Friday, April 17, 2015

"It’s for the Horses" Update

Howdy Friends!
“In this book, It’s for the Horses, Dutch covers what we can do to become better guardians for our equines by understanding their needs, truly encompassing mind, body and soul. I think that if horses could write, they would have compiled a book like this!

It’s for the Horses is a passionate, highly useful resource for all people who want to do right by the equines in their life. This book belongs in every horse person’s library, but best kept within close reach as it is a book to be referred back to often.”
Thank you, Dutch! ~ Lisa Ross-Williams, Publisher/Editor-In-Chief, Natural Horse Magazine

We’ve been reviewing the paperback proof of “It’s for the Horses, An advocate’s musings about their needs, spirit, gifts and care,” and boy howdy it looks great. Our team, Troy, Bobbie Jo, Ravishin’ Robbie and Oz have done a wonderful job! We are on schedule to launch in the first half of May, I’ll keep you posted!

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry

P.S. To keep up to date on It’s for the Horses, my books and writings send your email address to  for our monthly newsletter. I’ll be writing special stories for friends on this list. When you sign up you’ll be entered to win a free copy of It’s for the Horses. The drawing will be held the day before release date. I promise your email will NEVER be shared or sold. Invite your friends. All my books can be found on my website

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Exercise to Release Your Horse’s Neck

Howdy Friends,
One important thing you can, and should do, for your horse is to release her neck. While all power and propulsion should come from the rear, everything for posture, proper body carriage and agility has its roots in a free neck, free poll, relaxed axis, unlocked vertebrae and neck muscles.
Kessy loves the "Caterpillar" exercise.
This nifty little exercise Peggy Cummings calls the “Caterpillar” can insure your horse can move her head and neck (and therefore her body) comfortably, easily, with grace and confidence. Sadly many horses are so tense in this important area they are forced to “push through” the pain, restrictions and bad posture created by the tightness, that comfort and grace are unattainable. Going along with the discomfort is an impediment to their vision, when a horse is locked in this area their vision is also impaired.

What causes this tightness? Many things, teeth issues, improper foot care, tie downs, running martingales, horses on their forehands, rider’s poor posture, poor fitting saddles, repetitive speed events, or anything repetitive, riding over-collected, inverted and hollow-backed and so many more things the list is long indeed ... But understand all horses will benefit from this exercise even a retired pasture buddy.

This nifty little exercise, so easy to learn, can help so much.

Start by standing next to your horse in neutral, your shoulders soft, one hand gently supporting at the halter noseband. Your other hand cupped at the base of her neck with your thumb in the jugular grove, fingers surrounding the vertebrae and heel of your hand resting on the big muscle as shown here with Kessy and me.

This is a 3 step exercise—First with your hand cupped and just enough pressure to move the skin, push your hand along the big muscle, thumb in the groove, all the way to her ear. Watch for the release, as you see Kessy doing. Note—some very tight horses will back away or swing their heads because to offer a release is unknown to them or they simply cannot give and flex they are that locked. Be gentle, do not restrict, walk with her. In time the releases will begin.

Step 2—Begin again at the base of the neck, your hands as they were the first time. You will again travel to her ear along the vertebrae and groove, but this time your fingers will grip the muscle and vertebrae as they walk along up her neck. Think of a “caterpillar” walking up her neck. Apply a little more pressure, enough to move the skin and sink your fingers in just a little, you do want to move things. Your horse will guide you as to the pressure. She’ll say, “Back off!” or “Yes that’s it!”

Step 3—Again begin at the base, your hands in the same positions—Slide AND walk your hand up her neck to her ear. Sliding your heel while your fingers walk, jiggle and grip all together in a fluid motion. Moving skin, muscle and releasing vertebrae all along her neck to her ear and axis. REMEMBER—Do Both Sides— Even the first time you do all 3 steps, at this point you’ll see a change in her posture, her eyes, her softness and awareness.
For some extremely locked horses it will be a challenge, be gentle, take it slow. Some horses will offer a series of releases even as your hand moves along, be sure to allow them, watch for them.

Kessy and I hope you’ll add this little exercise to your daily routine. All horses can and will benefit from this and once you’ve mastered it together it will take about 3 minutes to do. The changes you’ll discover in your horses attitude, posture, grace, beauty and contentment will astonish you.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

 For more exercises to benefit your horse CLICK HERE to go to my 4 part  series-"Pt 1-Restarting, Conditioning, and Great Exercises For Your Horse"(with links to all 4 parts)

Monday, April 13, 2015

"Romances or Lustomances"

Howdy Friends!
Having coffee with Kessy and the gang this morning I was thinking of a conversation I had over the weekend about novels written today and years gone by. We were having breakfast at a lovely bed and breakfast where friends were staying for the big weekend here in Appomattox and I’d been invited to join them. I was asked about We’ll Have The Summer, “Is it a romance?”
A true romance, We'll Have The Summer - available HERE on Amazon
To me, yes, We’ll Have The Summer is a romance, a true romance—not a lustomance as I call most that are seen today. By today’s standards my novel does not qualify as a romance, as there are no graphic scenes of frisky action. I remember while in the search for an agent the requirements for romance included “graphic” scenes of “love” (or other terms) for manuscripts to be even considered. Gosh ...
So why did I write We’ll Have The Summer? I’d first written Tom Named By Horse,(which now has just been released and is available everywhere, and easily HERE on Amazon,) and had set about querying agents. That was 8 years ago and of course I had no idea how much I didn’t know. Tom Named By Horse is an historical fiction, and a love story too, so I queried dozens of agents who represented both. I’d been doing my homework on websites and blogs that are devoted to helping writers and had a pretty good handle on writing query letters, my manuscript writing ability though was a far different story as I would soon learn.
Tom Named By Horse, written 8 years ago, polished today, now available on Amazon HERE
As is the case when “shot gunning” queering agents I received no replies from most, even though we’d moved into the age of email queries already. I received a large array of standard replies, “Thank you, but your work does not fit our needs right now. Good luck with your writing endeavor.” So standard and plentiful were those replies I can still remember the root phraseology!

A few wrote back with tidbits of advice, which I took to heart, even though shocked to learn I had not written a world changing novel. One of those rejections did however change me and my writing forever. It came from Tony Hillerman, then an agent at Curtis Brown Literary Agency. At the time I hadn’t even known he was an author! His querying request asked for submissions to include the first 5 chapters. I remember that as one reason I’d selected him. His reply was very brief, “Loved your story, the topic and how you tell a story. My advice to you is to read books published recently to learn today’s writing styles and techniques. Your manuscript reads a bit like Louis L’Amoure and Zane Grey." Which makes sense since I’d read all their books! He went on to suggest a few successful authors of today (never suggested himself), one of them being Nora Roberts, who of course I’d not read but Ravishin’ Robbie had and had some of her books.

I promptly set about reading 5 of her books. Loved very much the first, the second and began to fall into the rhythm of her voice, her style and methods of her writing by completion of the third. Of course I have no way of knowing if she influenced my “voice” or style, but my sentence structure and a few other important things I know she taught me much about.

She also taught me the formula for what is considered today’s romance writing, for which I’ll admit I hold no fondness. I’ll add I did further research to understand that formula, and it is a fact, to be considered a romance today by the publishing world a manuscript must have spicy scenes, well written and graphic. I still see this at the writer’s group I attend when romance writers read their pieces for critique, I sometimes have a tough time sitting through the scenes ... Romance or lustomance, I wonder. For me it feels not much like romance.

Nora Roberts stories are beautifully written, great stories that carry a reader away, but after reading 5 of hers and a number of other modern authors, I felt cheated in that they felt too fast, too shallow (for me) and all about meeting so the bedroom, beach, barn or anywhere that works, romp can be graphically described. A means to an end, not a romance leading to an enduring love. They almost all left me wanting.

This caused within me a strong desire to write a story of an uncommon, enduring love. 

Sitting on the porch, watching hummingbirds at the feeder, We’ll Have The Summer came to me. I realized to tell their story I needed to start at the end, not the meeting. How else could a lifelong romance be told, understood, felt? I wrote the first draft in 60 days.

For me romance is about love, true deep love that endures happy, sad ... and forever. No need for graphic descriptions of spicy scenes, those are too tender, too precious to cheaply give away to meet any formula.

If you’ve not yet read We’ll Have The Summer, and love stories of true love, please treat yourself and feel Mary and Sam’s story. If you have read it, perhaps it’s time to visit them again. HERE on Amazon ... If you’re up for an adventure you’ll long remember, head out and ride with Tom Named By Horse. HERE on Amazon.

Gitty Up, Dutch Henry

P.S. Sadly Tony Hillerman passed away before I was ready to query agents for We’ll Have The Summer. But now I have read most of his books, and I will forever be grateful for the time he took to give me advice that changed so much for me.