Friday, January 3, 2014

Feature Friday – B & B Saddle Up Farm - Debbie Ball

Howdy Folks,

Little did Debbie Ball know that inviting youngsters to her farm to be with, and ride her horses, that one day there would sprout a healing, loving equine assisted therapy world, and more, and they would call it, B & B Saddle Up Farm. It was as if the horses, and other outside events would chart the course.
As a college professor she would from time to time notice that some of her students needed a little something more. She would invite them to join her at her farm, and the changes she witnessed, the changes the horses brought about, inspired her to do more.
Then while riding one day a stranger stopped their car and asked if they could bring their children and grandchildren to ride with them on Thanksgiving. Of course Debbie said yes. And on Thanksgiving Day, in rolled three vans of eager folks! They saddled eight horses and enjoyed what has become a family tradition! That happy Thanksgiving Day ride helped to shape even deeper thoughts and plans in Debbie's mind of how horses build smiles.

She knew her horses had long proved they had the love, and the spirit to help. Now to channel it. That experience caused Debbie to look into equine assisted therapy.

This December, out of a desire to help children dealing with cancer B & B hosted a fund raising ride and auction and raised $2,000 for a young lady who needs to travel to Philadelphia for her chemo. The therapeutic riding center this young lady was attending is closing, but B & B will pick up some of the activities and plans their first summer camp this summer!
Their local county riding club closed two years ago. Debbie, with the help of, Karley, one of her students, contacted the county officials, offering to take over and reopen the club. The county was thrilled and approved! – This summer, B & B Saddle Up farm will reopen Pine Creek Saddle Club and offer a wide variety of equine assisted therapy, games and fun!
Karley and Debbie
"We plan to redo the fence and grounds, remodel the bathrooms and bleachers and be open for events by spring 2014. This is one of the very few options children have in DeKalb County other than drugs." Debbie explained. " Our intent is to include 4-H and FFA, and even High School Rodeo so that we can get the MOST use out of the facility and offer kids a good place to do wholesome activities!"

To learn more visit their website – (HERE) And their Facebook page (HERE)

Thank you, Debbie, for listening to your horses!

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Grandpop's New Year's Day Ride

Howdy Folks, 

This is the Eighth 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 standalone 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 New Year's Day Ride with Grandpop. 

Grandpop's New Year's Day Ride

We didn't ride every New Years day lately. Grandpop had a year every now and then, in recent years, when he just wasn't up to it. And I worried since he'd retired ol' blue a few years back his heart wasn't in it so deeply any more. He'd spent a long time brushing Blue this morning, explaining to him it was best he just stay in the barn and sit this one out. Frankly I'd have been satisfied to stay by the fire and sit it out too. But this year again the trek to, "ride in the New Year" as Grandpop called it would be just him, me and two fine looking geldings.

Riding in the New Year was a tradition he and Mom had started the very first year they settled on this ranch. For a few years it was just Mom and him, then I came along and Mom strapped me on in front of her and toted me along. "She had you so bundled up I worried you couldn't get a breath of air," Grandpop told me every time he tells that tale. I rode with them every year until I moved away and drifted into those years when I was certain I was far to busy to come home and ride a horse in the freezing January weather. I always wondered why it had to be extra cold on New Year's Day.

"You know it brings good luck to uphold a tradition on New Year's Day," Grandpop swung into the saddle with the ease and grace that defied his 85 years. I swung up too, and just as every time I watched him do anything, I hoped I'd be that spry when I was his age. Our hats tied down with scarves we set out for what I hoped would be a short ride. But I knew better.

A cold, sleet-filled blast nailed us as soon as we cleared the barn. Grandpop twisted in his saddle and flashed me his jolly grin. "Gonna be a brisk one I reckon, son." He aimed his horse for the three foot drift between the barn and tractor shed.

"Something about riding through the deep snow brings out the kid in me. YeeHa!" He tossed his arms in the air and they plowed through the drift, then set out in a trot along the fence line. I saw the cows huddled in the ravine below, safely out of the nasty wind. Secretly I wished I could join them.

"New Year's Day," he yelled above the wind. "Lots of things start over then, but I always figured lots of good things just carry on too."

We rode side by side along the fence, then cut away aiming for the hillside trail up to the mountain. I figured my hopes of a short ride were dashed and settled in for a cold morning's ride. My younger brother had planned to ride with us this year, but he and his sons were still hauling hay to the cattle. At least they had the truck cab to warm up in.

It took over an hour to get halfway up the mountain. Grandpop pulled up at the first overlook. Ice glazed his hat, face and mustache, and clung to our horses' muzzles and manes.

I chuckled to myself when I realized I could barely feel my feet. The view, though, was worth the cold. The company, too. Looking out over the windswept valley, sleet and snow blowing sideways, it truly was a sight to behold. "Worth every minute of these frozen toes." I told him as I dug into my saddlebag, pulled out the thermos, and fighting the wind, poured our celebration coffee. Then passed the cup to Grandpop.

"Happy New Year World!" Grandpop held the cup high in a salute, took his drink, leaned toward me and handed me the cup.

"Happy New Year World!" I saluted the world, and finished the drink. Then poured our second cup. We sat together there and drank until the thermos was empty.

"Glad ya rode with me son." He turned his horse and started down the trail.

"You bet."


Gitty Up & HAPPY NEW YEAR WORLD! … Glad ya rode with me. ~ Dutch Henry

To read our next visit with Grandpop "A Nation Of Millionaires" CLICK HERE

Monday, December 30, 2013

Is Your Horse Content?

Howdy Folks,
Is your horse content? Just as we do, our horses have emotions, and thoughts of the day about their job and what is important to them. I've written before about horses and their emotions (HERE), and I understand how folks have a wide range of where they come down on the issue of horses and their emotions. I believe horses are blessed with emotions just as we are. I believe it is our duty to understand them.

Emotions are a part of contentment. Or discontentment. They say our horses mirror us. I believe that to be true. I believe the opposite can also be true, and we can indeed mirror our horse's emotions; contentment, and discontentment. I also believe our horses look to us to be the one who sets the stage for, "the emotion of the day," or moment.

However, I also believe a horse can, and will, take charge of the emotion recipe. Do they not cheer us up when we are blue? How many thousands of therapy horses have healed hearts, restored hope, given strength to people who need a boost? Horses take charge of that moment, they grasp the broken heart, the broken will, the shattered dream, and they mold it into hope, strength and courage.
My mare Kessy
Just as we do, a horse seeks contentment. Sometimes that contentment comes from helping others; other horses, their own foals, and of course – their person, or persons.

I fear too many people believe all a horse needs to be content, is a full belly. My dream is to convince every one of those folks that a horse, just like us, really wants a full heart. A full belly is surely important, but a full heart is everything. It's where their spirit can get its power to lift our spirit.

That's where they find their contentment. And they offer it to us.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Jack's Back Yard – 12-29-13

Howdy Friends, 

As often as possible on Saturday mornings I listen to "Jack's Backyard" a talk show hosted by "Accidental Naturalist," and wonderful gentleman, Jack Holcomb, all about birds and nature on WEEU "The Voice Of Berks County" streaming on the internet HERE . 

When we moved to VA in '06 I missed that show, and Jack, a lot, until they started streaming 2 years ago. Now by golly I have regular visits with old friends and hear all the birding updates from areas I used to haunt. What a treat! And the birds they chat about are the same species we have right here in Appomattox, and most of the East. – I encourage you to have a listen next Saturday at 8AM Eastern! 

Saturday, Jack had a guest on his show, the volunteer coordinator for French Creek State Park, who spoke of nature trails, activities and the beauty of the park, bringing back sweet memories.

For over 20 years I'd helped manage a Bluebird Trail there with a dear friend. We maintained a trail of about 40 nest boxes and fledged about 100 young annually. One year 125! Other species use the Bluebird boxes too and their activity was also recorded … In later years, as walking became a little difficult for me, I got permission to check the trail on horseback. Riding with a clip board to record activity, and saddle bag full of repair tools and nest box parts, each week was a splendid adventure. Sometimes I gave talks about Bluebirds there and other State Parks. I was a DCNR volunteer for 25 years. I called Jack's show regularly with updates and info .... His show helped encourage lots of folks to start their own Bluebird Trails, which was important for in the early 70's Bluebirds were becoming quite scarce. 
Daddy Bluebird feeding young
I called the show Saturday morning and had a fun chat with my old friend Jack. Old friends, birds, nature, and horses all rolled together in a delightful happy morning. And of course I had to share the happy with our Coffee Clutch family!  

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry …. P.S. Remember to check his show next week.