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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

So Much Left To Learn



And we are working hard to learn...and teach it. The world of permaculture stands in strict opposition to the edicts of big agribusiness every bit as much as natural horsemanship, natural hoof care, and natural horse care stand in strict opposition to the edicts of the established horse world.

Our application of permaculture techniques to conserve soil and water and to produce more healthy living forage for our horses is still in its beginning stages. The changes have been remarkable. Where there was only mud or dust a few years ago we now have lush vegetation. Our soil is alive and we are working to strengthen it every day.

We just had forty high school agriculture students come out on a field trip to see what we are doing. They loved it, even if it meant standing in misty rain for an hour while learning about fungi and bacteria that are more important to plant growth than modern chemicals.

Education is a fundamental aspect of our program. Although I have not been riding or exercising enough in the past six months, I am averaging at least an hour every single day reading and learning about how to make dead dirt live.

http://simplesoilsolutions.com/ is a great site worth checking out right away. I look forward to going out to her operation and learning everything that she is doing that we can apply.

I have always found learning to be tremendously exciting and what I am learning here is making me giddy.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Not Just For The Kids



One of the keys to the success of our unique program is our multi generational cross section of participants and volunteers. The adults in our program both give and receive.

The more they give, the more that they receive.

I don't think that we have had a participant/volunteer that has shaped and changed our program as much as Wendell has. He began riding with us when he was 63 years old. From the beginning he was a fixture at the horse lot and when he retired he put even more of himself into what we do. A widely read man with a first rate mind, Wendell was the first person that showed me how we could use soil and water conservation techniques to radically improve the quality of our program. He sent me a lengthy memo a few years ago with a simple message, "You have a mud problem."

Wendell used his considerable expertise in organic gardening to point our program in the right direction. I constantly refer to to the Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening that he gave me for ideas and information. The mud is gone, the run off is radically reduced and the grass is green. That is a huge change.

And now we use our soil and water conservation and permaculture projects as part of our educational program. We went from having a mud problem to being able to teach solutions for future generations in just a few years.

But it was his idea that we raise funds for a deep well and irrigation system that will have the greatest long term impact on our program. Rolling a component of artificial watering into a program of modified rotational grazing will do more to bring quality natural forage to our horses than anything that I ever planned.

And...Wendell is taking a very important roll in Corolla preservation. He is shown above with his young Corolla stallion, Pancho. This fall or next spring Pancho will become part of the foundation stallions in the Corolla offsite breeding program. Wendell has spent countless hours handling and teaching the young horse. I have not mentioned this to Wendell yet but there is a rare breeds Expo coming up in Lexington this fall and I think that the two of them will make a fine representation for this strain of Colonial Spanish horse.

As we entered this fundraising effort I asked Wendell to send me  information for use in a blog post about the roll of adult participants in our program.

What he sent me was powerful--intensely personal and filled with meaning......and the entire thrust of the post was about what the program meant to him and how more families need to participate along side their children. I will use that post at another time. It was typical of Wendell that the post was not a laundry list of things that he has done for the program.

And it becomes typical of all of those who throw their heart into the horse lot. No one looks for an award or even recognition. The distinction between what is given and what is received blurs. The thing given becomes the thing received.

 You can be part of this effort. Go to our website www.millswampindianhorses.com and make a contribution today. We are a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program and as such contributions are not tax deductible. We are in our first month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people

Friday, April 14, 2017

And We Work Hard To Preserve The Choctaws Too



It all started with our efforts to prevent the extinction of the Corolla Colonial Spanish mustang and our efforts have now extended into the preservation and promotion of several strands of Colonial Spanish horses. Everyone has their own favorites, but it is the Choctaws that I find myself drawn to.

The native tribes of the southeast were among the best horse breeders the world has seen. They began with the same Colonial Spanish horse that was found across the region and bred horses with extraordinary endurance, smooth gaits, and a fierce need to bond with people.

When Andrew Jackson tried to purge the southeast of all native people it was these horses that carried them to Oklahoma. They are but a remnant now, only a few hundred left in the world. For years they roamed free on Black Jack mountain. They were threatened with slaughter when the ownership of the mountain transferred hands. they were saved and disbursed into what were hoped to become breeding bands across the country.

Bryant Rickman has dedicated his life to saving these horses. He is to Colonial Spanish horse preservation what A.P. Carter was to American folk songs and ballads. Monique Henry introduced me to these historic horses and gave us our first three of them.

We have since obtained three more.

They are a vital part of our program. In less than a month Lydia will be racing Manny in a 30 mile endurance race at Biltmore in North Carolina. She will turn some heads when the other competitors watch this colorful pinto trot by them.


You can be part of this effort. Go to our website www.millswampindianhorses.com and make a contribution today. We are a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program and as such contributions are not tax deductible. We are in our first month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

We Preserved His Life and His Corolla Bloodline



This summer we will have several foals born. One of the best is likely to be the offspring of Edward Teach, shown above, and Monique, a Choctaw mare and granddaughter of Rooster, a stunning wild stallion from Black Jack mountain.

Bonnie Gruenberg's spectacular research uncovered written references to American Indian tribal horses, specifically the Chickasaws, being bred into the the Banker horses such as those remaining in Corolla in the 17th Century. By using straight Choctaw mares in the Corolla Off site breeding program we are not crossing modern blood into these horses. We are restoring what has been lost. While at the same time producing the perfect family horse--gentle, sweet natured, extraordinary endurance, and smooth , easy gaits.

Edward had already been in a veterinary hospital for two weeks when he arrived at Mill Swamp Indian Horses. As the picture shows, even after two weeks of treatment, the wound that he received in the wild, (likely from a wild hog)was horrific.

Treating his injury was difficult. We treated him twice every day for many weeks. He was a wild stallion and he was in pain. Weeks of hydrotherapy, topicals, and antibiotics pulled him through.

 He healed wonderfully. He belongs to two of my adult riders. We healed him, tamed him and trained him. He is a beautiful stallion. You may have seen a segment on Wild About Animals in which he was prominently featured.

Edward has produced one foal, Ashley Edwards' great horse, Peter Maxwell, who is often used in Road To Repair programs. Peter has Edward's sharp mind and gentle spirit.

 Often in order to prevent the extinction of these horse we have to first prevent the death of  some very sick or injured horses from the wild. It is hard work but it matters.

You can be part of this effort. Go to our website www.millswampindianhorses.com and make a contribution today. We are a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program and as such contributions are not tax deductible. We are in our first month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Race To Survive--Saving Sunshine



Yes it is graphic, but suffering often is graphic. Sunshine was a wild mare of the Corolla herd. She was sighted absolutely emaciated with the largest abscess that I have ever seen. The picture above shows what that wound looked like. That is not a joint --That is the lower quarter of the hip.  The cause of the wound and resulting abscess are unknown.

The picture below is her moving effortlessly at her new home in Lexington Virginia. She is one of the few remaining  Colonial Spanish Banker horses of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That band is among the rarest, and perhaps oldest, distinct genetic grouping of American horses.

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund rescued her and she received first rate medical care from Dominion Equine and was adopted by Becki Wells. Becky had the foresight to understand that Sunshine deserves more than to be put out in a pasture. She needs physical contact and the security that only comes from being part of a band of horses or developing a close relationship with a person.

Becki is working to give her both. When she arrived in Lexington Alexis Cash began the process of gaining the mare's trust. A by product of gaining trust is to reduce levels of stress--something very important for continued physical and emotional healing.

We have three wonderful Corolla stallions that were rescued from the wild that we rehabilitated, trained and use in our breeding program. They ranged from being crippled with founder, one  in need of stifle surgery, and Edward even had a gaping hole in his neck, likely put there by a wild hog.  All fully rehabilitated and happy and producing Corolla foals for the off site breeding program.

And now we will move on to the next step--and you are all invited to come and watch. On Saturday, May 13, beginning at 9:00 am. at Mill Swamp Indian Horses, 9299 Moonlight Road, Smithfield Va 23430. Sunshine will move into her next level of gentle humane training. I will begin with a bit of conventional round pen work and then will quickly turn the horse over to Lydia Barr.

Lydia is a professional horse trainer who began riding with me when she was eleven years old. She is a first rate practitioner of natural horsemanship. Her focus with this horse will be using a technique of gentle handling known as  "Doma India."  I have little exposure to the technique but I have never seen anything that relaxes a horse as fast as these unusual exercises.

And, to make for an even happier ending, Sunshine will be staying with us for a while to breed to one of our Corolla stallions. Our Corolla off site breeding program might one day be these horse's last chance to stave of extinction.

Save a spot by emailing me at msindianhorses@aol.com. Bring a lawn chair and pack a lunch. There is no fee charged but we strongly urge all participants to make a contribution to Gwaltney Frontier Farm, Inc to allow us to continue to wok to save these horses.

Speaking of Contributions:   You can be part of this effort. Go to our website www.millswampindianhorses.com and make a contribution today. We are a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program and as such contributions are not tax deductible. We are in our first month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.