Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Howdy Friends,

Do you approach your horse wearing your expectations on your sleeve? Sometimes it's hard not to, and in fact sometimes it's the right thing to do. For without expectations there can be no results, right?

What if we think about our expectations from the horse's point of view? Would we see ourselves in a different light? Expectations to some are goals, to others dreams, to still others demands. Expectations, I think, are best when used as gentle guidelines.
Kessy and me having no expectations
It is wholly correct to expect our horses to be polite and respectful, as long as we are too. In our day to day relationship with our horses many things go unsaid, they simply happen. Waiting politely to go through a gait, walking quietly beside us, standing while saddling, mounting, trimming hooves, these are routine and expectations that have become learned, practiced and … expected. They are part of politeness.

There exists another world of expectations, those when we pursue our chosen activities with our horses. Things we need to learn together, whatever they may be, trail riding, showing, dressage, barrel racing, the things we might love to do, they may be the reason we love horses. There will be expectations as you learn to be a team together. Even if your horse did these things before you knew her, you'll both have expectations. If it is new to your horse, or you, you'll both have expectations.

Horses see, feel and hear expectations differently than we do. If we wear our expectations on our sleeve, our horse will see them as confusing demands. It will be difficult for her to relax and understand. When we allow our expectations to drive our thoughts and actions, the horse cannot feel the tiny intricacies that make up the whole picture leading to the outcome we seek.

Our horses need us to keep our expectations as part of the whole, not the main focus. If we see our goal as part of the picture, and also see and feel the tiny steps required to get there, the picture we paint for our horse will be crystal clear. Our expectations will become theirs too.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Heny

Monday, July 21, 2014

"Madi Was 12 When I Taught Her To Drive"

Howdy Friends,

Watching the Waltons this morning, while feasting on my standard bowl of 6 grain oatmeal, the scene where John-Boy teaches his mother to drive reminded me of the first driving lesson I gave my sweet sister-in-law, Madi. It also put me in mind of the first lesson I gave our wonderful daughter, but that's a story for another day.
Kessy, Saturday and me workin'
Ravishin' Robbie and I still had our dairy farm when Madi asked to drive our old farm truck. It wasn't really a very old truck, but I had managed to flip it one day, that's another story, too, and I had cut the cab, windshield and doors off with a torch so we could use it on the farm. It was a neat roust about rig, no muffler but by golly it had a rocking 350 engine , 4 speed manual transmission and a radio that cranked out what today is older than "golden oldies." Gosh I miss Ferlin Husky, Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Roy Clark. (And many others)

Back to the story. Madi was spending a few days with us on the farm and tagging along with me when I had to fire up the cut down Chevy to run out to the back pasture. We had the radio rocking, and even though Madi didn't join me in song, I'm pretty sure the air blowing her blond hair straight back, the loud engine and a little too fast driving had her as cranked up as I was. I seem to remember a smile as wide as that open cab and a her yelling, "Faster." Of course I had to cowboy a little, a few fishtails on the dusty bumpy field road added to the excitement.

Before we started back I asked her if she really wanted to drive. I don't remember any hesitation when she declared, "Heck yea!" Keep in mind we were pretty stoked, and giggly, and all alone in a field far from Ravishin' Robbie's stern looks. I shut off the engine, slid the bench seat all the way forward, and helped her to the driver's side.

She was a little gal, and looked adorable sitting on the edge of the seat and looking out through the steering wheel, her toes barely reaching the peddles. The clutch on that old truck was mighty stiff but Madi managed to push it in with her toes, a grunt and giggle. We took a few moments and ran through the basics, like where the gears are and shifting, how to gently let out the clutch while giving a little gas to pull out, and of course steering.

Now this old rig had one of those 4 speeds with what we called a granny gear; that is a very low first gear. On the road you would use second gear to pull out, but I knew Madi would do better and not stall if she started with the granny gear. After a few tries she nailed it! We took off like a jet, back wheels spinning, kicking up dust clean to the next county. Got to give it to her, she stayed straight and true on that twisty, bumpy field road, squealing with glee all the way. I think it was the first time I ever saw that old truck hit 30 miles an hour in low gear!

I had her rein the old girl in before the house came into view, you know to keep from getting Robbie all upset at our craziness, and we drove smooth as silk right up to the porch. We had a few more outings together in that chopped down Chevy, but I don't think either of us enjoyed them as much as that first day.

One of these days I'll tell you about the first day I taught our daughter Abbie to drive.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry