Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Yesterday simply watering everyone by myself in the extreme dry weather took more time than I had before I had to get to court. One would assume that sleep would come easy after working so hard in such heat but in this case one would be wrong.
Aging has many unanticipated consequences. One of which for me is the lessening of the ability to get jobs done alone. Being part of a team becomes important for tasks that I would have never considered two or three man jobs before.
I plan to slow things down to doing only that which is absolutely necessary to keep everything going. This blog is not one of those things that must be done so it will go on hiatus for a while.
The real problem with tilting at windmills is not the futility. It is the exhaustion.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: A Great Trail Horse: "'Great Trail Horse' is a term that gets thrown around a lot without much of a definition. To a great extent NATRAC competitions seek to def..."
Saturday, June 25, 2011
I have always been able to count on Rebecca to get what ever needed to be done accomplished. She put together our new web site, http://msindianhorses.com/ and it is better than I could have ever hoped for. I believe that it is one of the best of its type that I have encountered. It explains what we do and why we do it.
And..Abigail Marble will join the staff of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund as Program Manager on Monday. The staff of this organization is very small when one considers the importance of the job that they do. There is only the Executive Director, Herd Manager, Program Manager and the Operations Manager. This will be a great move for Abby and the CWHF.
Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Put Your Mouth Where Their Money Is: "If you oppose horse slaughter and belong to a horse breed registry it might be worth your time to find out that registry's position on ho..."
Friday, June 24, 2011
As part of the investigation and prosecution of juvenile crime I often find myself reviewing scores of pages of posts and comments from various social media that teens use. To do so is one of the most upsetting and saddening parts of my job. The picture that is revealed of the lives of many teenagers hurts to read.
I am not talking about the sexual references or the vulgarity. Those things have been a part of teenage life for a very long time. I am not even talking about the references to drinking and the absolute worship of the concept of "partying", though I despise few things in life more than I despise alcohol.
The worst part is the emptiness of the lives described. The lack of meaning is sad enough but what is even worse is that there is no search for, or even hope for, meaning to be found in page after page of posts. There is no appreciation, nor even recognition, of beauty, love, kindness or genuine affection. Instead one finds pages of angst, hostility, nihilism, and hints of true hatred.
We can do a lot of hand wringing and finger pointing to look at the cause of such pathos, but doing so accomplishes nothing. I do not have all of the answers.
But I do have one of the answers. Kids who ride have lives with meaning and kids who ride and train horses have even better lives.
The established horse world creates barriers to horse ownership and even access to riding by artificially increasing the cost of maintaining horses. Natural horse care not only makes horses happier and healthier, it also makes them affordable.
The established horse world has been remarkably successful at creating horses whose lives are simply a series of episodes of pain. Unfortunately it has also been remarkably successful at preventing kids whose lives are a series of episodes of pain from finding a lives with meaning in a horse lot.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: It Was Like Riding With The Governor: "That is what Terry had to say about riding beside Daddy in the Christmas Parade. She said that it seemed like everyone on the sidewalk kn..."
The hobby farm movement gives us hope that as a people we are not entirely loosing our connection to the land. The hope of passing farmland down to future generations is one of the things that kept many families together and gave struggling farmers the will to plant just one more season.
The new homesteader with his five to twenty acre plot is not driven by that need for continuity and push to pass on his heritage. However, the new homesteader family can pass on a heritage much broader than family and with more importance than the last name on a deed. The new homesteader is the perfect candidate to be part of the Corolla off site breeding program.
A well managed five acre pasture, split into three or four paddocks for rotational grazing will support 2-4 Corollas for most of the year in areas where it actually rains in the summer. Sheep, goats, chickens and a pig or two are great, but if one wants to save a vital part of America's heritage, I know of no better use of a hobby farm than to be part of the off site breeding program.
In six hours a stallion that had to be captured as a result of a minor health problem will be delivered to our horse lot. We will tame and rehabilitate him and will begin his training. We will also immediately begin looking for a permanent placement for him so that he can become part of the off site breeding program.
If you have been thinking how nice it would be to be part of what we do--this is your chance. Contact me now in order to discuss what must be done to adopt this horse and to become part of the future of Corolla preservation. (And also to have the neatest horse in your county, if you care about such things.)
The picture above is of Pasquenoke, one of the three foals produced this spring by the breeding program. Having her born at your place would have improved the looks of the place better than first rate landscaping.
Now let's be blunt. You are not going to live forever. At your funeral they will talk about what a nice person you were, how you will be missed by your friends...blah, blah, blah. Hum drum, stale, just like every other eulogy given in your town that week.
Why not give them something worth talking about at your funeral? Let them talk about how you loved your family, your land, and your wonderful little horses and how you were one of the handful of people that helped make sure that these horses would never go extinct. Plant something that will keep on growing after you are gone.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Daddy, What Did You Do In The Revolution?: "Pardon me while I take a moment to wrestle with the most important question facing the future of horsemanship in America--'How can we bes..."
Saturday, June 18, 2011
great books is no better off than the man who cannot read at all. That is an approximate quote from J. Frank Dobie. Our book, "And a Little Child Shall Lead Them: Learning From Wild Horses and Small Children", is, at least approximately, a great book.
The book can be ordered in bulk from the publisher or found on www.barnesandnoble.com and many other direct sales sites. However, when the book is purchased directly from us more of the proceeds of the sale can go into our program.
Yesterday a the end of a long, hot day two small buses pulled up to the tack shed. The buses were filed with adult participants in a Chamber of Commerce Leadership School. It is only when showing groups like this around that the importance of our program hits home.
As they buses emptied Lydia, age 16, was working on a great natural hoof trim for Wind In His Hair, our pinto Chincoteague. They then moved over to see Edward Teach and get an opportunity to look at his now healed neck and watch as we demonstrated some of the gentling techniques that have him nearly ready to ride in the woods. They met Tradewind and learned about founder and insulin resistance, and, most importantly, of his recovery and sound hooves. They were surprised when Ashley told them that she completed a fifty mile in one day ride at age nine. They saw the three foals that were born of the Corolla offsite breeding program this spring. They met Christian and One Bull, his horse that he trained under my direction but completely with his own hand. They got to see the type of family operation that we are becoming as Rebecca and her two little boys were out for the afternoon. They met younger riders like Jemma and Andrew who are en route to becoming solid horse handlers and trainers. Katie was there all the way from California. Anytime her family is in the area she can be found in our horse lot.
They met Spicer, my San Clemente Island goat along with War Admiral and Sea Biscuit, my Baylis line Spanish Colonial goats.
They also got to see something tougher than a billy goat. Imagine what it would feel like to be a fourteen year old girl without a tremendous amount of riding experience who was about to mount a young Virginia City stock mustang that had only been ridden a hand full of times. Now imagine two small bus loads of people watching, eyes all on you, wondering if they were about to see a rodeo. That is what Jessica did yesterday, and yes, I do believe that this girl will end up being tougher than a billy goat.
The guests saw all of this in the space of 45 minutes. The key point that I hope they carried away with them is this: This is not brain surgery. Anyone horse person that cares about horses and kids can develop a program based on teaching natural horsemanship, natural hoof care, and natural horse care.
Even if one knows nothing about horses, it becomes obvious that what we are doing is a more meaningful horse experience than traditional riding lessons in which kids ride an ancient, bored horse in a sandy arena while a fully educated and certified professional instructor stands in the center of the arena and snaps at the rider to "sit up straight."
(And this is not just for kids. This is a picture of Rebecca on one of Red Feather's earliest successful training sessions.)
Thursday, June 16, 2011
At this point in our relationship with the Earth we, as a people, can only hope for tomorrow to be better than today if we first accept the simple principle that plain is better than ornate, small is better than large, and old is better than new. That is why I am so excited about my new saddle.
It has no checkering or decoration. It has no suede. It is one color and the leather is slick and with a touch of oil will shine like the sun. It needs only the most minor of repairs.
It is between ninety and one hundred years old. That means nothing to a kid, but when one has been married as long as I have and pauses to consider how much better it is to have a fifty year old wife than a twenty year old wife, having a saddle twice as old as one's wife is cause for celebration.
Today the wild stallion with the stifle problem is to be captured and delivered to us for rehabilitation and training. His cure will be to be moved gently in a sloping round pen when the stifle is unlocked until the joint becomes strong enough to be stable. His name is not yet determined. I learned of him the same day that a trainer that I know received a nasty blow to the head. (Not by one of my horses). I am thinking of naming him in commemoration of her prompt recovery. I am torn between naming him "Wooden Sword," a name given by the English colonists for a particular war club that local Indians used for hand to head fighting. However, I am also drawn to the name of the Cheyenne mythic figure, "Sweet Medicine", to commemorate the very strong pain medication that caused her to be better company to those around her.
The Summer is starting out with a drizzle rather than a down pour. Tomorrow a Chamber of Commerce tour will be bringing two mini buses back to the horse lot to see how we do things. I had considered a major clean up and renovation effort for the event but instead settled on shaving, even though it will be a Friday and I do not shave on Fridays.
Before the month will be out Abby will be moving from Arizona to Carolina to join Karen's staff at the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. Abby will be program manager and will be a great addition to the staff.
And I will train wild horses. I do not spend enough time training wild horses anymore. I spend too much time fixing fence, chopping weeds, etc. I do not function as well as a human being without spending the time with the wild horses. I hope to recover that this summer.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Why Don't I About Know This?: "That is what a very bright, educated young women asked me after viewing a documentary on life at the Pine Ridge Reservation in the 1970's?..."
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Jenny is back where she belongs, on top of Croatoan. Yesterday was her second time out this spring and she did a wonderful job working the horse though the woods. Even better, she was out for horse training in the afternoon. By Labor Day she will be handling the less experienced horses and this fall she will do her first fifty mile in one day ride.
For some people riding is the most natural thing in the world. Others have to work at it. Those that have to work at it are the ones that become the best riders and they are the ones that demonstrate lifelong dedication to the horses. Jenny works at it and this summer we are going to work very hard at it.
In the mean time, if any of Jenny's friends wonder if she really can ride a wild Corolla Spanish mustang stallion they can take a look at this picture.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing: "I first met Red Feather about a year and a half ago. He had to be captured because he consistently escaped the safety of the 4WD area and ..."
Friday, June 10, 2011
Last night I attended a great lecture on the causes and prevention of founder. The message kept falling back to one thing. Modern horse care is deadly for horses. Obesity and lack of exercise, or at least opportunity for movement,is at the root of some of the top killers of adult horses. Founder has moved into second place as a reason to put horses down.
The biggest problem is that so few horse owners understand what a healthy horse is supposed to look like. A USDA study of owners' assessments of their own horses came up with an obesity rate of 5%. Actual studies at Virginia tech and in England show rates over 50%.
Vets are starting to catch on and are beginning to hammer the message home to horse owners, but are often dismissed with a chortle that, "Well we could all stand to loose a few pounds." Too many horse owners do not want to be educated. They like to show how much they 'love' their horses by keeping them slick, fat, and over supplemented.
Vets can only do so much with such people. However, if local animal control officers would begin to charge horse owners with the neglect that they are actually committing as they fatten their horses like pigs to go to slaughter, it would catch people's attention. If local rescue operations would call for the seizure of horses that are being abused by being left to a life of crippling obesity, that would catch people's attention.
Lush grass, well manicured, not a weed to be found, heavily fertilized, peaceful and quiet--to many people that is what a horse pasture should look like. Ironic indeed that that is a description of a well kept cemetery.
This is simply another case of the established horse world partnering with agribusiness giants to make horse's miserable.
(Here is a nice shot of Swimmer,a healthy formerly wild Corolla mare. Jacob is a healthy teenage athlete. Neither are encased in fat. Both are as they should be.)
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Within the next two weeks I expect that Edward Teach will have his first ride in the woods. (Search previous posts for the hisotry of this stallion who lost a serious stud fight in the wild, his recovery and his training.) He has now been handled for about 25 hours and will be easier to finish than was even Croatoan.
The pictures above are of some of my original team of bronc busters along with four wild Corollas, one of whom was being ridden for the first time in the round pen. Those little riders and I trained seven horses and one donkey well enough to be safely ridden in the woods in one summer. Of all of those horses we did not have a single buck. I do not mean that no one was bucked off. I mean that not one of the wild horses or colts ever bucked.
That is my thing. I love working wild horses with my riders. I would really love to spend more time doing so. Last week I was asked why I have not yet trained a particular horse. The catch is that I have some other things to do that take up a bit of my time. For example, in the immediate future I need to:
1. Draft scripts for two different documentaries that we are putting together on the Corollas;
2. Complete legal forms to form a non profit to handle the Corolla off site breeding program;
3. Replace many posts on our nearly two miles of fencing;
4. Dig three more water holes;
5. Lime and weed and cut nearly 20 acres of pasture;
6. Sell several non-Corollas;
7. Write a magazine article on the off site breeding program;
8. Complete the last on line classes on how we raise and train horses;
9. Host a tour of local tourism and business leaders to show them what goes on in our woods;
10 Continue to ride Tradewind enough miles to ensure national recognition for this formerly wild, formerly crippled stallion;
11 Complete the training of Swimmer, Valor and Persa, three formerly wild horses that will be primarily my saddle horses (as opposed to being used by student riders);
12 Polish Standing Holy until she responds perfectly to my cues;
13 Get our training video viewing program up and running for the summer;
14 Get the music program up and going again;
15 Train Stands With a Fist, Skyco and Bear Coat Miles to the degree that they can hit the woods hard and steady;
16 Feed up, water and care for the herd; and
17 Prosecute crimes by and against kids, domestic crimes and sexual assaults.
With all of that said, I am very excited about one of the things that we will begin to work on soon. Kaitlynn was my first rider to adopt a Corolla. Her filly, Matoaka, is old enough to train to saddle. This will be fun. She will be coming to stay with us for part of the summer and she will be our next little super Corolla to train.
Matoaka, Skyco, Bear Coat, Stands With a Fist, Swimmer, Edward Teach, Looks Up, Valor, and all of my little riders are what makes it worth the trouble. Just wish that I had a little more time to get things done. The unfortunate reality is that my best option is to sleep less.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
A Tale of Three Riders--We return from a hot, dusty ride--temperature in very low nineties--time for a lunch break before we spend the afternoon working a wild Corolla stallion in the round pen--only three little riders left--two teenage girls and one 10 year old girl--everyone else gone--all three girls pick up the phone and call their homes--the first to ask her family to come and pick her up because it was too hot, the second to ask her family to come and pick her up so she could go to the pool--
Then the ten year old called--to ask her father to come watch her train and ride a wild Corolla stallion! She gladly stuck it out. Little Ashley is tough!
I hope that she is still that tough when she is 16.
Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Dr. Sponenberg's View on the Matter: "Dr. Phil Sponenberg has worked for years helping to preserve heritage breeds of animals. He is without equal on the subject of mustang strai..."
Paul Revere rode 12-20 miles (exact route is unknown) primarily to prevent the arrest of Samuel Adams and John Hancock.
Jack Jouett road 40 miles overnight primarily to prevent the arrest of Thomas Jefferson and the members of the Virginia General Assembly sitting at Charlottesville.
Lydia Barr, age 16, rode 98 miles in two days primarily to accompany me in case I had a cardiac arrest.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Go to any horse message board that you want and you will certainly have no difficulty finding a series of railings against various training techniques and devices viewed to be inhumane. Of course, nearly all of these devices and techniques are either inhumane or are, at best, subject to abuse.
The unfortunate reality is that focusing on these abuses serves only to perpetuate the root cause of the abuse. We labor under the silly delusion that horse showing, racing, and other forms of competition can be made pure by simply removing the bad aspects of that competition.
No, it is not the severe bit, soring of the legs, discarding of the imperfect competitors, or the over production of foals in the quest to breed 'quality' that is at the heart of the abuse, it is the competition itself.
When a child decides to train his horse to its maximum physical capability in order to see just what the horse and rider can achieve together the bond between horse and rider is strengthened. The instant that the child decides that she must test her horse against other horses and riders a fissure forms in that relationship. Its inevitable result is to reach the point of deciding to sell the horse in order to purchase one that can out compete other horses.
A system that teaches a 12 year old girl that she must sell her best friend because he can only win her a yellow strip of cloth and replace him with a 'better' horse that can win her a blue strip of cloth is a sick and perverse system. It produces neither better horses nor better people.
The malignancy that grows from this system is the concept that a horse's value is tied to its competitive success. The inexorable truth is that a horse's sales price increases with its competitive success, but sales price has no relationship to value. All horses, just like all people, are equal in value.
Every step that Tradewind takes on his once crippled hooves is priceless. Every log jumped over on the trail that produces a smile on the face of its rider is worth every bit as much as the highest rail in Olympic competition. Every horse that takes a kid on his first canter is worth as much as every horse whose canter pulls them away from pack and leads them over the finish line first.
The established horse world cannot be reformed. It cannot be repaired. But it can be replaced and natural horsemanship, natural horse care, and natural hoof care are the three pillars that a new horse world can be built upon.
It is not the bit, the whip or the spur that cause the most suffering to horses. It is the ribbon, the trophy and the winning purse that do so.
(This is a shot of Red Feather. I do not believe that he has ever been in a stable, but he found the living room of the Little House to be to his liking.)
Saturday, June 4, 2011
I get many requests from across the nation from those who wish that they could simply come and ride with us. We do not conduct paid trail rides. However, I love to have guests come out and experience what it is like to ride a formerly wild Corolla Spanish Mustang in the woods at no charge.
For those that would like to do so, our area is a great place for a vacation. Check out everything from tourism in our immediate area of Smithfield, VA to Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown and the many other attractions in Tidewater Virginia. For the best wild horse vacation one could have, arrange to take a Trip of a Lifetime with the herd manager at Corolla and schedule an opportunity to come up and see and even ride our once wild Corollas.
We are only about 220 miles from the wild herd at Corolla. Shackleford is another 175 south of Corolla. What a vacation trip it would be to arrange a tour of Shackleford, Corolla and then go all the way up to Chincoteague to see those wild horses! The Chincoteagues were once of the same stock as the Corollas and Shacklefords but over the years have had several exposures to modern breeds that have changed their appearance but still left them as remarkably tough horses. (They are perhaps the most under rated mounts for adults in our nation--great horses, just no longer purely Spanish horses).
I was once sort of embarrassed that the historic horses of my part of the nation were just "little ponies". That was when I was a child. Little children are drawn to the concept that bigger is better. The wisdom that comes with age draws one to understand that resilience is all that matters. The wild horses of the islands of the east coast are resilient. Since the 1500's these horses have thrived in environments that are at best difficult and sparse.
Looking for a role model--check out the battle scarred little stallion standing on the beach or the tough old mare swishing flies from her new born foal.
Why not come and visit them on your next vacation and get your batteries re charged?
I have many expectations of my riders. One of the most important expectations is that when they are grown, or even before, they are to teach kids how to handle horses. Several of my riders have already been hired or have volunteered as riding instructors, colt starters, riding camp staff, and even hoof trimmers.
Abby is my first rider to go full time in an equine profession. More about her wonderful new job in future posts.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
"But they are so small!"
I do not blame people for having this reaction when they see the Corollas and Shacklefords. I do not blame people for not knowing that they have sufficient carrying capacity to carry a man my size fifty miles in a day. I did not know that myself several years ago.
I wish more people understood how much safer it is to ride a smaller horse than a bigger horse. This point is beyond debate. It is simple, (and I do mean simple), physics. One is more likely to be injured by having a 1200 lbs horse roll over on them than to have a 700 lbs horse do the same. One is less likely to shatter bones falling from a 13.2 horse than a 16.3 horse.
As a general rule a twelve hundred pound horse will generate more force while kicking one in the face than will a 700 lbs horse.
These are important considerations for kids, but they are even more important considerations for riders over forty years old. We bruise easily and break often. Healing is slow, painful, and often incomplete. I broke my pelvis a few years ago in a fall that would have barely dusted me as a teenager. The bruising was so extensive and the swelling was so pronounced that I did not realize that the fracture was there until the swelling finally subsided and I felt the the clearly defined ridge where the bone had cracked and healed.
Yes, these horses are so small and so sturdy, and so strong....and so safe.
Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: I Was Not Raised Like Other People: "Over the years my parents adopted ten kids and kept over 120 foster children. My father was one of the founders of the local Rescue Squad ..."
Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Karen McCalpin Executive Director Corolla Wild Hor...: "In the past some critics have derided the Corollas as being “Back Yard ponies.” What evidence do we have that ties the Corollas back to t..."
We now have Corollas that will be part of the off site breeding program in several states. I have had three foals born this spring and I expect to place one out of state, another in Virginia and I will keep Pasquenoke here. We will continue to urge people from across the nation to participate in the off site breeding program. However, a phone call that I received yesterday lead me to rethink the importance of wide geographic distribution of the horses that are part of the program.
Karma Farms will continue to do a great job at getting Sea King out in front of the public in Texas. I have decided to shift my emphasis by recruiting primarily participants in Virginia and the Carolinas. It is possible to spread butter so thin that it cannot be tasted. Perhaps for the next decade the best first step is to develop a viable core of foundation stock in this region.
The only practical difference that this will make is that we will concentrate our efforts at publicity and promotion in this region. We will still be delighted to place horses in other parts of the country and will do everything possible to make that happen.
The stallion in the picture above is what lead me to this shift in emphasis. He will have to be captured and removed from the wild within the next few days. He has a "problem" with his stifle that is more common with Colonial Spanish Horses than with many other horses. While it looks painful, it is not and is easily remedied by strengthening the muscles of the hind quarters. It is a situation that is difficult for a horse to remedy on its own but is about as easy to fix as any problem that a horse could encounter.
We will exercise him, gentle him, train him, and ride him. Then we will work very hard to place him with a person dedicated to the preservation of these horses. We have enough stallions from Corolla here in Smithfield. We will be looking to place him with someone that wants to ensure the survival of the oldest and rarest distinct genetic line of American horses in existence today.
We are looking for people that would see value in horses that:
1. are the gentlest and easiest to train of any horse with which I have come in contact;
2. are smooth gaited with extraordinary endurance;
3. eat little more than does a billy goat;
4. carry riders who weigh well over 200 lbs with the greatest of ease;
5. are the state horse of North Carolina;
6. are some of the foundation stock of the Virginia Quarter Mile Racer, which was part of the foundation stock of the American Quarter Horse;
7. are registrable with the Horse of the Americas Registry, American Indian Horse Registry and as foundation stock for the American Azteca Society;
8. produce spectacular half breed horses when bred to mares of other breeds and strains;
9. are a remnant of the horse that once populated all of the southeastern part of our nation;
10 are drawn to bond with people as naturally as they are drawn to eat grass.
Preserving these horses domestically is a safety net and not a substitute for maintaining a herd of wild and free Corollas. In fact, the more people see of these horses that have been tamed the more likely they are to support efforts to preserve them in the wild. The safest band of wild horses in America are the Chincoteagues. Because they are so well known, they have what amounts to an auxiliary army of supporters that would oppose efforts to extinguish them.
If the Corollas become as well known as the Chincoteagues they will also be forever safe in the wild. We have little time to make that happen. They are nearly gone.
For the off site breeding program to succeed we have to draw dedicated people into this effort. We have to breed and train and show off many horses--200 in 10 years?--1000 in twenty years?
We can do this thing.
Do you want to be part of something that matters?