Thursday, December 24, 2015

"A Christmas Story"

Howdy Friends,

I wrote this little story as a thank you and Christmas present to all our Coffee Clutch and Facebook friends 3 years ago. I figured it might be a sweet tradition to share each Christmas. I hope you'll enjoy readin' it to your youngin's and grandbabies. Ravishin' Robbie and I, and all our critters wish you all a love filled and HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

A Christmas Story
With a piece of kindling, Sarah scratched ice from inside the lone cabin window. Cupping hands against her face she squinted through the tiny pane to see blowing, swirling snow. Nothing new to see, except the darkness moving in. She shook her head. "Can't even see the barn now."

If he wasn't getting home tonight, and her hopes were fading, she'd better bundle up and tend the animals in the barn. Jed had been sure to load the wood box before leaving the day before. Load the box? She chuckled at the heavily laden box with wood stacked halfway up the wall. "Wood enough for a week," she remembered him assuring her, even though he was planning on being gone only a day.

This would be the first visit to the orphanage she'd missed since they'd wed three years ago. But this year, with a month old daughter of their own, and the threatening skies, Sarah thought it best Jed make the ten mile ride without them. So he'd set out in the shadows of early morning alone.

She bent over the black kettle filled nearly to the brim with simmering duck stew. Stirred it thoroughly and swung the black arm out from the fire to hold the kettle just near enough to the hot coals and gentle flames to keep the stew at the perfect temperature. She'd have a Christmas feast waiting for him when he returned.

The orphanage sat way outside of town, on a little farm well off the beaten path. Out of sight. Out of mind. Run by old widow Martha Bowman, and two ancient broken down ex-cow pokes, Jake and Shorty. Jed had grown up there. "Poor kids." Jed told her once. "Not only don't they have families of their own, but most town folks don't even want to see 'em. They'd just as soon forget 'em."

Jed never forgot them. Each Christmas he'd visit and carry a feed sack of toys to share with the children, usually numbering around ten. Toy horses, he'd whittle, a fishing pole or two, and dolls Sara would sew. Of course a few scarves and mittens too.

Not being able to see the children this Christmas Eve had Sarah's heart a little heavy. She'd grown so used to the singing, laughing and playing. And the happy faces. Even the old cow pokes would join right in and sing along. Jed had a way of really throwing a lively Christmas Eve party.

Sarah tended to the fireplace, wrapped the baby in their warmest blanket, grabbed the milk pail, the coal oil lantern and started for the door. Forcing the door into the wind took all her strength. The gale hit her full on, slamming the door closed behind her, nearly sucking the very breath from her lungs. Leaning low she sheltered the baby, pushed into the wind and hurried for the sheltering barn. Tiny frozen flakes pelting her cheeks like stinging bees. It was a journey of only fifty feet, but tonight it seemed a mile. The snow wasn't deep, but the wind halted her every step.

Cold, full hands made sliding the barn door latch nearly impossible. She could set nothing down for fear it blow away. Struggling with an elbow and the back of her hand she managed to pull back the thick, black, frozen metal latch. Fierce wind ripped the door from her grasp slamming it wide open. She hurried to the far corner, past the cows, the horse and chicken coop.

Inside was a different world. Jed had labored a full summer four years ago to build the barn out of logs instead of boards. "Harder to be burnt out that way," he'd explained. They'd lived in the barn a full year after that while together they finished their one room cabin. She settled the baby snugly in a bed of hay. "There now," Sarah soothed the sweet girl, "you sleep easy, Jessica, while I milk the cows, and I'll bet Daddy will be home before I'm through."

She battled the raging wind to pull shut and latch the heavy door, hung the lantern on its crooked peg in the center of the barn and paused a moment to look around. Three cows and a horse make plenty of heat inside a barn as tight as this one. The wind howled and raged but could find no way in. She settled down on the milking stool and started milking the first cow. Snug as they were in the sturdy barn, her mind was on Jed. The first streams of milk rang out on the pail side. She tried to time the ringing sound of milk hitting the metal bucket to "Silent Night" as she squeezed in rhythm to the hymn she hummed.

"Why isn't Jed home yet?" Worry began to creep into her thoughts.

Only two cows in milk right now, so milking didn't take very long, or give even half a pail. Clover, the youngest was due to calve any day, and her milk would surely be welcome.

Milking finished and still no sign of Jed. Sarah checked on Jessica all snug in her nest of hay, then busied herself giving hay to the cows and horse. The chickens hardly stirred, few even pulled their heads from under their wings.

Worry kept her busy. Finished the feeding, Sarah found cloth and strained the milk, a job usually done on the tiny table in the cabin, but she dreaded the trip back through the wind and biting ice crystals, so she did it right there in the barn. Besides, somehow the barn seemed a better place to be tonight, Christmas Eve. Her mind kept busy fretting over Jed. Was he lying in the bitter cold somewhere, hurt? Or worse? She began to build a plan to go search the vast openness that lay between them and the orphanage. That would have to wait for daylight. But wouldn't his horse have found its way back to the barn? Jed's horse, Scout was a big, powerful horse and very smart. Surely had something happened to Jed, Scout would have come home?

Nervously she nursed baby Jessica, to the unsettling sound of relentlessly raging wind tearing at the walls of the tight barn. Gathering Jessica she moved closer to the cows so the sounds of them peacefully chewing might sooth her worried heart. She nestled into the straw next to Clover and rocked gently. The barn was a peaceful place but tonight even its warmth and embrace could do little to sooth her. The ride to the orphanage and back, even with a first class Christmas party should only have taken Jed and Scout about six hours. He should have been home well before dark.

Weary with worry, Sarah almost drifted off.

Her horse pacing and nickering in its stall roused her. "It's okay, Goldie, the wind can't get us in here."

Knowing she must check the fire and the stew in the house, she carefully tucked tiny Jessica safely back in her nest of hay. "I'll be right back, you sleep tight." She kissed her cheek, and wiped a tear from her own. Turning to the cows and Goldie she said, "You all watch over her while I'm gone."

She snatched the lantern from its peg and made the dash from barn to cabin, the never-ending wind at her back. Inside she found the fire nearly out, but the stew still delightfully warm. Building the fire back up, stirring the stew and gathering another blanket to swaddle Jessica took only moments, and through the bitter, blinding darkness she ran for the barn, shielding her face from the stinging snow.

Fighting the wind to pull closed the heavy door, for an instant the wind's roar was blocked. Was that a bell? Did she hear ringing bells? Or were her ears simply ringing in the wail of the wind? She strained her eyes in the direction of what she imagined was the ringing bells. Is that a light? Could that be a light? But what could there be out there moving in this horrible wind? It didn't appear to be a horse and rider, so her hopes sank as quickly as they'd soared. The bells stopped and the light vanished. Sarah pulled tight the door, made fast the latch, then hurried to Jessica to add the extra blanket.

Clover mooed, Goldie stomped and whinnied. Before Sarah could react, from the outside, above the wind, came an answering whinny. “Scout?” Sarah yelled, tears streaming her face. Terrified of the possible answer she yelled, “Scout, is that you? Is Jed with you?” Bells, did she hear bells again? With wings on her feet she flew to the door, only to have the latch yanked from her grasp.

Stunned she starred into darkness, and there stood Jed flashing an ice covered smile as wide as the mountains themselves, holding Scout's rope. Behind Scout stood two horses harnessed to a wagon with canvas stretched over it. “Brought ya a few Christmas visitors Sarah!” Jed waved a hand toward the wagon. Sarah's knees melted, she crumbled to the ground.

“Hey now,” Jed scooped her up with a hearty laugh. “We can't have this, we have us a Christmas Eve party to put on for the young 'ins!”

Jed, Shorty and Jake fought the wind to swing open the big barn door, Martha led Scout and the team right into the barn. Every hand worked together to pull the door closed behind the wagon. Martha flipped down the wagon tail gate, and one by one giggling and laughing children slid out.

Sarah's knees went weak again, she grabbed onto Jed. He could see the love, relief and questions in her eyes.

“Well,” Jed started, “When I rode up to Martha's the wind already yanked the roof off that old shed they call home. Jake, Shorty and me didn't take too long to figure out there was no fixin' that rickety old building. Nobody knew what to do next, not only did they all need a place to live, but heck Sarah, this is Christmas Eve and we got songs to sing and presents to open … so we hatched a plan to stretch this canvas over the wagon, nail 'er down with boards and haul the entire outfit right here.”

With a grin and tip of his hat, Shorty yanked the sack of presents from the wagon seat, and held it high.

The children had settled down in a circle holding hands, except for little Jane, who had discovered baby Jessica. "Look Miss Martha, it's just like the story of baby Jesus, lying in the manger with all his friends in the barn."

Gitty Up and Merry Christmas ~ Dutch Henry

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Howdy Friends,

Need a last minute Christmas gift? For friends, family, or yourself? For all our friends I’m offering all my books as a set for $32.00 ... Including Shipping (in U.S.) ... This is my gift to our friends. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

You’ll get “It’s for the Horses: An advocate’s musings about their needs, spirit, gifts and care,” “We’ll Have the Summer,” and “Tom Named By Horse,” each autographed and personalized as per your request.

You must order by end of day Friday December 18 to receive in time for Christmas. To order please send email to ,to let me know how to personalize and for our PayPal account.

Hurry, you only have 4 days. ~ Gitty Up, Dutch Henry.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

"It was a different kind of morning"

Howdy Friends,

It was a different kind of morning. I sat with my mare Kessy, today it was she and I. Too cold I reckon for Kitties to leave their snug nest in the hay mow, Saturday and Sadie had long wondered back to the house. 

Now it was Kessy and me. A few birds chattered at the feeder, the chickens who had ventured from the roost were somewhere not seen scratching in brush. It was just Kessy and me. Not even a train whistle sounded in the background. I poured my second cup and pondered the serenity of the moment, a man, his horse, a new day. A new day where frost floated from our breaths. A new day when our bond was all that mattered as together we greeted the morning. I thank God each morning, for each morning, and all that He bestows as I sit with my mare surrounded by our critters and the wonder of nature. It’s a blessing indeed to know and appreciate those wonders. It’s a blessing indeed to know the deep bond of a horse.

I often say a little prayer that all those who are blessed to have horses in their lives come to understand the true blessings they are, and that they can see them for the spirit they are, and put second their demands, pursuits and expectations—I ask that they see they are gifts from God ... I toasted Kessy, she sniffed the rising steam. ~ Gitty Up, Dutch.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

"Waltz With Your Horse"

Howdy Friends,

I like to talk to people who care about horses.

People who truly care, not for what the horse can do for them, but for how being with a horse can enrich their lives, and therefore they strive to do everything with their horse—for their horse.

People who put their horse first, the horse’s point of view, they ask “what’s in it for the horse,” and strive to see their relationship from the horse’s perspective. For those folks ribbons, winning, controlling and being boss are unimportant. It is the horse’s true contentment, health and well being that come first. And the magical thing about that approach, and horse and person relationship, is those folks win the most ribbons, have the most fun—and the least problems, health issues and relationship issues.

This past weekend I was in heaven conducting a clinic in northern VA with a group of folks who really do put their horses first. That’s why they came to my “It’s for the Horses” clinic, for their horses. They didn’t come to learn to “teach their horses to, do this or that,” they came to learn how to “give to their horses.” Because each of them understood how much their horses mean to them. They understood how much their horses give to them.

Their wanting to be there for their horses was abundantly obvious in the way each of them wanted to master every exercise before moving on. They wanted to know they got it; they wanted to see the change in their horses. They sought the softness, the healthy posture, the healthy body carriage.

They noticed as their own movements changed from a Quick-Step to a Viennese Waltz. Their horses noticed too. They soon realized that their horses noticed and thanked them. They loved and commented on the fact that they saw their horses changing. I loved seeing them change, the horses and their people.

I’ve done a lot of clinics, and I’ve loved meeting all those many horses and people. I live to see, and help create the changes in horses—and their people. It’s my passion. The wonderful people I had the pleasure of being with this weekend were among the most caring it’s ever been my privilege to work with, and their horses showed it. I was truly in heaven.

I love to be with people who care about horses.

If you’d like to participate in a Dutch Henry “It’s for the Horses” clinic and Waltz With Your Horse ... please email me

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"Understanding the Why"

Understanding the why can begin in the eye ... This is my girl Kessy
Howdy Friends,

Understanding the “WHY” ... My horse won’t stand for the trimmer ... My horse won’t stand to mount ... My horse bucks when asked to canter ... My horse pushes me when I lead her ... My horse (insert anything here) ... These friends are NOT training or discipline issues, they are comfort issues. It is our job to understand why your horse is shouting those signals to you.

There is always a “why” and that why is almost always rooted in physical and mental comfort—and more training, repetition and discipline can’t cure it.

Most (if not all) things horses have difficulty doing are directly related to proper posture, self awareness, and body carriage, period. Fix that and the “bad things” simply go away. Sounds bold, I know, but I also know it to be true. To be fair we need always to address the why; stiffness, tightness, balance, self awareness, foot awareness, ease or lack of ease of fluidity and movement and posture before addressing the things we as humans focus on.

Think of it like baking an apple pie. If you’re told to bake an apple pie and you are indeed a superb pasty chef, but not given any apples, you could protest all you want and your boss would get frustrated and demand that you bake his pie ... But you simply can’t, without apples. You have the dough, the sugar, the spices and everything you need, almost. And your boss doesn’t get it and becomes louder and more demanding; you grow to be more and more confused. You want to please him, but there simply is no way you can, not without apples. So you try to protest—he won’t hear it ... That is the world the horse finds themselves in if we refuse to seek out the why.

Then your boss suddenly realizes something is not good with you and for the first time he asks you, “Why can’t you bake my apple pie?” You show him you’ve got no apples. He provides apples and you bake a wonderful pie—you needed no training or discipline, or repetition, you only needed the why answered.

Take time to give your horse all she needs, and not focus on what you want. Then what you want will be given to you in more glorious ways than you could have ever imagined. It begins with finding the why, and that why is always (yes I said always) in the horse’s ability to move in comfort, feel great about her posture and self awareness. The next time something, anything, goes a bit off I implore you to step back and ask why. Change the focus from “results” to “possibilities.” Those possibilities can always be found by giving to the horse, not insisting.

You can find how to accomplish this posture and comfort in my book “It’s for the Horses; An advocate’s musings about their needs, spirit, gifts and care,” HERE. I promise it can change your worlds. 

You might also enjoy our Coffee Clutch story, "Sometimes the horse just can’t ... It’s Not disobeying."
Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What is Horse Communication?

Howdy Friends,

What is horse communication? Lots of things. Lots of things in many different ways to many different people. A lot of people do indeed want to “communicate” with their horse, some on a spiritual level, some on a physical level, some on a level of cooperation, and some on a dominance level.

I don’t believe we can truly communicate with our horses if can’t see, feel and hear the spirit living inside. You see communication should not be about training, which sadly is mostly what folks think about with their horse. They figure their horse must “learn” to do this, that and a bunch of other things—and learn to do them better and better. No they don’t! They already know how to do anything we ask!

It is WE who need “training” in the art of doing this, that and the other thing—With our horses. They already know how. We must learn to communicate, and not by learning cues, leg aids, the “art” of using mechanical devices, that is not communicating. But too often that is what is taught, practiced and promoted.

I’ll admit I go on and on about the release and relax exercises of Peggy Cummings that I believe in and promote. I do this because they work. They work on many, many levels from creating proper posture to teaching US to hear, and therefore communicate with our horses. Just the few basic exercises I promote will open the door to communication, the inner spirit. Once we find the inner spirit of our horses, communication just begins to happen, if it is allowed. If it is welcomed. Then any training, learning and growing together becomes easier, more graceful and bonded.

There is a real spiritual being inside a horse, and more and more folks are beginning to understand and discover that fact. Horses are not, and should not be viewed as means to an end, equipment or tools. They are not slaves, nor simply objects we own “for what we get out of it.” They indeed have feelings, thoughts and can feel love, affection, stress, worry and fear. How than can we not communicate with them?

Horse communication, to me, is the ability to hear the horse and understand their point of view, their comfort, desire and needs. When we begin to understand that is important, our horses will indeed communicate with us in a way we can feel—and hear. And I don’t mean the standard outward communication like pinned ears, stomping foot, or greeting nicker. Those are the horse shouting. What communication is, is hearing the whispers, feeling the thoughts. And yes we can all learn this, if we believe and try.

Most folks who don’t believe have not really tried, and their horses know it so they quit whispering and only shout, or worse yet, they shut off communication—then the person feels compelled to train and often resort to mechanical devices, which will often have the effect of creating compliance, but not communication.

Horse communication? It is inside the horse quietly waiting for us to receive. Try it, you’ll like it.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

P.S. If you've not yet read my book, "It's for the Horses: An advocate's musings about their needs, spirit, gifts and care," Please have a look here 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"We'll Have The Summer"

Howdy Friends!

I’d like to ask for your help ... As you may know Nov 19-Nov 22 I’ll be at the Equus Film Festival in NY as a featured author. Of course there will be many films and documentaries, full length, shorts and everything in between featured. There will be a lot of producers, screen writers, etc. there for sure. ... So here is the HELP I’m requesting ... If you have read “WE’LL HAVE THE SUMMER,” and believe it should be a movie, PLEASE email me a short note with your thoughts about the story and why you think it should be a movie. I know this is may be crazy , but who knows who I might meet there—and be able to show them your note?! ... my email is ... Together we may just make this happen! Please ask your friends too & share this post.

THANKS and Gitty Up, Dutch Henry!