Sunday, September 9, 2018

What Makes Learning to Ride So Different at Mill Swamp Indian Horses ?

It's because of all of the things that our riders see and learn while learning to ride. how to gently and humanely train horses using natural horsemanship. how important fall wild flowers are for the development of strong, healthy, well drained soil. why the partridge pea plant is so important to the birds that remain here throughout the winter. why "touch" is so important in building a relationship with a horse. the sense of accomplishment one feels from saddling up and riding 46 miles. learning the importance of the conservation of nearly extinct strains of heritage livestock. the importance of working hard, as a team, to build something bigger than we are.

We are a 501 (c) 5 non profit breed conservation program. We have no paid staff. We are all volunteers who believe strongly that bringing people back to the soil through horses, permaculture, history, education and even music is the greatest gift that we can provide to others and to ourselves. We teach riding and natural horsemanship to kids, adults, and families. Program fees begin at $160.00 per month. For more information see our web site at and email us at

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Ten Days Later He Is Appaloosa Colored

Bristol was born August 1. His mother is an HOA mare from Rigoletto. His father is Wanchese, an
HOA stallion of Banker strain captured wild on Shackleford Island. Over the past week his hips have lightened and he has white appaloosa colored hind quarters.

His unique blood line might make him of interest to HOA breeders seeking to preserve the appaloosa color in Colonial Spanish horses.

Another Foal Born To the Corolla Offsite Breeding Program

Meet Maces Spring, born last week to Baton Rouge and Corn Stalk--both formerly wild Corolla horses who are first rate trail horses and a delight to ride. She was born before breakfast and purchased before supper time by an owner who will use her both as a riding horse and as an important part of the effort to prevent the extinction of these historic horses.

There are several stallions in the breed conservation effort that are not loosely related to her and I hope that she will produce at least four little ones over her life time. Both parents are registered with the Horse of the Americas Registry as she will be.

Her father is gaited with very heavy bone. Baton Rouge has a bit of a single foot and I hope that Maces  Spring ends up as gaited as her father.

We have had a very active summer here in our program and have fallen behind in blog posts. I plan to remedy that situation. Keep your eyes open for a post on a beautiful little appaloosa colored colt born about ten days ago from Feather, and our Shackleford stallion, Wanchese.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Corolla Horse Film To Make Its Local Debut

On July 21, at 4:00 pm, Kay Kerr's award winning short film on the plight of the wild horses of Corolla will make its local debut at Trinity United Methodist Church on Cedar Street in Smithfield. The film short, "Croatoan's Memoirs" grew from her illustrated children's book of the same name. Kerr, a local artist and writer, shot much of the film at Mill Swamp Indian Horses just outside of Smithfield. Named Best Short Film at the Equus Film Festival in New York, it will soon be seen in Ontario Canada after screenings from New York to Burbank, California. Kerr will be present at the event to discuss both the film and the book from which it came.

Croatoan was a wild stallion from Corolla on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. He was removed from the wild because of his habit of taking his small band of mares from the area enclosed for the wild horses and out into traffic. At the time Mill Swamp Indian Horses was beginning to build a breeding program to prevent the extinction of these Colonial Spanish Horses, whose ancestors likely arrived in the New World over fifty years before the settlement of Jamestown.

Croatoan was gentled and trained and grew to love the attention and affection that he received at Mill Swamp Indian Horses, according to Steve Edwards, Executive Director of Gwaltney Frontier Farm, a 501 (c) 5 breed conservation nonprofit that administers all of the programs at Mill Swamp Indian Horses.

Croatoan lived nearly a decade at Mill Swamp before succumbing to old age. He sired many foals and his daughter and grandson still carry on his bloodline out at the farm.

The screening is part of an annual fundraising event for the programs at Mill Swamp Indian Horses. There will be live music from Joseph Edwards and students in the Mill Swamp music program. Food will be available along with a silent auction. Mill Swamp Indian Horses has no paid staff. All of the programs are administered by volunteers. Tickets are five dollars for adults and one dollar for children.

For further information contact

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Real Vacation

Our roots music educational program is growing steadily. Next to our riding program it is one of the most popular things that we do. Program participants learn to play a range of acoustic instruments and to perform a few modern songs, but our focus is on Carter Family, Old Time, blues, gospel, bluegrass and folk music. Students learn to play by ear--- no written music is used. This performance at a local nursing home does not include everyone in the program and the camera could not even take in all of the participants that were actually performing.

Dale Jett, A.P. and Sara Carter's grandson, said, "We went to bed of the night with the music and we woke up of the morning with the music." The great performer and ethnomusicologist, Mike Seeger believed that the first step to learning to play this music was to listen to it over and over, until your body absorbed the feel of the music.

Just as one can never be an effective practitioner of natural horsemanship without becoming immersed in the herd, one can never play this music the way it deserves to be played without being immersed in it.

In August I am taking an actual vacation and will be joined by everyone in our music program who can do so. My wife, Beth, has put together a great cultural and educational itinerary for the trip.  We will journey into southwest Virginia to see performances at Hungry Mother State Park, hope to take a tour of the Henderson School, attend the Carter Fold Festival which commemorates the anniversary of the 1927 Bristol Sessions Recordings by the Carter Family, visit the Heartwood, Southwest Virginia's artisan gallery and we will go into Bristol to see the Museum of the Birthplace of Country music. We will spend several days on this trip.

We will bring our instruments along and anytime there is a break in our schedule we will tune up on work on some songs.

All of this is part of what makes Mill Swamp Indian Horses such a different riding experience. We are a 501 (c) 5 non profit breed conservation program. We teach riding and natural horsemanship. We teach history and permaculture. WE heal and we teach others to heal. We fill voids.

The reality is that we are a cultural and educational facility--all with no paid staff. All with 100% volunteers.

There is no charge to participate in our musical program. No one has ever been turned away for lack of ability to pay program fees for our riding instruction program.

We have a very important fundraiser coming up on July 21. You don't have to be there to contribute. Go to our website to learn more about our program and to make a donation on line. Donations to a 501 (c) 5 non profit are not tax deductible.