Friday, January 31, 2014

Feature Friday – "World Walking Horse Association"

Howdy Folks,
For decades our beloved Tennessee Walking Horse has been made to suffer horrible abuse called "Soring" at the hands of so-called trainers, to create unnatural and painful, leg and body action known as "Big Lick."  All in the name of winning money and ribbons. Even though there has been much public outcry and disgust regarding the inhumane treatment of these magnificent horses, the only United States registry for the TWH not only continues to allow, but supports the practice of soring by its actions of indifference, denial, and money. People who own TWHs had no choice but to register with that organization, even knowing some of their money may go to support Big Lick or even worse, someone with multiple Horse Protection Act violations. – Until now.
"In the fall of last year, Marty Irby voiced a dream that many have had. A Walking Horse breed registry that actively supported and promoted barefoot and flat-shod, natural, sound horses. Sara Livingston listened, and then stepped forward and planned, The World Walking Horse Association (WWHA). She's been the driving force in the creation and logistics of organizing the nonprofit. She is the behind-the-scenes powerhouse that runs WWHA," explained Mindy Lightner, VP of Communications.
Founded in 2013 the WWHA is indeed a breed association, and has as its mission to "record and preserve the pedigrees of the Walking Horse while maintaining the integrity of the breed, its versatility, and most importantly its inherently, natural, evenly timed, four beat walking gaits." And to among other things, "Promote the natural ability and gait of the barefoot and flat-shod horse by humane and classical training."

WWHA, as an organization is committed to the passage of the "Prevent All Soring Tactics Act" (PAST Act) – which would help eliminate soring. – The other, and until now the main Tennessee Walking Horse breed registry, came out in opposition of the PAST Act and even removed people from their organization who have supported its passage. Obviously continued horrendous torture of the horses they profess to "love, protect and support," is important to that other registry. As is the money they reap from the suffering of the voiceless horses.
"It's way past time to support and encourage sound horses, and put an end to the torture and suffering. Friends Of Sound Horses (FOSH),National Walking Horse Association (NWHA), and other competition organizations have spent years working their tails off to support and promote sound, barefoot and flat-shod gaited horses. Up until now, they have had to do that without the direct unconditional support of a sound, natural global breed association. We, (WWHA) are the final piece of the puzzle, or the final cog needed in the well oiled machine. 
The question really isn't 'why now?', the question is, 'why has it taken so long for this to happen'? Sound Natural Walking Horse owners deserve to believe that their money is being spent wisely for humane pursuits, and they deserve to be able to breed, show, and register their horses without worrying about unintentional support of Big Lick or Sore Horse programs," said Mindy.
Well said Mindy! Thank you, Marty, Sara, every member, and everyone at WWHA for all you are doing to provide a realistic alternative to a breed registry that publicly rationalizes torturing horses in its pursuit of dollars.

Friends, check out WWHA on the web  - And on Facebook (HERE)

Tell your friends, there is now a safe place for Tennessee Walking Horses.
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

There Is More To Our Story

Howdy Folks,

With perked ears and sad eyes, Blackie watched as the truck drove away. Her long time friend, Chance called out in fear. Dust soon swallowed the trailer, but the whinnies continued. Blackie raced along the board fence, head held over the top board, running as fast as her old legs could manage. She answered the calls with all the breath she had, and ran faster, ever faster, but soon the truck and the whinnies were gone. Straining over the fence she looked far away, far into the setting sun where her friend had gone. Blackie stood well into the night, searching the horizon for her friend's return. Which deep inside she knew would not happen. There would be hay at the barn, there always was, but tonight she would eat no hay.

In her long years Blackie had watched other friends leave. Too many. Sometimes it was she who was taken away. The first time, she was running free with her mama, and the others. She hardly remembers her mama, but she remembers that horrid, hot terrifying day. It started like any other, scampering about playing with the other young ones. Then the run came!

Chased from all sides, there was yelling, panic and pain. Blackie still feels the pain in her feet, and her chest from running so many miles trying to hard to keep up. Her legs were too short, she lost sight of mama, and she cried out. Like today, trying to run and call at the same time.

She never saw her mama after that day. Or her other friends. It was her first ride in a crowded truck. Tonight, looking over the fence for Chance, she remembered that first ride. A long ride, she remembers how thirsty she'd become. How tired. Where is mama? She'd cried out as long as she had voice.

The ride took her to a place so different from before. She'd never been inside, the air was tight, smelled and felt so strange, and there was so much noise. She had her first lessons there, human lessons. It was hard, at first, to understand humans, but after a while she learned to accept them. Even love some of them. For a while she played there, outside with new friends. Frolicking in the big fields was almost like being home again. It was there she was taught many new things, human things. Some were very fun, some confusing, but she always tried her best. In the evenings she and her new friends would gather together, groom each other and help each other understand. Blackie was different from the others, they had all been born right there. They seemed to learn faster than she, but the friendships they forged were just as real as the friends she'd left behind, before the big chase.

She walked from the fence, just far enough so she could lie down. If the truck and Chance came back, she would be right here, waiting.

It had been a long time since Blackie had thought of those early friends, but tonight she remembered each of them. That first summer, long ago, in the new place, had seen each of them leave, one at a time. Where were they tonight? Blackie stayed two more years. She had her first foal there. Those sweet months with her baby by her side, those are some of her fondest memories. She would have two more foals, each at new places. Each one she left behind as she was taken to new places.

Blackie rolled onto her side, stretched out her neck, heaved a heavy sigh. She thought of those babies. She wondered where they were tonight.

She pulled her tired legs under her, stood and shook. It always feels good to shake. She gave another look far away, and got lost in her thoughts. She thought of the places she'd lived. She remembered the friends she made along the way. She thought of the children so proud to ride her. For a wonderful few years she'd been proud to teach children to ride at the beautiful farm in the mountains. Those were fun days, and she'd had great friends there. Horses and human. She met Chance there. Chance told her his stories. She told Chance, her stories. They understood each other.

One day, she and Chance were loaded together, and they came here. For a while they taught children to ride here too. Then no more children came and it was just she and Chance, and Michelle. Michelle was nice, perhaps the kindest of all the people she'd known. There had been some bad places, and people, over the years, but here with Michelle things were very good. It was peaceful here.
She would miss Chance; she knew he would miss her. Perhaps he'll go to a place where there is a woman like Michelle, who can hear him. And know there is more to his story. There is always more to our stories, and we can tell them, if people listen. 

Blackie laid down, stretched out, and closed her eyes.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch

Monday, January 27, 2014

Let Your Horse Help You See The Moment

Howdy Folks,
During these past few weeks of what I like to call a throwback winter, I often chuckle at folks posting countdowns to the first day of Spring, and friends calling to assure me they've had enough of this cold Winter. Soon enough it'll be Spring, and I do love the budding leaves, wildflowers and Spring songs of courting birds. And glorious Spring rides through the woods. But we've got some mighty fine Winter left to enjoy, too. I asked Kessy about longing for Spring, she took a deep breath, and let go a sigh, then rubbed her head against me.

On the heels of Spring comes Summer, the heat, the horseflies, ticks and fleas. The yard and garden work and play. Folks will then be posting about the heat, the horseflies, fleas and ticks, and counting down to Fall. I asked Kessy how she feels about Summer. She took a deep breath, let go a sigh, took a bite of hay and gazed out over the snow covered forest floor. Then rubbed her head on my arm.

Fall will come, leaves will change, the forest will look spectacular. Days will shorten, the moon hang larger in the sky, and gardens will show signs of wear. I asked Kessy what she thought of Autumn. She took a deep breath, looked out at the snow, then rubbed her head on my shoulder.

Of course as Fall wears on the days not only get shorter, but colder too. Mostly the horseflies, misquotes and ticks go their way, away from us, hiding from the cold about to embrace us. Then Winter pays us a visit, bringing along his friends, cold, snow, ice and Mr. Blustery Wind. Folks start longing for Spring, talking and writing how they're ready to be finished with Old Man Winter. It seems whatever season we're in, folks long for the next one, living months ahead of themselves, instead of enjoying the moment they're in. I asked Kessy how she felt about Winter, she took a bite of hay and munched away. Then she rubbed her head on my shoulder.
Kessy and me, enjoyin' a moment.
I like to write about our weather, too. In fact I have lots of fun with it, and love sharing the moment and descriptions with our Coffee Clutch and Facebook friends. I enjoy each season we're in, from the high heat of Summer, to the low cold of Winter. I cherish each moment, live in it. Find the beauty and fun in it. Kessy and other horses taught me that. When you get anxious, worried or frustrated, let your horse help you see the moment. Let her rub off on you.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry