Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Horses Help Kids Cope With Loss

Camp Hearts' N Hooves uses horses to help kids cope with the loss of a loved one, like their mom or dad.  This is another story that proves that there is no such thing as an unwanted horse and that horses can be used to help people like these kids and even veterans.  Check out all the other stories I have posted on my blog and on my Children 4 Horses Facebook page, about how horses help people every day.  ~Declan

Horses that heal help kids cope with loss

Posted: Oct 27, 2012 7:35 PM EDT
By Jacqueline Quynh, Multimedia Journalist - email
As posted on KTIV.com


Horses, as a part of their nature do a lot of nagging, but they can also be the best of listeners. That's why they're being used for therapy to help kids deal with death.
"I just love horses, like I've always loved them," Jennifer Huisenga said.
14-year-old Jennifer who has recently lost her mother is one of about 20 kids at Camp Hearts' N Hooves. It's a camp designed for kids to learn how to deal with grief through horse therapy.
"I thought it would be a really good idea to come out here and meet people who have like the same differences and stuff," Huisenga said.
So far, Jennifer has been able to open up and talk to kids her age like Autumn Petska who understands those differences she's talking about.
"People have their parents and then they always talk about them and how fun they are and then you're just sitting in the back going umm I wish that was me or something," Autumn Petska said
Making new friends, and learning new ways to heal is what Camp Hearts' N Hooves is all about.
"The camp is focused around equine assisted psycho therapy and utilizing the horses as a partner in providing grief assistance to our children that are grieving the lost of a loved one," Lynnea Andersen, the Director of Bereavement Care with Iowa Hospice said.
Andersen says horses allow kids to let their guard down, and activities like brushing and combing the horse helps decrease their anxiety.
Autumn describes working with the horses as something that is soothing.
"Well it kind of takes your mind off of everything and you're like having fun," Petska said.
Josh Carr is the Executive Director of Camp Foster, and also takes care of the horses. He says horses are a lot like people that's why it's a natural fit to use them as part of therapy.
"They're very in-tuned to our emotions because horses have emotions too, so if they're scared an we're scared --it's kind of like a buddy, you're a partner I think horses and people were meant to be one," Carr said.
The program was started in 2008, and Andersen has been working with the Iowa Hospice to expand it across the state. 
"A lot of times we have kids that start with us and they really aren't able to communicate what their needs are with us until the end of camp. And I've had parents say that they wouldn't talk at all until she came to camp and then she was able to tell her mom about her feelings about her dad that had passed away," Andersen said
Meanwhile, Jennifer says she's already benefited from the program by finding new friends.
"We're definitely going to stay in touch and maybe get together sometime," Huisenga said.

Monday, October 29, 2012

HSUS Preps for Animal Rescues from Hurricane Sandy

October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Threatens People, Pets

The HSUS preps for rescues, urges animal owners to be ready for "Frankenstorm"
The HSUS's Animal Rescue Team
  • A male deer on the beach was disoriented as Hurricane Sandy drew near. He ran the wrong way: into the ocean. The HSUS
For the latest information on pet-friendly emergency shelters and other local resources, stay in touch through The HSUS's Twitter feedand Facebook page. (No need to have your own Twitter or Facebook account to see the updates.)
Hurricane Sandy is aimed at the East Coast of the United States, on a course to become a storm of historical proportions. If you haven't already made a plan for your pets, or if you're evacuating, be sure to take your pets with you.
The HSUS's Animal Rescue Team is assembling staff and equipment for disaster response and is poised to help stricken communities in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Please make an emergency donation to support our disaster relief efforts.
Here4Adam profile
Here4Adam RT @ASPCA: Is everyone doing okay? Please let us know if we can help with shelter locations and safety tips! #Sandypets41 seconds ago · reply · retweet · favorite
5 new tweets
gedy08 profile
gedy08 Don't let your pets drink out of puddles, the storm flood waters may be toxic! #Sandypets@lorenridinger @nataliaroks32 seconds ago · reply · retweet · favorite
4 new tweets
6 new tweets
Eaglerae profile
Eaglerae RT @Wash_Humane: A huge thanks to our staff & volunteers who are making sure that every animal is safe and cared for! #SandyPetspic.twitter.com/vL5QYIqJ36 seconds ago · reply · retweet · favorite

The HSUS's state directors have been in action already, helping local shelters, staffing a Unified Operations Center, advising pet-friendly polices at human shelters, and reminding everyone to include pets during evacuations.
On a beach in New Jersey, a deer confused by storm preparations ran into the ocean (see photos above). A caring person, Eric Walsh, pulled the deer from the surf, but the deer lacked the strength to move inland.
Our New Jersey state director, Kathleen Schatzman, rounded up wildlife rehabilitators, the Montmouth County police, and New Jersey's Associated Humane Societies. Through a combined effort the buck was tranquilized and removed from the beach, for perhaps the first animal rescue of the storm.

ASPCA How to Prepare Your Pets for Hurricane Sandy

Here's is important information for you and your pets during Huricane Sandy.  Follow and use hashtag #SandyPets on Twitter for animal-related Hurricane Sandy updates!  ~Declan

How to Prepare Your Pets for Hurricane Sandy

Friday, October 26, 2012 - 11:45am
Update, 10/29/12: The ASPCA is preparing to assist thousands of animals in the region affected by Hurricane Sandy, and wants to remind all area residents to stay indoors until the hurricane passes and it is safe for both people and pets to be outside. The ASPCA is also ready to assist with water rescues as needed.
If you have been ordered to evacuate,please do not leave your pets behind. All evacuation centers in New York City are required to accept pets.
Please stay tuned to our Twitter accountand follow the hashtag #SandyPets for breaking information.
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Breaking Update, 10/27/12: In anticipation of Hurricane Sandy’s landfall early Tuesday, the ASPCA wants to remind New York City residents that all evacuation shelters accept pets. Please take your animals with you if you need to evacuate.
To locate your evacuation zone, please check the OEM's Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder (or call 311), and the site will direct you to the proper facility.
Low-lying areas of the city that are most at risk for flooding and other damage are designated as “Zone A” and include: Coney Island and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn; Far Rockaway and Broad Channel in Queens; South Beach; Midland Beach; low-lying areas on Staten Island; and Battery Park City in Manhattan.
Here are some ways you can prepare for a major storm:
Get a Rescue Alert Sticker for your home. By posting a sticker similar to the one found in the ASPCA Pet Safety Pack in an easy-to-see location, rescue workers will be alerted that there are pets in your home. You should include the number and types of pets present, as well as your veterinarian’s contact information.
Choose a safe haven. First, decide which room in your home will be the safest spot to ride out the storm. Then, know in advance where you can take your family and pets in case of evacuation. Check with evacuation centers and area hotels to find a pet-friendly location. In New York and New Jersey, all evacuation centers are required to accept animals.
IDs, please! Make sure your pet is wearing collars and ID tags with up-to-date identification. This is the perfect time to have your pet micro-chipped if you have not already done so.
Stock up. Make sure you have plenty of food—for humans and pets!—water, medications, batteries, first aid kits and other emergency supplies on hand in case of a power outage.
Stay indoors.  At the first sign of danger, bring your pets indoors and keep them with you.
For more information, check out our complete list of disaster preparedness tips.
The ASPCA will continue to monitor the storm’s progress. Be sure to check our blog, and visit our Facebook and Twitter pages for breaking updates.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Declan Filmed for ASPCA Video at Humane Awards

A film crew was here last month to help tell my story at the ASPCA's awards luncheon.  It was an AWESOME experience and Kate Milliken, the producer from Milligrace Productions, was really cool and GREAT to work with!!  

There was a bunch of really cool equipment and both Mrs. Milliken and Justin, the camerman, showed me how things work and I got to look through the camera and hear the sound through the headphones.

I had to put on a cool microphone that made Justin able to hear everything I said!  The crew was very kind to me and very helpful.  

Since I don't have a horse of my own, my friend let me use his pony named Riley that he leases, to get some video footage of me with horses.  Riley lives at a beautiful farm owned by a friend of my mom's who she used to ride with.  It was a GREAT place to spend the day!

Riley was a very nice and well behaved pony, who willing walked with me and was great to get to film with!

After the crew had me walk Riley around they had me go and sit down and they positioned a big microphone above me.  

Mrs. Milliken asked me all sorts of questions like, "Why are you so passionate about horses?", and "Why does this issue matter to you?", and "Were you nervous when you spoke to Congress and Senate about this terrible issue?"

Mrs. Milliken put my dad to work and had him hold up the reflector to get the lighting just right for my interview.  She also interviewed my mom and dad for the film. 

I had a really fun time and enjoyed myself very much!  It was an interesting experience and I learned alot.  I can not wait to see the video because I am sure it will be wonderful!!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Seacoast Boy Who Fought For Horses Named ASPCA's Kid if the Year

Thank you Joey Cresta for a great article!  ~Declan

Seacoast boy who fought for horses named ASPCA's Kid of the Year

Declan Gregg of Greenland pets Barney on an afternoon in February this year at the N.H. SPCA in Stratham. Gregg testified against horse slaughter this year before lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
Ioanna Raptis/iraptis@seacoastonline.com

As posted at Seacoastonline
By Joey Cresta
October 23, 2012 2:00 AM

GREENLAND — A 10-year-old local boy has been named winner of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Kid of the Year award for his efforts to fight horse slaughter in the United States.

Declan Gregg, of Greenland, who enjoys spending time with the horses at the N.H. SPCA office in Stratham, and who learned about horse slaughter earlier this year, has spent the better part of 2012 pushing lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to do something about the practice.

Horse slaughter is a controversial topic in the United States, with opponents saying the process is cruel toward horses and that the meat is not fit for human consumption. Though horse meat is not commonly consumed in this country, it is considered a delicacy in other parts of the world.

In response to the controversy, Gregg started a Web site, www.children4horses.blogspot.com, and began speaking with lawmakers about why he felt horse slaughter was wrong. He testified before the N.H. House Environment and Agriculture Committee and traveled to Washington to present letters to Congress as part of the Million Horse March children's letter-writing campaign to stop horse slaughter.

The ASPCA noted in its award announcement that Gregg's efforts garnered the support of Congressman Frank Guinta, R-N.H., who has co-sponsored the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.

"Declan spoke before celebrities, Congressmen and Senators to lobby against horse slaughter and advocate for the protection of horses under the Act. His blog, which has been visited by individuals in more than 80 countries, provides commentary on horse advocacy issues and also includes poetry, news, photos and artwork," the ASPCA noted.

The ASPCA's Kid of the Year award is dedicated to Tommy P. Monahan, a 9-year-old Staten Island, N.Y., boy who died in 2007 trying to save his dog from a house fire.

In total, the ASPCA gives out seven awards, including dog and cat of the year, as part of its annual Humane Awards. They will all be honored at a luncheon in New York City on Thursday, Nov. 8.

On his blog, Gregg expressed his appreciation to the ASPCA for the award.

"I am so honored to have been chosen to receive this year's ASPCA's Humane Kid of the Year Award," he wrote. "I can't wait to go to New York City to meet all the other wonderful award recipients and thank all the people who have supported me at the ASPCA."

Rare Horse Breeds Proves Crucial to Delicate Ecosystem

This story shows how removing horses from their natural habitat actually hurts ecosystems.  This special breeds is being re-introduced to help restore natural reserves in Europe.  

We need to STOP the round-ups and end horse slaughter!!  Join the Children 4 Horses page on Facebook for more information on horses and other great stories.  ~Declan

Rare horse breed proves crucial to delicate ecosystem

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lipizzaner Horses

I have seen the Lipizzaner horses perform and they are incredibly beautiful and graceful.  If you want to learn more about the amazing and famous Lipizzaner horses, read this interesting article full of wonderful facts about these fantastic horses, working hard to achieve perfection.  ~Declan 

Dazzling horses have rich history

Last updated 13:30 23/10/2012

BIG MOMENT: Preparing for the leap - a stallion poised to perform the capriole.
DOWN TIME: Lipizzaner mares in their stables in Lipica, Solvenia. They spend their day in pastures and the rest in their stables.
GOOD BREEDING: The illustrious pedigree of one of Lipica's stallions.
IN TUNE: A picture of concentration - rider and horse in perfect harmony in the arena.

Invasions, world wars, evacuations, rescues, disease, even an earthquake - the history of the Lipizzaner horses in Slovenia is brimming with drama.

Lipica, in western Slovenia, close to the Adriatic Sea and just two kilometres from the Italian border, is the original stud farm of the Lipizzaner horses, the most famous of which are the stars of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

Although the Vienna-based school now sources its horses from a stud farm within Austria's borders, Lipica is still inextricably linked with these beautiful white horses. Its story is also a microcosm of the shifting empires, allegiances and international borders that have been part of life in this corner of Slovenia for hundreds of years.

Twice I've been fortunate enough to watch the Spanish Riding School's practice sessions in Vienna but as a late northern European summer gave way to a warm autumn I had my first opportunity to visit the birthplace of the Lipizzaner breed.

The stud farm is nestled within limestone/marble country known as karst - a landscape characterised by caves, sinkholes, underground rivers and fluted, eroded outcrops. In fact, this region, Kras, is the origin of the geological term karst itself. New Zealand has its own karst landscapes, including Takaka Hill near Nelson and the Waitomo region in the Waikato.

What makes the karst landscapes around Lipica so distinctive is that rather than appearing typically barren and windswept, the stud farm is a world of rich shady pastures and tree-lined avenues. It's the result of more than 400 years of intensive interaction between man, horses and the environment. This unbroken relationship that is considered to be unreplicated anywhere else has ensured that not only is the stud farm and its historic buildings under national protection, the landscape is as well.

Oaks grow in profusion on the farm but so do linden (we know these tree better as limes). Lipica in the Slovenian language means little Linden.

In the late afternoon sunshine the trees were just starting to glow with the golds of early autumn. Staff plant a new linden tree to mark the birth of every foal.

White breeding mares and their foals grazed under the trees in paddocks alongside the main access road. What often strikes those unfamiliar with the Lipizzaner breed is that the foals are never white or grey.

These horses don't begin to turn white (in equestrian terms they are known as greys) until they are about 6 years old. Incidentally, true white horses have pink skin and sometimes blue eyes. Greys, including the Lipizzaners, have black skin and dark eyes. It was the crossing with Arab horses that introduced the grey to the Lipizzaner breed as before that they were traditionally black or bay (dark brown). Interestingly at the Spanish Riding School there is supposed to be always one dark stallion among the performers as a reminder of the horses' intriguing heritage.

Despite the horses' fame there are only about 3000 in the world, so Lipica is still a very special place and vital to the horses' survival. Breeding is carefully controlled to ensure the stock stays pure - the horses' lineage can be traced back to six of the foundation stallions in the 18th century.

Lipizzaners originated in Spain and were first brought to Lipica in 1580. These Spanish horses were a mix of Barb horses (from the Berber coast in North Africa), Andalucian and other Iberian Peninsula horses. They were brought to Lipica by the Habsburg emperor, Maximillian II, and crossed with other breeds (including a now extinct Italian breed). Arabian horses were bred into the mix from 1810.

The Habsburgs established the stud because they wanted to breed horses for the newly fashionable art of riding (as opposed to using horses simply for battle, transport and farming). They desired a horse that was strong but also agile and light on its feet.

The result is that today the Lipizzaner is regarded as one of the finest, if not the finest, riding horses in the world.

But there were many occasions over the intervening 400 years when the world nearly lost the Lipizzaners altogether. On numerous occasions the Lipica stud farm had to be evacuated, the first time in 1797 following the invasion by Napoleon, then again in 1802 into Hungary after a French occupation.

The 20th century was possibly the time of greatest upheaval for the horses. They were moved to safe havens in both world wars. The most famous of these escapes was probably that of 1945 when the Russians were advancing from the east into German-occupied territory that included Lipica. There were fears that the Russians might have used the precious horses for meat so at the command of General Patton (who had ridden in the Olympics) they were once again moved to safety. This saga was the subject of the only Disney film to be made with a war theme, which was released in 1963.

Visitors are given a refreshingly full tour of the stud farm. Refreshingly because it is all too common now to palm visitors off at attractions worldwide with a quick talk and fleeting inspection before herding them into the inevitable gift shop. Here at Lipica we had to ask how to even find the shop.

Our young guide took us first to see the breeding mares and geldings (which are used solely for riding lessons for paying customers) who spend part of their day outside in the pastures and the rest in stables. On the door of each stall is the horse's pedigree.

Most impressive of all, though, are the 18th-century stables known as Velbanca, which house the farm's true aristocrats - its stallions. This vaulted, cobble-stoned hall is home to up to 24 breeding stallions, all of whom descend from six original horses: Pluto, Conversano. Neapolitano, Maestoso, Favory and Siglavy. All but Siglavy (1810) were born in the late 1700s.

Although powerfully built (advance dressage that the Lipizzaners excel in requires great strength), the stallions are not particularly tall - about 15hh in horsey terms. And they are surprisingly gentle. Despite signs forbidding visitors to touch the stallions, the temptation, when presented with a soft velvety nose pressed to the bars of the looseboxes was too much. Add to that the interested stare from a pair of liquid, long-lashed eyes and I succumbed, illegally, when the guide wasn't looking.

On our way to the riding hall we stopped by a shady enclosure where the youngest foals, closely supervised by their mothers, lay outstretched sunbathing, dark stubby tails idly flicking away the flies.

So, having seen the equestrian stars in the making it was now time to see the culmination of years of training for which only the most talented of stallions are selected.

For the next 45 minutes a crowd of several hundred sat entranced as these beautiful, perfectly groomed horses and their elegant riders performed to music.

The show ended with three stallions, each accompanied by two trainers, practising the most difficult aspects of what is known as high dressage - the airs above the ground. Three riderless horses were put through their paces performing the levade and the capriole.

In the levade the stallion rears up on its hind legs and in the capriole the horse leaps into the air, its front legs tucked underneath and its back legs kicking out.

There was hardly a sound in the crowd, even among those who had earlier confessed to finding dressage as interesting as watching paint dry, as the horses performed what seemed to be almost impossible feats.

These were incredible examples of strength, co-ordination and communication between man and horse.

However, what enthralled me most were the combinations of horses and riders performing graceful pas de deux across the arena in exact time to the music, the horses' tails flowing, ears pricked while they gave consummate demonstrations of the fluidity and beauty of movement that has captivated humans for centuries.