Friday, February 15, 2013

"Feature Friday – SpiritHorse At Black Fox"

Howdy Folks,

SpiritHorse At Black Fox provides free therapeutic horseback riding services to special needs children in the Southeast Tennessee, North Georgia and Western North Carolina. They specialize in children with autism spectrum disorder.
 Steve Poteet his, wife Darlene, and daughter, Emily, had long wanted to share the spirit and joy of their horses with folks who may not have the ability to know horses on their own. They began seriously looking for a way to make it happen in 2008. In the winter of 2010 a friend sent them a newspaper clipping about the award-winning program of therapeutic riding at SpiritHorse International. They knew instantly this was exactly what they had been searching for.

SpiritHorse Therapeutic Center at SpiritHorse International in Corinth, Texas, founded by Charles Fletcher provides all private therapeutic horseback riding services free of charge in six programs: Disabilities, Children who are Victims of Abuse/Violence, At-Risk Youth, Battered Women, and Youth After-Drug Rehab. The SpiritHorse mission is, "To Assist Each Child with Special Needs in Reaching Their Full Potential through Interaction with Horses." SpiritHorse International has over 80 centers in the US and around the world providing free services to more than 5,000 children and adults.

Emily, and two additional instructors traveled to Corinth, TX for training and certification by Mr. Fletcher. Soon Black Fox Equestrian Center was certified as a SpiritHorse Center and brought in under the umbrella of SpiritHorse International. The program at Black Fox continues to benefit from the extensive research and development of new techniques by Mr. Fletcher and SpiritHorse International.

The core of any healing at SpiritHorse is the horse. Steven and the instructors know and appreciate that fact. They build on it. They champion the retired show horses and ponies, understanding these wise, giving and knowing horses have much to offer. That their spirit touches the spirit of the children, and teaches them. The horses at SpiritHorse At Black Fox have lifetime jobs and when their spirit moves on they are laid to rest under the big Mulberry tree in the back pasture. It's that kind of commitment and love that makes SpiritHorse a special place.

Please visit their website to meet all the instructors and horses, and learn all about their unique programs. SpiritHorse At Black Fox is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.

SpiritHorse International Website –

Photos provided by SpiritHorse At Black Fox.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"A Grand Old Stump"

Howdy Folks,

There is a grand old stump just outside Kessy's barn, only a few feet on the other side of the fence. It's near where I scatter the chicken scratch each morning and the wild birds drift in for their breakfast of cracked corn. They are the birds I often mention in my Coffee Clutch stories. The birds who visit there vary slightly with the seasons, such as Juncos in the winter, Towhees in the summer. But the grand old stump is always there. It was there when we cleared the place for Kessy's barn and fence. From the looks of it, it had been here years before that.

Every morning chickens and wild birds use the old stump as a resting place while waiting their turn at the goodies. Squirrels, too. Almost every day a Chickadee, Junco or Wren will poke its cute face out the stump's only hole facing the barn. It always brings a smile.

The old stump is of good size and while I have no true way of knowing, I'd guess it must have been over 200 years old when it was felled. It was certainly here for the Battle of Appomattox during the Civil War. It would have been a good sized tree even then. Did weary soldiers rest beneath it that hot and brutal week?

It takes a lot for an acorn to grow to a massive oak. Simply surviving its first winter is a challenge. Deer love to browse the tender shoots of young oaks. In fact all the early years are a struggle for any sapling. From surviving the random deer browse or trampling hooves, to pushing ever upwards toward the sun under a canopy of tall trees blocking life giving sun's rays. But somehow this oak managed to survive and thrive throughout those early years.

Was this old stump once one of the few oaks left to stand in fields here to provide shelter from the sun's sweltering heat while the farmer worked his crop? Did it provide a welcoming shade to a man and his horses? How many birds, squirrels and raccoons raised their families in its massive spreading branches? I remember one time counting five different species of birds nesting in the same oak that towered along a blue bird trail I was monitoring

Surely it was witness to many changes throughout the countless years it stood regal and proud. Living surrounded by other oaks, poplars and hickories in a forest only visited by deer, foxes, bear and birds, to standing alone on the edge of a tobacco field. From seeing no human to watching the forest cleared all around by humans. The woods have grown back now, surrounding and sheltering the stump.

Today, the grand old stump watches the birds, our chickens, Kessy and all of us. It joins us each morning for Coffee Clutch and I wonder at the stories it could tell. Its spirit lives on.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Wonderful Weekend with a Dear Friend"

Howdy Folks,

Friends are one of God's special gifts, and my dear friend Connie Bloss is extra special. Over the years we've shared many adventures. We've ridden together from Southern VA to Vermont. Oh that Vermont ride! ... It was a 25 mile Competitive Trail Ride in Woodstock, Vermont in January, called the January Thaw, only it didn't thaw. It was one degree with 28 inches of snow. I rode my Spotted Saddle Horse, Diablo, Connie rode my TWH, Fritz.  Ravishin' Robbie served as our crew. We all agree of all the adventures we've shared this was one of our favorites.

Connie's husband, Larry was a really swell guy and great friend, too. He didn't always go along on our horsey adventures and escapades, but did cheer us on and if we ever needed any kind of help was right there ... A few weeks ago Larry went to Heaven. This past weekend I went to visit Connie to share condolences and memories. We did plenty of remembering, crying, eating and laughing ... The weather did keep us from playing with Connie's Icelandic horse, Gi.

But as planned, on Saturday we did attend Diane Sept's February "Equine Discussion Group." It was Connie who introduced me to Diane. Each year Diane holds one-day get-togethers in Jan, Feb and March, sort of mini clinics, where she discusses all things important to know about how to be a great horse owner/partner. Not only is it a great chance to learn important information, brush up on things and hear new ideas, but it's fun to see friends you only see every now and then. Diane is an exceptional instructor, trainer and motivator. And my mentor. As I always say, "Everything good I know about horses I learned from Diane Sept. Everything good I know about life I learned from my wife, Robbie."

This weekend's Equine Discussion Group's focus was on the senior horse, and many great ideas were shared and discussed, from feeding, vaccinating, barefoot care, dental work to housing, riding and blanketing. I was pretty surprised to learn the feed industry's idea of a senior horse is 13. I think that's a mighty young senior horse! Many friends there shared their own experiences with their senior horses, and there were some great stories. One of Diane's lesson horses, Jessica will celebrate her 39th birthday in a few months, and she looks every bit of 15!

Larry's horse, Blue went to Heaven just last week at 27. We all decided he wanted to ride with Larry again.

Sunday, and Monday, Connie and I set out to visit more of our friends, talk about horses and family. I don't get see everybody very often since moving to VA, so it was really great to go with Connie and do some catching up.

Ah yes, it was simply a wonderful weekend with a dear friend!

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry