ways.
Camping area on our little outfit for Dutch Henry clinic attendees. So peaceful and relaxing there part of this clinic is the "slowing down" nature can offer us all.
And we'll end the day with a talk and demonstration on saddle fit by Larry Wilson, custom saddle builder extraordinaire! ... We’re all lookin’ forward to a swell time! The clinic is full but there is room for auditors.
The ring where learnin' happens sits among quiet watchful trees and surrounding field offers plenty of room for auditors, friends and spectators. The peacefulness here is part of the experience.

~ Gitty Up, Dutch Henry   

Thursday, October 8, 2015

"We'll Have the Summer"

Howdy Friends,

“Her eyes traced every line of the solid wooden trunk. Sam had made it for them, for her and Callie. He painted it shiny red. Callie loved red. Red and silver. Mary always believed her daughter had gotten that from her because they were Mary’s favorite colors, too. She had to smile when she remembered sewing their costumes together, the three of them, Callie, Susan, and herself. Oh how Callie would fuss over each and every minute detail. Nothing could be less than perfect for that girl.

God, Callie looked beautiful in her costume. Through watery, stinging eyes, Mary stared at Callie. She was standing right there, in the tack room, fussing like she always did with the silver fringes on her vest. Then the vision evaporated.” ...  EXCERPT from my novel, “We’ll Have the Summer”

... I haven’t spoken much of “We’ll Have the Summer” recently and this morning having coffee with Kessy for no reason I can think of I thought of this scene in Chap 7, Mary ponders opening the long closed, not forgotten show trunk. “We’ll Have the Summer” has over 130 five star reviews on Amazon, if you’ve not yet read it I’d like to invite you to lose yourself in Mary and Sam’s love. And perhaps recommend to your friends ... If you have read it perhaps you’d enjoy spending time with them again. 

Gitty Up,
Dutch Henry

You can find it here on Amazon ~ 

Friday, October 2, 2015

"Traction in Mud of the Barefoot Horse"

Howdy Friends,
We’ve had over 5 days of rain now and more on the way. Streams are high, our yard, Kessy’s playground, and yup the logging roads we ride are muddy. Here in central VA we have what folks call, Virginia red clay and the logging roads are pretty much red clay, baked concrete hard in summer months, muddy and sticky in the rain. Especially this much rain!
Sadie leads the way up the soggy red clay trail.
We had a bit of a break for a few hours yesterday so Kessy, Saturday, Sadie and I set out for a fun ride. Wet leaves and boughs splashed me plenty as we tiptoed along, a light mist decided to drop in, but we were undeterred.

In wet slippery conditions I always allow Kessy to set the pace, which she’ll hold to a sensible, careful walk. We stop at the stream with 25 water falls to take in the beauty of so many tiny ponds laced with fallen yellow tulip tree leaves.
Saturday and Kessy wade in the stream of 25 waterfalls.
After the stream we move to the logging road and into an area of a few hills. Kessy navigates wisely the grade changes and slick clay, her hooves making sloshing sounds with each step. But what they don’t do is slip.

I thought as we moved along about the marvelous traction a barefoot horse has in the mud. I did not feel a single slip or slide—and yes we were only walking, but still it was impressive. At one very level place she even stepped up to a gentle running walk, not a single slip, slide or misstep.

As we went along, confident and happy, I thought back to those years long ago, before I accepted the barefoot way and all the many benefits to the horse. I thought of one horse in particular, my magnificent Spotted Saddle Horse, Diablo, and the shoes he wore—and the slipping he would have been doing today.

That was back when I was certain, and no one could convince otherwise, that horses must be shod. And yes, we did different shoes for different circumstances. I even remember putting shoes on Diablo with cogs, to handle mud like yesterday’s ride. What damage do those cogged shoes do to the suspensory tissues inside the hoof? I can only imagine ... but I can compare the better traction Kessy displayed in the slippery red clay.

Kessy’s entire foot, every inch of sole and frog can, and does, touch the ground, supporting her and me as those magnificent feet had been designed. And providing great traction, mobility and surefootedness.

Riding in the red Virginia clay is a treat on a horse with bare feet.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry