Friday, November 30, 2012

FEATURE FRIDAY-Joe Camp- Horse Advocate-Writer and Film Producer

Howdy Folks,
Joe Camp is devoted to promoting the well being and natural care of the horse. He lives the life and teaches by setting the example. His motto is, "No stalls, no shoes, no sugar."

Joe and Cash discussing their journey
You may know Joe Camp as the author/creator of the beloved Benji novels and movies. You may know him as the author of over a dozen other books, all related to kindness toward and understanding of animals. It was about seven years ago that Joe and his wife Kathleen discovered the wonderful world of horses.

Pretty early in their journey into horse love they discovered that sometimes horses don't really have it so good. Sure they may be well cared for, fed and housed, but modern horse care practices left Joe feeling that something was amiss. He kept asking himself, "What's in it for the horse?" He discovered the wisdom of Ray Hunt, who opened each clinic with this sentence, "I'm here for the horse." Joe will tell you it was Ray and his mentor, Tom Dorrance who first promoted, "looking at things from the horse's perspective." Joe will ask you, "If you truly want a relationship with your horse, is there any other perspective?"

Joe set out to not only understand the world and life as horses see it, but to share the knowledge he gained along the way. To that end he authored the best seller, "The Soul Of The Horse," a must read for any horse lover. It is his open and curious mind that has so enriched his life with the blessings of understanding horses and his strong desire to share what they've taught him.

He writes articles for numerous equine publications about natural, healthy horse care on a variety of subjects from nutrition, housing, barefoot hoof care and health maintenance. Often he will guest blog sharing his insights. And of course he maintains a very informative and fun blog of his own at   Please check it out and sign on to follow.

Joe and  Stormy relaxin'

Joe's website "The Soul Of The Horse"  is so packed with information and fun stories and videos that by golly you could happily get lost there for hours. Everything from just having fun learning to hear your horse to a healthy diet and proper hoof care can be explored at your leisure.

I chose to FEATURE Joe Camp today because he truly understands and, works tirelessly to help others understand, "The Soul Of The Horse."

Thank you Joe for all you do for horses all over the world.

Gitty Up.

Dutch Henry

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Larry Wilson Builds Molly A Saddle Part 2

Howdy Folks,

We're still in the saddle tree building mode here. It's a lot of fun watching this all happen, no matter how often I've seen it. And I am taking some pictures that I'll post on Monday's blog, can't do it today because there's more to come. I'm planing on a little picture story blog for Monday where we'll start with the first picture of the rough tree Larry builds at the beginning and then show a fitting, and shaping, more shaping then ending with Chris (who is getting the new saddle for her mule) riding her mule, Molly in the tree. I think even if your not a horse person you'll enjoy the journey.

Yesterday started with the first fitting at Chris' house, and lots of placing the tree on Molly and then Larry shaping and re-fitting. That took about 3 hours, then we came back here and Larry set up to start building the seat on the tree. Very detailed work and takes a bit of time to keep everything perfect. He ended the night with the first coat of fiberglass over the wood and wire frame.

Today there will be more fiberglass and seat building. Each application takes about an hour to dry. At this time he is also installing the stirrup bars, to hang the stirrup leathers. The size of the seat, height of the pommel and cantel, and placement of the stirrup bars are all determined by Chris' preference, and measurements and fittings Larry did yesterday when Chris sat on the tree. He'll hang stirrup leathers and riggings on the tree and it'll be ready for a test ride.
Putting the finishing touches on the tree for Chris & Molly's test ride
Sometime this afternoon, after all that is ready,  we'll go back to Chris' and she'll ride Molly in the tree so Larry can make sure everything is just perfect. That's one of the key differences in his saddles, because while tracings and molds are often done, that is a static fit and a lot of things change when a horse moves. Another neat difference with Larry's saddles is how he builds the seat to fit the rider for maximum comfort and freedom of movement.

I'm having a great time watching all this, and it is so interesting to see the change come over the horse, well in this case Molly the mule, as the tree begins to take shape and fit her and even caress her instead of hurt or annoy her. Everyone there yesterday saw the change in her eyes and demeanor. From worry to acceptance.

Have a fun day! ...  for Pt 3 CLICK HERE

Gitty Up,
Dutch Henry

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Saddle Maker Is Coming - Pt 1 of 4 Part series of Saddle Fit

Howdy Folks, 

This'll be an exciting few days. Larry Wilson, the fellow who keeps me straight in the saddle, is coming to stay a few days. Well he's actually coming to start a saddle for a friend of mine, but he'll be bunking at our house while he's here. I know Larry for over 10 years, and he's built my horses 4 saddles.

If you've never heard about Larry Wilson he builds custom saddles. And I believe everyone should give their horse a gift of a Wilson Saddle. Larry builds the tree, right there on your farm. Fits it to the horse while you watch. Before he leaves for home you ride the tree and he inspects everything for perfect fit, freedom of movement and proper contact and support, for you and your horse. Because he builds all his own trees not only is the fit perfect for the horse, but for the rider, too. He even places the stirrup leathers and bar where they belong for you, the rider. But he can do so much more.

Over the years I've watched as horses with injured shoulders from pinching, or forward tipping saddles are healed by Larry's saddles. I've seen horses who've never had a saddle fit them, become happy and healthy. One of the things I see doing my "Therapy For Therapy Horses" clinics is plenty of sore backs, shoulders and hips.

Let me tell you of the magic Larry did for me and my beloved Diablo. This was the first saddle he'd made for me. Diablo was an ex-show horse, a stunning Spotted Saddle Horse I'd been riding for about a year. At the time I was doing a bit of Competitive Trail and Endurance riding. Because my disease had blessed me with, among other things, significant scoliosis and a pelvis that is quite twisted my horses always traveled a bit to the right. And I was always reining left. Too many times after an Endurance ride my horses needed the attention of a chiropractor. At a tack shop I'd heard about Larry and decided to check him out.

When the day came that he was watching me ride the tree on Diablo he asked why we were drifting to the right. Of course I told him my horses always do that because of my back and pelvis. To which he responded, "I think I can fix that." For half an hour he patiently put tiny shims under my butt and even one on what would become the cantle. Eventually he had Diablo gaiting perfectly straight without me touching the reins. Even though I can never sit quite even, now my weight was distributed evenly to Diablo. I'll never forget that magical day.

You see Larry fits the tree to the horse and the rider so both can move freely and comfortably. This I feel is very important. And you know one of the best things is, his saddles don't cost anymore than a quality "off the rack saddle." Even less than some. The way he customizes everything is truly amazing. And he can make any kind of saddle from Western Roper to light weight Trail Saddle, Aussies and even Dressage Saddles.

He also can reshape the tree if and when your horse changes. I'm again riding in that saddle Larry built for Diablo all those years ago. Kessy is the third horse he's adjusted the tree to fit, and he might adjust it some while he's here this week. She has really grown and muscled up since I've had her.

Well, I wanted to tell you a little about a great guy who really knows how to help a horse feel great while doing whatever it is asked to do. Oh and the saddle he's coming to start for my friend, it's for a mule
Here is Molly's saddle complete, and that's Larry

Have a fun day! - Read Pt 2 HERE

Gitty Up
Dutch Henry

Monday, November 26, 2012


Howdy Folks,
We set out into the sun. It was a lot colder than I'd figured. Shouldn't have been surprised for when I finally a moseyed to the barn yesterday for Coffee Clutch, everyone's water was frozen. All the chicken waterers, and Kessy's too. I've heard the weather this year described as "Bi-polar,"

The Juncos have begun to gather and follow me as I scatter the chicken scratch and call, "Her chic, chic chic." Darling little black birds, do you suppose they begin to think they're chickens? Well they followed along and dove right in to the cracked corn, they usually enjoy about a minute of free dining before the first of the Bantams saunter up and claim the territory.

Yesterday morning, the Junco/Bantam dance was pretty much the same. Saturday's Coffee Clutch temperature had been 42 … Sunday's 22! Yea that bi-polar thing … That 22 degree aspect caught me off guard. I'd been so absorbed in the delightfully pleasant days I never took care of the water heaters! And as I said, everything was frozen.

Wrapped in insulated coveralls, earmuffs, winter hat and a blanket on my lap, I watched the Coffee Clutch crew and sucked down a few steamy cups of Pumpkin Spice coffee. Kessy munched her hay, Saturday, wrapped in his blanket-coat tried to climb on my lap, and the chickens were … frustrated.

After they claimed the feeding stations from the Juncos, squirrels and Doves they, as is their custom, wandered to their waterers, of which there are three. Although yesterday, all the waterers were frozen. They put on a delightfully funny show. Almost single file they strutted to the first waterer, found it frozen, tried again, looked skyward then waddled to the next one and repeated the routine. After checking all three waterers each chicken (and I use chicken to refer to chickens and roosters alike) eventually made their way to the puddle I maintain for Kessy's puddle phobia treatment. (It hasn't worked for that, but since the chickens, wild birds, squirrels and rabbits love it so I never had the heart to let it dry up) … I'd broken the ice earlier and dumped a bit of warm water in.

About Kessy's frozen water … Well I went to the house and brought out warm water and she was good to go. And yes, by mid-morning all the water warming devices were in place and functioning correctly.

Then I saddled up, and Kessy and I rode into the sun for a chilly but beautiful ride through a forest of chirping birds and frosty trails. I should have worn my insulated boots ... It wasn't as cold Sunday as the time my friend Connie Bloss and I went to Woodstock Vermont one January a number of years back for a 25 mile Competitive Trail Ride ... that day it was one degree when we set out in 28 inches of snow. Ah we had a delightful time on that adventure! … But I'm older now and 22 degrees seemed to feel the same as one did back then …

Stay warm, enjoy a cup and have a perfect day!

Gitty Up
Dutch Henry