An Author’s Dream Book Launch Party

Allen and Linda Anderson

Allen and Linda Anderson

The #AnimalStars book launch was a grand event. We were amazed and very happy to see all the excitement and love for the book and for American Humane Association. The book party was at Fox Studios in Los Angeles in the ballroom.

Leading up to the ballroom was the red carpet, backdrops with ANIMAL STARS book cover images, and massive posters lining the red carpet on the other side of the entrance aisle. Hundreds of well-wishers attended. At one point, when our coauthor Dr. Robin Ganzert asked, “And what’s the name of this book?” everyone sang in unison, “ANIMAL STARS!”

ANIMAL STARS -- Book Launch Party

ANIMAL STARS — Book Launch Party

 

Animal Stars

Animal Stars

The party included food, drink, and lots of laughter. Many of the book’s contributing authors/trainers attended with their animal stars who were featured in the book. People were getting photos and videos of themselves with the famous animal actors. Crystal, the capuchin monkey star of NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM and WE BOUGHT A ZOO was a full participant in the celebrations. She graced us by sitting on our shoulders and grooming our hair. What an actress!

Celebrities James Denten (Mike the Plumber on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES) and Animal Planet host and author Victoria Stilwell were enjoying the party as well as a young man from television that the teenagers all knew and adored.

Animal Stars Director's Chair

Animal Stars Director’s Chair

We were thrilled to meet Dr. Marty Becker, official veterinarian for GOOD MORNING AMERICA and the DR. OZ SHOW. He wrote the foreword for our first ANGEL ANIMALS book and for this book. Such a nice man. Our publicist for all these years, Monique Muhlenkamp was also at the party representing our publisher New World Library.

Allen and Linda Anderson with their Friends at the Animal Stars Book Launch Party

Allen and Linda Anderson with their Friends at the Animal Stars Book Launch Party

Margo, Linda, and Arlene

Margo, Linda, and Arlene

It was an author’s dream book launch party. And we are grateful to have had the opportunity of meeting people who sent the book off with a good start. Many came up and told us they have been reading and loving our books for years. What a treat! Who knew?

Linda, Crystal, & Allen

Linda, Crystal, & Allen

Robin Ganzert and Friends

Robin Ganzert and Friends

Meeting Finder, the Horse Who Played Joey in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse

From childhood, we have always felt loved horses. We love horses so much that we have written two books about these amazing creatures. Just as millions of people around the world have, we watched the Thoroughbred Joey in Steven Spielberg’s movie War Horse and marveled at the horse’s acting and athletic ability. Remember the spectacular scene when Joey jumps over the World War I tanks? The horse’s keen intelligence and bravery heightened our regard for him from respect to awe.

Finder

Finder

What a treat it would be to actually meet Finder, the amazing horse who played the role of Joey, and his incredible trainer Bobby Lovgren. Part of our extensive research as co-authors with Robin Ganzert, PhD, president and CEO of American Humane Association, for our new book Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors, was to meet the celebrity animals who star in film and television and to interview their world-class trainers.

In mid-July 2013, we drove to the home of Bobby Lovgren, his wife Wendy, and their family. Coming from the Midwest’s Twin Cities, we were unaccustomed to the dry desert heat and cooled down by sipping on icy fruit smoothies. Relying on a crisp-voiced GPS navigator, we wound our way outside Los Angeles to a world where animals are the stars.

We arrived at Bobby’s home to find a horse ranch with stables and corrals. After graciously greeting us, Bobby and Wendy brought us into a spacious open room of their home. Its walls and shelving displayed photos and memorabilia from movies for which Bobby had trained and wrangled horses. The Lovgren’s home seemed like a sanctuary where a world-traveled trainer could rest and regroup with his family between assignments.

Interviewing Bobby

We set up our microphone and tape recorder and retrieved our notepads for taking additional notes. Bobby’s stories and adventures as a movie animal trainer kept us entertained and enlightened. He stressed his determination that safety protocols be followed for horses and other animal actors. He explained that he repeatedly practices any trick or action a horse is asked to perform. Without patience and careful practice, Bobby would not allow the horse to do the trick.

Finder and Bobby Lovgren

Finder and Bobby Lovgren

His one regret? Often scenes that took weeks of practice and orchestration to do safely, get attributed to CGI effects by audiences (and even movie reviewers).

Sometimes, Bobby has to refuse a director’s request for an action but usually can find a safe alternative for getting the same effect. He expressed his appreciation for having American Humane Association Certified Animal Safety Representatives on set. When Bobby feels concern over doing animal action, the safety reps are always firmly in his corner and helping to find other ways to accomplish the director’s goals.

Our conversation turned to talking about Finder. We had already interviewed Bobby on the phone for his story in Animal Stars, “Finder, as Joey in War Horse, a Director’s Dream Actor.” Bobby describes Finder is a Thoroughbred who adds a touch of attitude to every performance. One of the statements in his story had made us especially eager to meet this magnificent horse. He had said, “Finder is the most challenging animal I’ve worked with because he loves when cameras and people are around. They energize him. A professional, he brings something new to each scene.”

Meeting Finder

At last, it was time for us to meet Finder. As we walked to a fenced-in running area that held several horses, and Bobby left to bring the famous gelding to us, we talked to each other about all the kind words Steven Spielberg had said about Bobby and Finder. Flown to England for War Horse, Finder and Bobby impressed Steven Spielberg with their professionalism and skill. About the experience, the iconic director had written for Animal Stars, “I thought the centaur was a mythological creature until I watched Bobby Lovgren and Finder interacting. At one point, I could not tell man from horse. They both performed admirably.”

Finder

Finder

Soon, Bobby brought Finder to a large open area that he uses for training and exercising his horses. Beautiful, muscular, and confident, Finder strutted next to Bobby as they entered the arena. The power of Finder’s pride and presence was palpable. While some people meet a Holly wood star and feel disappointed, saying things such as, “He’s shorter than he looks onscreen,” Finder was even more imposing than he appeared in War Horse. Everything Bobby had told us about him was true–and more: This horse had attitude!

Bobby allowed Finder to show off a bit for his visitors by rearing up on his hind legs, running, and trotting. Finished for the time being with impressing us, he came over to where we had been watching him, awestruck. At Bobby’s instruction, Finder carefully lay down on the ground. We gathered around, knelt in the dust, and stroked our hands across his sleek back and sides.

Finder with Allen & Linda Anderson

Finder with Allen & Linda Anderson

The trust and affection between Bobby and Finder were total. It was apparent that these two knew each other well and deeply. We observed an unbreakable connection of two strong individuals who trusted and respected each other. They had become comrades, sharing their life’s adventures together.

In his story Bobby had commented on their teamwork by saying, “Although some might not call what Finder does acting, I’ve noticed that he heightens his actions when people are around. He lets me create emotions for him to show, and the expressions on his face make him easy to read. I’ve never seen a more expressive horse.”

Right about that! During a short photo session Finder made a special connection with Linda as he gently placed his head on her shoulder.

Bobby told us that American Humane Association’s Film & TV Unit, which officially oversees hundreds of filmed media productions each year as part to of its “No Animals Were Harmed®” service, often brings new staff to the Lovgren ranch to watch Bobby properly and safely train and work with horses. As we left the Lovgrens and Finder, we felt honored to have met a matchless team of human trainer–and animal teacher.

Animal Stars

Animal Stars

ANIMAL STARS: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors by Robin Ganzert, PhD, and Allen & Linda Anderson with a foreword by “America’s Veterinarian” Marty Becker, DVM, is published by New World Library. It will be released as an e-book on August 19th in major e-book retailers and available in bookstores by September 25, 2014. For details on receiving a free gift with a pre-order of Animal Stars and to see endorsements from Temple Grandin, Naomi Judd, Lisa Vanderpump, Carson Kressley, Jon Turtletraub, Quentin Tarantino, Zac Ephron, and other celebrities, go to www.animalstarsbook.com.

ANIMALS STARS – NEW BOOK OFFER

We are thrilled to announce that the new book we co-authored with Robin Ganzert, PhD, president and CEO of American Humane Association, is available for a special presale offer.

ANIMAL STARS: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors is being published by New World Library. Visit the website, view the book trailer, and get details about the presale gift offer at http://www.animalstarsbook.com.

ANIMAL STARS includes fascinating true stories from world-class animal trainers who train dogs, cats, horses, bears, birds, and a wide variety of animals to star in movies, television, and commercials. It’s truly a behind-the scenes look at how animals are trained, cared for, loved, and protected.

While being entertaining and full of juicy secrets, the book also provides readers with vital information for how to train and keep their own pets safe and happy.

And guess what? Julia Roberts, Steven Spielberg, Ewan McGregor, Hailee Steinfeld, and Angie Everhart contributed stories to the book about their exciting experiences with animal actors!

The book has photos of all those world famous celebrities plus Robert DeNiro with animals who won their hearts. Dr. Marty Becker, DVM, official veterinarian for the DR. OZ show and best-selling author, wrote the foreword for the book.

About this time last year, we went to the Los Angeles area to meet the animals and interview trainers whose stories are in this book. Photos from the trip show us getting to know Finder, who played Joey in the movie WAR HORSE and Crystal, the monkey who stars in the NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM movies.

Writing the book and getting to know Robin and more about American Humane Association’s outstanding mission of advocating for animals in film and television has been a highlight for us.

To received your GIFT for pre-ordering ANIMAL STARS:

1. Pre-order ANIMAL STARS from your local bookstore, a chain bookstore, or any online bookstore such as Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com

2. Keep a proof of purchase such as a paper receipt and make a photo of it as a jpg file.

3. Email the jpg image of your proof of purchase BY AUGUST 30, 2014 to <jilln@americanhumane.org> and let her know which gift you want an animal-themed coffee mug or tote bag — and your post-mail details.

A portion of the proceeds for this book benefit animals around the world, so order your copy of Animal Stars today! Thanks for your continued support of American Humane Association — the voice for children and animals.

“I’m so thrilled that Dr. Robin Ganzert and American Humane Association not only monitor animal safety in films and television productions but also have a unique connection to these amazing animals and their trainers. As an animal lover, I’m glad that she is bringing these stars and their stories to a wider audience while at the same time teaching the value of protecting all animals.” –Naomi Judd

“Every movie fan who loves to see animals in their favorite movies will want to read Animal Stars. The book contains lots of animal-training tips, along with the behind-the-scenes stories.” –Temple Grandin, author of Animals Make Us Human and Animals in Translation

Animal Stars

Animal Stars

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Please visit any of the blogs and forums below to comment on past and current articles and stories. We look forward to reading your comments, stories, and answers to questions posed in the newsletter. This is a great way to get to know other people’s thoughts, experiences, and concerns about the angel animals who share their lives.

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Allen and Linda Anderson
ANGEL ANIMALS NETWORK – Where Pets Are Family
www.angelanimals.net

Note: To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week, send a blank message to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

 

IN AN ENLIGHTENED WORLD

In her book, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, author Amy Tan writes, “I was like a turtle lying on its back, struggling to know why the world was upside down.”

How likely is it that much of the world is like that turtle, trying to view the complex animal-human relationship from a perspective that only yields false results?

In an enlightened world the veil would be lifted, and golden threads that connect all life would become visible.

In an enlightened world you would communicate easily with species that have lived on this earth longer than people, can move about it more freely, and view life in an entirely unique way. Animals would become a valued resource for decision-making, health, and happiness.

In an enlightened world there would be no doubt that the souls of animals survive death and move on into an afterlife. You would be comforted in the knowledge that you’ll be reunited with those who have placed their indelible paw prints upon your heart.

Even though you personally may be enlightened about your spiritual connection with animals, unfortunately we’re not living in an enlightened world — yet.

In our opinion future generations will look back on our modern-day era and ask, “Can you believe back then people actually didn’t know that animals are souls?”

Our cultures will seem as primitive as previous periods in history when one class, society, clan, or tribe looked down on, treated cruelly, or subjugated another and justified their actions with the viewpoint that the enslaved had no feelings, no ability to care for themselves or to make choices, no awareness, no souls. Today’s humans will appear to be arrogant people who confused the power to dominate with being superior to those who fell under their rule.

As always, a story says it best. What could life be like in an enlightened world? Please always share your stories, whenever and where you can, so that the day may come when we all live in an enlightened world.
Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network — Where Pets Are Family
www.angelanimals.net

Who has believed in your potential when no one else could see it?

First published by Angel Animals Story of the Week, January 9, 2010. Reprinted with permission. To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week Newsletter, send a blank message to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

A HORSE NAMED FREEDOM
By Kathe Campbell

A horse’s shocking year, as told to me by loving animal sanctuary folks in Montana — his ominous days before mending at my mountain ranch.

The young Mustang’s life was unruffled, his fodder and spring graze lush, while he contemplated his prime and lived near kin. The fields and pastures were seasonally green, and the rancher forked up two squares a day, lending belly comfort and warmth to the horse’s life even through winter’s chill. Then some folks arrived on the scene to take the youngster away. He left his ma and sidekicks while being prodded into a tiny horse trailer.

Life was now simpler for the gelding, no long green valleys, nobody to run the rivers with.  The hard case that bought the horse was unkind, jerking the youngin’ around while breaking him to saddle, and forcing that cussed bit.

Horse, as the new person called the Mustang, had never known about newfangled shouts, curses, and whippings that he was getting from the man’s leather quirt.  The youngster’s fare dissipated into mostly weeds and dandelions, stale ditch water, and nary one sweet handful of oats.  Worse, he stood afire under summer’s fierce rays while ogling grazing cattle across the fence.

The lady crawled upon Horse’s back for a spell, seemingly content with her new pony as they walked along the dirt road on fair afternoons.  But for an occasional cake of grass hay tossed over his rails by a kind neighbor, Horse was left to languish in the bare and dusty pen.  By summer’s end, his once sleek sorrel coat became pocked and dull, and his raw-boned hips and neck were bit through by a range of pesky chiggers.

Come evening, the man and lady screeched and hollered so loud as to make Horse’s ears twitch.  Sometimes the lady came flying off the back porch, only to lay bellerin’ in the dirt.  Often, the man became so angry, he swore and threw his fist through the window of their unholy little weather-beaten shack.

Autumn came, and the man left the place in his old rusty pickup. The weeds in Horse’s pen were done for, and yet seldom did a soul come with a cake of fodder.  Now and then the offish lady fetched a few handfuls of bunch grass from the yard, always carrying that rank bottle of lightening.  If she’d only offer to take Horse for a ride, he could easily harvest a meal from the dusty grass alongside the road, but it wasn’t to be.

The first snows saw the woman leaving early in the mornings, never seen till after dark throughout blizzards and hard freeze. She emerged nightly from her little car plumb full as a tick, mumbling nonsense as she weaved her way to the house.  Horse whinnied, cribbed on the rails, and kicked the boards, but the lady never turned the lights on or gave him a thought.  Crowbait now, and a layer of snow covering his back, icicles hung long and heavy from the Mustang’s mane.

Looking as though the half dead animal was ready for the bone orchard, a lady from the local animal sanctuary appeared. She opened Horse’s pen and ran gentle hands over his sorry body, murmuring soft sounds of love and reassurance.

Soon a horse trailer arrived, and Horse threaded his thin and weary legs up the ramp. But his knees collapsed, leaving him a crippled heap of filthy flesh and bone.  Kind folks helped him walk into a warm stall where he bedded for days with hay, oats, and fresh water. At only three years old, his way of going seemed lost, and unless salvaged, he’d be put out of his misery.

Weeks passed, and another horse trailer pulled alongside Horse’s stall. Other folks blanketed his emaciated carcass before escorting him inside.  After a long journey the doors opened to the scent of green sprouts in a field and the loping hooves of donkeys rushing to greet the pitiful wretch.  He was turned loose to the glory of it all — a barn, alfalfa hay, and clean running water when he thirsted. Horse was free.

Shivering and gasping at the sight, I saw Horse’s scrawny neck schmoozing my donkeys across the fence one early morn.  “So you’re our rescue baby, you sorrowful thing,” I tearfully whispered, caressing his head against my chest.  “We’ll bring you about.”

Horse was made welcome in a clean, straw-filled stall when he needed comfort and seclusion.  I brushed his coat daily, clipped and filed his split hooves, shared carrots, and assured him he had a home if he was a mind to stay.

He was high maintenance in the beginning and stayed for a goodly time at our ranch, high in the Montana mountains.  When we saddled up and rode the hills and forests on our big champion donkeys, Horse trailed along until he amassed the sleek coat, bulk, and muscle he was born with.

The day came when we shook hands and hugged a dear old friend as he and his small Indian grandson emerged from their truck. Horse had never seen a shave tail before and seemed taken with the boy’s tawny skin, shiny black hair, and winning smile.

The lad crawled up on Horse bareback, pulled gently on the reins, and spoke kind words as they rode the acres.  This was surely the best birthday present the youngster ever had, as the Mustang walked easily into their trailer to go home.  They called him “Freedom.”

BIO:
Kathe lives on a Montana mountain with her mammoth donkeys, a Keeshond, and a few kitties.  She is a prolific writer on Alzheimer’s, and her stories are found on many ezines.  Kathe is a contributing author to the Chicken Soup For The Soul and Cup of Comfort series, numerous anthologies, RX for Writers, and medical journals.  Email her at <kathe @ wildblue.net>

SOMETHING TO THING ABOUT:

Who has believed in your potential when no one else could see it?

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
www.angelanimals.net

Note: To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week Newsletter, send a blank message to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

Have you befriended an animal who showed remarkable intelligence that others hadn’t seemed to notice?

“GRATITUDE FOR AN AMAZING HORSE” was first published in Angel Animals Story of the Week Newsletter on 12-12-09.  To subscribe send a blank message to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

GRATITUDE FOR AN AMAZING HORSE
By Karen Murdock

“Lukas is such a lucky horse. He should be so grateful to you, Karen, for everything you’ve done for him”.

Gratitude is something on everyone’s mind around this time of year. Especially for me. I receive over one-hundred e-mails a day about Lukas, from all over the world, and many are similar to the one above.

Granted, Lukas has come a long way since leaving the racetrack after three unmemorable back-of-the-pack finishes and two bowed tendons. After changing hands several times, he ended up in a yard with a family that had no horse experience and severely neglected and underfed him.

When I purchased Lukas as a ten-year-old, green, project horse from the lady who had rescued him, I was hoping to be able to show him in some lower level local shows. However, within a month of competition training with the person who was then my barn’s instructor, Lukas quickly became surly, aloof, and dangerous. He began bucking, bolting, and spooking. Before long, he was unsafe even in his own stall.

At that low point, I decided to fall back on my trick-training experience to try and bridge the gap between us. Over the years, I had put tricks on horses as a way to help them find homes, establish a connection, and improve their concentration. I have found it to be a very fun, interactive, and creative process that promotes confidence, trust, and performance.

The foundation of my system is based on kindness and patience, using positive reinforcement to shape desirable behaviors and extinguish what I don’t want. Certainly, though, dangerous behaviors receive a correction based on the offense.

We started with the smile trick. As our lessons progressed, I began to notice a definite improvement in Lukas’s attitude and behavior. He became an eager and willing partner, happy to cooperate and initiate games. Our relationship deepened to love.

His ability to learn, his curiosity and personality flourished to the point that only four short months ago, friends and family urged (insisted) that Lukas was too special not to share with others. I agreed to have his videos posted on You-Tube and have since then, posted shorter clip versions, in hopes that it would increase awareness of horse rescues and thoroughbred ownership. The rest is history, as they say.

To date, Lukas is able to do all liberty moves: smile, pose, nod yes, shake his head no, yawn, catch, kiss (dry and wet), fetch, cross his front legs, wave, curtsy, bow, park out, push a cart, passage, Spanish walk (front and back), jambet (3 legged 180 pivot), act lame, put his legs all together, lie down and let me sit on him, rear, stay and come and go to a mark, pedestal work, hide-and-seek, and be “blindfolded”. He can spell and count and identify shapes and discriminate colors.

We have been privileged to be on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, HLN (along with many non-affiliates), and Equisearch globally. The Associated Press released a feature story on Lukas last month, and it is still being picked up nationally.

His amazing story has also been included in many magazines, newspapers, forums, blogs, and on numerous websites. He has over 4,000 Facebook friends. He is currently listed both on Yahoo and Google as “The World’s Smartest Horse” (living) and is being compared to Beautiful Jim Key.

I am most proud of his association with The California Thoroughbred Breeder’s Association — an organization dedicated to correct breeding and promotion of Thoroughbreds. Lukas is the official “Spokeshorse” of Canter — a wonderful group committed to finding homes for ex-racehorses. In addition, we are associated with Heal with Horses, a program to aid trauma victims through equine-assisted therapy.

To date, Lukas’s invitations include The Grand Prix HITS Desert Circuit, The Equine Affaire, The International Equestrian Festival, The Western States Horse Expo, and America’s Family Pet Expo.

So, as you may have already guessed, it is I who am grateful to have such an incredible equine partner. His resilience, ability to forgive, zest for life and learning, sense of humor, trust, and love are a daily inspiration to me. Now he also inspires so many others.

Visit www.playingwithlukas.com to see photos and videos of Lukas.

Visit www.angelanimals.net/nlimage23.html to see a sweet photo of Lucas with a friend.

BIO:
Karen Murdock is a retired psychiatric nurse who has been fixing problem horses for over 30 years. She uses a combination of shaping techniques, a specialized version of clicker training, and positive reinforcement. Her unique approach uses games and play as a way to connect and bond with horses to develop confidence, increase focus, improve performance, and build willingness and trust. All of her services and proceeds go to benefit horses. Visit www.playingwithlukas.com to see videos, photos, and read more about Lukas.

SOMETHING TO THING ABOUT:

Have you befriended an animal who showed remarkable intelligence that others hadn’t seemed to notice?

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
www.angelanimals.net

To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week newsletter, send a blank message to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

How have horses or other animals listened to your deepest longings and heard what no one else could hear?”

Excerpt from HORSES WITH A MISSION: Extraordinary True Stories of Equine Service by Allen and Linda Anderson (New World Library, 2009), pp. 114-118. Reprinted with permission. All Rights Reserved. To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week newsletter send a blank e-mail message to angelanimals-on@mail-list.com. Visit http://archive.mail-list.com/angelanimals to read past Angel Animals newsletters.

Horses with a Mission is on sale for half price until December 14th at shop.angelanimals.net

BUTCH, THE HORSE WHO BELIEVED IN MY DAUGHTER
Jodi Buchan, Bemidji, Minnesota

While raising my ten-year-old child, Katie, who has profound mental retardation, my family experienced many encounters with the two-legged cherubic kind — or what I like to think of as earthly manifestations of guardian angels. What I didn’t expect to come across was one with four hooves and a whinny who tucked his Pegasus-sized wings beneath his saddle.

Butch, a retired chestnut gelding, standing about 14 hands high, was one of the horses at SMaRT, the Snow Mountain Ranch Therapeutic Riding Program at the YMCA of the Rockies in Fraser, Colorado, where I took Katie for therapeutic riding. When corralled in with the mares, Butch would thrust his maleness in the direction of every potential mate. Since I’m not an equine specialist, I can’t say if this was typical behavior, but I came to learn that Butch was not a typical horse. Whether the mares responded with a kick or a stampede, he was not deterred.

On the other hoof, whenever he assumed his role as therapy horse, his stride became patient and gentle. His slow, rhythmic, and repetitive gait and the natural movement of his hindquarters influenced his riders, improving their core strength, range of motion, and stamina. It seemed that whatever his mission, be it misguided mating attempts or guided therapy activities, wherever his heart led him, Butch’s dedication was unflappable.

Butch was not merely the “object of modality,” as his purpose is described on paper in grants to funding organizations and reports to medical partners.

The breadth of Butch’s contribution to the multidisciplinary therapy team, helping clients with movement, communication, and behavior is broader than that of his four-wall office counterparts: the hammock-like net swing and the padded, tubular bolster. These are. tools for aiding a therapist in creating positions that strengthen weak neck muscles or challenge balance for their clients, but the net swing and bolster are still inanimate objects. These aids can be useful, even stimulating, but they cannot come close to duplicating the immeasurable benefits of the human-animal bond.

By the time midsummer 1997 came around, Butch and my daughter, Katie, had developed an unspoken understanding, a trust between rider and provider.

Katie’s Breakthrough

At the beginning of one therapy session, I brought Katie to the base of the wooden mounting ramp. Off in the pine-framed meadow, Rose, the program director, led Butch by the reins. Her golden hair lassoed into a ponytail, Rose led a sun-ripened band of three volunteers who trailed behind Katie and Butch.

Katie didn’t look directly at any of them. She tipped her head. Using her peripheral vision to briefly glance in their direction, Katie made a guttural note of excited anticipation-her version of language. I held onto Katie’s arm as she circled and circled in a jig, similar to what she does when waiting for her school bus to pick her up.

Once Butch was safely between the mounting platform and another elevated wooden base, he stood still and patiently remained with his colleagues. Rose took my daughter up the ramp and guided Katie’s hands to the saddle horn. She lifted Katie’s right leg over the saddle. A second volunteer, standing on the platform across from Rose, put Katie’s foot into a stirrup. When Katie was centered, Rose said, “Katie, tell Butch to walk on.”

Katie smiled, unresponsive to Rose’s request. Aside from various pitches of sound indicating her excitement or discomfort, Katie’s only other form of expressing herself was through an adapted sign language. This was limited to “eat,” “drink,” and occasionally “more,” along with a turn away of her head for “no.” We all waited for any kind of response.

Rose repeated the prompt. Katie waited for something to happen, seemingly content just to sit on Butch. Rose waited and repeated the verbal cue a third time. While we listened for any kind of sound from my daughter, the volunteers watched her feet for a slight kicking movement, another way a nonverbal rider could tell Butch she was ready to go.

Finally a volunteer on each side of the horse lifted Katie’s feet to help her tap Butch’s flanks. Rose spoke for Katie and cheerfully said, “Walk on,” and they all headed toward the corral.

Katie’s usually curved, slumped posture straightened. She lifted her head and beamed a smile of pride to the audience — me. I swallowed her joy in a lump and claimed it for my own. Katie has had little to say in her own life, and she attempts whatever is asked of her. In spite of significant challenges, she is completely trusting and seems at peace with her circumstances. In that moment I filled with admiration at the way she sat upon Butch. My daughter, my Katie, my Dale Evans.

Engaged in fun and motivated by Butch, Katie didn’t recognize that she had been positioned on him to achieve therapeutic goals. They were goals that would help her to walk with more stability, sit and stand with a stronger spine, and engage in developing communication. The fact that the assisted motion of mounting him was the same for getting into the bathtub at home — a specific life skill — was an added bonus. Therapy was boring. Butch was inspiring.

After he walked in the corral, Butch matched his gait to the stride of the volunteer holding his lead rope. The other two volunteers, who were walking on either side for the rider’s safety, helped Katie pull back slightly on the reins to stop Butch. They added a “whoa” for her. They handed Katie a plastic ring and guided her hands to drop the ring over a fence post.

Next, they wove their path around barrels, stepped over a row of logs, and even turned Katie around to ride Butch backward. Butch was in sync through it all, even to the point of helping to right his rider by giving a little bump of his bum when she started to slide out of position. To offer Katie and Butch a change of scenery, they all headed out to a trail in the woods.

At the end of nearly an hour riding backward, forward, and sideways, Katie’s stamina faded. She still smiled but was physically exhausted. As they walked back toward me, before they had even reached a halt, Rose said to me, “Katie said, ‘Walk on.'”

“She did?” I asked, a tone of disbelief in my voice.

Katie didn’t talk. Ever.

After nine and a half years of occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy, none of her human therapists had been able to stimulate Katie’s language. And none of those synthetic bolsters, dangling net swings, or cause-and-effect toys, which when poked, shaken, or rolled rewarded the effort with a sound, a light, or other stimulus, had prompted any language.

In fact, after years of stomped hopes and dreams with words such as, “Maybe when she’s three, she’ll be able . . . ,” “When she’s five, eight, ten . . . ,” I’d learned to lower my expectations. The fighting with our city and school district for inclusive activities and appropriate services had gotten to me. The words, “Jodi, you can’t expect miracles,” spoken by a school administrator, had begun to resonate. I’d become half empty. I’d become a mother who thinks of her child, “She can’t do that.”

Nevertheless, there is something ethereal in therapeutic horseback riding. In spite of her disabilities, Katie was participating in an activity some city slickers find terrifying. She had placed all her trust, vulnerability, and ability in Butch’s care without a moment’s hesitation.

That very next week on the mounting ramp Rose again told Katie, “Tell Butch to walk on.” I could see Butch’s left brown eye. His ear twitched backward. I thought I recognized an expression from him of anticipation, of hope.

Then we all heard it – the “w” and “k” sounds were absent. There was no lip closure, but the rhythm and inflection was unmistakable. She said, “Ahh, ann.” Butch gently began to walk. He’d heard it. I don’t think he ever doubted that he would.

At the end of the session that day, after his biscuit and some TLC, I watched a volunteer lead Butch back into the corral with the rest of the horses.

Butch had become the horse who taught me to look up again, who taught me to raise my expectations, to have a little more faith in my daughter’s unknown capabilities and future. Butch is the horse who taught me that miracles can happen 14-hands high above the corral dust.

To see a photo of Butch, go to www.horseswithamission.com

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

“Meditation: Butch’s belief in Katie brought about a miracle for Jodi to witness. How have horses or other animals listened to your deepest longings and heard what no one else could hear?”

BIO:
“Jodi Buchan has been a merchandiser, advocate, and writer. She is currently working on the story of a mother’s metamorphosis, NORMAL: A MYTHICAL MEMOIR.”
Allen and Linda Anderson
ANGEL ANIMALS NETWORK
www.angelanimals.net
shop.angelanimals.net  — Horses with a Mission is on sale for half price until December 14th
www.horseswithamission.com

To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week newsletter send a blank e-mail message to angelanimals-on@mail-list.com. Visit http://archive.mail-list.com/angelanimals to read past Angel Animals newsletters.

 

Horses Who Found Their Purpose

We’re doing a special edition of the Angel Animals in Our Midst Blog to make sure all our readers know what a treasure-trove of stories are in the new book, HORSES WITH A MISSION.

Since it’s nearing the holiday season, we’re combining this special edition with a half-price sale on the autographed book from our bookstore (shop.angelanimals.net). The book is now half-price at $7.49 for U.S. only. Sorry, but our bookstore doesn’t accept orders from outside the U.S.

THIS SALE ENDS ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2009. Last year’s new book, ANGEL DOGS WITH A MISSION, is also being offered at half-price for the duration of this sale.

The book is also available at other online bookstores around the world, at www.newworldlibrary.com, and at chain and independent bookstores.

To read more about this book and see photos of the majestic horses in it, go to www.horseswithamission.com

But first, we want you know how much love and devotion each of the twenty-one amazing contributors put into this book. We all worked along with Georgia Hughes, our wonderful editor at New World Library, to bring you the best telling of each story.

Our hope is that you will both enjoy and be inspired by these incredibly heart-opening testaments to the spiritual nature of horses. The stories honor horses who have helped people to fulfill important dreams and who have found their own meaning and purpose in life.

In this book you’ll meet:

MOLLY: a pony who survived Hurricane Katrina and the loss of a leg, but went on to spread her message of hope to children and adults with disabilities. Her story went viral with coverage on the Internet, in the New York Times, and on the CBS Evening News.

SANKOFA: an Arabian stallion who made it possible for social studies teacher Miles J. Dean to complete a cross-country journey in tribute to African American ancestors. Millions of adults and schoolchildren followed their odyssey as Miles and Sankofa made history come alive.

DIANA: a wild horse of the rare Gila herd who proved to be a proud and resourceful lead mare, protecting her herd and teaching the great lesson of forgiveness.

VIOLA: a Norwegian Fjord horse who was imported from Norway to become a broodmare in upstate New York and eventually made her way to Tanya Welsch and MN LINC (Minnesota Linking Individuals, Nature, and Critters). With her innate maternal wisdom, Viola is incredibly intuitive and nurturing, especially with at-risk youth.

PEGASUS: an ornery and unfulfilled horse who found his mission in life by nurturing a rescued foal with a gravely ill mother and went on to provide surrogate care to numerous weaker horses.

The book has been reviewed in a number of magazines and newspapers and we’ve been interviewed about it on radio and television.

For about a month now, the book has been listed as a Top 100 Bestseller in the “horse” book category on Amazon.com. Last week, it became a Heartland Indie (independent bookstores) regional bestseller.

Below is a partial list of print reviews:

**Best Friends Magazine (Nov.-Dec. 2009)
**Equine Wellness
**The Latham Letter
**New York Daily
**News Santa Barbara’s The Daily Sound
**Ride Magazine

Rather than our going on and on about what a great book this is to read, we’ll let readers and reviewers express what they appreciated about its unique ability to bring good news to a world that needs to be reminded of the best in human and horse nature.

“The stories in Horses with a Mission demonstrate the soul presence in horses as they use their innate creativity, sensitivity, and intelligence to make choices that serve themselves and others. Karen Sussman’s account of rescuing and documenting a wild horse herd reminds all of us that native and indigenous horses have been here for 52 million years. With hearts and minds open, we can learn from the wild and domesticated horses in this wonderful book.”
–Joe Camp, author of The Soul of a Horse and creator of the films starring the canine superstar Benji

“This collection of stories will remind anyone who has ever had a horse as a best friend, confidante, and soul mate of what a special gift that can be.”
–Carson Kressley, Emmy Award-winning TV host, designer, and author of Off the Cuff

“The brilliant complilation of lovely and touching stories reflect upon the remarkable connection between humans and equines. You don’t need to be an avid equestrian like me to truly enjoy this book, as the stories resonate with a spirit of hope and harmony that is shared by all creatures great and small.”
–Alison Eastwood, actress, director, and producer

“The spiritual and physical bond between horses and the humans who love them often reaches mystical proportions. Nothing celebrates that very special relationship more movingly or with greater clarity than Horses with a Mission.”
–Steven D. Price, editor of The Whole Horse Catalog

“Through their courage, sensitivity, and kindness, the horses in this book become our inspiration and guides. I was especially taken with the way each story gives us something to reflect on in our own
lives. And each chapter ends with an invitation to follow up on what we’ve just felt and experienced, a way to experience quiet time with these magical beings.”
–Michael Mountain, former president of Best Friends Animal Society

“This important book will spark your imagination and inspire you to embrace the magical moments in life that happen every single day. This book is a joy to read.”
–Melanie Sue Bowles, author of Hoof Prints and founder of Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary

“Horses with a Mission allows us to travel into the world of the horse from so many unique perspectives and introduces horses that have touched and changed the lives of many people. To have our own writer, Cooky McClung, featured in this wonderful work makes it all the more fun. It’s a fabulous read.”
–Mason Phelps, Jr., president, PhelpsSports.com

“As an equine professional teaching in seven countries for over forty years, I have read and witnessed many inspirational, magical, and  wonderful interactions between horses and humans. Horses with a Mission is an exceptional collection of such stories. The contributors fine writing abilities and talent share the deep appreciation and love they have for their equine counterparts. Bravo. Enjoy!”
–Franklin Levinson, www.WayoftheHorse.org

“Many pets are here on this earth to help humans in the journey of life. Horses, with their primal nature as prey animals, daily make choices to override their fears, get past traumas, and put themselves in danger
to be one with the humans who love them. The stories in this book are  great examples of the power of unconditional love, which I am reminded of every day in my work helping clients.”
–Lydia Hiby, animal communicator

“When I was a child I was fascinated by the love for horses the cowboy heroes showed — like Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger. Indeed, Trigger at times seemed almost human. This book [Horses with a Mission] celebrates horses that have helped people heal in various ways and that have become special servants to people in need. Horses clearly can have therapeutic uses, and the collection of stories here captures some of the more remarkable examples.”
–Bill Tammeus, Bristol Herald Courier, October 10, 2009

“As with all the Andersons’ books, Horses With a Mission relates amazing, poignant stories of animals who make a difference in people’s lives. These horses, though, go beyond the expected to true acts of courage and heroism, demonstrating the powerful link between humans and horses and also the feats of love and compassion possible when we follow our best instincts.”
–Eason.com, October 2009

“[Horses with a Mission] With twenty-one dramatic true stories of courageous, loyal, and loving horses who found their life’s purpose, this book reveals the wonders possible when both humans and horses are encouraged and allowed to follow their best instincts.”
–New Consciousness Review: Books that Expand Minds and Lift Hearts, August 28, 2009

“Horses with a Mission: Extraordinary True Stories of Equine Service is a feel-good book that any animal lover can appreciate. While I am a dog person at heart, I found many similarities in the stories included in Horses with a Mission and several of the dog-human stories I’ve read in the past. This is a brilliant compilation of loving, heart-warming stories and would make a wonderful gift for any animal lover on your list this year.”
–Nicole, Lapdog Creations, October 2009

“Horses with a Mission is a great book that shares amazing and heart-warming, true stories about horses. The stories show how horses help humans by enriching, inspiring, and even saving lives.”
–Ride Magazine, November 18, 2009

“Another great work [Horses with a Mission] by authors Allen and Linda Anderson. This husband and wife writing team have put together such classics as the popular Angel Animals anthology series published by New World Library including Angel Dogs, Angel Cats, Angel Horses, and many more.”
–Pet Memorial World, October 2009

Another wonderful book [Horses with a Mission] by Allen Anderson of stories from his readers of how horses have changed peoples’ lives. Very touching stories of horses that return to their original home, the impact the horse had on a person and/or the whole family. All the stories touch the reader and you find yourself remembering the stories and talking to other animal lovers about them.
–Victoria Yates, Chapters.Indigo.ca, November 14, 2009

Visiting Viola, a Horse with a Mission

We recently visited Tanya K. Welsch and her horse Viola at the MN LINC (Minnesota Linking Individuals, Nature, and Critters) nonprofit organization in Hamel, Minnesota. Tanya is the cofounder of MN LINC (www.mnlinc.org), an amazing charity that pairs at-risk youth and other people with animals to give them a nature-based experience that enhances and enriches their psychotherapy, counseling, or educational programs.

Tanya’s heart-opening story “Viola, Wise Mother Mare” is featured in our new book HORSES WITH A MISSION. The book launch on Tuesday, October 6th, 7:30 p.m. CDT at Garrison Keillor’s Common Good Books will also serve as a fundraiser for MN LINC. The bookstore is generously donating 10 percent of all sales to MN LINC the night of the launch.

Viola, a Norwegian Fjord, was imported from Norway to become a broodmare in upstate New York. Eventually Viola made her way to Tanya and MN LINC. Viola put her mothering skills to excellent use as a co-therapist in MN LINC’s animal-and-nature-facilitated psychotherapy, learning, and wellness program for youth and families. With her innate maternal wisdom, Viola is incredibly intuitive and nurturing, especially with at-risk youth.

It was delightful for us to talk with Tanya and find out firsthand how MN LINC positively affects children who have had a rough start in life. Tanya explained that often with children traditional therapy isn’t as effective because it requires sitting in a chair and communicating thoughts and feelings.

We could relate. We remembered asking our kids when they were little, “How was your day?” Answer: “Fine.” Or “How are you feeling?” Answer: “Okay.”

When Tanya and her specially trained staff and volunteers match the children with a horse, or goat, or chicken, or rabbit, the children begin to express their emotions naturally. Adults also come to MN LINC for the kind of nature and animal-based experience that they couldn’t find anywhere else. Social services, the court system, schools, and therapists refer children to this organization for its innovative and highly effective approaches.

It was a thrill to visit with the gorgeous mare Viola and other animals at the MN LINC facility. Viola was all we expected and more. She displayed a deep calm with an intuitive, almost magical touch.

We also got to meet and spend time with Carolyn Hauck and her rescued horse Dillon. Carolyn helps to get the word out about MN LINC and how much good the organization does for those who would benefit from animal assisted therapy. If you would like to meet Tanya and hear her story about Viola, come to the HORSES WITH A MISSION book launch and MN LINC fundraiser at Garrison Keillor’s Common Good Books in St. Paul.

You can also meet Tanya and another Minnesota contributing author, Pauline Peterson, at Minnetonka BORDERS Books and Music. Visit www.horseswithamission.com for details about the book events in St. Paul and Minnetonka.

So mark you calendars! We want a big crowd and lots of bookstore donations for MN LINC.

Visit www.angelanimals.net/recentevents.html to see photos of our visit to MN LINC.

What are the charitable organizations you support that help both people and animals?

We welcome you to answer this question and the “Something to Think About” question at our blogs and forums, so everyone can see your comments.

* * *
We hope you’ll consider HORSES WITH A MISSION: Extraordinary True Stories of Equine Service (New World Library, September 1, 2009). It’s available, autographed, at Angel Animals Online Bookstore, www.shop.angelanimals.net, Amazon.com (http://is.gd/2idLM), Barnes & Noble (http://is.gd/2iHQy), Borders Books & Music (http://is.gd/2iHWO), New World Library (http://is.gd/2iI1P) and other online and independent bookstores.

“This important book will spark your imagination and inspire you to embrace the magical moments in life that happen every single day. This book is a joy to read.”
–Melanie Sue Bowles, author of HOOF PRINTS and founder of Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary

Go to www.horseswithamission.com to read excerpts of the book, see video clips of stories, and join in the fun of launching this exciting new book.

* * *
Don’t forget to enter the Dogs and the Women Who Love Them True Story Contest described in the announcement below. We’re looking forward to reading your stories. CONTEST DEADLINE — SEPTEMBER 30, 2009 — IS FAST-APPROACHING.

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
www.angelanimals.net
www.horseswithamission.com
angelanimals@aol.com