Friday, April 4, 2014

Feature Friday – LaRue Sprouse Dowd – Sharing The Love Of Horses

Howdy Folks,

It is LaRue Sprouse Dowd's mission to help children embrace and understand the goodness that comes from the spirit of the horse, and the lessons young folks can learn while around horses. 

Her story will be my June, 2014 Heartbeat column in Trailblazer magazine. I love featuring the folks I'm writing about here in our Coffee Clutch blog so our friends can get to know them, and look forward to the whole story in my column.

LaRue's smile and encouragement are always present
LaRue's nature is one of kindness, support, positive attitude and optimism. Her students, their parents, the volunteers, boarders and horses all benefit from her ability to help others believe in themselves, try harder and find the joy in the moment. Whether that moment is mastering a new horsemanship skill, understanding the importance of patience, or caring for the horses. LaRue is always able to offer upbeat advice and guidance, helping others to see the world through positive eyes. 

There is a depth to LaRue's teachings and understanding, given her by a lifetime of loving and learning from horses, and talented people. She started riding at the age of four. Before finishing high school, LaRue owned ten horses, had trained other people's horses, had begun giving riding lessons, and was positive horses would be her life. She'd even done her share of, "catch riding," for other trainers.

She holds two Bachelor Degrees, one Vet Tech, the other in Equine Therapy. So skilled was LaRue at understanding horses and riding that, in her senior year at Morehead State University, she was asked to teach the, "Advanced Saddle Seat Course." She's worked with, and helped heal horses in some of the most prestigious show barns in the country. She held licenses to work on the tracks of, Saratoga, Keeneland, Belmont, and Palm Springs. She studied under Mimi Porter, who was one of the first to introduce rehabilitative therapy to performance horses, and Marvin Cain, the man responsible for first bringing acupuncture to horses in the United States.

From the start LaRue had a clear vision of what she would do when returning home. She knew how much horses had meant to her in her down times. She also knew there were simply too many children in her hometown who needed something good and solid to hang onto. She knew too, she and the horses could offer that solid something. Her name honors her two grandmothers', Lucille and Ruth. Respect for those who came before, and commitment to community are important to LaRue and her family. In 2008 she opened Sprouse'sCorner Ranch offering riding lessons, coaching, boarding, training, trail riding, summer camps, and shows, with the mission to, through horses, help kids.
Children love their time at Sprouse's Corner Ranch

In 2009 LaRue welcomed a local therapeutic riding program,Heartland Horse Heroes, to Sprouse's Corner Ranch. Under her stewardship Heartland Horse Heroes has grown to offer not only private therapeutic riding lessons for children, but also a program for the local county elementary special education school children. And this spring Heartland Horse Heroes will be offering a new program for at-risk youths through Inner City Slickers, a national program founded by Michael McMeel, that has had over 10,000 youths through the program.
Group Equine Assisted Therapy In Heartland Horse Heroes Arena
Her commitment to helping horses remains strong. Part of what she does so well is lead by example. Her lesson horses work once per day, for 3-5 days per week. The horses in the therapeutic riding program only perform therapeutic lesson duties once a week. All therapy and lesson horses are also taken on trail rides by the students so they can stretch their legs and clear their minds. Her volunteers and students are taught release and relax exercises for the horses, and they are part of the program. The horses have large fields to romp in and healthy herd environments. Some of her lesson horses are rescues. 

LaRue works closely with Beauty Haven's Farm and Equine Rescue, based in Florida, through a farm near Sprouse's Corner Ranch. LaRue not only adopts and gives homes and jobs to those rescue horses, but she helps find homes for many others; fifteen last year. She has recently launched a new program for adoption where adoptees can take on a horse, board with LaRue and take lessons for two months; just to be sure the match is perfect.

Wisdom, born of years working with horses and people in many different environments and situations is what LaRue offers to children, parents and horses. Kindness and understanding is her secret recipe that makes it work so well, for the people, and the horses.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Thursday, April 3, 2014

"100th – 5 Star Review for- We'll Have The Summer "

Howdy Folks,
My novel, "We'll Have The Summer," received its 100th FIVE STAR review on Amazon the other day…..I thought I'd share an excerpt from Sam & Mary's story – 
"Sam removed Bullet’s saddle and bridle then turned him free to pick at the wiry grass. Then he simply folded his legs and squatted next to the fire, facing the old Navajo. He sucked a deep breath from the pipe handed him, held the rank smoke long enough to burn his mouth, puckered his lips, and allowed it to drift out. Sam looked across the fire at his dear friend and studied the faded shirt covering shoulders made uneven by the many years, and the deeply furrowed skin sagging around Anaba’s still keen eyes. Such a man was Anaba, that it was necessary to study his worn-out body closely to notice the wear of it. The spirit living in those rich black eyes created a cloaking aura which prevented all but the most determined examiner from seeing the toll the years had taken on the mortal Navajo. But even in the quickest glance, that vibrant spirit was abundantly obvious.
“I remember the times I would come here to listen to your tall tales and legends. Now, it seems I only come when…Ah hell, Anaba.” He sucked the pipe.

“We must understand these times, my friend. You are passing through a very difficult and important time. It will not be an easy journey, but like all journeys, it too will end.”
Sam dropped the pipe and held his face. “Like my daughter’s journey ended? How much must one man bear?”

“That is not for us to know. No one of this world could help your daughter for she came into this world with an imperfect body. But she had a good life. Her memories rest in your heart, and her spirit surrounds you and Mary. Do you not agree it is better for her spirit to have enjoyed the happy life she had with you, than to have had no life at all?”
“She was still a little girl. A sweet, innocent young girl who loved life and who was loved by everyone who ever knew her. Why should she have such a short life?”

“We do not know why some travel this world long and some only a short time. I have outlived all my children. And three wives. I have left two brothers in faraway lands, unable to even bring their bodies home for sacred burial. I do not know why I have been asked to live this long life. I do know it is right and natural to sometimes feel sorrow.”

Sam pulled himself up and walked to the edge of the clearing, staring down the vertical wall to the desert floor some thousand feet below. He yelled Mary’s name, fell to his knees and screamed out over the dessert, “I’m not ready to live without you.” He sat very close to the edge, wrapped his arms around his knees, and wept. Then in a broken, sobbing voice told Anaba, “It’s not sorrow I feel – it’s emptiness. Emptiness and anger.”

The old Navajo grabbed him by the shirt and dragged him back from the edge, back to the fire. He sat hunch-shouldered and glared into Sam’s eyes, yet his voice was calm. “Emptiness and anger are selfish feelings, and they do no good. They will make you bitter.”
Sam glared back at him. “I am bitter. God-damned bitter.”

Anaba gave him a tender look and handed Sam the pipe. “We will smoke now. We must not speak again until you have a question."

If you haven't been to Mar-Sa yet to spend time with Mary and Sam, you can buy "We'll Have The Summer" on Amazon here – 

And if you have, you may just want to visit them again.

Have a fun day & Gitty Up ~ Dutch

Monday, March 31, 2014

"Betsy Rose - The little mare who never gave up."

Howdy Folks,

I'm writing a story about LaRue Sprouse  for my May, Heartbeats column in Trail Blazer, and one of the many things LaRue does to help others is work with Beauty Haven's Farm and Equine Rescue, to help find homes for rescued horses; 15 last year. - My July, Heartbeats column last year featured Beauty's Haven's Farm and Equine Rescue and we met Besty Rose then, a sweet mare just rescued. When I discovered the connection to LaRue and Beauty Haven's my editor, Bobbie Jo Lieberman asked for a sidebar update on Betsy Rose – With permission, I'm thrilled to share Betsy Rose's story with all our Coffee Clutch & Facebook friends today. I know it'll bring you a big smile.

On a hot summer day in June, 2013, Theresa Batchelor, the President and Founder of Beauty’s Haven Farm & Equine Rescue, received a phone call from a man stating that his pony was down and that he was unable to help her. Upon viewing a photograph of the pony, Theresa’s heart sank – it appeared that death was only moments away. Theresa summoned a vet to evaluate the pony.  The vet advised Theresa that it was unlikely that the pony would survive – she was very weak with no muscle or fat – the starvation process had taken a toll.  Theresa decided to bring the mare to Beauty’s Haven where she would be given a chance.  If nothing else, she would receive proper TLC and know that she was loved before crossing Rainbow Bridge. 
Betsey Rose in her sling
Upon her arrival at the rescue, the little pony was so weak, she could neither hold her head up nor stand.  She was placed in a sling with pillows upon which to rest her head and was administered Medications and IV fluids. Theresa felt a strong connection with the little mare - she had a sense of determination in her eyes which gave Theresa hope – and so the little mare was named Betsy Rose.

During her first night, Betsy Rose was removed from the sling and placed on the ground.  She had to be rolled over every two hours to prevent constant pressure on her organs.  In her attempts to stand, Betsy Rose created many open sores on her frail body. Although it was heartbreaking to watch, Betsy Rose survived the first night.  Theresa made certain that Betsy Rose was never alone and had supervision around the clock. If Betsy Rose was called home, she would be surrounded by love. 
The sling became Betsy Rose’s lifeline.  A team of volunteers was recruited to help Betsy Rose in and out of her sling at proper intervals. She had frequent visits from the holistic and traditional vets.  She developed colic symptoms from the sand she had ingested and had multiple infections raging throughout her body, anemia, severe muscle atrophy, and colitis. She had razor sharp teeth which punctured her tongue and open sores in her mouth.  But Betsy Rose did not give up. 
With each passing day, she grew stronger.  On July 4th, supported by a sheet beneath her belly which was held on both sides by volunteers, Betsy Rose took her first ‘victory walk.’ As each day passed, Betsy Rose began to spend less time in the sling, walked a bit farther, and stayed awake a little longer. On August 14th, after having her teeth corrected, she was able to walk and graze without assistance for the very first time.  By October, Betsy Rose no longer needed the sling. 
Betsy Rose and friends - Over the months of recovery friends and volunteers would bring Betsy Rose stuffed toys and gifts. In the early days all she could manage was to rest her head near them as she stood in her sling. Today, she loves to take her with them as they enjoy a stroll, some grass and sunshine together.
Betsy Rose’s survival is nothing short of a miracle. This little mare who never gave up has touched the hearts of people throughout the world.  She symbolizes courage, hope, determination, and love and is the embodiment of Beauty’s Haven Farm & Equine Rescue, a place ‘Where Life Begins, Again!’ ~ Theresa Batchelor 

Thank you Theresa for all you and everyone at Beaty's Haven do to help so many and for sharing this wonderful story. 

You can visit with Theresa, Beauty and everyone on their Facebook Page – "Beauty Haven's Equine Rescue"  And visit their website .

Gitty Up ~ Dutch