Friday, August 2, 2013

Feature Friday – Inner City Slickers – Michael McMeel

Howdy Folks, 
In today's fast paced and often troubled world it's easy for children to lose, or not even discover, their self esteem, ability to trust, even love. Children today too often grow up in neighborhoods swimming in guns, drugs and violence. In our modern throw-away society where can they turn to seek role models? Direction? Who hears them when they turn to self destruction and violence in their quest to be noticed?
Michael McMeel 
One man who noticed them tugging on his heart back during the riots of the early '90s is Michael McMeel, former drummer for the band, Three Dog Night. Michael could not have imagined how that first hear-tug would lead him to create a national program that, to date, has touched and changed over 10,000 young lives. The program he would found in 1992 is called, "Inner City Slickers." 

But Michael started connecting with young folks in the cities long before founding Inner City Slickers. Of course with his music, but also his TV show, The Krofft Super Show with Kaptain Kool and the Kongs, and organizing musical events in churches, synagogues and wherever he could bring young folks together to show them the good that lived inside them. To shine a light on what they could be. It was during that period he realized changing directions of young folks was a real possibility, and he set out determined to do just that. He founded, The Awareness Foundation, a non-profit to help "at-risk children" in 1992; the first step in creating, Inner City Slickers, the theme inspired by the movie, City Slickers.

His first "Slickers" event was on a rented camp not far from LA. Organizing an event set with a western them with ranch activities, horses and a little work and focus. In that one day Michael saw hearts change. Attitudes brighten. Optimistic and encouraged he bought a small ranch of his own for the purpose of hosting more "Slickers." His dedication to the children, and the program, and with help of donors and volunteers the ICS idea took root and sprouted branches. Seven years ago he and his wife Erlinda relocated to a farm in TN which operates as home base and hosts several "Slicker" events a year. But that's just the beginning. The branches that have sprouted now go nationwide, and beyond. There is even a Slicker possibility in Costa Rico!
All smiles at the end of the day at a Michigan Slicker event :)
What is an Inner City "Slicker event?" It's a one day event hosted by anyone who wants to help at-risk kids, has a few horses and suitable home base, or can find someone who has one. Michael travels to each event and helps with set-up and out-reach. He personally sets up the mechanical bull! At-risk children are engaged in western theme, including the "Cowboy Code of Ethics" and ranch like activities, and of course plenty of horse time.
Feeling the power of "The spirit of the horse"
By the end of this year there will be 18 Slicker locations across the country, where young folks come to get a leg up on "Kindness, Dependability, Keeping Your Word, Being Responsible and learning what it’s like to Trust and Respect the horses, themselves and each other…ethical and moral codes that will stay with them throughout their lives." Can a one day event do all that? "You bet," Michael says. "We see it over and over. It sets a new course." And they have thousands of letters to prove it. "And let's don't forget the follow up. Making sure we keep in touch with these kids, to keep the fire burning."

Michael points out that folks simply don't understand we are losing too many of our kids. They disappear down the whirlpool of low self esteem, drugs, crime, mistrust and lost hope. He is dedicated to saving those kids. Inner City Slickers is a remarkable, and fun, program doing just that.

How can you be part of the excitement of changing lives, sparking hope? Many of our Coffee Clutch readers and friends already have facilities and horses where you could host an Inner City Slicker Event. Or can make contacts to co-host one at a friend's. Don't worry, you won't be on your own, Michael will personally come to guide you each step of the way from contacting organizations and services who know of children who would benefit, to setting up and actually be on hand to help you host your first Slicker. Yes, he travels, a lot!
Michael givin' "Bull Ridin' Lessons"
How can you get started? Contact Michael by email at or by phone – home- 423-289-3820.  Cell-423-489-8614.  Can't be easier than that.
Michael introducing children to a horse at a Slicker event
Have a look at their Website HERE and their Facebook page HERE, be sure to join their group. There's a lot going on, and many young lives being changed.
It can happen in a moment ... Inner City Slickers
Inner City Slickers knows we have it in us to save these kids. To be the role models, and offer direction and goals. Thank you Michael for offering a hand to so many.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry.

Letter to Inner City Slickers ...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Coming Home - Pt 7

Howdy Folks, 

On April 9, 2013 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, Pt 5 on May 21, and Pt 6 June 18. ... If you're just joining us you can find Pt 1 HERE, and each segment has a link to the next (If you'd like to revisit Pt 6 Click Here) … In Pt 6 we left Billie and Hector in her new office … Enjoy this next installment.


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 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 to Hector, "That was, Juan del Paso, killed out there today wasn't it?"

Hector nodded.

Billie pulled her tablet and recorded that fact. She'd recognized him on the scene, or thought she had. "Was he in trouble again?" She'd known Juan, pretty well actually. Her father had tried to help him over the years. Helped him get his GED, and jobs, and he'd often gone to Juan's grandmother's house, where he lived, to talk sense to the boy. She'd even gone along on some of those visits. She respected her father's faith in every man, but she honestly could never see why he'd tried so hard for such a determined loser. She'd honored his request though and helped tutor Juan for his tests, and had grown to like his grandmother. For a minute she thought about the forth coming evening, telling her father and mother Roy was dead, and that Juan del Paso had something to do with it. She shook her head and sat up, "What was Juan doing lately?" 

Hector leaned toward her, his elbows on the desk, "I don't think he was in trouble recently. Nothing we heard about anyway. Your father had helped him get a job at the Staked Plains Museum as a night watchman. I remember how hard your father had to talk, because, you know, Juan's history and everything. But I think he was a good watchman, and he didn't get into trouble anymore. Even his grandmother came to your house to thank your father one time, not too long ago. I remember because I took her." 

"How long did he work there?"

"About a year."

Deputy Hardin knocked lightly on the door. "I have the file on the prisoner Roy was transporting." He stepped through the door and handed the file to Billie.

She reached to take it, "Thank you. Did you know him?"

"No, but it's interesting reading. I should stay at the front counter, call if you need anything else."

Billie propped herself up with a leather pillow and opened the file.

"You think I can go home now?" Hector stood, timidly picked up his hat, then negotiated, "It's my daughter's birthday."

"The only reason Roy was asked to move, Andrew 'Quiet-Man' Kent, to the Hondo jail was because, Under-Sheriff Calhoun, is pissed off the two counties merged Sheriff's departments?"

Hector sat down again, laid his hat on the desk and scratched his chin. "Sheriff Calhoun is a sore loser."


"Yep. Sheriff Calhoun runs Salado County a lot like things were done in the older days. He likes to, you know, not answer to a lot of people."

"I don't know him."

"You will get the chance, maybe sooner than you think."

Billie sat back, raised her brow.

"Roy was killed in Salado County. Probably Sheriff Calhoun will visit you in a day or two."

"Where was he today?"

Hector let out a sigh. "That's his way, you know. He doesn't get involved right away. He gives things a little time, that way he can push people around, make them look stupid. So he can make himself look smart."

"I see. If he's involved from the get-go, anything a little, off-center, so to speak, reflects on him. He stays back a safe distance so he can be the hero who cleans things up."


"Okay, thank you for the warning."

"You're welcome. You should know also, he hates your father. A lot. And he blames him for the merger."

"So by extension, I'm going to have a problem dealing with Sheriff Calhoun."

"He don't like women too good either."

Billie smiled. "I'm not real fond of bullies myself, so we might get along fine."

"Maybe." Hector said with a polite chuckle.



Gitty Up~ Dutch Henry

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"Sitting In The Shade" - A short story

Howdy Folks,

Our friend Jessica Lynn of  Earth Song Ranch, asked me to write a short story about cooling off in the summer heat for the July, Natural Horse Magazine newsletter. So I did. And I thought it would be nice to share it here with our Coffee Clutch friends, too. Hope you enjoy.

Sitting In The Shade

The air was cooler under the spreading limbs of the grand old oak. She enjoyed many a hot day resting there. Sitting, she leaned back against the trunk, enjoying the moment, and the breeze, to gaze up through those mighty boughs. Sheltered from the sun she could think about her day, her week. Not much to think about really. Her life seemed to be in a holding pattern. A lot like the majestic oak. How many years had it stood watch over the fields and pastures from its vantage point on the hill. It had been there in her childhood when she and the horses sought its cooling shade. She giggled when she remembered the time she'd climbed halfway to the top and her father had to rescue her.

She smiled thinking of the picnic lunches she and her high school friends had here. Her fingers traced the heart shaped carving in the massive trunk. What sweet days had been enjoyed here under the embracing boughs, always in the cool shade. This was her thinking place. No place on the farm offered as great a place to think.

The chestnut mare stomped her foot, snorted. "I know, it's time to head in, Beauty." She swung up bareback, grasped Beauty's mane and they set out at a slow walk, down the hill toward the house and barn. Three more horses fell in line and the tiny procession made its way along the meandering trail toward the buildings. The heat of the sun felt good on her back, but not as good as the shade had. Looking skyward she knew today was going to be a hot one. Back to the oak? Maybe later.

Gitty Up~Dutch Henry

Monday, July 29, 2013

Update - Wild Horse Education – By guest blogger Marta Williams on behalf of Laura Leigh

Howdy Folks,

Today we have a guest blogger, Marta Williams of the Wild Horse Education organization sharing an update on their continuing battle to help save and protect our wild horses. There is much formation here, and it is important to note, the horrible suffering continues. Even though WHE has won cases in court against the BLM there is much more that is needed if the suffering is going to be stopped. "WHE is not seeing a “meeting of the minds” in terms of their federal law suits against BLM." Please read, share and consider helping. There are a few important links in the story, too.

Update - Wild Horse Education – By guest blogger Marta Williams on behalf of Laura Leigh

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundup schedule for this season includes upwards of 1,300 horses and burros to be taken within the next eight weeks alone. Most of them are healthy and don’t need to be removed from the wild. Wild Horse Education (WHE) has been in the field documenting the situation at areas on the target list, and the group is gearing up to go back in the field to document the inhumane treatment that has become a signature of BLM roundups. 

BLM chasing foal in the heat of summer at Jackson Mountain roundup.
WHE has also been documenting the condition of the animals in short and long term BLM holding  (read more) and is urging BLM to halt all roundups except those that are absolutely necessary if animals are starving or the range is irretrievably degraded. Some of the removals of healthy herds in Nevada have been dropped in favor of more necessary removals – that is progress! WHE just completed a written field assessment of Gold Mountain and Fish Lake Valley  (see report) and plans to do more such assessments as time and funding permits.

Light skin horse with critical sunburn in BLM Holding facility.
However, WHE is not seeing a “meeting of the minds” in terms of their federal law suits against BLM. A Reno judge has remanded the WHE First Amendment Case back to the Ninth Circuit Court. This means that WHE has had to put in more long hard volunteer hours to revise the case, and pay for more filings, more records and more printing. The first Amendment Case originated during a roundup in Silver King in 2010 when WHE founder, Laura Leigh, was restricted by BLM and denied access to what was really happening. The Ninth Circuit Court heard this case once already,  when a Reno Court initially dismissed it, and the Ninth Circuit ruled that Leigh’s and the public’s right to know and see what the government is doing were violated. WHE is confident of finally winning the First Amendment case in a return to the Ninth Circuit Court. This will assure that the public has access to what BLM is doing to our wild herds at all roundups and holding facilities, many of which are now off limits. 

WHE has also had to scramble to amend the other two cases pending in federal court against BLM to include First Amendment components. These two cases, Owyhee and Triple B, concern BLM’s observed inhumane treatment of our wild horses and burros.

Horses run into barber wire fence at Owyhee Roundup.
If you have ever read through a legal brief, you will understand the incredible amount of work involved for Plaintiff Leigh and WHE attorney, Gordon Cowan, working on a shoestring budget under the intense pressure of court-designated deadlines. If WHE is successful in these cases it will mean that BLM will have to adhere to a court-dictated humane treatment standard from roundup to final disposition for all our wild horses and burros. 

The Owyhee case goes further into outlining BLM’s flawed method of determining what they call “excess” animals. The BLM claims horses move between five separate Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in the Owyhee Complex of HMAs, yet there is no data to support this claim. WHE has pointed out this lack of adequate data for years. The  recent National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report (read more), commissioned by BLM to evaluate the Agency’s wild horse and burro program, corroborated this lack and recommended, among other things, that the BLM stop all roundups until adequate data is acquired. The NAS report cited a lack of any scientific method employed in the government roundup machine and asserted that current BLM roundup activity may actually be increasing the reproduction rate of wild horses and burros due to the intense stress on the populations.

WHE has recently set up a volunteer program called Keep Them in the Wild, to explore all possible avenues for creating a sane management program for wild horses and burros in the wild. If you want to volunteer you can go to the Keep Them in the Wild website.

Amidst all this intense activity, Laura Leigh was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has undergone surgery and is doing well with a good prognosis.

Laura Leigh with captive wild horses at BLM Holding Facility.
Even though she is supposed to be conserving her energy, she and Attorney Cowan have filed seven briefs in the last 30 days with no sign of the pressure letting up. With all that is going on and all they are doing for the wild herds, this tiny group could really use your support right now; please stand with them to secure a future for the wild horses and burros. Wild Horse Education website. 

Please help us help the wild horses - Marta Williams.

Thank you Marta, Laura and WHE for all you do, and folks if you can help by spreading the word, volunteering or donating, please do. 

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry