Friday, January 10, 2014

Feature Friday – Spring Reins of Life – Christianna Capra

Howdy Folks, 

Christianna Capra founded Spring Reins of Life to offer healing and growing to people suffering from emotional and traumatic circumstances. She understood horses have a unique way of reaching into grieving, traumatized or stressed hearts and minds. With the help of some wonderful board members and a fantastic volunteer staff, and of course the fabulous horses, Spring Reins of Life today offers a wide range of programs, with 6 Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) certified instructors.
Located in Central New Jersey, the EAGALA programs they offer are solution focused, and based upon discovery from the feedback, reactions and responses delivered by the horses. Participants learn about themselves by engaging in activities with the horses, and then by discussing metaphors, feelings, behaviors and patterns that were demonstrated during the group session without any judgment or preconceived outcomes.

There are programs designed to aid in the healing and recovery for Veterans returning home with PTSD. These programs focus on the barriers and special issues that surround the military.  The programs break down those barriers. Children bereavement and grief counseling programs focus on specific activities with the horses to help children and teens, as either individuals or groups, cope with grief and bereavement. Horses have a natural way of bringing about healing, just by being with them, interacting in a non-verbal way.

They also offer programs for At-Risk youths and addiction recovery. "Teen drug abuse, teen gang culture, teen alcoholism, teen pregnancy, teen violence and crime – these are not statistics that reside only in the inner cities and ghettos anymore. Studies show that in today’s world of single parents, dysfunctional family units, social issues and early exposure show no boundaries at putting nearly ALL teenagers “at-risk”…" Explains Christianna.

Currently Spring Reins of Life have waiting lists for both the Veterans and youth programs. But they forge on offering healing every day. Please explore their website and learn more about the innovative and effective programs promoting positive growth and healing.    

Join them on Facebook (HERE) 

Spring Reins of Life is a non-profit 501c3 organization, and in order to offer these programs, this healing, free of charge they rely upon generous donations and funding.

Thank You everyone, and horses at Spring Reins of Life for all the love you give.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Pain In Your Horse's Back?

Howdy Folks, 

In the past few days I've had several folks email me with questions about their horses' backs. Specifically these were questions about dropped backs, or toplines. Working with my mentor, Diane Sept, it was not uncommon to hear her say, "There's no reason a horse can't have a straight, firm topline into their 30's." Of course, as always, there may be exceptions, but for most of our horses, that's true.

What causes a horse to lose its firm, straight topline? A lot of things, mostly all in our control. Everything from saddle fit, to teeth and mouth care, hoof care, to how we sit in the saddle, to how we lead our horse. And a bunch of other things too, injuries, conformation and even nutrition.

Working with Diane I learned much about biomechanics of horses, and the tremendous help a few things we can do as care givers for our horses to keep them moving freely in a posture and body carriage that maintains a correct, comfortable and healthy topline. Everything I learned from Diane, a senior certified Connected Riding Instructor, is from Peggy Cummings, Linda Tellington-Jones and Sally Swift.

For me, I think the single biggest thing we can do is to be sure our horse is, off her forehand and has an engaged hind end. There is a very simple way to accomplish this by the two of you mastering the "The Rock Back" exercise. You can check it out in my blog post  "Reconnecting Your Horse To Her Feet"Have look, master it together, and you'll see remarkable changes in health, politeness, body carriage, and responsiveness.
Kessy and me demonstrating the "Rock Back"
Off the forehand (rock back) is first, because it ties into everything else we do. And we can learn to lead, and ride, our horse off the forehand, and be sure to lead from both sides – this is so important for overall health and posture of your horse. And don't always walk in a straight line. Mix in long, soft sweeping zig-zags as you go along. Engage that hind end!

Next, let's mix in a few easy to learn exercises to do regularly, and certainly before we mount up. I've described them in just the order I do them in my blog post "Pre-Ride Exercises For Your Horse"These selected exercises, done in a regular routine that fits your schedule, will make a tremendous difference in the health of your horse. After you and your horse master them, this routine will take about 5-10 minutes. Remember though, slow and easy, soft hands, and wait for the responses.

Another very important exercise to help your horse master correct posture is the "One Step." You can learn to do it from my post - "Seeing With Her Feet - One Step Exercise"

Learn more of these wonderful exercises by buying Peggy and Linda's books. If you can, take their courses. You can contact Diane for instruction, too. Her number is -717-336-6346.

Oh, what about hoofcare? – Have a look at my post "Why Barefoot?""

Please feel free to email me,, or contact me on facebook.

You can also have a look at these and other exercises on my Facebook album "Therapy For Therapy Horses"

Taking care of your horse's topline can be easy, fun and oh so good for your horse. Even if there are other things going on, mastering, and employing these techniques will greatly help your horse maintain a firm, straight topline, and comfortable, pain free body carriage.

Just to learn a few treats, check out - "Easy Exercises to Relax and Release"

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Monday, January 6, 2014

My New Beautiful Cane

Howdy Folks,

 A good cane has been an important part of my ensemble for more than a few years now. Even when I'm doing a "Therapy For Therapy Horses Clinic," I always ask someone to follow me and hand me my cane when I drop it to use my hands to give therapy to a horse. There are more than a few silly stories about that.

Earlier this year, Robyn Yeager and I were together at a horse event and, unbeknownst to me, Robyn noticed the trouble I had with my hand on my cane. Lately my hand had begun to hurt when I leaned on my cane ... Secretly, Robyn studied my cane AND my hand, then set to work to make this work of art with a specially shaped hand-grip that takes away that pain. She even stealthily enlisted the aid of my sweet Ravishin' Robbie.

Thank you Robyn for your friendship, your kindness and this stunningly beautiful cane! Saying Thank You seems hardly adequate for the hours, care and planning you put into this most wonderful gift. Folks, she's been working on this since February!
 There are 14 carvings of my favorite birds , a picture of Coffee Clutch and our dear Sweetness, too. "We'll Have The Summer" is etched in, too, as well as my name. The hours Robyn put into this is so moving.

Look how beautiful - The Coffee Clutch, my favorite bird the Bluebird, and my name inscribed.
A true work of art! ... I have a new friend to lean on for years to come.

Thank you so much Robyn!! - If you'd like to look at more canes and walking sticks, and perhaps order one for yourself or a friend, have a look at Robyn's Facebook page - RS Walkin Stix

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry