Friday, June 21, 2013

"Feature Friday – Ginger Kathrens – The Cloud Foundation"

Howdy Folks,
I had the pleasure and honor of interviewing Ginger Katherns last Wednesday for a story to be published in my column Holistic Hall of Fame, in the October issue of Natural Horse Magazine. She and everyone at the Cloud Foundation are dedicated to preserving not only the wild horses at the Pryor Mountains, but wild horses all across the country. The Cloud Foundation is named in honor of the Pryor Mountain pale palomino stallion, Cloud. Ginger first saw and filmed Cloud on May 29, 1995. He was three days old.
Ginger had been to the Pryor Mountains to film and document the wild horses there many times over the previous fourteen months for the television show, "Marty Stauffer's Wild America." She watched and learned as the mares guided the foals with gentle discipline. She began to understand their behavior. She began to recognize their snorts, nickers, whinnies and postures. She learned the band was a family. She learned there was a pecking order within a band, and even between the bands. They leaned on, and needed each other for survival. It was those hardy, noble and majestic horses who taught her what it meant to be a wild horse.
Bolder's band at Pryor Mountain
Those wild, beautiful, full of spirit horses also taught her what true, horrible pain felt like when she witnessed her first Bureau of Land Management (BLM) brutal round-up. Tears streaming onto her camera lens, she listened to, and filmed the frantic screams of stallions, mares and foals, as bands and families were torn apart. She filmed the crashing and trampling of horses desperately trying to escape. On that day Ginger made a commitment to do whatever she could to keep those wild horses together and free.
She began documenting Cloud's life and band on film. The Pryor Mountains and the wonderful horses there have been seen by millions through her camera lens. Cloud has been rounded up three times over his 18 years. Fortunately he has always been released. Sadly his grandchildren and his daughter have recently been removed. Today there are only 125 Pryor Mountain mustangs running free, and those families are splintered and bands broken.

Ginger founded the Cloud Foundation, a non-profit which is dedicated to preventing the extinction of Cloud's herd through education and media events. The Cloud Foundation is also committed to protecting other wild herds on public lands. Cloud, his and other bands taught Ginger what it means to be a wild horse. She is dedicated to keeping them that way.
Cloud on his 17th birthday May 29,2012
To learn all about how the Cloud Foundation is working to help keep wild horses free to run wild please visit their website

Join them on Facebook here- 

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"It's About Who They Are not What They Are"

Howdy Folks,
Writing, people and horses always seem to go together for me. One of the novels I'm working on, "Coming Home" opens with the scene of the protagonist, Billie, sitting at the end of her parents' farm lane, pausing, thinking just a moment before driving in. We visit reuniting with family, and an old friend drops by too. Midway through the first chapter, in a scene set in a diner, Billie learns there's big trouble and tension builds quickly. Now modern, conventional wisdom has it that everything prior to the diner scene should be cut, and the story should start with the "action, or tension."
 Today everyone wants to start with the "action." You even see it in the current movies and TV shows that start with explosive action, then drift into flashbacks. How many times have we seen, "Three days earlier" on the screen, or in a book? Sure the action might be gripping, but if you think about it, it's action for action's sake. It's rarely compelling, so the writer needs to "take you back," so you can get to know and feel for the characters. And truly care about them. 

I like to do things a little differently. Publishers, editors and agents tell us, "If you start your story with reflection, contemplation or a character pondering it will not be published." Or read. I took that advice when my novel "We'll Have The Summer" was published, and I will forever regret the readers never saw the opening paragraphs that were cut to "start with the action." The readers missed out on tender, precious thoughts Mary Holt had looking out the kitchen window above the sink. Oh sure, I tried to weave those emotions in later, but the reader would have known who Mary was in the first paragraph on a deeper level.

I agree a story can't start with a ton of baggage, or back story. But I also believe that the need to start with tension, action, momentum is somehow a sign of our over stimulated time. To me it feels like too often it's about the "what" not the "who." And the "who" is important.

In fact, I believe that "who" is much more important than "what." In a story, in life, and with our horses. I believe when working with our horses it is far more important to get to know "who" they are before we begin to "train" them. That's another word I'm not too fond of, "training." Better than some of the other words used, but still very much in the world of "what" instead of "who."

If we take the time to allow our horses to tell their story, if we listen to their opening paragraphs of reflection, contemplation we will know them more deeply. That will allow us to have an understanding of "who" they are instead of "what" they are. Which will make possible a deeper, richer form of communication that will make sense to both the horse and the human.
Kessy & me lovin' the moment
To me taking the time to learn who a person, character in a novel, or a horse is, is time well spent. It's the fundamental building stone for everything that follows. It's about who they are, not what they are.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Coming Home - Pt 6"

 Howdy Folks,

On April 9, I posted the first installment of "Coming Home" and then followed with Pt 2, on April 10, Pt 3 on April 11,Pt 4 on May 8, and Pt 5 on May 21. You can read Pt 5 here, ... and there are links to previous segments … We left Billie at the end of Chapter 2 as she was heading back to town … Enjoy this next installment.
                                       Pt 6 Coming Home - Chapter Three

The sun was more than halfway down the sky as they drove over the lonely two lane road back to Barilla. She had sent Sheriff Lovell back hours ago. No need for him to endure the scene anymore than he already had. She and Deputy Montoya, with some credible assistance from Lt. Rusk and Officer Brooks had done a first rate job of crime scene investigation. Of course that stretch of road would be closed a while longer. Roy's cruiser and the dump truck were safely impounded; she'd won that battle too. They were in the Hondo County garage, under lock and key, in a little thought of building used to house a lot of junk no one remembered the county owned anymore.

As Deputy Montoya drove, Billie flipped through her tablet, studying her notes and making more. She'd solved the mystery of how the dump truck could get within ramming distance of Roy's car when she'd walked the lower side of the road and found tire tracks in the sand running parallel to the road about a hundred yards away. She'd sketched a diagram in her tablet. The dump truck must have been following Roy, when he slowed to look at the car in the sand, the truck rammed him. New note - Whoever it was, couldn't risk hitting the prisoner they were there for – so pushing Roy's car off the road had been the plan. Only he fought back. She circled, 'he fought back', because except for the windshield, Roy's car's damage had all come from the dump truck. Whoever fired on him, fired high. Another obvious statement as to the importance of the prisoner.
Deputy Montoya stopped the car in the street in front of Martha's, behind Billie's Vette. "You want me to wait for you?"
Startled, Billie looked at him, "I'll meet you at the office, don't go home. I have a few questions." She closed her tablet, slipped it in her pocket, and grabbed the bag containing her badge and gun. "Do I have an office?"
"Don't know." Deputy Montoya nodded then grinned, "Most likely."
She looked at her watch. "Six-thirty. Suppose anybody there would know?"
 Deputy Montoya shrugged.
 "I guess we'll find out when we get there." She carried the brown paper sack with her, slid behind the wheel of her own car, started it. She gave it a second to warm up while she slipped her badge in the vest pocket of her jacket. The side arm she attached to her belt by the clip on its holster. She followed Deputy Montoya the seven blocks to the Hondo/Salado County Sheriff's Department building behind the new Hondo County Courthouse.
The Sheriff's Deputy on duty greeted them when they entered. "Evening, Hector." He turned to Billie, "Hell of a way to start a reunion." He offered his hand, "Shane Hardin, you probably don't remember me. I was just starting out when you were packing your things to head out for Quantico."
Billie took his hand and sized him up. "Of course I remember you." She thought a second, "Your mother breeds Quarter Horses, and your dad works on oil rigs."
Deputy Hardin smiled as if he was proud to be remembered. "That's right, but Dad's retired now. Mom's still selling horses, but as I recall, you and your family like those Walkers."
"Is everybody retiring in Hondo County? And you bet, we do like our Walkers." She winked at Hector, then asked Deputy Hardin, "Do I have an office?"
"You do, before Sheriff Lovell went home he asked me to make sure you found it. I'll show you."
She signaled for Hector to follow and walked with Deputy Hardin around the front counter, down the hall between stacks of faded cardboard boxes to the third, and last, office on the right. Deputy Hardin swung open the door. "Never been used yet. Well other than to store stuff." He nodded at the boxes stacked high in the corner. "I moved as much as I could into the big closet in the conference room, and the hall, but those wouldn't fit."
An old wooden desk, an older wooden desk chair, a tall metal file cabinet, missing a drawer, and a leather sofa furnished the room. On the desk sat a lamp and a slightly bent in/out basket. The single window had a newspaper taped over it dated, November 12, 2007.
They stood in silence while Billie surveyed her new operations center. "Phone?"
Deputy Hardin shrugged, then smiled weakly. "I'll be out front if you need anything else."
She motioned for Hector to take the desk chair, Billie had designs on the leather couch. She called down the hall for Deputy Hardin to bring everything he could get his hands on about the prisoner Roy was transporting from Salado County, then collapsed on the couch. The day was beginning to take a toll. She'd been up for thirty-six hours, fast highway driving for too many of them, then sworn in, sort of, as a Detective in her home town, so she could start the investigation of a lifelong friend's killing.
She turned so she could see Hector, "That was, Juan del Paso, killed out there today wasn't it?"
Hector nodded.
Gitty Up ~ Dutch