Thursday, March 5, 2015

"I’m A Horse Advocate – so what’s my position on Horse Slaughter?"

Howdy Friends,
The other day when I posted a note on Facebook about my soon to be released book, “It’s For The Horses—Musings about their needs, spirit, gifts and care from a horse advocate,” I was asked a question. “If you are a horse advocate, what is your position on horse slaughter and why don’t you write about that?”
Why have I never written about horse slaughter? As a horse advocate I have written about many negatives regarding horses. Pregnant mare Urine farms, and horrible pee lines, TWH Soring, and the torture, Nurse Mare Farms, and the heartbreak, the Bureau of Land Management and the wanton mistreatment of our Wild Horses, to mention a few.

I could write many more stories of horrendous treatments of the noblest animal God ever created, almost every breed of equine suffers at the hand of man. I’ll not delineate the long list of horrors here, but we all know them. Each of us can name breeds, showing and techniques, bits, and other mechanical devices, management, care and use. These stories are painful and difficult to write, and it is not really my style. I prefer to write positive. I subscribe to the belief, the hope—that by sending out positive thoughts the positive energy may help make a change.

A friend once told me, “When horses and money compete, horses lose.” Sadly this is all too often proven true. And of course the horses pay the price, with their pain, mental and physical, their freedom, their contentment, and even their very lives. For that reason I try to write stories in support of humane, fun and healthy for the horse, care and management—in the hope that more folks may begin to consider a new dynamic. A paradigm shift to, in everything they do, consider the horse’s point of view first. Ask themselves, “Am I doing this for me? For the ribbon? The glory? The money? Or am I doing it for the horse. What will the horse get out of this?

I believe if all horse caregivers considered the “horse first” in every aspect, so much would change. It would have to.

How could a person who thinks, “horse first,” even consider torturing a magnificent TWH with chemicals, chains, stacks and plantation shoes? How could BLM management chase horses and foals to near death, (and death) with helicopters and stack them in corrals to suffer unsheltered in backing sun or frigid cold? How could trainers employ tail sets, rollkur, and a plethora of other horrible training techniques and mechanical devices? How could they breed nurse mare foals? How could they stand mares in pee lines for 8 months a year and deprive them of water to produce rich urine to create a drug known to kill the very women they pretend to help? How could they start horses at such a young age their bones, and minds, are damaged for life? How could they bred so many horses in the hope of producing a money maker, and toss aside the ones who don’t make the count? How could they ride a horse in a saddle that doesn’t fit? How could they stand a horse in a stall for days on end? And yes, how could they support horse slaughter? I’d wager if they thought “horse first” there would be changes.

I suppose I could write story after story detailing the negatives, abuse, neglect and horrors horses endure at the hand of man. And I will from time to time...But I’d rather do my best to write happy—to write stories suggesting better ways—ways in keeping with a “horse first” paradigm, and work to help more folks realize the exact same goals can be achieved, and achieved at even higher levels, if the horse comes first.
Where do I stand on horse slaughter? I reckon you can guess.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

Monday, March 2, 2015

"Surprise What A Pony!"

Howdy Friends,

Surprise will soon celebrate her 34th birthday and the beginning of her second decade as a Therapy Pony! More kids who are dealing with unkind life situations have learned to smile, sit straight and feel the glory of accomplishment while riding, leading or loving Surprise over the years than anyone could count.
Surprise in 2000
Surprise has always loved being a friend to all, a teacher, healer, confidant and cheer leader. All horses have the gift of being human’s best friend and even spiritual guide—some have an extra magical way of teaching us to hear them, learn from them, thrive with them. Surprise is one of those.

Half the children in Buckingham county VA have learned to ride with Surprise’s gentle guidance, or taken her to shows, or have had children of their own who have mastered equine essentials from the thoughtful tutelage of Surprise. You see, long before Surprise began her second career as a Therapy Pony, she had been a teacher, a lesson horse.
Surprise in 1998
She has always been an award winning show pony, and LaRue Dowd, our host at Sprouse’s Corner Ranch, and program director for Heartland Horse Heroes, remembers showing her own pony as a youth, and competing with Surprise. She remembers Surprise at VA State Fairs winning not only the blue ribbons for Gymkhana, but Hunter too. “Something few ponies do at the same show!” LaRue beams. Surprise has, over the years, introduced more children to the art, fun and excitement of showing, striving to be the best they can, and winning ribbons, than perhaps any other pony in VA. She has the heart, desire and love to teach. And does with grace.
Surprise and a few ribbons
Surprise has no plans on retiring any time soon. She continues to give regular riding lessons for beginners. She is also one of Heartland Horse Heroes primary Therapy Ponies. Often she’ll be the first new participants learn from, her understanding, compassionate ways, and short stature, easily overcoming fears some children bring to therapy about horses. She has often gotten youngsters over their fears allowing them in time to move on to taller horses. She loves her job, her life, and her kids.
Surprise teaching a youngster to sit tall and have courage in equine assisted therapy
Surprise the teaching pony. Short in stature, towering in human connection, teaching skills, love and understanding. She is a Therapy Horse, in every sense of the word.

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry