Friday, September 13, 2013

Feature Friday – Horse and Soul Ranch – Loreen Houdek

Howdy Folks,
Hearts, spirits and souls can find healing and rebirth here among peaceful trees, and the watchful, caring eyes of the horses. Horse and Soul Ranch, founded with the mission, to help broken spirits heal, by Loreen Houdek just this past February, is the magical place where dreams are rekindled. Here spirits are lifted, and broken lives reborn with confidence and newfound courage.
Walking with Abby to feel the peace
Loreen, a long time horsewoman, and abuse survivor herself, knows firsthand the healing, and courage horses can impart. As recently as last year, Loreen found herself in a low, trying moment and it was the healing power of her horses that snapped her out of it. That was the moment she understood, God was teaching her that, she, and her horses, who themselves are rescues, could and must help others.

She founded Horse and Soul Ranch and immediately began to invite women to come feel reenergizing power of the spirit if the horse. But she didn't stop there. She contacted PATH and began her certification to become a therapeutic riding instructor. She's been a volunteer at Thunder Rode Therapeutic Riding center for 5 years, and held a place on their Board for 2 years. Loreen also took Wendy Wolfe’s Phoenix Rising Intuitive Educator and Animal Communication course.

Recently she learned of Betsi Bixby's, Freedom Horses (CLICK HERE) a program for battered and abused women. Freedom Horses is going nationwide and Loreen is excited that Horse and Soul ranch was selected to be one of the earliest expansion locations. Adding Freedom Horses to Horse and Soul Ranch brings more help, guidance and out-reach to her dream of helping others gain new footing.
Feeling love and courage
Loreen says, "When a person believes in themselves the possibilities are endless."
This little ranch located outside of Burr Oak, Iowa is abundant love, encouragement, and the healing power of horses. Horses who have felt the healing power of love themselves, and have that power, will and desire to give back.

"I want to give others the opportunity to experience that feeling of how a horse can heal, and to bring out their true selves and know they are an awesome person, and be the person that God intended them to be. I do this not for the money, I do it for the smiles on their faces and to see them grow into the person that they hide inside because of what happened to them and the nasty things they went through. I believe it is my gift, and that God has helped me get Horse and Soul Ranch off the ground." Loreen said. "I want to spread the word, how horses can help people as they did me, and continue to help me." 
We thank you Loreen and your horses for spreading the word, and the healing.

Join Horse and Soul Ranch on Facebook (HERE) and visit their website (HERE)

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Suddenly – Don't Use in Writing or Horsemanship

Howdy Folks,
I often think about, and write about, how living and working, or playing and learning with our horses, and writing have so many similarities. Such as my blog, "Horses and Writing, Similar POVs?" And "Building Confidence in a Horse and Building a Character in a Novel." Another time I wrote about "It's About Who They Are, not What They Are," this one is my favorites.

The other day I was reading a writer's blog about the overuse of the word, "suddenly" in a manuscript. Every word she said was exactly correct, and I'd hoped she would say more. I've always found the word "suddenly" to be a speed bump in a story or novel. Instead of propelling me with the action as the writer intends, it stops me dead in my reading tracks. Pushes me away. In fact most "ly" words have that effect on me. If the author replaces the "ly" word with the action she's trying to portray, we readers can be drawn in and feel the action. Instead of "hearing" about it. "Suddenly" for me is the worst of the "ly" words.

Here's a brief example. "Suddenly she burst into tears." Not much there, even if we knew why she had to cry. How about something like, "She needed to see him again. Where was he? Why can't she find him? Sucking short breaths she tried to be strong, but her burning eyes flooded, tears streamed down her face."

I've always found when I'm editing and re-writing if I re-write scenes or sentences with "ly" words the scene embraces me more. Adds depth, meaning and emotions. Yes it will add words, but I suggest they are words that build emotions and connection with the reader. And as writers aren't they the two most important things? Emotions and connection.
Kessy and me sharing a moment
In our relationship with our horses "emotions and connection" are most important as well. If we do anything, "suddenly" it's more than a speed bump to our horse. It's a "failure to communicate." And as "authors" of the moment, it's our job to "re-write the scene."

If we replace that "ly" word, or action, with a more descriptive series of words and actions our horse will follow us, feel the emotion, and the connection. And our relationship will deepen.

It makes no sense to the horse when we bark commands, jerk on the lead rope, or wave our hands and arms. Sure we get a reaction, and that's just what it is, a reaction. It's not a connection. It's best, even if the horse is making a mistake to follow through that mistake, see where it takes you, then build on it. Write the scene with easy to embrace description.

Engage your imagination, your intuitiveness, let your horse help write the scene in a way that embraces both of you. It'll add words, but those words make all the difference.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Seeing With Her Heart – follow-up – Chy, The Blind Horse Moves Home –Ariana Tomeselli

Howdy folks,

I knew last week Ariana was moving Chy home, from the boarding barn where she’d lived most of her life. That’s why I wanted to post their story (SEEING WITH HER HEART-Ariana Tomasrlli and Cheyenne ) (Which had been published in Trail Blazer in Dec) .. about how their lives came to become intertwined and enriched by each other’s love and trust. I also asked for an update, as to why the move, and how it went, as this sort of thing could be traumatic for a blind horse. Ariana sent me all the details and it seems most appropriate to share the story in her own words – So please enjoy “Chy and Britches Big Move” – by Chy's partner, and guest blogger, Ariana Tomaselli.

Chy and Britches' Big Move

Hi Dutch and Coffee Clutch Friends, I'm Ariana Tomaselli, Chy's human partner.--

First, I am going to give you a little story behind all my horses (just for amusement).

Chy - As you know, Chy was given to me by my friend as a Christmas present since she could not afford and handle a blind horse.
Ariana and Chy - Together they Soar
Britches - My mom's friend saw a video I made of Chy. That night she had a dream, and in her dream God told her that Chy needs Britches in her life. (Britches was 1 at this time, Chy was 2). So the next day, my mom's friend called us, told us her dream, and gave Britches to us. Chy and Britches have been best friends ever since.

Taza - She is an old fireball pure bred Egyptian Arab. The owner of the boarding barn we were at would always watch me ride Chy. She would watch how Chy would buck and rear (out of excitement) and how I never came off of her. She asked my mom if she could talk to me, I thought I was in trouble. The owner told me that I have glue on my butt when I ride. She said that she has a bit of a wild Arab who was claimed a killer that needed work. With the permission of my mom, I accepted the challenge. So, I began working with Taza. Shortly after, the owner of the barn got very ill (from being in a previous car accident) and passed away. However, the day before she passed, she told her husband to give Taza to us. So, Taza became ours and became my mom's perfect riding horse. However, now she is retired because she has arthritis and is in her late 20's.

Geronimo and Tomahawk - These two horses were basically abandoned at the boarding farm. I fought for custody over these two horses for years and finally got them when their owner got into debt with the barn owner and the barn owner granted custody to me and had them signed over.

So, more about Chy and Britches ... As you know we have had all of our horses at a boarding farm called Cameo Farm; which was only a few minutes from our home. We lived in a small neighborhood where I spent my entire life. Shortly after we got Chy my mom began looking for a small farm we could call our own. We wanted Chy to live in our backyard. Then of course, we got another horse, then another, then another, and so on and so forth. My dad would always say, "We are not getting another horse until we buy a farm!" I obviously did not listen.
Ariana and Britches
Even after searching and searching, and getting the count of our horses up to 5, we were still boarding. We searched for years and years. Finally my parents were about to sign a contract for a 5 acre place that would have been OK, but just didn't feel right, when mom heard about a house ethat may be for sale. Mom and dad agreed to go look at it that same morning. As we all pulled up to that house, we knew it was meant to be! It is a small 8 acre property that is tucked back from the road and surrounded by trees, a perfect paradise; but that's not it. As my mom rang the doorbell to meet the home owner, this lady answered the door and both her and my dad stood in complete shock. It turns out, the home owner is an old family friend who grew up with my dad and his family. Small world right?

So she showed us her home and we fell in love. Dutch, it was truly meant to be, we were so close to buying a house literally a mile down the road that we weren't in love with, but ended up getting the home of our dreams.

We moved in the first week of July. We didn't plan to move our 5 horses until September because we needed to put up some fencing and build an extra stall. But, things never go as planned and due to unfortunate circumstances we had to move Taza, Tomahawk, and Geronimo less than a week after we moved in.
Geronimo, Tomahawk and Taza settling in
We kept Chy and Britches at Cameo until we finished everything that needed to be done at our new home. We wanted to move Chy into a home that was "stress-free". Oh, I didn't even tell you the best part.... our trailer, the trailer Chy loves, was sent to the junk yard moments before we had to move our horses.

We had to have our dear friend Betsy trailer our horses for us, but there is one problem... Chy is claustrophobic, and Betsy's trailer is a lot narrower than our old trailer was. I was worried Chy would refuse the trailer.

Then came the day to move Chy and Britches to their new home... I was happy but also worried that they wouldn't load on the trailer, but they proved me wrong! Chy AND Britches both walked right on the trailer!! This has NEVER happened before, usually I have to wait awhile for Chy to make up her mind of whether or not she wants to go somewhere (I always let her choose) and Britches ALWAYS puts up the biggest fight. On that day those horses knew they were going home! It made me cry tears of joy and we were all shocked but so happy!
Britches steps off first - Chy patiently waits her turn
We got them to our new place and I immediately unloaded them and put them in their new pasture. I let Britches roam around on her own, but I kept Chy on the lead so I could show her the boundaries and obstacles. Now, Britches can sometimes be, well, a mare. Haha! She is never really warm and fuzzy towards Chy, but she is always there for Chy when she needs her. As I started walked Chy around Britches would not leave us alone. In a few of the pictures I posted of me leading Chy around you can see my hand on Britches' butt pushing her away. She insisted on staying right by Chy's side. I swore Britches was trying to say, "Ariana, let Chy go, I can handle this". I took that as a sign, and I reluctantly let Chy go... and Britches took over in the most beautiful, sweet way I have ever seen.
Chy stepping "hoof" onto her new home
Britches literally walked Chy around her entire pasture, she showed her the tree, the stump, the gate, the stalls, she showed her everything! It taught me that sometimes I will not always be able to be there for Chy, I won't always be able to protect her, and baby her, and lead the way.
Ariana "pushing" Britches out of the way as she showed Chy her new home fenceline. Britches always worries over Chy. 
Chy has Britches, forever, and Chy has her will power and strength. (Oh man, I am crying now) For the first time in my life, I was able to let go and put my trust in someone else to take care of Chy, Britches.

Chy figured out everything that day. There is this automatic water in her pasture that has a lever in it which the horses have to push down with their muzzle to make the water come out. Chy figured it out on her own!! My other three horses had been there for a month and still did not have that waterer figured out!!! Chy can handle herself.

I feel like a momma bird who let her baby bird fly out of the nest for the first time, which is weird seeing that my baby bird moved home with me. I could not be anymore blessed to have such an amazing family, friends, and horses, especially Chy.
Chy and Britches all settled in
Thank you Dutch for caring about Chy and me! Ariana.

Thank you Arianna for sharing yours and Chy's story with us!

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Monday, September 9, 2013

How About A smile – (A Visit With Grandpop)

Howdy Folks, 

This is the fifth in my series of Grandpop stories. I began writing about Grandpop, June 27, 2013, with what at the time I imagined what would be a stand alone short story, "Perhaps I've Just Lived Too Long." You can read that story (and find links to go on) (HERE)   Folks said they enjoy visiting with Grandpop, so I wrote more. Frankly, I enjoy him too. I hope you enjoy this visit with Grandpop. 

How About A smile – (A Visit With Grandpop) 

They were leaving the house as I drove up. I'd been trying to visit more often lately, Grandpop hadn't been feeling all that well, even though his wide smile peeking out from under his thick white mustache, and those glittering eyes never let on. But the stooped posture and reliance on his hand carved cane sort of gave it away. I didn't recognize the young woman walking with him. They stopped at the fence, pausing in the morning sun to let Grandpop catch his breath, I reasoned.
Coffee Clutch, Kessy, Saturday, Tigger & Miss Kitty and me
The young woman studied her feet more than the wide open view stretching across the rolling, almost treeless valley. She shuffled some, as if she wanted to be somewhere else. I couldn't hear Grandpop, but his waving hand pointing this way and that made me imagine I could. Still it was clear she was not very interested in his story telling.

"Morning Grandpop." I stepped from the car and started their way. The young woman showed a sense of relief, as if saying, finally someone to take me away from this.

Grandpop turned, leaned on the fence. "Howdy, Son. I'd like you to meet Carolyn. She might be stayin' with us a spell."

"Good Morning, Carolyn, I'm pleased to meet you." I offered my hand, timidly she accepted a brief handshake, then looked down to her feet again.

"Look at that sun, would ya. It's a mite brisk now, but it'll sure warm up quick." Grandpop saluted the orange orb that walked its way ever higher on the horizon with his tattered straw hat. I grinned at the gesture, and the hat. Little doubt the hat was older than Carolyn.

"Carolyn's here to learn a bit about ranch life and horses, thought I'd give her the grand tour. Want to walk along?"

"Well you've come to a great place for that. Are you taking college courses that suggested a little hands on?"

"No." She backed a step. "It was either come here or juvie. I didn't have much of a say … or choice."

From time to time the folks had taken in youths who were going through a rough patch, something they'd done for years. Even when I was in high school it was a semi-regular thing to have visitors for a few weeks. Some had kept in touch over the years, others drifted away. Pictures of a few drifted through my mind. I often wondered about those we never heard from again. I don't remember any of them leaving without saying thank you to Grandpop.

He walked slow, leading the way to the barn. No horses were in today, but we could see the mares and this year's three foals on the hill through the big open doors on the far end. As we meandered by the stalls Grandpop explained horses were sometimes in stalls, but it was better for them to have the freedom to roam about, make their own choices. "A lot like folks," he said.

Carolyn's face showed her confusion.

"Sure," Grandpop explained, "we all do better when we can make our own decisions. Might need a little direction from time to time, but it's best when we can think for ourselves."

"I'm always told what to do. Like coming here!" Carolyn tossed her arms in the air.

"See those mares standing under the tree up yonder?" Grandpop pointed with his cane as he leaned against the door jam.

Carolyn nodded, then shrugged her shoulders.

"We adopted them from the BLM. They're wild mustangs who can trace their blood lines right back to Spain. This is their home now. They roam this half of the ranch."

"So?" Carolyn shrugged again.

"The choice was made for them to be taken from their range, where the Spanish Mustangs have lived for centuries, and forced to stand in what they call holding pens. They had no way of making choices for their lives. Sure we can only save a few, but those few are carrying on the true spirit of the wild horse." He started for the tree and the horses, we followed.

Noticing us, the foals did their best imitations of their momma's snorts and dashed in an ever widening circle. We walked through the tall grass following Grandpop's lead until we reached the tree. Grandpop settled onto his bench at the tree's trunk. I stood behind him. Carolyn waited for instruction. The foals stopped, lined up just outside the reach of the sheltering tree branches, poised, ready to run at the slightest excuse.

Carolyn watched and waited. Grandpop pulled his knife and began carving on a stick. The only sounds under the tree were the mare's pulling at grass, the foals' heavy breathing and Grandpop's knife scrapping.

"Can I touch one?" Carolyn took a small step toward the foals, her eyes on Grandpop.

Grandpop concentrated on his carving. "Want too?"

"Sort of …"

"Your decision."

Moving slowly, cautiously, Carolyn inched toward the three wide eyed foals, reaching out with her arm as she crept. I caught Grandpop's wink. And grin.

"Do they bite?"

"Not hard."

She stopped. Grandpop's grin widened.

Carolyn almost smiled then started again. Only a few feet were between her and the closest foal, the tallest one, a young colt I knew to be the instigator of the bunch. With a snort and a stomp he whirled away causing a three foal stampede. Carolyn tumbled over backwards, let go a yelp. "What do I do now?"

"How about a smile?" Grandpop grinned.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

To Read Pt 6 " Veterans Day Ride With Grandpop" - Click (HERE)