Friday, February 1, 2013

"Feature Friday- Dream Equine Therapy Center-Terri Stemper"

Howdy Folks,

Terri Stemper first learned of the horrors of "nurse mare" barns and the "throw away" foals in 2000 while working as a vet tech at a large equine hospital in Lexington KY. Nurse mares are bred to foal and then used as "wet nurses" mostly for Thoroughbred racing foals. The mares a bred for their milk. The poor babies are considered "throw away byproducts." These helpless new little foals are often shipped to auctions as young as one day old, left to starve and fend for themselves. Many are sold into the "pony hide" business. She rescued her first nurse mare foal that year, Taz. Today Taz, a Paint App-Walker mix is her star therapy horse.

Terri threw herself into the herculean effort of saving as many of these unnoticed darlings as she possibly could. She began rescuing nurse mare foals in small numbers in 2000, then in 2007 began organizing Dream Equine Therapy Center (DETC) and became a nonprofit in 2008 and received 501c3 status in 2009. The rescue's focus is orphan nurse mare foals. Since 2009 they have rescued 30-50 each year.

"That may not sound like a lot but it is a huge undertaking since some of them are only 1 day old. They need to be fed milk replacer every 4 hours and some more frequently if they end up on feeding tubes or IV fluids. Orphan foals can cost thousands of dollars to raise, because of the increasing expense of milk replacer and the special nutrition and care they need. We adopt them out to qualified homes as soon as we can to make room for more." Terri explained. Horses are available for adoption in all ages.

Terri is an RN and while working on the cancer floor she was inspired to do more. "I had patients ask me all the time if they could bring their kids out to see the horses or patients themselves wanted to come out and ride. That's how the therapy part started." Terri said. "So I wanted to gear my therapy towards, not necessarily disabled but elderly and those with terminal and chronic illness. We have miniature horses that visit facilities and nursing homes and also welcome people to visit the horses at the farm."

DETC's Mission Statement is "To provide emotional support and wellness to the terminally and chronically ill through recued and rehabilitated horses." They provide therapy to people in hospitals at nursing homes and the farm. All the therapy equines have been rescued and given a second chance.
Terri giving some love

Terri, the volunteers and supporters of DETC work each day to bring awareness to the horrible plight of the tiny helpless "throw away" foals, rescue, rehabilitate and find them loving homes, and through the therapy program, brighten the days of as many people as possible.

DETC is located in South Carolina and this month is moving to a larger facility so they can help even more horses and people. Please visit DETC's website to learn much more and how you might be able to "Help Them Help."

Thank You Terri and everyone at DETC for all you do!!

 Gitty Up,
Dutch Henry 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Pre-Ride Exercises For Your Horse"

Howdy Folks,

How often do we see horses fetched from the pasture, stall or trailer, hurriedly saddled and folks just mount up and ride away? Often these horses are up, and moving out in a hurry, the rider shifts gears to discipline. In my humble opinion that's not fair to the horse. And can be made so much better with a few easy to do "Pre-Ride Exercises." Part of the tacking up time should be giving to your horse, too.

The other day when I shared the "One Step" exercise in my post "Reconnecting Your Horse To Her Feet" I mentioned that it was one of my "Pre-Ride Exercises."  A few folks have asked what my other "Pre-Ride" exercises are. As I said in that post I never step in the saddle without a few "one-steps" and I do the "rock-back" along with it.

Kessy LOVES the "Poll Wiggle"
The first thing I do when I go to Kessy is ask her to put her head down for the halter. Horses should always lower their head for you. It is polite to you, and actually feels good to them. It is easy to teach, and if you are having any difficulties with this, please feel free to email me. At this time I do a few "Poll Wiggles." Lightly place your fingers around the Poll and wiggle, just enough that would jiggle a bowl of jello. Your horse may ask for more vigor, go for it.

Then while she stands ground tied, I do a row of TTOUCH® circles starting at the side of her neck in the thickest muscle, going all along her back about 2 inches down from the spine, through her croup and down her thigh muscles. Do both sides. It will take about a minute per side ... Kessy can come and go as she pleases and is usually outside for these, then we walk to the barn to brush and tack ... On the walk I do a serpentine path, good for their legs and back. If you've trailered to ride, before you tie to tack, take a short walk doing the serpentine walk. Horses really appreciate a little walk after a ride.

Belly Lift
When we get to the barn I lift each leg, about halfway up, hold it a second waiting for the release, and do little circles, then set it down. Don't just let go, set it down. Softly. Next I ask for the belly lift, hold it a few seconds and release, slowly. Then I'll saddle. Girth loose, not yet snug.

Before I put on her headstall I do the "Cheek Wiggle." Place your left hand on the noseband, slip your fingers of your right hand under her cheek, lightly grip and wiggle, gently. For a few seconds. Repeat on the other side. Then the headstall goes on and I check the girth, then do the "one step" and "rock back."

On the way to the mounting block I ask for a few circles, left and right, at a walk and "keeping the inside shoulder up (very important)." I finish the girth, move to the mounting block, and step up. One last important exercise. The first step should always be a "lateral step" not straight on.

A big benefit to doing these aside from the relaxing and bonding is, if you make these exercises positively routine, when you're away somewhere, and you stick to the routine your horse will have a familiar feeling. It will build confidence before you ever start on the trail, or step in the show ring. All together they'll add only a few moments to your tack up time, will be time well spent and you will be giving to your horse. You and your horse will soon be gently starting each ride with soft comfortable steps. These exercises also have a wonderful way of simply making "bad habits" just go away. For you and your horse.

Kessy and I hope you'll make this a fun part of your pre-ride. Feel free to ask questions. There are others, perhaps I'll blog later about them, but these are the ones I do without fail.

Gitty Up,
Dutch Henry 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Does Wind Sing?"

Howdy Folks,

Wind raced through the trees with a steady whir of a song. No birds in sight this morning. I told Kessy they were huddled somewhere, clinging to branches for their life. She craned her neck to look outside as if to check on them. Kessy is not a fan of loud wind. It seems most horses worry a lot when the wind sings. Lots of theories on that, but I think, just like us they find wind scary for reasons that need no, nor have any explanation. Loud wind is scary. Simple as that.

One hand holding my hat, Saturday, and I walked, sometimes pushed by the wind, scattering the morning's ration of chicken scratch just outside Kessy's fence. She likes to follow along with us on her side. I pretend it's because she likes our company, but the truth is she'd like that cracked corn. Only two roosters joined us, the rest sat along the barn wall, out of the wind, watching us as if to say, "You want us to do what? No, you feed us here, today." So I did.

Chores finished Saturday, Tigger, Miss Kitty and I joined Kessy for Coffee Clutch. We had to position our chair out of the way of the increasingly frequent gusts that raced through the forebay carrying sawdust, hay and a chicken or two with it. Really, one gust actually sent a chicken rolling and cackling along! But tucked back in the corner, Kessy the gang and I were out of harm's way. Pretty much.

I watched for birds to come to the scratch, and finally one brave Junco led the way. He was quickly followed by a few Doves and a Cardinal. Until the next blast roared through. The forecast calls for the high winds to bring an end to the spring like days we've enjoyed this week that had prompted a few of Ravishin' Robbie's Crocuses to bloom. Sure seems to be working real hard it. Gosh.

It was snug though in Kessy's bedroom with her munching hay, and my chair angled just right to watch the goings on outside. The wind sang through the trees, (does wind sing?) and every now and then gave one of those barn rattling, chicken rolling gusts. But once, during a lull, I heard the far away lonesome train whistle.

We hope you have a perfect day!

Gitty Up
Dutch Henry

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Reconnecting Your Horse To Her Feet"

Howdy Folks,

This weekend I had the joy of chatting with a Facebook friend in England about her horse. Of course we had lots to talk about. You know how we horse people are! We discussed a few things going on with her and her new horse and one in particular. Does your horse know where her feet are?

Reconnecting your horse to her feet. They know all about forward momentum. They see and know where they are going, but because of many things we do, from training, to housing, diet, hoofcare, and other things, they can actually lose the ability to know where their feet are. This will help.

I'd like to share an important exercise Diane Sept taught me years ago, that I believe goes a long, long way to helping any horse become sure footed and light on the forehand. It promotes a proper healthy posture … She calls it the, "One-Step." And I teach it in my, "Therapy For Therapy Horses," clinics. It's easy and fun to do.

Stand in front of your horse and ask for, "One Step Forward," – This means the left front and right hind, and a soft whoa. When your horse stops, ask her to, "Rock Back Off Her Forehand." And allow her to feel and process this. Then ask for, "One Step Back," the same feet and then rock back, wait and process. Do this 3 or 4 times each side, always asking for the "Rock Back" and allowing time to process. Some horses prefer to start with "One Step Back," first … I never swing into Kessy's saddle without doing this (and other pre-ride exercises).

You might find your horse has great difficulty taking only "one Step." This is because she has lost connection with her feet. This little exercise will fix that. And will also help improve body carriage and engage the hind end. Just take your time, go slow and allow your horse to, "feel the change." Let her find her feet again.

Another great exercise to add to this "One Step" is the "One Step over a row of Cavileties." Lead your horse slowly over the cavileties, but pause and rock back, at each one, each step. Allow a second or three at each pause for your horse to process. It won't take long until you will notice a difference in how your horse places her feet. When you've mastered this, back through the cavileties, one step at a time.

Kessy & Dutch demonstrating "Rock Back"
What is the "Rock Back?" … Look at your horse from the side, really look. Study where she carries her weight. Does it look like she has most of her weight on her forehand? Leaning slightly forward? Very gently touch her chest and ask her to shift her weight back, off her forehand. That is correct healthy posture. Not a step back, but just a "Rock Back." Do this after every step in the "One Step Exercicses."

Kessy and I hope you'll make this fun exercise part of your routine. It also goes a long way to helping a horse look for soft cues. And helping us become softer in giving cues.

Gitty Up
Dutch Henry

Monday, January 28, 2013

"For a Friend"

Howdy Folks,

Today's Coffee Clutch is dedicated to Pamela Nuckols who went to heaven on Friday. She was one of the original Coffee Clutchers, enjoying our visits before we started the blog, when I posted our chats on Facebook. I think she was the first to sign on to follow our blog. She was one of the first to call it the Coffee Clutch. Pam loved our chats about nature, she loved bird watching, butterflies and flowers. She loved leaving comments, told us it made her feel as though she were walking and chatting with us under the trees, watching and listening to birds. She loved nature and so missed being able to stroll through it. So she walked with us.

As with so many of our Facebook friends, I didn't know Pam before we met over the electronic fence. We were introduced by her cousin Carol Bernstien, and I thank Carol for that. Don't you just love how Facebook can spread friendship worldwide with ease? I'm not a tech savvy fellow, but I do thank my agent, Dawn Dawdle for pushing me into this part of the techy world. I would be lost now without all our friends who have become family, on Facebook and here on the Coffee Clutch blog.

Pam was a cheerleader, never complaining, always writing and reading about things she loved.

For you Pam …

Sleet tapped out a slow melody on the barn's tin roof, the trees hung heavy, bowing under the weight of their morning ice blanket. Juncos gathered under protective ice laden bows refueling for the day on cracked corn, singing their one note "twang."  One by one and two by two Morning Doves joined the Juncos at the scratch. Two male Cardinals sat high on a limb, their brilliant red coats shimmering as they called, "tick –tick." I wondered if they were complaining about the freezing rain. A pair of squirrels crept cautiously to join the breakfast buffet. A single Chickadee waited patiently on the old stump for a chance to join them. Mr. Blue Jay was not so patient.

A train's long whistle sounded in the distance, I poured my first cup and saluted the heavens. The chickens settled in the barn, and we all gathered with Kessy. Well, Saturday, the chickens and I did. This being a, "not perfect weather day," Tigger and Miss Kitty stayed in the house. Kessy munched her hay as we sat beside her and chickens rummaged the bedding beneath and around her. Snug and dry in the barn, sleet tapping the tin, it was another perfect Coffee Clutch morning. God Bless you, Pam, all of us know you'll be forever a Coffee Clutcher.

Gitty Up
Dutch Henry