Friday, June 14, 2013

"Feature Friday – My Mentor - Diane Sept – Back To Basics Equine Awareness"

Howdy Folks,

If you've been following our Coffee Clutch blog, or my Facebook page you've heard me mention Diane Sept more than a few times. You might have even seen my saying, "Whatever good I know about life I learned from my wife, and whatever good I learned about horses I learned from Diane Sept." For more than 40 years, with a kind heart and a keen sense of human/horse communication, Diane has, in her very special, gentle way, helped people learn to connect with and understand their horses. There is something quite unique in the way she can help folks "hear" and understand their horses.
Diane Sept listening
"Back to Basics Equine Awareness" is the perfect name for her business, as that's the very core of what she teaches as a Certified Connected Riding instructor, "Equine Awareness." For, as she will tell you, we've got to be "aware" of things important to our horses to truly have a relationship that will allow us to excel at whatever discipline we choose to pursue. From simply having a pasture buddy, to trail riding, endurance riding, showing, dressage or anything in between and beyond, Diane teaches her students that everything is important. I truly believe Diane may well be the first "Holistic" riding instructor/horse trainer. She certainly was on the forefront of addressing the biomechanics, nutrition and natural health of both the horse and rider.
 She was a barefoot advocate long before the current movement was gathering its present momentum. She is a huge advocate of the natural health and well being of horses. She doesn't simply "train" a horse or "teach" a student. Rather she considers the entire relationship between student and horse and helps to fine tune all aspects. Being a long time student and believer of Linda Telling-Jones she employs the TTEAM Touch techniques to be certain the horse is free to move in the manner required to perform what is being asked. She teaches if we listen to the horse, and take care of the horse's health, body, posture, balance, confidence and self carriage, all things can be accomplished without gadgets, devices or gimmicks. In a truly natural way. 

As one of Peggy Cummings’ original certified Connected Riding Instructors, Diane has been teaching Connected Riding for over 20 years. Diane has performed for National Centered Riding Symposiums and Connected Riding demonstrations. She has even been known to give bridleless, and gaited dressage, riding demonstrations at various venues. While she specializes in gaited horses she welcomes all breeds. Freeing up and allowing the natural abilities of any breed to express themselves is one of the goals of Connected Riding.

Diane's commitment to the betterment of horses' health everywhere is what sets her apart. She is not only a trainer and instructor – she is a true Horse Advocate. As one of the original members, of Friends Of Sound Horses (FOSH) and Judge from the onset, she has been decrying the horrible act of Soring and other abuses of the Tennessee Walking Horse, and other gaited breeds, for decades. She has helped to make a difference. But she does not limit her efforts to gaited breeds and is a defender of horses' rights to be pain free, no matter the breed.

Through her gentle instruction her students learn to achieve levels of accomplishments, connection and understanding with their horses, and themselves, that they may have never imagined possible. She teaches the student it is not only the physical act of learning a technique, but the whole of the experience. The best and healthiest result for both horse and human.
Diane is pure in her intentions and it comes through in her actions and words. She has touched and changed countless lives, horses and humans. I know I'm one whose life was made richer for knowing her and will be forever grateful for what she has taught me. It is because of her, I am able to do my, "Therapy For Therapy Horses," clinics, so from afar, Diane is helping horses help people.

If you are seeking an instructor, trainer, clinician, or mentor who can change your and your horse's lives contact Diane Sept. Her email is . Phone number- 717-336-6346. 

You can find her on Facebook Here –

Thank you Diane for all you do to help so many. And thank you Connie Bloss for introducing me to Diane all those years ago.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Happy Thursday Morning"

Howdy Folks,

Happy Thursday! … My coffee was warm, so was the air. Four female Hummingbirds sat sipping at their feeder. Kessy munched hay, Saturday snored at my feet, Tigger purred on my lap. Miss Kitty drank at the chicken water. Kessy's fan whirred gently. Another humid morning for Coffee Clutch did nothing to dampen the peaceful feeling in Kessy's bedroom. 
The Phoebes searched the rafters for bugs, squeaking and calling "Phoebe, Phoebe." With their first brood now on their own, they'll soon start their second nest of the summer. I noticed yesterday the Bluebirds have started their second nest. Mrs. Wren is sitting on her nest on the front porch. Ravishin', Robbie's flowerbeds are simply an explosion of color. Today I'm writing a story about Ginger Kathrens and The Cloud Foundation for my column, Holistic Hall Of Fame," in the October issue of Natural Horse Magazine. We had a delightful interview yesterday. I could have talked all day! AND be sure to watch for my Feature Friday blog post tomorrow when I feature my mentor, Diane Sept! … Have a wonderful day and God Bless.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"Consistency Builds Confidence"

Howdy Folks,
Horses build confidence by getting it right, not by being corrected. My mentor,Diane Sept, teaches we should, "Conduct ourselves in a manner that commands respect." That of course does not suggest you "boss" your horse around. In fact it proposes you hold yourself in a manner that can be counted on to be reliable, consistent. Just as we appreciate certain boundaries, guidelines or structure and familiar procedures, so do horses. Even if you study the wild horses you'll see they have their routines that vary little. And on a more humorous note, look at your own pastures or padlocks and you'll see the routes they take are well worn paths. They are comfortable, confident knowing what, where, when and how. So are we.
Kessy loves her trails through the woods
So we should take that basic tenant in confidence building and apply it to our relationship with our horses. The little things we do each time we interact with our horse should be consistent. It's not fair to the horse for a person to sometimes act one way and other times act differently. It only causes confusion for the horse and will prevent confidence from taking root. Varying behavior and posture by the person will cause the horse to make mistakes while trying to guess what is expected of them, for which the person may be inclined to discipline. And discipline chips away at confidence.

We've all seen folks jerk the lead rope and yell at their horse for stepping on their feet, or rubbing, or stopping or any number of things. What if every time that horse had been led anywhere the person acted exactly the same way and the horse had the confidence to know what was expected of her, and no discipline was necessary. I'll also suggest here that if a horse steps on a person's feet, it might be the person who needs the discipline, not the horse.

Consistency builds confidence. If every time a horse is led through a gate she is asked to stand and wait quietly, and once through the gate is gently turned back to face the gate, asked to lower her head to remove the halter, then released, she will know what to expect every step of the way, and will never need discipline. If the person sometimes allows the horse to dance through the gate, hold her head high and step about while removing the halter, and other times is expected to "behave" the horse will be confused, lack confidence and worry about what comes next. And most likely the person will feel the urge to, "discipline," which further chips away at confidence.

That little example should follow through in everything we do with our horses. The way we approach learning new things together should always be the same. Allow the horse the time she needs to make sense of the new adventure, maneuver or challenge. Celebrate and build on the positive, ignore the negative, and the negative will go away.
Kessy has the confidence to stand quietly at our mounting platform.
Confidence is very important to a horse. And your relationship. And consistency builds confidence.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Do You Know What's In Your Hay?"

Howdy Folks,

Be sure to test your hay ... In many cases the sugar and non-structured carbs are higher than we think ... Your County Extension Officer will happily test it for you. Best horse hay will be no higher than 10%  non-structured carbs, or sugar.

Kessy became Insulin Resistant (IR) after her bout with Lyme Disease and I noticed the "fat patches" building even though I was feeding "Teff Hay" which by all studies done at universities suggested Teff was a low sugar hay ... Penn State even suggested it for IR and obese horses ... Well Kessy continued to build fatty splotches and a cresty neck, even though she gets no grain and no grass ... So I finally tested my hay ... To everyone's surprise it came back 15% non-structured carbs and sugar, and 17% protein! ... I have been soaking her hay for 2 months now, which will remove about 20% of the sugar, but removes vitamins & minerals too ... We have seen the fat patches reduced a bit in just this short period of time ... I did begin to exercise her a little more too, asking for a bit more speed on our rides.

Kessy munching hay during Coffee Clutch
It seems today we are seeing way too many IR horses. Are there truly more, or are we just becoming more aware of what to look for? That's a good question, but whatever the answer, we need to focus on how we might prevent and/or manage our horses. Read my blog post about Lyme Disease and IR here -

Many of the forages were researched and developed for cows with calves at their sides. Most cool season grasses found in horse pastures and hayfields may be high in sugar. Recently, even the old standby Orchard grass is found often to be high in sugar. Timothy seems to be medium in its sugar content, but is hard to find in many areas. Alfalfa is not a good answer because it because it tends to be higher in digestible energies, calories and protein than grasses. More calories can create weight gain, and too much protein is not great for horses.

What can we do? Of course testing is very important, know your hay's sugar content. Mowing hay early in the morning can help; sugar tends to be less then. Limit pasture. Overweight horses munching all day on pasture is not a good thing. Laminitis does not usually occur "overnight" rather it's the result of cumulative build ups. If you find you've purchased a good supply of hay, then test and you discover high sugar, as I did, you have the choice of soaking for 20 or so minutes before feeding. Or selling it and replacing it, which sometimes is easier said than done, too.

Horses are tough and carry on even if things are not as they should be and we go merrily along not realizing we are setting them up for problems. For peace of mind, "Don't Guess, Test."

For more advice on IR horses and Homeopathic health please contact –

Jessica Lynn at Earth Song Ranch here –

Inez Domoyer of Unicorn Dreams Wholistic Touch here - 

AND to really learn about hay, pasture, grasses and horses visit Kathryn Watts at her Website Safer Grass-

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry