Monday, May 30, 2011
Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Crying Oh The Dreadful Wind and Rain: "I think that I am living through the wettest season in my adult life and it is beginning to tell and others around me. I hate muck and deep ..."
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Yesterday I completed the easiest four hour ride that I have ever done. I was riding Tradewind on a lengthy exploration of some woods trails that I had never been on. This morning I discovered why the ride was so easy for both of us.
Beth fired up the wii machine and I weighed myself. Since late winter I have lost just over 20 lbs. I have been eating a diet centered on the principles of the Paleo diet.I have been riding steady but not to the point of regular exhaustion. I have been alternating round sole striding shoes and barefoot running, while beefing up core training with emphasis on the kettle bell.
Tradewind approves of the improvement. If I drop another 20 pounds I think that riding 100 miles in a day will become as routine as riding 50 miles in a day is now.
I must admit that I am a bit excited about the prospect. And speaking of prospects, this is Werowance pictured above. This half Corolla colt is the son of Croatoan. His mother is a quarter horse/Tenn Walker cross. He turns two this summer. He is very warm and affectionate and has Croatoan's personality. He can really become a great horse. He will likely top out about 14 hands. He is 13.2 now. He has taken a saddle, is halter trained, and has had his hooves trimmed. He is one of only two 1/2 Corollas that I have left for sale. The other is Legacy and I am not sure that I want to sell Legacy.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: I Caught a White Whale: "I rode Red Feather in the woods. He had been ridden in the woods a handful of times before, but never by me. He was the most athletic and t..."
Standing Holy, named for the last daughter of Sitting Bull, is a mustang of western stock that knows how to cover ground. She has a long stride and is a very high energy horse. She is warm and friendly to people, but is a lead mare in the herd.
We are also offering her for sale in order to make room for more Corollas. For about a year Standing Holy was my main riding horse while I was starting others to saddle. She is a good horse for a good rider, but I would not want a novice on her.
This is great picture that Rebecca took of Cynthia Parker, a modern Appaloosa mare that we have for sale. In order to have room for additional Corollas I am reducing the number of non-Corolla mares that I have. We will be offering a few other trail horses for sale as the summer progresses.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
For the cost of cable tv, a new cell phone with all of the gadgets, and a host of computer and video games a family could easily purchase and board a horse.
Is there a parent out there that genuinely believes that their child would grow up to be a better, happier person with the typical selection of parent-replacing electronic devices than they would be with a horse? How many parents have the simple guts and leadership ability to teach their children to reject the materialism that permeates our culture?
The two main excuses that I have heard parents give for not allowing their kids to have a horse filled life is that, "we can't afford it," and "we are too busy with other things."
The two actual reasons that parents have for not allowing their kids to have a horse filled life is that they either simply do not know what a life altering experience it can be for their child or they simply simply are afraid to do anything but conform to today's view of what it is to be a good parent(ie, "Don't let them get hurt and buy them whatever they want, especially if their friends have one.")
For those parents who simply do not realize what a great thing this can be for their children, it is up to those of us who do know to educate them. I am afraid that the other,(and larger), category cannot be educated. They can only be pitied. But it is their children that are to be most pitied.
If you care about horses or kids, go teach a kid to ride.
(This is a shot of my three year old granddaughter on a neat Chincoteague, Wind in His Hair.)
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Perhaps I Have Been Too Subtle: "This picture was from a ride yesterday. The rider is seven years old. Manteo, the wild Corollla stallion that she is riding, is much younger..."
Hit the link given above to pull up this vintage post.
Hit the link given above to pull up this vintage post.
No picture of her yet. She was just born, a bay filly born of Persa, (Shackleford herd) and Manteo, (Corolla herd). Looks a lot like Pasquenoke but not as big and bold as Pasquenoke was at birth. This is Persa's first foal so one would expect it to be a bit smaller.
My antidote to the affects of having teenage riders that do not understand the importance of the educational portion of our program is the fact that I have several adults that do. Wendy has been one of those adults for a long time.
War Admiral, pictured above, and Sea Biscuit, are among the first heritage breed of authentic colonial livestock that will be part of the Gwaltney Pioneer Farm. They are Spanish goats of the Baylis strain and. When I told Wendy that I would be looking to add goats to the project she offered to purchase me two authentic Colonial Spanish goats. Not only did she purchase them. She and Richard drove deep into Carolina to pick them up and deliver them.
This summer I hope to begin construction of portions of a reconstructed settler's farm circa 1650 and stock it with authentic livestock. The project will make a wonderful frame to show off our beautiful Corollas.
Monday, May 23, 2011
I have never been tougher than those around me. I have never even had a particularly high tolerance for pain. I do have, and I work very hard to maintain, an incredibly powerful immune system. It is rare for me to be laid out with an illness to the degree that I am too sick to feed up and check on the horses for more than half a day. In fact, this only happens a few times in a decade. I do not even get the flu anymore. I used to enjoy my flu. It always gave me the opportunity to take a vacation with out having to go anywhere. I could just lay in bed for a day or two, read and watch the history channel. But it seems that now I have lost my ability to take a trip and never even leave the farm.
But the mind has no immune system. Cuts and scratches never heal. They just fester. They cannot be cured, but they can be treated. The only effective treatment that I have found is to mount up and ride at a comfortable pace, deep into the woods until I am too exhausted to even put my tack up when I get back to the tack shed.
It is time now to try to ride 100 miles in a day again. My previous efforts have been tremendous failures. I have never made it more than 69 miles. Perhaps this holiday weekend will make it possible. It has been a long time since I have accomplished anything that I could look back on with pride and knocking off 100 miles in a day would be a nice feat for someone my age...or any age.
(Here is a nice shot of the Black Drink and his mother Baton Rouge.)
Sunday, May 22, 2011
About 75 hours after Pasquenoke was born she was running beautiful circles around her mother who grazed peacefully. The circles were about 40 yards across and were nearly perfectly round. Yes, as round as a round pen.
When she deviated from the circle and took off in a straight line her mother would jerk her head up from the pasture and focus intently on the colt. The colt would quickly return to the circle route and the mother immediately returned to grazing. In short order Pasquenoke completely stopped deviating from the circle.
Secotan was teaching her foal using pressure and release. The pressure was the stare that she gave the baby and the release was when she returned to grazing. When we train using pressure and release we are training naturally using a language that the horse instinctively understands.
That is all natural horsemanship is--using communication techniques that horses naturally understand. In short, instead of seeking to teach them to speak English, we learn to speak horse.
Every method that seeks to refine this simple principle is a move away from natural horsemanship into something entirely different. It is very unfortunate that nonviolence has been distorted into being the key component of natural horsemanship. Nonviolence is a wonderful concept that I adhere to as a goal for human existence but it is utterly alien to the natural horse world. A great deal of the communication that occurs in the herd is based on dominance, violence and control.
Cruelty is not natural in the herd and it has no place in training. Violence does not, and should not, ever be equated with cruelty. Clinton Anderson phrases it nicely with his instruction to be "As firm as necessary, but as gentle as possible." Would that more horse people understand that firmness is not cruelty.
In training horses I do not seek to emulate Gandhi. Instead, I seek to emulate Comet, a long time leader of my herd. A young horse would not kick or bite Comet because he would nail them.
My horses nearly never demonstrate any violence toward me. That is because they know that, like Comet, I would nail them.
And I would nail them naturally.
Rebecca has come up with a new look for this blog and I like it. I am surprised to say so. As a general rule I dislike all changes in appearance of all things. I find them to be confusing. I particularly dislike it when women change their hair style. It nearly never results in an improvement.
I found an exception. JK's hair style change is a great improvement. Best improvement in a hair style that I have encountered. But here is the catch--I can nearly guarantee that at some point in the next 25 years she will change it.
This is Amanda, who, to my knowledge, has never lived on a farm. This is her Corolla mare, Secotan. Secotan knows her roots. When one looks's into her eyes it is obvious that she knows that she has lived on the Outer Banks for nearly 400 years.
Amanda may be one of a new breed of kids coming along who are finding their roots in a surprising way. Amanda will be a student at the Governor's School for a session on agriculture. Take a close look. You may be looking a a future farmer of America.
Disgust with factory farm practices along with health and nutritional concerns are leading to new farm practices,new farms, and best of all new farmers. My son in law is a former Peace Corps volunteer with a masters degree in horticulture from Virginia Tech. He and my daughter have a home on a very few acres with a green house that they built, a small egg production program and a tremendous gardening operation. They market their products at a local farmer's market, through a co-op, and on the internet. They are working hard and their farm is on the road to prosperity.
One long time rider has a brother who just graduated from college with plans to become a first generation farmer. Another rider's brother in law is looking to do the same thing.
This is more than a fad. It is a trend, and perhaps one of the most encouraging trends of this century. I share Jefferson's view of the debilitating effects of urban life on the human spirit. The further one lives from the soil the more difficult it becomes to build a meaningful life and a strong family. One's hands may be best washed with soap and water but one's heart is best cleansed by sweat and dirt.
However, living the country life does not require ownership of thousands of acres. The new young farmers are demonstrating what can be achieved on a small piece of land. My daughter and her husband both have full time jobs aside from their produce business. Their spare time is spent together, working and producing together. The biggest surprise to me is how my wife is drawn to participate in their endeavor. Beth, a senior assistant Attorney General, takes great pleasure in helping with the washing of eggs.
Mindless adherence to tradition causes stagnation. Mindless worship of technology is even worse. However, respect for tradition and a yearning for innovation brings out the best of the creative human spirit. That is the hope that the new farmers bring to our nation.
These new farmers are also the best hope for the preservation of endangered heritage breeds of livestock. They are the kind of people that intrinsically understand the importance of the work being done by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. These new farmers are also perfect candidates to develop a new horsemanship that will speed the collapse of an established horse world that is based solely on greed and competition and nurtured in rank ignorance masquerading as truth. These new farmers can become vital parts of the effort to preserve the Corollas, both by supporting the Corolla Wild Horse Fund and by becoming part of the off site breeding program.
These new farmers are pioneers. They seek the future by looking to our past.
Turns out that space is not truly the last frontier after all.
(The other picture is from today's Daily Press and features a shot of my son in law Jake in front of his Browder's Fresh Pickin's booth)
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Wanchese was born in the wild on Shackleford Island. His father is Dionysus, one of the lead stallions on the island. Dionysus is the granddaddy of my filly born this morning. For more about him hit the link to "Long Haired Country Boy" that is set out below.
I hope to have pictures of the filly up tomorrow.
Just got back from the horse lot and Secotan has given birth to a huge filly whose father is Wanchese. Seems to be Wanchese's color. Secotan's last foal was at least 10 inches shorter at birth than is Pasquenoke.
She is larger than the Black Drink although the Black Drink was born a week ago. Pictures to come later.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Finally! Last night after the last round of storms Baton Rouge gave birth to a colt fathered by Tradewind. At the moment he is sorrel looking but may darken into a bay like his father.
He is strong, firm and healthy. I hope to locate him either in Florida or the Tennessee/ Ohio region. That will help distribute the stallions that are being used in the offsite breeding program to additional regions of the country.
He is named for the Indian opponent of European expansion by the same name. Hope to have two more foals born in the next few days.
Here is a shot of Tradewind at Wild Horse Days in Corolla.
I have done a little math on my current crop of riders. The figures below only include those riders.
1. Number of riders that have completed at least one 50 mile in a day ride: 12
2. Number of riders that have completed at least 36 miles in a day, but not yet 50: 2
3. Most distance ridden in two consecutive days: 98 (Lydia and me)
3. Most distance ridden in one day:69 (Emily, Lydia, and me)
4. Number of riders that can give competent natural hoof trims: 7
5. Number of riders that have read Joe Camp's "Soul of a Horse": 8
6. Number of riders that have taken a sole or at least a large role in training a wild horse or colt: 14
7. Number of riders that have participated in a clinic, show, or parade: 16
8: Number of first time horse owners among my riders: 14
9. Number of broken bones suffered by riders during training or riding in the last decade: 4 (This is for the entire length of the programs existence, not just current. However, it does not include any of my hospitalizations.)
10. Youngest rider to do 50 miles in one day: 9
11. Oldest rider to do 50 miles in one day: older than me.
A few weeks ago there was a very big photographic shoot at the horse lot. For one of the scenes we saddled up several Corollas and Shacklefords for pictures of the horses being ridden though a heavy swamp.
1. Number of riders who wasted even one second getting their horses primped and polished for the scene: 0.
I am a bit uncomfortable with applying the term "rescue" to the underpinning of a horse/human relationship. The term seems a bit self congratulatory to me. However, several of the horses that we have are what could be termed "rescues", if I used such terminology. In that category would fall BLM horses, sick or injured Corollas and horses whose owners could no longer care for them.
1. Number of horses currently on site that could be termed "rescue" horses as defined above: 11.
2. Number of horses and donkeys donated to outside non-profit riding programs in past 3 years: 9.
Finally, total number of lives, both equine and human, altered inexorably for the better by the program: Plenty.
(In the event that the stats above do not impress those in the established horse world we are now working on a new facet to our program. If I am able to teach this goat(a rare Spanish goat of the Baylis line) to properly catch and saddle our horses, then surely even Mrs. Drysdale will have to admit that we are doing something right.)
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Just found out that in early June a documentary entitled "Buck" about the great horse trainer Buck Brannamen will be coming out. Like so many of the really great clinicians, his childhood was riveted with pain. He has directed his healing into understanding horses. I find him to be the best writer among the top tier trainers.
That matters. If one knows horses inside and out one can help many horses, but unless one can talk, teach and write one cannot help many people.
By the way, it is mid May. That gives you time to go get both of his of his books and read them before the movie hits the screens. They will make you better with horses. They will make you into a better person.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
It seems that horses throughout history have been given the same social status that is accorded to their owner's class. When small Spanish stallions were ridden by the nobility they were considered to be the apex of equine breeding. Three hundred years later when they became the horses of former slaves and poor whites, they were viewed as trash in the southeast. People of color often preferred horses of color and that is all of the proof that northern Europeans needed that horses of color were inferior.
In the 1960's around here whites generally killed puppies born of the accidental mating of bird dogs and deer hounds. Such mixes were despised. (likely rooted in deep seated psycological fear of miscegenation.) The reason given was that such crosses were worthless for deer hunting. Indeed, it was a widely accepted "fact", as sure as that the sun rises in the east, that such dogs were crazy, impossible to handle, and did not bark enough on track to do anything except mess up a good pack of hounds.
In fact, many such crosses made great deer dogs. All one had to do was to look down the road to the homes of the black families in the community. They often kept such crosses and hunted them regularly. They often made first rate dogs. That did not matter to the white hunters. The "fact" that these dogs would not hunt deer overroad the observation of those crossed up dogs setting the woods on fire behind a deer day after day. Some of the more broad minded whites would opine that it appeared that some of these dogs would run deer, "but not for white people."
As integration progressed and we moved into the next decade more and more white farmers found that it was ok to have "just one or two" of the crossed up dogs in a pack. Today the "stigma" associated with such dogs is buried so far in the past that most of the young boys coming along cannot even look at a deer hound and tell that it has some of the crossed up ancestry. The only thing that matters is whether or not the dog will smoke a deer. --A triumph of reality over appearance.
Indian ponies were viewed as inferior because they were the horses of Indians. In other times and other places the proof that a pony should not be ridden by an adult was the fact that the Irish rode ponies. Even into my father's generation everyone 'knew' that mules were great but that hinnys were worthless, could never be trained and were of absolutely no value. What they did not know was that this silly belief, with no basis in reality, still existed in the 20th century in the rural south because there was once a time when the hinny was prized by Irish country people.
The same silliness, racism, and arrogance has been behind many of the efforts to "improve" the horses that are associated with poor folks any where in the world. The obsession with conformation and putting it ahead of performance to gauge horses is its trade mark. For such people it does not matter whether or not a horse is fast. The question is whether or not it carries the proper conformation that is associated with speed. Appearance trumps reality. But one constant remains true for such breeders and improvers through out history--Stupid is as Stupid does.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
That was the simple advice that a very wise old man gave me after I was first elected to the county Board of Supervisors at age 27. By that he did not mean to do what was best for me. Instead he called on me to ignore my self interest anytime that it conflicted with righteousness. He recognized that public policy creation is an exercise in the demonstration of character that not only had a moral dimension, but instead tested one's morality daily.
Nothing special about politics in that regard. That is how all of life is.
The picture above is of Rusty. Rusty was an ancient pony in very poor health when he was delivered to my father. At the time I had a handful of mustangs and no plans to have any form of a horse program except to breed a colt or two a year, gentle them and sell them to cover the expenses of what was then a simple hobby.
Expecting to have two daughters in college at the same time in a few years, I was always concerned about expenses. Rusty was not my responsibility. There was no reason for me to work to rehabilitate him. It certainly did not appear to be in my self interest to do so. The only reason to work to put this very old pony back together was that by doing so I would be doing that which is right.
I spent a fortune on Rusty. I finally got him healthy and spry enough to seek a home for him. I advertised him for sale for a a fraction of what it had cost me to make him into a happy pony. I got a call from a family that had a little girl that had always wanted a pony. They purchased Rusty. He was their first horse. There were several kids in this family and they spent hours every day riding, brushing, feeding and simply being with Rusty. It would have been hard to find a happier pony in Virginia. The family went to a church in Norfolk that was filled with city kids. Many of those kids would come out to the country to spend Saturdays with Rusty. He developed quite a fan base. And yes, he did live happily ever after.
Thee was no business logic behind my decision. On paper it was a poor business move. But life is not lived on paper.
Here is the direct result of deciding to put the old horse back together. Here is the return on my investment.
The family that purchased the Rusty, the Marbles, have had a greater positive influence on my life than any family of which I have ever come into contact. The girls are now all three great riders and first rate horse trainers. Priscilla has become one of the best trainers that I have ever seen and can articulate Parelli's theories as well as he can. Not bad for a kid who until relatively recently could order off of the children's menu. They have each gentled and trained difficult horses on their own.
Lydia and Rebecca ended up at my horse lot because of connections that they had directly or indirectly with the Marbles. They are now not only first rate horse trainers, but are also two young ladies that I can depend on. (As one ages there are few things more important than having people that one can depend on. The first phone call that I made when I found out that Lido had died was to my wife. The second was to Rebecca. I told her what needed to be done while I made the long drive back home. I never wondered if it would be a problem. I knew that I could count on Rebecca.)
Without the people that were drawn to the horse lot from the initial contacts that Rusty created there would have never been a riding program. I would have never written a book. I would have never been involved with Corolla horses. I would have never learned to test myself by training to ride long and hard. My health would be a wreck. I would likely have type 2 diabetes, weigh over 300 pounds, and suffer such back pain that I would essentially be crippled. There would be no off site breeding program for the Corollas. I would not know Terry and all of the other riders that have become Daddy's closest friends. If I began to name the names of all of the riders that have been a great part of my life the list would go on and on.
It would be a pretty bleak existence. I am one who finds that, in the words of A.P. Carter, "dark and stormy weather seems inclined to me." I rarely find myself in a position to say that life simply has its ups and downs. In all honesty, life seems to have its downs and its way, way downs.
Giving Rusty a hand was the best bad decision that I have ever made. It was a bad business move but one has no choice in such matters when one commits to doing that which is right. Doing that which is right has short term costs but is always best in the long term, and when all is said and done it is only the long term that matters.
If one does not have time to read the whole Bible just flick over to the end to see how things work out. Turns out that in the end, the good do win.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
For my little riders there seems to be a big difference between being only seven years old and being seven and a half years old. My little riders are obsessed with asking me how old all of the horses are.
I DO NOT REMEMBER! How am I supposed to remember? Age changes every single year. I do not even remember how old my daughters are and I only have two of them!
IT DOES NOT MATTER! Horses only come in three ages--too young, too old, and ok. Mokete, pictured above is too young. If the horse is unable to carry you without discomfort, she is too old. Otherwise she is ok.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Three mares in the off site breeding program will be due to have little ones on May 10, which means that I have been fully expecting them every morning for the past 10 days. I am not a patient man on such things. In fact, I am not a patient man in many regards. This is well known to everyone in my family as was driven home the last time we all ate out in a restaurant. I ordered something addition to the regular entree. (Don't remember what it was).
The waiter asked me if I wanted it brought out "now or later with the meal." My expression betrayed what a stupid question I thought that was. As Amanda said, "My Daddy always wants all of his food brought out now."
I try to make every experience a learning experience and to date I have learned that cussing and kicking piles of manure is an ineffective means of hastening labor.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Yesterday I found out about this brick that is in a memorial walk of a Smithfield Church. Beginning the night of the funeral I learned that I had been wearing blinders concerning Lido's life at school. Lido was very popular with adults. I never noticed that he did not seem to have many friends his own age. I was in awe of everything that he had over come. He was born with cerebral palsy, a useless right arm and a very weak right leg. His speech was thick and heavy. His syntax something that he made up as he went along, and he was in Special Education from preschool until the day that he died.
Yet he had the courage to the the first one to get on, and often be thrown off the first wild mustangs that he and I trained. He made his body rock hard and by age 16 could run five miles at the speed of a high school track team member. He was a smart, scheming business man that could turn one dollar into five dollars faster than any kid that I have ever known.
Like Dolly Parton in the great song that she wrote about the patchwork coat that her mother made for her, I only saw the beauty. I really did not know what a struggle some days were for him at school as he faced taunting for being a "stupid cripple that can't even talk right." It never occurred to me that the inspiration of so many people could be the object of scorn by others in his life.
Noah knew about that side. Noah was the best friend that Lido ever had. Noah knew the Lido that I knew and he stood up for him at school. Noah did not allow people to taunt his best friend. Noah looked out for Lido and Lido introduced Noah to the woods. They rode bikes and roamed around and eventually began hunting together. I think that Noah probably learned a bit about physical courage and confidence from Lido.
Noah was hunting with Lido on 12-29-08. He was only a few feet away when Lido pulled the gun from his gun rack. Lido had to do such tasks with one hand. He was hurrying to get the gun out to get in position to get a shot at a deer that was coming up from the woods behind the Little House. As Lido pulled out the gun from the truck it discharged and Lido's life ended. Noah did everything that could be done in terms of first aid but those kinds of wounds are not treatable.
Noah was looking out for Lido all the way to the end. Noah was the best friend that Lido ever had. Noah is about to graduate. A few weeks ago he became an Eagle Scout. Soon he will be joining the military.
There will be many people in his lifetime that will be lucky enough to have him as a friend. He is good at being a friend. He is experienced.