Friday, March 7, 2014

"Feature Friday – Tom Moates- Equestrian Journalist and Author"

Howdy Folks,
Last Saturday at the Virginia Horse Council Educational Seminar I had the honor of meeting Tom Moates. I'd like you to meet him too.

Tom is a kind gentleman whose passion is to help folks everywhere enjoy the best possible relationships with their horses. His method of offering that help is his pen. Or keyboard. An award winning equestrian journalist and author, Tom is on the masthead of Equus magazine as a Contributing Writer. More than 500 of his articles and stories have graced the pages of The American Quarter Horse Journal, Eclectic-Horseman, America's Horse, and Western Horseman.
Tom workin' on a story about following your horse's lead ...
His stories celebrate relationships people have with horses. They share information he's learned from horses and people who've helped him learn. And those who've helped horses. "My main drive to write is to honestly share my own trials and lessons acquired while working with horses, often with the long-suffering guidance of my friend and mentor, horsemanship clinician, Harry Whitney." Tom said. "I don't present people with any how-to information.  Rather, I share my own stories and those of others I've witnessed in clinics or elsewhere with the hope that people may grasp important truths about horsemanship from what's both on the page and between the lines."
Recently Tom has begun to help folks by offering a few clinics of his own. "I have a real focus on working to get horses not obedient, but with a person – mentally with a person, so there is no need for tension between the two." Tom explained. He loves sharing what he's learned. "It's another way to pass on great horsemanship and get to meet new horses."

Tom has also published a series of helpful books he calls his "Journey into Honest Horsemanship series." Those books are, in order: A Horse's Thought, Between the Reins, Further Along the Trail, and Going Somewhere. He has the next installment in the series is coming this fall.
Tom's books
A compilation of his most notable articles and essays, Round-Up: A Gathering of Equine Writings, was published in 2011.

Tom's thinks of people, and horses, and their relationships every time his fingers dance on the keyboard. By writing about what he's experienced he has helped many horses and their owners. "My most rewarding work is that which I hear from readers has helped them improve their relationship to a horse, and to know that horses might have some trouble alleviated from their interactions with humans." Tom said.

You can join Tom on Facebook (HERE

Have a look at his web and buy his books (HERE)

Tom would also like you to visit with his mentor Harry Whitney (HERE)

Thanks Tom, for all you do to help horses and people.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"Saddle Pitch and Inverted Hips"

Howdy Folks,
Recently I've had conversations with a few folks who were experiencing tripping, stumbling and other things such as horses appearing distant, unwilling or sore. Each had different descriptions of what was happening and all had been given, as we might expect, a wide variety of courses of action to correct the problems. Of course each case could be examined separately, and a wide variety of human related things can be the cause of horses tripping, forging, being sore, uninterested, etc. I shared the link to my post, "Reconnecting Your Horse To Her Feet" If you've not seen it, I invite you to have a look.

We talk often of the importance of "saddle fit." Unfortunately saddle fit is, and always will be a challenging endeavor. And costly too. But they are our horses, entrusted to our care, and few things are as important as a correctly fitting saddle. I'm often surprised at the money folks are willing to spend on all sorts of horse related items, including trucks and trailers, and of course buying a horse, but are so reluctant to spend the money it takes to get the most important piece of tack perfect.

In saddle fit we all know about room over the withers, sort of. We all know about clearance for the spine, sort of. Some folks know about rocking and bridging. Most of us know about tracing the withers so we get the tree width correct, sort of. Many know about proper flocking, and the proper length of a saddle. What about saddle pitching?

I had the opportunity to see the photo of one of the folks whose horse was tripping, sitting her horse. As the photo opened, I noted the posture of the rider's head and shoulders, not bad, but slightly off. The horse had its head down low; the rider had a firm hold on the reins, her legs tight, her pelvis tilted forward. The saddle pitched ever so slightly downhill, forward. Admittedly it was just a photo snapped for fun and none of us are ever posed as we would like to be. However, the not level saddle caused inverted posture of the rider, and this would be a constant in that saddle, or any saddle that pitches out of level.

The tipping forward saddle will not only hurt the horse, but makes it impossible for a rider to find their neutral seat. That is, the pelvis will tip front, inverting the spine, causing the rider to sit and ride inverted. In a natural attempt to compensate for that, it is necessary to put too much pressure in the stirrups and that transfers negative energy through the rider's body, and the horse's. The rider's inverted posture will cause the horse to go inverted, causing trips, stumbles, loss of focus and soreness and breakdown.

You can learn a lot about the neutral position from the books of Peggy Cummings and Sally Swift.

Can you shim a saddle to make it level? Yes, however that should be a temporary fix. Shims all have a start and stop possibly causing pressure points, and they can move. It only takes five pounds of pressure per square inch to stop the blood flow to the capillaries in a horse's back.
Sorry, this is the best pic I have for this. But even here, you can see, if you look at the saddle seat how it sits level on Kessy's back. Look at the bottom of the seat, (you have to ignore the sheepskin)back to front and you'll see the level line.
How can you check if your saddle is level? With your horse standing squarely, and level, let your eyes trace over the seat. From a few feet back, standing at the side, look softly at the seat from back to front. You'll notice if it is pitched forward if you look for the imaginary line running through the center of the seat. English or western. If a western type saddle, the cantle and horn can confuse you, it's best to look at the seat. Be sure to hold your horse in this inspection gaze, too.

Out of level saddles can be the cause of a lot of unhealthy problems for rider and horse. If when riding you feel as if you need to use your legs too much to sit comfortably, if you think you are having a difficult time finding your neutral seat, your saddle is most likely pitching. It will invert your hips. Your inverted posture will cause your horse to become inverted, and that is really bad for both of you.

Hope this helps! ~ Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Monday, March 3, 2014

"Tom Named By Horse- Pt 1"

Howdy Friends,

 Many of our Coffee Clutch and Facebook friends know  I'm polishing and fixin' up my novel, Tom Named By Horse. For some, this is the first you've heard of it. Tom Named By Horse is the first novel I wrote, (long before "We'll Have The Summer,") and the first of a trilogy about Tom Named By Horse. An Historical Fiction spanning the years from 1850 to1910.  Of course it's a love story, and much more than that. The first book tells of a young Tom, orphaned on the prairie, sold to a sadistic buffalo hunter from whom he escapes – and immediately befriends Chief Red Cloud's granddaughter. Charged with a mission by Red Cloud, Tom selects the chief's granddaughter to travel with him. And that is just the beginning. This excerpt is from the first chapter, only days after escaping the miserable hider, Tom finds himself in Red Cloud's village. I hope you enjoy, and please leave your comments. Thanks!
Kessy & me
Tom Named By Horse –  

They guided the wagon west, never speaking, both lost in their own thoughts. The day faded as they trudged along. Occasionally the brave would offer an outstretched arm, pointing the way. Darkness began to descend upon them, then the glow of many campfires became visible on the horizon. The boy kept the mules stepping out at a good pace and soon they drove into the Sioux village. When the wagon stopped they were quickly set upon by many interested Sioux, other braves, children, and women. Two Sioux women helped the wounded brave from the wagon. A small group of women carried the dead brave away.

He sat quietly watching, as those gathered round the wagon were told of the day's events in a language that he knew only a very few words. He allowed his hand to rest on the revolver at his side.  But was still watching with great interest, wondering how long he would need to sit there on the wagon. Wondering how long they would allow him to live, when a woman came to his side, and in perfect English asked “Do you have a name?”

The young man spun about. His eyes must have betrayed his surprise. “Yes, I speak English well, don’t I?”

“Yea ... I mean ... Do you ...I mean … why do you?”

“Why don’t you tell me your name first?” Her voice was soft and kind. Kind as her blue eyes, and soft as the feel of her hand on his knee. He wasn’t used to anyone asking his name. Or even anyone caring. He had long ago tired of “Boy.” What should he say? Until this very moment, the boy had never thought about a name. It had never been important. He sat looking at her, wondering why a white woman was in a Sioux camp.  She looked like a Sioux, but he knew she was white.

“Well?” she prodded.

“My name is ... Tom,” he said, taking the name of his horse.

“Hello, Tom. My name is Rebecca, but the Sioux call me Still Water. I have been with them many years now, but they still find me mysterious. Which I can often use to my advantage.”

He studied her.  She was a very pretty woman, and very white. She was dressed like the other women in the village, but she stood out with her fair hair, and blue eyes. Blue eyes like his own. 

Now, many hands were going through the contents of the wagon.

“Would you like to come with me and meet my family? And oh, did you know you are a hero?”  Tom climbed from the wagon and followed Still Water to her lodge. He had never been in a Sioux village before, much less one’s tipi. “I have asked a young brave to take care of your horse and mules.” Still Water told him as they walked.

“What will he do with them?”

“He will take them to the prairie where the Sioux ponies graze. The young boys watch over them there.” She raised the flap entrance to her lodge and signaled he should enter.

It was bigger inside than he imagined. Animal skins covered the floor. In the center a small fire made a peaceful warm light, which created dancing shadows on those seated round it. He stood inside the entrance and examined the faces of an old man, two grown braves, and one beautiful face of a young woman. All were seated cross-legged on the opposite side of the fire. No word or gesture was exchanged. Tom stood ridged, as if ordered to. His arms hung heavy at his side. The girl began to giggle, and then the young braves laughed and nodded. Their laughter made him uncomfortable, so he turned and fled to the outside.

From where he stood, Tom could see beyond the campfires, to where the horses were grazing. Thinking this would be a good time to be with an old friend, he found his way through the village to look for Tom Gray. As he hurried along to the moonlit open grassland, he could feel many eyes watching him.

It was a very large herd of horses. Perhaps hundreds. Most of them were boney and ribby. In the dark, with only the light of the stars and a thin slice of moon, he walked among the herd searching for his friend. Having no luck, he let go a loud whistle. Tom Gray responded instantly with his familiar nicker, and they found each other along the outer edge of the herd.

“What have I gotten us into?” Tom sat in the damp grass, watched the horses, and listened to their munching as they grazed. He'd always enjoyed just listening to his friend tear at the grass. This was a peaceful place. A place he could stay forever. All at once, the horses raised their heads, signaling someone’s approach.

“The mother of the injured brave you returned to us is in my lodge crying. Her son died in her arms.” Still Water told Tom in her soft, friendly voice.

Tom stood and faced her not knowing what he should do.

“The other brave you saved today, Iron Shell, is waiting at his father's lodge to meet with you. Come with me I will take you to him.”

He could feel the warmth of the small fires as they walked together through the sleepy camp. Mothers holding their children slept on blankets near their fires. Dogs followed them at a safe distance. Most of the lodges had fires inside, lighting the village in a fascinating way, with shafts of light escaping through slits in the buffalo hide walls, and open door flaps. As they walked along they assembled a line of followers, so that by the time they arrived at Iron Shell’s campfire close to twenty curious Sioux arrived with them.

Iron Shell rose to greet Tom, and signaled a place for him to sit, by the low fire. The ones who had followed formed a half circle behind them around the fire. Tom returned the greeting, and took the seat offered. Still Water found her place next to Iron Shell, who was seated beside his father, Chief Red Cloud.

A brave tossed a pile of branches to the fire, and for a few moments the group watched the flames jump, and a fine display of exploding sparks that drifted high overhead on the rising hot air. A bowl of meal and buffalo meat was passed around, and Tom took a healthy portion before passing it on. They watched the fire and ate for a long while, then when he was ready, Red Cloud turned to Still Water and spoke, using his hands to emphasize almost every word.

I hope you enjoyed this tidbit – Please share your comments. Perhaps from time to time I'll post a few excerpts as I polish. …. Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry
To read pt2- CLICK HERE