Friday, August 16, 2013

Feature Friday – New Horizon Ranch Therapeutic Riding Center

Howdy Folks,

Located in Rantoul, Kansas, New Horizon Ranch (NHR) is changing lives every day. Dedicated to helping children who face challenges every day, Brian and Joy Miller  founded (NHR) in 2006 to help children who face physical, emotional and cognitive challenges. Combining a strong passion for helping people, their love of, and passion for horses, belief in God's will, the Millers set out on a mission. "It was clear that God had prepared and equipped us to make a difference in their lives." Joy said. "NHR was founded with a mission to enrich lives through equine assisted activities."
Brian and a happy student

Programs at NHR are designed to provide individual growth, stimulate independence and encourage at-risk youths to engage in meaningful pursuits. Families are a big part of the activities at NHR as all the staff and volunteers understand, what the children experience in the programs, the growth, the eagerness to achieve, and the feeling of self-worth can and does radiate through their family.

Programs including Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding are carefully designed for individuals facing challenges and managed by PATH certified instructors. These programs are given individually and in group settings.

There is more to NHR than therapeutic riding sessions. And that more is what is so effective at changing young lives. One of their unique programs is "Mending Fences." A client driven, experiential learning, mental health program which can be individual or group. These sessions are co-facilitated by an Equine Specialist and a Mental Health Professional. The experiential nature allows the client to open up on his own time frame to handle any mental health problems, concerns or issues he might face. This is very effective with a variety of issues including communication, interpersonal relationship skills, coping skills, anger management, substance abuse, eating disorders and many others. This fun program uses activities on the ground to allow clients to discover or develop within themselves abilities and coping skills that will aid in their overall mental health and daily living. "As clients work with the horses to accomplish tasks assigned to them, they encounter many of the same thoughts and emotions they experience in everyday situations." Joy explained. "It empowers them to make decisions with confidence."
Joy, Brian and a whole bunch of happy kids!
Another fun and wonderfully successful event at NHR is their "Summer Horse Camp." An integrated day camp experience creating an excellent opportunity for campers with special needs and campers with typical needs to have fun side by side as they improve their social, emotional, mental and physical well being.  Campers gain self-confidence, develop communication and problem solving skills, learn basic riding skills, and actively engage in hands-on horsemanship and daily horse care in a safe, fun and friendly camp atmosphere. It provides campers a chance to bond over their common love of horses and their desire to learn more. NHR offers the benefits of a small class size, PATH certified professional instructors, EAGALA trained facilitators and safe, well-trained horses. What can be more fun than that?

To have a look at all the programs, learning and excitement happening every day at NHR please visit their website (HERE) .

You can join them on Facebook (HERE) 

Changing lives every day, what a wonderful mission! Thank you New Horizon Ranch!

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

When Hearts Open PT 2

Howdy Folks,

I wrote this story yesterday in the barn with Kessy, Saturday and Miss kitty. Some folks say horses don't remember. I know they do ... I've listened to their stories ... I posted Pt 1 yesterday..  (HERE)  ... I hope you enjoy Pt 2 - 
Writing with Kessy & Saturday
  When Hearts Open -Pt 2

Holly understands now why Megan had hugged her so tightly that day. Why she cried so hard into her mane that tears ran down her neck. It was the first time Holly had heard, "goodbye."  That day she could not understand what it meant. She knew Megan's heart was breaking, because they understood each other, but Holly could not understand the sadness. When they led her to the trailer, it was a strange man and a strange trailer. Are we going to a show? Where is Megan? As they closed the door Holly screamed and pawed. "Where are you Megan?" she screamed. The trailer lurched as they drove away. Holly screamed and screamed, but Megan never came.
When she stepped from the trailer Holly found herself in another new world, new smells, sounds and sights. But it was not a show she had gone to, and still there was no Megan. From the trailer to another tiny dark place she now knew people called stalls; she had seen plenty of stalls at the shows with Megan. This one was like the one long ago at the training place. At first her heart jumped. Were her old friends here? But no, all these horses were strangers. Who later would become friends, but that first day, Holly was just alone, and scared. Where was Megan? She missed Megan. What had she done wrong that had made Megan go away? She tried to understand, but could not. She called for Megan until her sides hurt.

The people at the new place were nice and even took Holly to shows. Her new rider, a strong young man was a good rider and confident, but he never took the time to understand her. He demanded Holly do her duties, and she did, and they won ribbons as before, but there was hollowness to it. She missed Megan. For a long time whenever a truck stopped by the barn she whinnied for Megan. At every show Holly looked for Megan.

Every few years Holly would say goodbye to new friends she'd made, to move on to another new world. New horse friends were always happy to welcome her, but she learned over the years not to open her heart to them. While she learned to understand it, she never learned to like it. She hated each time saying goodbye to her friends. She remembers each of them. She had a life full of making new friends, and even learned she could help her new riders master the art of riding and winning ribbons. There came a day when Holly began to wonder why there were not as many shows. Where had the fun and excitement gone? It seemed everyone now wanted more of her. More flash, more speed. So many different riders, each with more and confusing demands. 

She tried to understand, but long days in the dusty ring with many different riders made her back hurt. Her mouth was sore, and her ribs. She loved to teach children to ride, but too much, too many now. She felt her legs go weak, then crashed to the dirt. People ran to her, pushed and shoved, pulled on the reins, but her tired legs needed to rest. She had been careful to fall in a way not to hurt her young rider, but he was angry anyway.

Most of her time now was spent in a new tiny dark place. Almost never out in the sun. Never brushed or bathed. What had she done? She missed Megan. She missed Megan's hugs.
Her legs were tired all the time now. And she was hungry. Her skin itched. She tried to tell them to turn her out in the big field, she needed the sun. She knew she was too tired for a show now anyway, but the sun would warm her skin. She nickered when they opened the big doors and a few yellow streaks forced their way to her dark stall. The people did not understand and yelled for her to "shut-up" … "Please turn me out," she pleaded.

"She's got to go." Holly heard the big man say. "You either take her, or she goes to the auction. She's worth nothing to nobody!" It was hard for her to remember how long she'd been here, at the hungry place. But it was very hard to remember not being hungry. Somehow hearing him say that confused her.

Then she saw her. A woman walking up the aisle toward her stall looked so familiar. Holly remembered the happy stride. She tried to whinny, but coughed instead. "Megan? My old fiend Megan?" Her heart raced, even her legs stopped hurting. How wonderful, Megan has come to me after all this long time! 

When the woman reached for her, Holly realized she was not Megan. Holly looked past her, perhaps Megan was behind her … no one else came. "Hi beautiful," the woman said. "They tell me your name is Holly. I'm Carol and honored to meet you!"

It was a hard job walking into the trailer. The ramp seemed so steep. Not like the years before going to the shows when she danced up into the trailers. But if they were going to a show, she would give it her all, and step lively as she could. She didn't feel the old excitement, but getting outside feeling the sun on her back pepped her up a little. Carol took each step slowly with Holly, and Holly felt the warmth of Carol's heart. It reminded her of Megan.

This new world reminded Holly of times so long ago. Stepping off the trailer, Carol was there to steady her. She asked nothing of her, and waited quietly as Holly moved slowly, stiffly from the trailer to her very own grass paddock. And look, fresh hay under the tree. Good hay, sweet hay. Settling in was easy here. Carol made sure there was always plenty of fresh hay and water. She often she sat with her, and told her stories. Every morning Carol visited, but Holly worried about opening her heart, and for a long time, kept her distance. But Carol kept coming, talking, hugging and brushing. Holly's legs grew strong once again, as strong as the tug on her heart. Finally, after many weeks, Holly knew it was not only safe, but important to open her heart again.

Holly lay in the sun close to her other new friends in the big field. The strength now back in her legs after months of never being hungry, she knew any moment now Carol would come out to the field to check on them. Carol was easy to understand, like Megan. There were no tiny dark places here only new friends, big fields and sunshine. And a little work. Holly's new job was helping horses to once again open their hearts. A job she understands.

On quiet warm days Holly still thinks of Megan, remembers their romps together. Sometimes she'll nicker, hoping she'll hear. 

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

When Hearts Open - PT 1

Howdy Folks,

I wrote this short story today sitting with Kessy  having Coffee ... I felt as if she were helping me write it ... Some folks say horses don't remember, I know they do ....  I've listened to their stories ... You can read Pt 2 (HERE)
Kessy, Saturday & Dutch writing a story ...
When Hearts Open 

She once ruled the show ring. In her memory she carries the pictures of gliding along the rail to "oohs and ahhs" of people in the bleachers. The loving pats on her neck from her rider when they were called to line up in the center to collect their ribbon. And the applause.

But that was a long time ago.

 She has memories too, from so long ago, of frolicking in the shady pasture with her mother, and the other foals. And the next season running and racing, trying so hard to catch the wind with the yearlings. Oh how they would run, kick and squeal! As hard as they could race, they ran in that big field, chasing not only the wind as they wove among the trees, but each other, too. They ran until her very heart felt as though it might explode. She remembers too, a young lady with gentle hands and voice. Over the long years she still thinks of her, and her soft voice. She had given her her first name, Goldie. She wondered why no other person had called her that.

Then she moved from home, leaving friends and family behind. Try as she might she never truly understood how that happened, but one day she found herself in a new field with strange horses, and people. They called it training. That's why she was there. There were many days of confusion, and even fear. In time she learned to understand, even anticipate the things they expected her to do. But she missed her friends, and the romps in the field. Her new home seemed so confining, and the air smelled. Each day there had been hours of training in a small field with no sky, or wind. It was very dusty as she trotted around, and around learning new commands and how to carry people. Then back to the tiny place people called, her stall. After training, standing there in that tiny dark place, she longed to run. Her legs and heart begged for it. Everything seemed to hurt standing still all day and night. In time she learned to ignore the tightness in her back and legs. But never understand it.

People came and looked at her in that tiny place where she lived in the dark. She wondered what had happened to her friend the sun. She remembers lying in the big pasture as the sun warmed her skin and muscles, but it was not here. Not in this place. But people were here touching her, leading her asking her to do the new things she'd learned. And she did enjoy showing how well she mastered this new thing they called training.

A young girl came one day into that tiny dark place to see her. At first she thought this girl might be her old friend who had named her Goldie, but she wasn't. She was friendly though and it was wonderful to feel the soft touch of a hand, not asking her to do anything. She liked that girl right from the start.

The next day found her at a new world. Everything was different again, except the young girl. She was here too. She gave the mare a new name, one she had heard before when people at the training place were looking at her. The young girl called her, Holly. And Holly understood the girl's name, too, Megan.

Holly and Megan began to go many places together. It was Megan who took her to the show the first time. That was exciting! So much energy in the air. Holly grew to love everything about showing, the baths, the grooming, even the rides in the trailer, for she knew each trip was a new adventure. For years they traveled to shows together and won a wall full of ribbons. 

Megan and Holly explored trails together too, and her home here was not tiny without sun. She had big fields again to romp and play in with other horses like when she was a yearling. Her old friend the sun was here too. Sometimes standing alone in the field she thought about her mother, the yearlings and the friends she left behind at the training place. But living with Megan, showing exploring trails together was so much fun. Megan understood her and cared for her and loved her. They could read each other's mind. Friends forever Holly remembers Megan telling her.

Be sure to read PT 2 tomorrow ....

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry