Friday, November 8, 2013

Feature Friday - Loving and Healing at Twelve Stone Farm- Jerilyn Skyface Flowers

Howdy Folks,
Tucked in the mountains of northern Georgia, not far from Atlanta is a loving, healing place called Twelve Stone Farm. Here among nature, hearts, minds, bodies and lives are healed, encouraged, nurtured, and restarted. Abused, neglected and unwanted horses given new life, love and purpose here, use their refreshed spirits to heal and encourage abused, misunderstood at-risk youths.
Sunny and the horses romp at Twelve Stone Farm
After years of working with youths at children's camps and being the director of a spiritual retreat center, Jerilyn Skyface Flowers felt the heart-tug to do more. She sought guidance in a vision quest and saw the beautiful mountains, and in them a peaceful, welcoming farm. Just weeks after that vision she was contacted by the heirs of a farm, and invited to come.
Chiquita Berry had started Twelve Stone Farm as a place of healing. When Chiquita passed away it was her eldest daughter who connected with Jerilyn. "It was even better than the farm I saw in my vision. It really is Heaven on Earth. I knew I was home."
Jerilyn moved to Twelve Stone Farm 3 years ago and carried on the mission that Chiquita had begun. Building on her foundation, Jerilyn created programs and activities designed to use horses and nature to help at-risk and high-risk children and youth to examine their behavior, and to modify their lifestyles from destructive of themselves and others, to cooperation and contribution and to healthy interaction with family and the community.
Jerilyn and New Spirit
Adults and children alike are welcome to come and, "Heal from the inside out," by experiencing nature and the rebuilding of their hearts and dreams. Here is offered a place for primitive camping retreats for Girl and Boy scout troops, school and church groups and families as well as programs for Horse Rescue, Therapeutic Horseback Riding, mentoring for at-risk children, teaching pioneer and camping skills, and many other activities.
Tipi village at Twelve Stone Farm
Twelve Stone Farm is a non-profit equestrian, and agricultural ranch dedicated to providing a sanctuary where people can come into nature and restart their lives.
Making dreams come true
Visit Twelve Stone's website (HERE) and join them on Facebook (HERE)

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Thoughts on Blanketing Horses

Howdy Folks,
One of our Coffee Clutch friends asked me to share my thoughts on blanketing horses. Like many things we do for, with, and to our horses, there are mountains of opinions about, "to blanket or not to blanket." I'm mostly in the "no blanket" camp. I reckon few of our Coffee Clutch friends are surprised by that, my, keeping it truly natural practices and beliefs, are not much of a secret.

But what is wrong with blanketing? I think there could be a lot.

Now before we get all excited with the exceptions as to, "yes but you must blanket when – insert any favorite exception here – because …" I understand and agree, sometimes blankets are necessary and important. I also believe wool coolers are very important after a cold winter ride and a nice, thick winter coat is soaked and matted with sweat. Wool coolers wick away sweat and help a horse cool down nicely. Kessy wore one this Sunday after we had a fun romp. Took only about 20 minutes for her to dry, I removed the cooler, brushed her all nice and fluffy, and she went about her way wearing only her smile and her own winter coat.
Kessy sporting her no-blanket look.
I've heard it said that from about 45 degrees  horses burn calories to cool. Yes, to cool – not warm. So what must be going on when a healthy horse has a blanket strapped on its back on a sunny breezy 50 degree day? Sure we want our coat, I know I do, but we're not built to deal with it like horses.

Horses have multiple layers of hair to deal with all sorts of weather, rain, cold and snow. Each layer has its own job and function. Even with snow laying on their backs, those layers do their job admirably. UNLESS their hair is waited down under a blanket. Did you know a horse with a wet blanket, or even a waterproof blanket with snow laying on it is actually colder than a horse without? I've personally demonstrated this by sliding my hand under a wet, not soaked, blanket and the owner was surprised to feel the cold back. And too many times the old waterproof blankets loose their waterproofing and owners, unaware, are thinking they are helping their horse.

Temperatures under a blanket with air temperatures about 40 or 50 can be over 70, sometimes close to 90. If you blanket, check it yourself. I've done it. So if a horse is using calories to cool at 45 degrees, what's going on under a 70 degree blanket? And how often have you seen horses wearing more than one blanket?!

Wearing a blanket impedes normal winter coat growth, they can't grow those very important layers.

Horses with a natural healthy coat can readily, and healthily, regulate their own body temperature, changing with the temperatures of the day. Hairs stand up and lay down as needed. How can we think we can manage that by taking off and on the blankets? And how do we coordinate that?

Horses have several ways to "warm up" on cold days. They can walk around, this goes hand in hand with natural and healthy housing, they need room to roam, or they can stand out of the wind. But I think they do need the ability to walk around when they want to.

What they do need is a way to get out of the precipitation and wind, just a nice run in where they can come and go as they please.

So, my thoughts on blanketing horses? I think most folks do it for their own thoughts of comfort, not the horses.
Kessy is warm and happy in her natural coat ... I needed my heavy insulated coveralls. And Saturday was looking for a warm lap!
 To sum it up, mostly I'm against blanketing. Everyone has their own opionon and circumstances. But I feel bad for the horses standing out in the sun on 50 degree days wearing a blanket because no one had time to remove it ... And I think our common accepted practice appears to be we over-blanket. But that's just my thoughts.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Monday, November 4, 2013

Special Horses, Wonderful People, Beautiful Drive

Special Horses, Wonderful People, Beautiful Drive
Howdy Folks,

Ravishin' Robbie and I set out at seven AM yesterday. I had an appointment to visit Traveller's Rest Equine Elders Santuary for an interview for my Heartbeats column in Trail Blazer. Most of my interviews I do on the phone, but when the stories are about People and Horses Helping Horses and People nearby enough, I like to go visit. I really wanted to meet the horses there too. There is something about a senior horse that really gets me. They have a wholly different kind of spirit, and heart. They've seen a lot, done a lot, endured a lot. And the kindness, understanding and lessons they can share are so special. So touching. I wanted to meet Mike and Chris Smith too, the wonderful folks who devote their lives to giving a loving home to these kind and knowing horses. They are a very kind of special too.
The drive from Appomattox to Spotsylvania VA, mostly up route 15 is a delightful drive. It meanders quietly through good scenery, by many horse and cattle farms, and through several neat little towns. Mrs GPS says it should be a two and a half our drive that always seems to take me nearly four. I've been known to pull over to admire the big beautiful maple tree cloaked magnificently in shimmering red leaves, or oaks decked out in yellow with a hundred foot branch-span.

I'll happily swerve onto the road shoulder to gaze at a beautiful horse. Old barns with dilapidated machinery guarding them are things of beauty to me too, and of course worthy of a pause to soak it in. Black Angus cattle, their coats shimmering in the sunlight can often automatically force my geriatric Tahoe to stop.

Any friend of our Coffee Clutch blog knows almost any bird, from Blue Bird to Carolina Wren can stop me, too. You can ask Kessy that one, but that's a story for another day. So yesterday's Great Blue Heron fishing in a small roadside pond, well that was a no brainer.

We did eventually did arrive at our destination, right on time, right behind our dear friend, Karen Lindely who was meeting us to take the pictures for our story. She does really beautiful work. If you'd like to see some of her things, be sure to "friend" her on Facebook.

We all had a simply marvelous visit. Mike and Chris took us all on a leisurely tour of the property and introduced us to each of the 18 horses living there. Housing for elderly horses is so important, and the paddocks or pastures are large with run-ins so we had nice long walks in the pretty sunshine. They told each horse's story, as much as they knew, and I visited with each one, often doing a bit of my Therapy For Therapy Horses exercises. 
Just hanging out in the sun, and lovin' life
Robbie took notes of our conversations for my story, and Karen had those shutters snapping. We were having so much fun, it was hard to leave. But eventually we had to.

The story of what they do there to help aged horses, and how Mike and Chris help guide other folks with senior horses will be in the Jan/Feb issue of Trail Blazer. Be sure to watch for it. Chris' motto is from Seabiscuit, "Just because a horse has a few bumps and scrapes doesn't mean you give up on it."

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry