Friday, March 21, 2014

"Feature Friday – Central Virginia Horse Rescue -Cindy Smith"

Howdy Folks

All across our great nation, and in fact the world, there are folks who give of their time, their money, their hearts, and emotions to save and heal unwanted, neglected and abused horses. It's hard work, financially, physically and of course emotionally. The work these wonderful folks do with unending love is not always noticed, and not often enough celebrated. Here, in our Coffee Clutch Feature Fridays, we like to celebrate "People & Horses Helping Horses & People," and today let's celebrate, Cindy Smith and Central Virginia Horse Rescue (CVHR).
Cindy has been a horse lover since she was four years old, and has been involved with horses on many different levels her entire life. She's volunteered at numerous rescues over the years. For reasons deeply held, she's always wanted to create a horse rescue of her on. In 2010 she, and a few friends, founded CVHA, the realization of a fifty year long dream. CVHR is a 501(c)3 corporation, dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of needy horses.

When first opening the rescue they expected to save 3-4 horses per year, and were taken completely by surprise at the overwhelming need for horse rescue. CVHR went from 2 rescue horses to 20 in its first year and to 30 by the end of its second year.  By the end of 2011, CVHR was working on becoming verified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and received that verification in 2012.
Doug had been tied to a stake in an abandoned mine, left to starve ... Doug is now living in a loving happy home - As he recovered he adopted a little girl who spoke to him - She had suffered severe emotional and physical trauma - She began speaking to Doug- They are now partners in healing each other.
To date CVHR has rescued over 200 horses, and placed 175 in good adoptive homes. They have also achieved Verified status by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. And were a Top Rated Non Profit for 2012 AND 2013.

CVHR is proud to be a member of the Wounded Warrior Equestrian Project. They also conduct youth education programs and outreach.

It's not the horse's fault that they become unwanted, abused or discarded. But sadly far too many suffer and languish. Thank God for folks like Cindy and her team at CVHR, who dedicate themselves to easing that suffering, and turning it into happiness for not only the horses, but the happy families who learn of the most powerful love. The love given by a rescued horse.

Visit CVHR on FACEBOOK and on their WEBSITE.

Thanks Cindy, for all you and your team do to help others. Horses and people.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"The Barefoot Paradigm"

Howdy Folks,

On Monday our Coffee Clutch was "Going Barefoot-Sometimes A Touchy Subject," and it surely can be, for the horses, their people and friends. I'm a supporter of the barefoot paradigm, not any surprise to folks who know me. But what is the barefoot Paradigm? I can only speak for myself, as I'm always ready to do. (That was supposed to make you smile.)

To me, the barefoot paradigm is about the whole horse. It's really a way of life. I believe it embraces the holistic approach to living with, loving, and enjoying horses. Do as little as possible that might upset the natural life style of the horse. Every horse caregiver has limitations; financial, geographic, time, conditions, housing, the list goes on. There are always decisions to make, some easy, some challenging. If we make those decisions from the horse's perspective those decisions can often be made less challenging. Many times decisions made by horse caregivers' are made for, and by, the human's perspective – Which can be in contradiction with the barefoot paradigm.

Much of what I consider the barefoot paradigm is really simply good horse sense. What are the most important things to keeping a horse happy, healthy and thriving? We'll not get into why I think pounding nails through a living tissue isn't healthy or happy, but to quote, Dr. Thomas Teskey, "You can't nail a shoe on without doing damage to the lamina." And the lamina is pretty important to the hoof.
Kessy loves to romp in her playground
The barefoot paradigm is not only about yanking shoes, or never putting them on, it's about a lifestyle that promotes total health, as close to the natural state that our equine friends thrive on as possible for the caregiver to provide. We don't all have large sparsely grassed acreage for them to romp free on. But we can, say no to stalls, and yes to run-ins on as large a lot as possible. And we can make that lot resemble wide open spaces by placing our, water and "slow hay feed nets," here and there encouraging movement. We can add obstacles or even allow trees and brush to add a little dimension to our horses' wanderings. Free and roaming movement is paramount to the health of a horses' hoof, and the entire horse. 

We can say no to grain, and create a healthy all forage diet. We can test our hay so we know what if any high quality supplements are needed. We can sprinkle fresh vegetables on the hay bags, for fun and nutrients. I'll not talk here about vaccinations, perhaps I never will, but it is something I consider in my barefoot paradigm for my mare, Kessy. As are all unnatural chemicals, feeds, treatments and applications. Keep in mind, toxins travel to settle in the feet, so if we don't introduce them, or greatly limit them, they can't get lodged in our horse's hooves.

So you see, for me, the barefoot paradigm is about considering the horse's health, well-being and happiness first, in our management practices. Housing that provides for uninhibited exercise, fresh air and engagement. Nutrition in line with what their bodies are designed to understand. And keeping as many toxins out of their systems as possible. Just about that simple. Of course there is also hoof care to consider. 

If a horse is being transitioned from shod to barefoot, the first thing to do is simply remove the shoes, and with a rasp take the toes back where they should be, and nothing else. Give the horse a few days or a week to begin to shape the hoof to a more natural state. Be sure select a qualified barefoot hoofcare specialist to maintain the hooves. Barefoot care should really be scheduled every 3 - 4 weeks, but that may vary some depending on riding, terrain etc.

Hoofcare and maintenance in the barefoot paradigm is really surprisingly simple. Today you can find a wealth of information out there on the barefoot paradigm, hoof maintenance, boots etc. I'll suggest Yvonne Welz's magazine, The Horse's Hoof. I highly recommend subscribing to it. I wrote a blog about Yvonne and her magazine –here-"Feature Friday Yvonne Welz - The Horse's Hoof" 

I write for, and surely recommend Natural Horse Magazine as well.

There you have it, my thoughts on the barefoot paradigm. Really nothing to it. It's just a little different in the way we do some things as humans. But it's a world of difference for the horses.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry   

I hope you'll read my other 2 posts on going barefoot -"Why Barefoot" and "How can I Transition To Barefoot?" 

Monday, March 17, 2014

"Going Barefoot – Sometimes A Touchy Subject"

Howdy Friends,
One uncomfortable thing many folks who have decided to take their horses barefoot face is peer pressure. They've made the decision based on facts we now know to be true, "No shoe can be applied to a hoof without damage, and health compromises." Read more in my blog, "Why Barefoot." Making the change to barefoot can be a tough decision. Many folks labor with it for months, some years. Then they hear their horse and realize they must do the right thing.
Me giving Kessy her pedicure
The transition though is just then beginning. The horse and their person must not only adjust to the new healthier lifestyle, but often these horses are boarded in barns where many, if not most, have yet to see the light, and will insist going barefoot sets your horse up for failure and pain. To justify their own reluctance to change, or even honestly consider the health of their horse, they make excuses; it's too rocky here, my horse goes lame when it loses one shoe how could it go barefoot, I tried it already and my horse could hardly walk, and on and on with the tired old reasons to justify nailing iron on hooves. 

Sadly, in some cases, the peer pressure is so intense that folks just give up and don't make the transition to the barefoot paradigm. Some folks go on carrying the tug at their heart, deep inside knowing they should make the correct choice for their horse, but can't deal with the pressure at the barn. Others actually join those who "talked them out of barefoot," to try to placate that little voice inside that keeps telling them, "barefoot is healthier for your horse."

Peer pressure can be very difficult to deal with when a person is already nervous about making a change. Even when that change is clearly for the better health of your horse. Haven't we all heard we should not allow negativity into our lives? Peer pressure is one of the most powerful forms of negativity. Folks who know going barefoot is best for their horse, but hesitate because they don't want to be an outsider in their barn, may simply need to find another barn and shed that negativity. It's for the horse, after all.

Another, "Touchy Subject," referring to my title of this post. And please forgive my brashness with this one … but not all barefoot trimmers get it. My single biggest piece of advice here is, if your trimmer does barefoot as well as shoes, get another trimmer. They don't understand the workings of a horse's foot, legs and body, and are unable to see the true bare foot. They just see a foot without shoes. And that's not really good enough.

On that note, I have a story. Recently I was invited to a barn to do some, therapy exercises for two horses, and instruct the owner on them. I don't know what percent of the horses there were barefoot, but the two I was to work on where. As I approached the first horse, while still a good fifty feet away, I could see the cause of the overall body pain of the handsome 4 year old. His stance was one of managed discomfort, because it was all he knew. He was a sweet fellow with a kind look. I actually heard him say, "Help me." I turned to his owner and said, "Please forgive me for my bluntness, but before I even touch him, I can see where 100% of his soreness comes from. His feet are horribly trimmed." The owner told me the "farrier" has been doing it for 30 years. I replied, "He's been doing it wrong that long too."

We did have a lovely session with the 2 horses, both of whom had the same badly managed hooves by the barn's 30 year veteran. I mixed in a few suggestions of what needed to be corrected, and a strong suggestion the owner switch trimmers, even recommended one. The owner informed me there is a lot of loyalty at the barn for this fellow and she was afraid to cause problems. The owner would, "think about it." I was asked to continue to instruct the therapy exercises, which of course I'll do – But I left knowing those 2 sweet horses would continue to walk with pain from hooves caused by stretching lamina from incorrectly managed hooves, the result of peer pressure.

I know this post is a bit edgier than I like to write, but I intend it in an honest, helpful way. As folks who know me understand, everything I write has its root in my motto, "It's For The Horses." I hope if you are dealing with doubt, questions, or peer pressure regarding anything about barefoot horse keeping, this little story helps strengthen your resolve.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Please also read my story  - "How Can I Transition to Barefoot?"

And you'll also want to read my story, "The Barefoot Paradigm"