Friday, December 13, 2013

Feature Friday – The National Day Of The Horse

Howdy Folks,

In November of 2004 Congress recognized the "First Official Day Of The Horse," and decreed December 13 would be so recognized from then on. The first paragraph of the decree is – "Encouraging citizens to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the economy, history, and character of the United States and expressing the sense of Congress that a National Day of the Horse should be established … Whereas the horse is a living link to the history of the United States … without horses, the economy, history, and character of the United States would be profoundly different … "
I'd like to share the opening paragraph from my story, "Horses Among Us Thank God," - "It is often said that throughout history, everywhere man has gone he has been carried upon the back of a noble horse. They've plowed our fields, carried us into and died with us in our wars, pulled our wagons and travois laden with treasured possessions to new lands and pulled our wedding carriages, too. They've run our races, herded our cattle, given explosive demonstrations of their power and agility in rodeos. They've strutted their magnificence in arenas before cheering crowds to win ribbons unimportant to them. When I think of the horse's spirit and how it has selflessly carried the spirit of man through the ages I'm awed at the nobility of them. How they have answered every call with strength, beauty and unquestioning devotion.  No matter the sacrifice." … You can read the rest of my tribute to horses HERE
Kessy, Saturday and me
Kessy and I hope you'll spend a few extra moments hugging your horse, doing a little something for horses you don't know. Or reflecting on how horses have touched, or changed your life. Or a loved one's or friend's life. 
Kessy and me
Please leave your comment on how horses' touched your life.

Horses offer their spirit, their love and their guidance to us each and every day. Today is their day, help spread the word and celebrate them!

Gitty Up ~ Kessy and Dutch Henry

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Lights Went Out - a short story-

Howdy Folks,

This is a short story about the innocence of love - I wrote it for a contest a while back. The first words had to be, "The lights went out." I shared it about a year ago, but we've had so many folks join our Coffee Clutch since then, and lots of folks told me it touched them, so I thought I'd post it again ...  I hope you enjoy ...
Kessy, Saturday & me writing (I wrote this story in the barn with Kessy)
 The Lights Went Out 

The lights went out as just as she raised the wine glass in a salute to her reflection in the wine bottle. That's okay, it would be easier to remember him in the dark. She thought of his brown shining eyes and how they'd always warmed her when she lost herself in them. The way they glistened when he smiled. No matter the situation those eyes had never failed to reassure her. To comfort her. She took a sip and ran a quivering finger around the rim of the glass.

They say the first anniversary is the worst. She laughed. Who are they, and did they ever go through it or are they just the appointed ones who tell everyone how and what to feel without having a clue of the richness of love that had been theirs. He'd been gone three months now and tomorrow would have been their fifth anniversary…And his twenty-ninth birthday. Peter loved to celebrate his birthday. She felt the corners of her mouth curve. He'd always wanted to open his present before going to work. Peter made a big deal about everybody's birthday that's why it had been so natural, and fun, to be married on his.

A loud blast of rain pelted the kitchen window and a brief flash of lightning lit the room to shine on his present waiting on the table. The room seemed darker after the flash. She touched the bow on the box, then pulled it to her. He sure would have gotten a kick out of this year's present. She'd bought it six months ago, a little bottle of beach sand with a tiny mermaid inside perched on driftwood. A Kansas boy, Peter had never seen the beach. She had planned to fix that this year. In the bottom of the box lay all the paperwork and a brochure from the Anchor Kitchen bed and breakfast.
Some people are given a lifetime to share together. Some never find their soul mate. She and Peter were perfect together and they new it the instant they met. All their friends said so. She grinned when she thought of girlfriends' frequent threats to steal him away. Jealousy gripped her as she thought evil thoughts about how unfair it was to give them such a short time together. Her throat tightened, her eyes let go a stream of tears as she cursed God for creating the perfect match…and then tearing it apart. How could he? Why would he? She gulped a swallow of wine and ground the heels of her hands in her eyes, "What am I supposed to do now?" 
She looked around the kitchen, in the flashes she saw his boots sitting on the mat by the door. She hadn't been able to put them away. Hadn't been able to deal with much that she should have by now. Take it day by day, they say.
Day by day. That made her smile. Peter had said that too. On their wedding night when she was so scared she started to cry and she'd asked, "What are we going to do now?" She remembered his confident smile when he told her, "I guess we'll take it day by day."
"That was Peter," she told the darkness. "Count on him to make everything alright." She poured some wine and through blurry eyes asked his boots, "How do we make this alright? What do I do now Peter?" She dropped her head onto her arms and sobbed. "I don't know what to do." Her voice broke as she begged. "Tell me what to do…Where do I start?"
A thunderclap so loud it rattled the house preceded a burst of light brighter than any before it. After her eyes adjusted to the darkness she noticed a hint of morning's glow in the kitchen window.
Shuffling tiny feet turned her toward the living room doorway. "That was a loud one Mommy!" Their daughter announced as she scrambled toward her. "Today is Daddy's birthday! Can we open his present for him? If we hold it up really high will he be able to see it from Heaven?"
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Monday, December 9, 2013

Horses Have A Pause Button

Howdy Folks,

Horses do have a pause button, and they'll push it themselves. Sure sometimes we push it for them, but however it gets pushed, it works. And they pause. Sometimes they pause a little, sometimes they pause a lot. Pausing is an important part of being a horse. Perhaps some people should get their own pause buttons, but that's a story for another day … Why are pause buttons good for horses? And how can we understand them?

So much is said about the "flight mode" of horses, frankly I think that's overstated, overworked, but that's just me. You bet that fight mode is imperative to the safety of horses' survival, but don't we all kind of get that? When confused, scared, or just unsure, in kicks the fight mode and off they go, or at least they try to, if we don't stop them. Pretty self explanatory.

But the pause button. Now there's an interesting, and far too often, misunderstood intricate part of the horse's make up. Often mistaken for stubbornness, refusal, laziness, uncooperativeness, attitude and a whole pile of equally negative and unkind thoughts and projections, the pause button is exactly the opposite. It is total cooperation, willingness and eagerness. How could I say that? You ask. – They are totally eager and willing to cooperate in helping us to understand communication.

A horse will push the pause button when they don't understand, need to make sense of a cue, a request or situation. That pause is their request for more time to process the situation. It is not a request for more and stronger cues. In fact, more and stronger cues at this time will most often turn the polite pause into something negative such as refusal, or misunderstanding. It is important to allow the pause button all the time it needs to do its job.

"But you must keep the pressure on," Some say. In my mind those who say that are very wrong. Remember the flight mode? Too much pressure invites the fight mode, even if they can't flee. That's a hair's breadth from "shut out" mode. I believe it is wrong to pressure a horse beyond its comfort zone. Rather we should keep the horse well within its comfort zone, a safe distance back from their limits, and grow from there. When your horse pushes her pause button, back off, give her time to process – then when she's ready, gently cue again.
Kessy's smiling eye
The remarkable thing about the pause button is, the more keenly tuned into it we become, the shorter the pauses become. And the fewer times your horse will push it. Go ahead, give it a try, allow you horse to teach you to honor the pause, you'll be amazed at the softness you'll both enjoy.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry