Monday, December 30, 2013

Is Your Horse Content?

Howdy Folks,
Is your horse content? Just as we do, our horses have emotions, and thoughts of the day about their job and what is important to them. I've written before about horses and their emotions (HERE), and I understand how folks have a wide range of where they come down on the issue of horses and their emotions. I believe horses are blessed with emotions just as we are. I believe it is our duty to understand them.

Emotions are a part of contentment. Or discontentment. They say our horses mirror us. I believe that to be true. I believe the opposite can also be true, and we can indeed mirror our horse's emotions; contentment, and discontentment. I also believe our horses look to us to be the one who sets the stage for, "the emotion of the day," or moment.

However, I also believe a horse can, and will, take charge of the emotion recipe. Do they not cheer us up when we are blue? How many thousands of therapy horses have healed hearts, restored hope, given strength to people who need a boost? Horses take charge of that moment, they grasp the broken heart, the broken will, the shattered dream, and they mold it into hope, strength and courage.
My mare Kessy
Just as we do, a horse seeks contentment. Sometimes that contentment comes from helping others; other horses, their own foals, and of course – their person, or persons.

I fear too many people believe all a horse needs to be content, is a full belly. My dream is to convince every one of those folks that a horse, just like us, really wants a full heart. A full belly is surely important, but a full heart is everything. It's where their spirit can get its power to lift our spirit.

That's where they find their contentment. And they offer it to us.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Jack's Back Yard – 12-29-13

Howdy Friends, 

As often as possible on Saturday mornings I listen to "Jack's Backyard" a talk show hosted by "Accidental Naturalist," and wonderful gentleman, Jack Holcomb, all about birds and nature on WEEU "The Voice Of Berks County" streaming on the internet HERE . 

When we moved to VA in '06 I missed that show, and Jack, a lot, until they started streaming 2 years ago. Now by golly I have regular visits with old friends and hear all the birding updates from areas I used to haunt. What a treat! And the birds they chat about are the same species we have right here in Appomattox, and most of the East. – I encourage you to have a listen next Saturday at 8AM Eastern! 

Saturday, Jack had a guest on his show, the volunteer coordinator for French Creek State Park, who spoke of nature trails, activities and the beauty of the park, bringing back sweet memories.

For over 20 years I'd helped manage a Bluebird Trail there with a dear friend. We maintained a trail of about 40 nest boxes and fledged about 100 young annually. One year 125! Other species use the Bluebird boxes too and their activity was also recorded … In later years, as walking became a little difficult for me, I got permission to check the trail on horseback. Riding with a clip board to record activity, and saddle bag full of repair tools and nest box parts, each week was a splendid adventure. Sometimes I gave talks about Bluebirds there and other State Parks. I was a DCNR volunteer for 25 years. I called Jack's show regularly with updates and info .... His show helped encourage lots of folks to start their own Bluebird Trails, which was important for in the early 70's Bluebirds were becoming quite scarce. 
Daddy Bluebird feeding young
I called the show Saturday morning and had a fun chat with my old friend Jack. Old friends, birds, nature, and horses all rolled together in a delightful happy morning. And of course I had to share the happy with our Coffee Clutch family!  

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry …. P.S. Remember to check his show next week.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Feature Friday – "The gift and Joy of Love"

Howdy Folks,
Ravishin' Robbie and I are still in the grip of the sweetness of the Christmas Spirit and I didn't really plan on writing a Feature Friday for this week. But as I sat enjoying my Folgers while Kessy peacefully munched her hay I thought of this past week, and love. I thought of Robbie's effortless ability to give love and what it's meant to me over the past four decades. To me and all those in our lives. I thought of this past week and the love we felt spending time with our daughter and grandchildren.

All at once the chicken scratch was swarmed with at least a dozen Juncos and a few Cardinals. Folks who know me know of my love for bird watching; their antics this morning painted a great smile on my face.

Saturday came trotting back into the barn, weaving between Kessy's legs and forced his nose under my hand, nearly spilling my coffee. He was ready for some more loving and was never shy about asking for it. That little stray beagle gave as much love as he asked for since the very first Saturday he wandered into our hearts, tired, hungry and scared. Love pours out of him.

I'd called our dear friend Annabelle yesterday. Over the years she, Robbie and I have enjoyed countless hours in Annabelle's stunning flower gardens and bird watching with her. Annabelle's been in a nursing home for a few years now and recently she's become too weak to even enjoy the birds outside her window so I call her and fill her in on the birds and flowers I've seen. She loves those chats, and it's easy to feel her spirits lift, even from 300 miles away.

Love is truly all around us and if we let it into our spirit it can help us, guide us. As I sipped my Folgers, sitting next to Kessy this very chilly morning, I thought of the stories I'd written this past year. Stories about, "People and Horses Helping Horses and People." Each of those stories was about folks and horses doing their very best, all they can, to help others. Therapeutic riding centers, therapy horses, folks who mortgage their homes to maintain rescues and sanctuaries. I thought how lucky I was to have had the chance to talk to those people, meet those horses. Feel their love. And share their love by being allowed to write their stories. The passion they all have to help is fueled by love.

Love can indeed move mountains, as they say. Mountains of healing, mountains of courage. Mountains of caring and giving. No matter what we might face, if we let it, love can sweep into our hearts and carry us. Love is truly magic.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas and Grandpop

Howdy Folks,

This is the Seventh in my series of Grandpop stories. I began writing about Grandpop, June 27, 2013, with what at the time I imagined what would be a standalone short story, "Perhaps I've Just Lived Too Long." You can read that story (and find links to go on) (HERE)   Folks said they enjoy visiting with Grandpop, so I wrote more. Frankly, I enjoy him too. I hope you enjoy this Christmas with Grandpop.

Christmas and Grandpop

He leaned in his rocker to jab at a log in the fireplace, sending sparks and crackles up the flue. His gnarled fingers held his poker with a deftness of years of hard work. His wry grin, born of years of teasing his wife. "She'd always scold me whenever I did that.'You'll set the chimney on fire, she'd say' She's right ya know. I shouldn't do it. But ain't it pretty?" He rocked back, I watched him watch the sparks, then close his eyes. The flames yellow glow danced on his weathered face. His grin faded to a peaceful smile. He was remembering her.

They'd shared a lifetime together, even though hers ended long before he was ready.

"I reckon everybody'll be rollin' in just after daybreak, tomorrow." He didn't open his eyes or allow the smile to fade. "Son, I ever tell ya about your mom and my first Christmas together?" Of course he had, and lately he'd tell me every Christmas Eve. I'd been spending more time here at the ranch the past few years, and always made sure to get here by noon Christmas Eve. My brother and his wife, and their two boys had taken over the reins of running the outfit years earlier, and had built a new house where we gather now for holidays. But I liked sitting with Granpop, everyone started calling him that when my brother's first son was born, here in the old house on Christmas Eve.

He tapped his fingers on the rocker arm. "I suppose it's more than 70 years ago now. Just got home from the war, I was cowboyin' for the Hartwell spread." He sat upright, focused deep in my eyes. "Boy howdy, it had been a hot dry summer. We'd lost half the herd in a range fire. Just awful." He shook his head and poked the fire.

"Winter had come at us just as hard. By Thanksgiving we had twenty inches of snow. Poor cows were walkin' with the wind looking for frozen grass where the wind blew the snow clear. Most places it was too deep for 'em to scratch through. We were scattering hay cubes every day just to keep them poor critters alive. We had to tie rails on the wheels so the teams could drag the wagon through the snow.

"We were headin' back in on Christmas Eve, ol' Slim and me. We were plumb wore out. So were the horses. Dang cows had found a hollow to hole up in some ten miles from the ranch and it was mighty tough goin'." Granpop broke into a laugh. "Ol' Slim had himself all wrapped up in the tarp bellyaching he didn't have enough meat on his bones to take this cold weather. I was drivin', mostly lettin' the horses pick their way home, when all of a sudden they just stopped and stared off into the blowing snow.

"First I figured it was a bunch of cows or horses seekin' shelter, and I tried to hurry the team on. Then, squintin' into the stinging snow I saw this tiny black spec, movin' towards us. After a bit I could make out what was a rider. A rider and a pack horse. Out in this? I was sure it was a crazy person, or a desperate one.

"I steered the team to intercept." Grandpop paused, pointed a finger my way. "This was no weather to be out in, and it was only an hour 'til dark.

"It seemed the rider wanted to meet up with us too, for it changed its headin' and angled right for us. I rousted Slim from his nest; the wind grabbed his tarp and tried its best to blow him airborne!

"The rider stopped beside us. The pack horse had a good jag of firewood strapped to it. All bundled and covered I couldn't make out if it was even a human settin' that horse, imagine my surprise when a woman's voice floated out from under all that snow and blanket! – 'Hey, are you clean outa your mind?' was the first words I ever said to her … " He poked the fire again, sucked in a breath.

"She wasn't outa her mind, no sir. Never once, not a single time in all the years …" He dragged the back of his hand over his eyes. "Always thinking of others, that was her way …

"She moved her horse close, asked who we were, then told us her story. Seemed a farmer's wife had just had a younin' and he'd come to her Daddy's place for fuel and supplies. I knew then she was that sweet little brunette at the mercantile in town who was all hidden under those blankets. What in tarnation are you doin' out in this? I remember scoldin' her. She explained the firewood, ham and flour had to get to the fella's farm. He had cut his leg bad while splitting extra wood for her Daddy to offset the bill, and nobody else was around to make the journey.

"Ol' Slim and I weren't about to let this young gal out there alone, so we turned our tired team around and shepherded her all the way to the farm. As I recall it was a dandy spread." Grandpop paused and pretended to pick his teeth. "Slim went out to the barn and milked the cows, I stacked the firewood inside and made sure that fireplace and woodstove were ready for cookin' up a humdinger of a Christmas Eve feast, which that cute brunette cooked up. And by golly did we feast! Way into the night, we ate and talked and ate some more. And boy howdy could that little gal make swell coffee, too!

"The next mornin', Christmas Day, the storm broke, and I sent ol' Slim back with the team. I just had to stay behind and see all was well with the new baby, his momma and help that mercantile fella's daughter with all the work there." Grandpop settled back in the rocker, his eyes resting on momma's picture above the mantle. "Christmas was sure enough her time," he whispered.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

If you'd like to read the Sixth story "Veterans Day Ride With Grandpop"CLICK HERE

Friday, December 20, 2013

Feature Friday – The Naturally Healthy Horse – Casie Bazay

Howdy Folks,
Casie Bazay started her love affair with horses as a very young girl, growing up with horses and barrel racing by her fifteenth birthday. She was also born with a love of writing. Little did she know those two loves would combine and set a path for her to follow; helping horses everywhere using the written word.
Life and horses seemed to guide her to creating a successful blog and website, "The Naturally Healthy Horse," where she shares her and others' knowledge of helping horses live healthy and naturally.

Her journey up that path began as a young girl, but received a big push by her barrel horse, Hershey. While Casie was taking time off after the birth of her son in 2007, Hershey became mysteriously lame. So severe was his condition that returning to the barrel course arena was out of the question.

Hershey was only 14 at the time, and no amount of Veterinarian visits, consultations, or money could define the cause, much less cure it. Desperate, and driven to find help for her long time partner, Casie began to explore alternative treatments with Hershey, including chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture. She purchased books on these modalities to learn more about them herself. Particularly fascinated by one book on equine acupressure (which is based on the same TCM principles as acupuncture, only without needles), she decided to attend courses offered by the authors of the book (Nancy Zidonis and Amy Snow of Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute) and become certified in equine acupressure. A grant from her Indian tribe, The Chickasaw Nation made it possible for Casie to attend the courses.

"Attending Tallgrass was the beginning of my journey into learning about holistic horse health.  As part of my course requirements, I also took two of Dr. Kellon’s equine nutrition courses, and this sparked an intense interest in nutrition (my horses and also my own.)  I also met a barefoot trimmer while attending Tallgrass (Lu Garnas from Montana), and the things she told me about led me to study natural trimming.  This became another fascination of mine and I eventually learned to trim my own horses." Casie explained.

 She used her newfound knowledge and skills to help Hershey and her other horses. She put them on a forage-based diet balanced in minerals, started giving them regular acupressure sessions, and began trimming their hooves every four weeks.
Despite all her efforts, Hershey’s condition remained the same.  She came to a real turning point when she gave up trying to ‘fix’ Hershey in order to ride or barrel race him again, and instead decided to let him enjoy his well-earned retirement and take the best care of him she possibly could.  She began to see Hershey as her teacher.  "After all, he had inspired me to learn so much and led me to take a path that I never dreamed I’d follow." Casie said. "I learned that my love of horses exceeded my love of barrel racing and competing, and I was okay with just taking care of my horses and enjoying them whether I was riding or not."

Soon she began freelance writing for equine publications to share a little of what she’d learned, and continues to learn with others. Her articles in "The Horse," and other magazines were so well received she started her blog about a year ago. The Naturally Healthy Horse, has proven to be a valuable resource for horse owners all over the world about equine nutrition, barefoot hoof care, and acupressure.

"I also write about specific equine conditions such as insulin resistance, Cushing’s, heaves, etc. so people can be more aware of these common conditions.  I never intended to portray myself as the ‘expert’ on the blog, but my goal was to inspire people to get educated about horse health and natural care.  I do plenty of research for each of my posts." Casie explained.
Casie and Hershey
"My four horses, Hershey, Bob, Lee Lee, and Kady often guide my posts. Whatever is going on with them often becomes the topic of my next blog post. I must say that even though the blog is a lot of work, I love doing it!  If it can help even one horse, I would say that it has been worth it."

People and Horses Helping Horses and People is what our Coffee Clutch Feature Friday is all about, and Casie and her horses and blog are doing just that ... Kessy and I hope you'll join, The Naturally Healthy Horse (CLICK HERE). And feel free to send in your questions.
You can join them on Facebook HERE

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry.