Archives for July, 2012

Famous People and The Horses They Love: Daryl Hannah

Perhaps best known for her role as the blonde mermaid in Ron Howard’s film, "Splash," Daryl Hannah appeared in many films throughout the 1980’s, including "Roxanne," "Blade Runner" and "Wall Street."

However, unlike many beautiful Hollywood actresses, Hannah not only lives a life off the grid, but also in harmony with many things, not in the least of which is horses.

In one of her web videos, Hannah demonstrates the safety of her vegetable oil-powered car by licking the gas cap, as her solar-powered ranch hums along quietly. But one thing she is not quiet about is environmental issues.

She has been arrested many times for her protests of mountaintop removal, urban farm demolition and the planned Keystone Oil Pipeline.

But for all of her activism, it seems that the actress feels most at home among her horses.
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Famous People and the Horses They Love: Lyle Lovett

Certainly the sound of a large band can’t be missed, especially when it's done well. A large band is actually one of Lyle Lovett’s trademarks, among other things. A native Texan, Lovett has recorded thirteen albums and released twenty-one singles to date. Creating many Top Ten Billboard Hits and albums, the singer has also won four Grammy Awards, including Best Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Album.

Lovett has also appeared on screen in many different films and sitcoms, including “Mad About You,” “Dharma and Greg” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

What many people may not know is that Lovett co-owns a world class reining stallion, Smart and Shiny, and has for years bred and raised exceptional Quarter Horses.
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Famous People and the Horses They Love — William Shatner

There are few people who wouldn’t recognize William Shatner for his portrayal of James T. Kirk, captain of USS Enterprise, in the science fiction television series "Star Trek," the following animated series, or the seven subsequent "Star Trek" films.

However, Shatner’s roles expand far beyond "Star Trek." He also played the veteran police sergeant T.J. Hooker, and hosted the reality-based television series "Rescue 911," which won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite New TV Dramatic Series. Following that, Shatner starred as attorney Danny Crane in the television drama "The Practice," and the spin-off, "Boston Legal," for which he won two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award.

While Shatner is nothing short of an icon for many, for those in the horse world, he is best known as an activist. Since 1990, Shatner has been the driving force behind the Hollywood Charity Horse Show, which raises money for several different children’s charities, especially those that help handicapped children through riding horses -- a project dear to Shatner’s heart.
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Famous People and The Horses They Love

While we may know some famous horses such as Seabiscuit, Secretariat, Barbaro, or Man O’ War, what is not so well known are the many famous people who love horses. So as part of an equine therapy series, I thought I would shed some light on the many well-known people and the horses they love.

Patrick Swayze:

While Swayze’s profession was as an actor and dancer, and there aren’t many people who aren’t familiar with the movie, “Dirty Dancing,” his true love was Arabian horses. He and his wife, Lisa Nieme, kept several mares and foals, the first being an Egyptian bred mare named Aleenah.

When asked why he chose Arabian horses, the actor responded, "I grew up with horses. My father was a cowboy in Texas. We lived in Houston. At the age of eight, I visited the Gleannloch Farm and from then on I was lost! I dreamed of nothing but Arabians, and when I imagined Arabians, they were Egyptians!"

Swayze’s favorite, however, was a chestnut stallion named Tammen. This magnificent animal typifies just what Patrick dreamed of as a child, but to the celebrity, he was more than just a horse, he was a friend. "He has such a terrific personality," said Patrick. "He is a very powerful and dynamic stallion - and yet so gentle and calm when kids are around." For Patrick he was the epitome of sheer elegance and beauty.

And many judges have agreed - Tammen has had a successful and varied show career.
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Equine Therapy as a Positive Psychology Intervention?

According to Shawn Achor, the winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University, and the CEO of Good Think Inc., a Cambridge-based consulting firm which researches positive outliers, 90% of happiness can be predicted not by what surrounds a person, (the environment), but rather how he/she experiences this environment.

Alchor, who has used a 21-day gratitude list intervention, in a variety of different settings, in forty-two different countries, explains that when a person’s mood is more positive, dopamine levels shoot up, and the learning centers of the brain turn on.

Now, the Harvard professor continues, the person is primed to scan the environment not for the negative, but instead, for the positive. Interestingly, dopamine -- the pleasure detector in the brain -- also shoots up when bonding with another person - or animal.
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Equine Therapy: A Cure For Self-Obsession?

In July of last year, Newsweek ran an article titled, “United States of Narcissism.” The article explored America’s rather explosive rise of self-obsession, and self-admiration, self-absorption and self-indulgence.

All About The Self

You get the concept. Narcissism is the inability to see past that blindingly imposing thing known as the self to comprehend how one’s actions may affect another. According to Sara Konrath, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Research Center for Group Dynamics, narcissism is measured in her studies as a lack of empathy. 

So to put things in context, in this country, we are experiencing an astronomical drop in empathy.

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Equine Therapy: Building Empathy

According to Daniel Goleman, author of "Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead With Emotional Intelligence,"  empathy is the single most important tool in social interaction - especially leadership. Yet, for all it’s importance, empathy is often lacking in everyday life, and as Goleman points out, often overlooked.

For this reason, a few organizations have sprung up that focus solely on teaching and building empathy. One such organization is the Humane Society. This organization has developed what they call the Empathy Connection: Creating Caring Communities Through The Human-Animal Relationship. 

Here is an excerpt from their website:
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