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Monday, December 31, 2012

Chincoteages: America's Most Underrated Horses

Had one gone to Assateague in 1800 I suspect that one would have found horses indistinguishable from the Spanish horses of the Outer Banks. Unfortunately during the 20th Century modern horses were put on the island and turned the horses into fusion horses with Spanish roots. To my knowledge there is little documentation and even less DNA work to show what these horses were. There is the widespread belief that Shetlands were introduced but I am not aware of any documentation of that.

 In any event, the resulting horse is a super horse. The Chincoteagues have Corolla like endurance but gaiting is not prevalent among them as among the Corollas. Like Corollas they have great hooves and good bone. In addition, they carry a tobiano pinto coloring that I think is among the most beautiful of all horse colors.Some of the best horses that I have produced resulted from crossing a Chicoteague stallion with several BLM mares.

 I have several Corolla stallions and a Shackleford stallion available for breeding at no charge to Chincoteague mares. I have no doubt that the resulting cross would make great trail horses. This is Peter Maxwell, whose father is a Corolla and whose mother is a Chincoteague/BLM cross. He belongs to one of my adult riders and will likely be taking his first rides in the woods in 2014.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: An Honest Slogan

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: An Honest Slogan: Slogan--the very word hints of dishonesty, puffery, and exaggeration. The catch about creating an honest business slogan is that it must ...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: From Lido's Point of View ( A post from 4 years ago)

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: From Lido's Point of View: You do ride pretty, but not as good as me. My riding is a little bouncy cause only part of my body works. Keep on riding. You'll get bette...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Do Not Look for Water At the Top of a Mountain or ...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Do Not Look for Water At the Top of a Mountain or ...: Horse&Rider magazine is primarily for those interested in showing their horses. Few things are more deleterious to having a strong relation...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Vice President of Weed Control

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Vice President of Weed Control: War Admiral, my Baylis line Spanish Goat, is a voracious eater. He is joined by a younger Baylis, Sea Biscuit and my San Clemente Island...

At What Age Should One First Swim on a Wild Horse?

Sooner than other kids if you happen to be my granddaughter.

At What Age Should One First Ride a Stallion?

It depends. If it is a modern American child it might be best to wait until the kid is grown.

 On the other hand, if it is my grandson, about a year and a half is a plenty old.

To Gauge Your Program

This year I plan to take a moment or two to answer questions that I get outside of the "comments" section of blogger. Here is my first stab at it.

 "You do not have your riders compete in shows. How can you possibly gauge the success of your program?"

 I think that there are better measures for the success of a riding program than show ribbons.

 I think the evaluation is pretty simple:
 1. When your riders are small do they come to you with the fears that paralyze them?
 2. When they are a bit older do they come to you with the dreams that inspire them?
3. When they are young teens do they come to you with the plans that drive them?
 4. And after they grow up do they come back to you for help with the problems that are facing them?

 If the answer to each of these questions is "yes" then your riding program is succeeding.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Corolla/MSIH Brand

Our 2013 goals include radically expanding our efforts to get the Corollas and their plight out in front of the public. I have come to realize that simply proving what extraordinary horses they are by showing their incredible athleticism, gentleness, strength and endurance is only part of the picture. First you have to get everyone's attention. That requires packaging and marketing in ways that do not come naturally to me.

 I realize that I am about the worst focus group of one that any market researcher could use.To start with I always prefer being educated to being entertained. That does not cut it for most people. Before we can educate we have to package ourselves in a way that entertains. I intend to get back to having regular open house demonstrations and clinics this spring and summer. We will have a Corolla wild Horse Festival at our horse lots. Those things make sense to me.

 What makes less sense is the fact that we need to develop a brand name--a simple, quick symbol that says a lot about the horses and why they are special. I want that symbol to say "rare, historic horses". I am looking at different ways to make that our brand. Of course, we emphasize that the Spanish mustang was THE Indian horse. But he was also THE Spanish horse.

 The most practical and comfortable riding garment that I have found is the serape. I love it for winter riding and I love it for night riding. It keeps the cold off of me and it keeps the briers off of me and as soon as I am out of the cold and the briers I can simply cast it over my shoulder to cool off. One of my adult riders uses one. The kids have not yet discovered how practical they are. I have just ordered two more at a very affordable price. If they are of high enough quality you just might see an entire group of riders, kids and adults wearing their brand while we ride.

 A serape might just be the brand to say what we want to say to catch the public's eye.

Essential Tack

Hard riding can be the center of a healthy lifestyle and a healthy lifestyle can make hard riding possible. Too few human trainers are aware of the cardiovascular benefits of trotting and nearly none are aware of the incredible core strength that results from cantering. The first summer that I added cantering 40 minutes each morning into my schedule I lost 17 pounds without changing my diet. Hard riding is solid exercise. The flip side is true.

 A solid exercise routine, tailored towards riding, makes hard riding feasible. Step one is to build super strong core muscles. To do so planks and kettle bell workouts are hard to beat. Step two is to build endurance and supple quadriceps. Posting while sitting on a large inflatable ball gives that specialized endurance and helps one develop balance for better riding. All running is good but not all running is the same. Barefoot running, or running with barefoot shoes, such as these, uses very different muscles than running with shoes. The muscles used in barefoot running are the muscles used in riding.

 It is the ultimate frustration to sustain a nagging injury that makes riding and training painful if not impossible. That means riding pants and long socks that will not cause abrasions and saddle sores.

 The entire program is designed to allow one to be able to ride for stretches of 8-10 hours. That concept is the one that holds most of us back. We cannot imagine having time to do all of that riding and exercising. It is the improvement in one's health that makes all of this worthwhile. One who makes riding the center of a healthy lifestyle does not spend time riding. Such a person invests time in riding. That investment pays huge dividends in improvements in physical and emotional health.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Some Great Books on The Horizen

Bonnie Gruenberg is the best writer around when it comes to the wild horses of the Atlantic Coast. I still consider her book, "Hoof Prints in the Sand" to be the greatest work yet done on these horses. I just got a wonderful note from Bonnie. I hope that several works, aimed at different audiences, that she has been working on for years will be out in 2013.

 The horrible irony is that fifty years ago few people even realized that there were any wild horses on the east coast. At the current rate the horrific policies of the Bureau of Land management will ensure that fifty years from now the only wild horses in America will be those of the few herds on the Atlantic.


 In fifty years I expect that Bonnie's writing will be the starting point for anyone wanting to learn about these horses. That certainly is the case today.

 Here she is with the yearlings that we produced in the offsite breeding program. They are among the three that we gave to Boys Home in Covington so that they could become a part of the offsite breeding program.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

In the Ugly Season


Beginning in early spring right on through the early fall there are not many places around that I find to be as beautiful as the horse lots and surrounding woods and swamps. Vibrant greens and splashes of colored wild flowers decorate the tableau all around the tack shed.

But in the winter the only plants left green are the pines, cedars, hollies, green briers, clovers, and the patches of honey suckle. The low, lead colored skies cause nothing to sparkle. Plants retreat into the mud.

All that is left to be beautiful are the animals. Samson, a Corolla whose ancestors came here in the 1500's stands contented in his winter coat. At his feet are a reminder that life is a circle and that spring will come again.

An unbroken circle of beauty and an unbroken circle of life.

Merry Christmas from the horses, hogs, chickens, and goats of Mill Swamp Indian Horses


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A Real Problem With Round Bales

I was horrified the first time that I saw round bales of hay in horse pastures. I could not imagine anyway they could be kept free of mold. Eventually I came to understand that properly cured round bales were safe for  horses. In fact, my horses consume 10-12 round bales each week. However there is one problem with round bales that I did not originally recognize. Horses that eat round bales are  nearly as stationary as horses that are kept in stables. This problem is lessened when round bales are kept in a large enough pasture so that horses are given the opportunity to move. When given the opportunity a  horse will take advantage of every chance to walk, trot, and even kicked up his heels and buck.

The problem with round bales that  is even more insidious than the fact that it does not encourage exercise as much as does life one a pasture. Lower status horses  position themselves around  so they can quickly escape if challenged by horses of higher status. Such horses spend several hours a day with their backs hollowed it out and their bellies sagging. This posture makes for a weaker top line than would be found among horses that walk freely while grazing.

All of the conventional exercises that are used to help horses straighten their backs and develop solid muscling help alleviate the problem. In a previous post I mentioned the extraordinary effectiveness of what Parelli calls "hill therapy." (That work out is great even if the horse has solid muscling.)

It's good  to take a close look at all horses as they eat round bales in order to make sure that the muscles are developing as they should.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Sounds of Silence

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Sounds of Silence: No rush yesterday morning. I had no early court and no plans to shower or shave. I had already had a hunk of cheese for breakfast. I had...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: A Death Of Virtue

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: A Death Of Virtue: Some of the Plains tribes shared a common broad view of virtue and ethics that were the underpinning of their society. Among the virtues ...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Reasons To Ride

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Reasons To Ride: Paul Revere rode 12-20 miles (exact route is unknown) primarily to prevent the arrest of Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Jack Jouett ro...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: And the Winner Is

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: And the Winner Is: The Horse of the Americas Registry held its national meeting last weekend in Missouri. Three of my riders, Jacob, Amanda, and Sarah Lin ea...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

To Build A Memorial

"When the Cyclone Appeared It Darkened the Air.
 And the Lightening flashed over the Sky
 And the children all cried, "Don't take us away.
 And spare us to go back home."
                                                "Rye Cove"--A.P. Carter


Horror  comes as a light so bright that it blinds us. It comes as a noise so loud that it deafens us. It causes us to forget.

We forget that horror has long been with us. To remember that is not to fail to to recognize the depths of yesterday's horror.  Instead it is to recognize that hope trumps horror. Inexplicable suffering has always been with us, but God has always been with us too.

If first we wring our hands from the horror, and then only wash our hands from the reality, we do nothing to honor the little ones that did not come home last night.  We cannot avoid wringing our hands but we can avoid washing them.

This is the time to get our hands dirty from working hard for the little ones around us today. This is the time for each of us to seek to build our own memorial.  This is the time to become a little league coach. It is the time to become a Scout leader.  It is the time to become a foster parent. It is the time to volunteer in our schools. It is the time to comfort the bullied and to counsel the bullys.

 It is a time for each of us to suffer the little children to come unto us.

It is a time to love. It is a time to turn our lives into living memorials.

Then it will be  time to heal.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: I Expect My Girls to Think

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: I Expect My Girls to Think: I do not talk down to my little riders. I explain what needs to be done, show them how to do it, and expect them to do it as instructed. T...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Wild Spanish Mustangs In Corolla

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Wild Spanish Mustangs In Corolla: At times the wild Spanish mustangs of Corolla have to be captured for medical treatment. When it is necessary for the Corolla Wild Horse ...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Boys Home Preserves Corollas

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Boys Home Preserves Corollas: Boys Home of Covington,Virginia has taken a major step to assist in the prevention of the extinction of what might be the oldest and rare...

Revamping and Restoring

This is the time of the year to look back over a program and assess ways to improve. Some of the strengths of my program have been slowly eroded over the years. This year we will renew our emphasis on several points. That does not mean that all of the children will enjoy this renewal. Improvements are not always fun. Hard work does not have to be fun; it merely has to be done. I've come to realize that the educational component of our program has slid over the past year. I am afraid that too much emphasis has been placed on riding and too little emphasis placed on learning. Of course, I want my riders to be able to ride long, hard, comfortably, and safely. I also want them to understand horses inside and out.

 That means understanding how to properly trim hooves. That means knowing which trees are potentially lethal to horses. That means knowing how to identify the smell of mold in hay when no mold is apparent to the eye. That means knowing how many gallons of water horse’s need to drink a day when the temperature is above 90°. That means knowing the average gestation length of a mare. That means understanding why a modern Andalusian horse is not the same thing as the horses from Andalusia up that made up some of the earliest colonial Spanish breeding stock.. That means understanding why ships from England would often bring Spanish livestock to Virginia and the rest of the Southeast. That means understanding what genetic drift is. That means understanding how shampooing horses is a potential threat to their skin’s immune system. That means understanding the tremendous health risks that obesity places on horse.

 That means understanding that the quickness of the release is more important than the intensity of the press pressure. That means understanding what happened near the Greasy Grass in June of 1876. That means understanding which trees and reeds are best used for arrow shafts. That means understanding why modern hogs have such a different appearance from colonial era hogs. That means understanding why we use a different wormer for tapeworms then we use for other parasites.

That means understanding why the calcium to phosphorus ratio in a mineral supplement must be two – one. That means understanding why a horse should have a broad, firm frog. That means understanding why we do not use curb bits. That means understanding the difference between natural horsemanship and hype. That means understanding how composting works and how it is an important part of parasite management. That means understanding what happened when John Smith visited the land just behind that horse pastures in 1608. That means understanding what the LP complex is.

 That means understanding who Rowdy Yates is and who Choctaws Sundance was. That means understanding why Betsey Dowdy rode over 50 miles in the middle of the night. That means understanding why Secotan, a pure Corolla mare, has a head shape exactly like many of the mares found on the Cayuse Ranch. That means understanding the horse’s natural body temperature. That means understanding why the fact that a horse is unable to vomit poses such a grave threat to its health during times of digestive distress. That means knowing when bows and arrows came into use along the East Coast. That means understanding how deerskin is turned into soft buckskin. That means understanding where Benedict Arnold was going when he rode out past our horse lots. That means understanding what a Baylis goat is and why it is so important to preserve them. That means understanding why breeding a Corolla horse to a Shackleford horse is not crossbreeding. That means understanding why we ride with the heels lower than toes, toes in front of these, sitting on our pockets, with their hands in front of their bellybuttons. That means knowing who Janus was. That means understanding the roles of the Corolla horses in developing what became known as the Virginia quarter-mile horse. That means knowing who Quannah Parker was. That means understanding why we now have coyotes along the East Coast. That means knowing the difference between a buck scrape and a buck rub. That means knowing what causes round ponds. That means understanding why a mixed forest is a better eco-system than a pure pine plantation.

 Most of all, that means understanding why learning matters.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Sulphur Mustangs

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Sulphur Mustangs:   How different my life would have been if I knew more about horse's when I went to my first BLM mustang auction. They were advertising rare...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: $$$$$$$$$$

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: $$$$$$$$$$: How much does it cost to plant ten acres of soy beans? How much can be earned from ten acres of soy beans? How weather dependent is that...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Next Step

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Next Step: We are about to begin our step by step process to create our replicated homestead circa 1670. We will start on the Smoke house in the nex...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

To Knock Off a Fifty Mile In a Day Ride

 



It pays to get your riding muscles in shape and to wear well fitting riding clothes. Simulated posting on the huge ball increases balance and strengthens riding muscles. Barefoot running or running in barefoot style shoes such as these give strength and stamina to the quadriceps. Long, tall socks can prevent calf burns from boot that is great for a two hour ride but by hour seven will cut your leg off.
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Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Fighting Nature is Rarely Good Strategy

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Fighting Nature is Rarely Good Strategy: Horses evolved to survive nature's rhythms. When we force them to live counter to that evolution their health pays for it. Just because w...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Proper Spanish Colonial Mustang Conformation in Tw...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Proper Spanish Colonial Mustang Conformation in Tw...: As long as those two words are "Rowdy Yates". One can learn all that is needed to be known about how a Colonial Spanish horse should be p...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: On Line Classes Back on the Road

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: On Line Classes Back on the Road: Shortly participants in our first session of on line classes will receive their next lesson. They will be 1/3 of the way through what I h...

And Keeps On Ticking

I played baseball for years as a kid. It never entered my mind, over the hundreds of games that I played, to wonder how those lines appeared on the field anytime I showed up ready to play. I was a kid. I was there to play. Seemed like that should be enough to cause those fields to be lined and bases set in place. A lot of kids have ridden at the horse lot over the years. I doubt if any have wondered who hauls the trash away from the tack shed and the Little House. They probably never wonder how it is that the things that I cannot pick up from town appear at the tack shed. They do not wonder who holds the animals that need emergency medical treatment. They have no idea who is always on the look out for coupons and anything else that we might have a use for at the horse lot. They do not wonder who helps put polishing miles on just started colts. They are clueless as to who it is that is always asking "What do you need done?" No one needs to wonder about these things. It's Terry. She has the enthusiasm of a child. The energy of a child. The optimism of a child. And the dedication and sense of irresponsibility of an adult. Our program depends on that rare combination of traits.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Strength For The Journey

Last January my niece,a third grader, did her first 40 mile in a day ride. This January she will do a two day 100 Hundred mile ride on her mustang mare, Stardust. There are several components to her ability to take on a challenge like this. First of all, she was not raised to be sissy. Secondly, she has good balance from years of gymnastics, but the most important factor is strength.

 Not enough emphasis is placed on the importance of core muscles strength for hard riders. Being strong helps keep one from being tossed from the saddle. It also allows the rider to ride comfortably in the saddle during an exhausting ride. That makes it easier for the horse and makes it easier for the rider. An efficiently strong body uses less energy than does a weak one that flops round in the saddle.

 The best training for hard riding is to ride hard. Barefoot running helps because it strengthens the quadriceps more than running with shoes. Abdominal exercises help. The best single exercise might be intense kettle bell sessions.

 A strong core can be the difference between being in the saddle and being on the ground.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What is Possible

I only consider modesty to be virtuous as long as it is honest. To lie to appear modest is no more virtuous than to lie to appear talented. I do not mean that I admire boasting and puffery, just accurate self perception. With that said I cringe when I hear people talk about our program as if it is the result of my unique skills with kids and horses. It is not. While the results of the program are magical, its ingredients are not. Anyone that cares about kids and horses can replicate what we do.

 I have come to accept the obvious. It is important to show not only that our program can be replicated but that those who replicate it can do so "successfully". (In America "successful" has come to mean making solid profits.)

What we do can be successful, though I prefer to think of it as sustainable, for others. The first step is to make solid plans for the program. That means considering legal implications as much as one considers it in any other business. One should first seek advice of a qualified attorney in your area. That does not mean someone who has a cousin in law school. That does not mean someone that has run a boarding stable for years. It means a business lawyer. Corporate laws vary from state to state. Federal tax law is the same in every state. If one is to operate as a non profit one must truly be a non profit in order to fit the federal tax code. In most jurisdictions a Limited Liability Corporation is likely to be the bet route to go. Currently such corporations can often be taxed in the family's personal income tax return so that profits are not taxed twice, both as a separate corporation and as income.

Step two is to make sure that you and the entity are properly insured. There are many different kinds of equine insurance. Make sure that you are only paying for policies that apply to your plan. Different policies are needed if one boards horses than if one owns all horses on site.

 Step three should be to develop a plan that keeps costs down while giving the horse every thing possible to maintain a happy and healthy life. That means natural horse care. That means no shoes, no stables, no sugary feeds, no obese horses. It also means that other facilities that continue to condemn horses to the lives of suffering and poor health that stables, pasture blankets, shoes, and sugar and grains insure will condemn your operation for being inhumane and abusive.

 Ironic, isn't it. (This wall of ignorance is cracking. Horses in the future will be more and more likely to actually be given the chance to live as happy, healthy animals instead of being "loved to death" by ignorant owners and operators who place more interest in having horses "look good" than being healthy.)
 Step four is to get an accountant in early on your business plan. Beware of using an accountant that is a "horse person" if by "horse person" one means someone affiliated with the established horse world. In fact, it is imperative that one avoid being influenced by anyone that is a part of that world. (Key test: When asked, "Do your horses compete or are they "just" trail horses?" Leave promptly. You can learn nothing of value from anyone that thinks that there is anything of value in equating competition with the value of a horse.)

 I realize that I might seem a bit evangelical about this,, but I genuinely believe that matching kids that need to ride with horses that need to be ridden is a service of the highest order. It is hard work. It is difficult. But it matters. I also benefit in ways not shown up on a tax return. Tomorrow I will prosecute a case involving the murder a a four month old baby. Yesterday Samantha joined me on her first ride on her 1/2 Corolla colt, Legacy. People that wonder how I can do the job that I have in the courtroom should be aware that what I do in the round pen makes the rest of my life tolerable.

 I am wrestling with whether I should take on a new program. I am considering developing a consulting package to assist others in developing a program like ours. Clients would be able to come down and spend a week in the Little House, watch what we do first hand, participate in it, all the while working up a business plan for their future operation. This will be a lot of work. It will take a lot of time, but it might be worth the effort.

 Can't be any harder than teaching a boar hog to walk on a leash.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Colton's Debute

 



Colton is only thirteen. Last night was the second time that he has ever stuck an instrument in front of a microphone. He and I played at the Victorian Station Tea Room in Hampton. (Did not even have time to change clothes from work before we headed over.) My neice and Daddy did a set before Colton and I came up.

She did first rate. Colton did first rate and Samantha and Kayla were in the audience. In short order they will be playing good enough to take the stage.

We gave them "Circle Be Unbroken," "In My Hour of Darkness," and "Wild Wood Flower." Went over well and I expect that it will soon be up on the you tube channel that covers the Victorian Station Tea Room Chronicles.

Horses, music, livestock, history, culture and most of all, education are the corner stones of our program. Some people might not understand how raising pigs, gathering eggs, training wild horses, plowing with donkeys, shooting bows, and learning about wildlife and our complex ecosystem fit so tightly together. Those things are all part of was. One cannot have the slightest understanding of is if one has no understanding of was. My little riders don't just learn how to hold on to a horse.

They learn all about was.
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Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Ghost of Christmas Future

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Ghost of Christmas Future: In 2010 we will be back on track. Most importantly, the Corolla Off Site breeding program will be in full swing. This spring I plan to bree...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: I'm Not Kin To Most of My Family

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: I'm Not Kin To Most of My Family: Yesterday was a great day for our program and I think that it could lead to a great day for the Corolla preservation effort. The day was ...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: No Predators? Not So Sure Any More

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: No Predators? Not So Sure Any More: It is often said that a key to explaining the calm disposition of the Banker horses is that they have lived for hundreds of years with...

To See Your Great Grand Children


To live to see one's great grand children is a blessing of longevity. For my great grandchildren to be able to still see a herd of wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs when they are old enough to drive to the Outer Banks will require the blessings of Congress. Without passage of The Corolla Wild Horse Protection Act, in this session or the next, this foal faces a bleak future indeed.

The Rapper Picked Up the Bodhrun

...and joined in with the man playing a hurdy-gurdy on a few ancient Celtic songs. I doubt that that combination of music, instruments, and musicians was together anywhere else in the world. But at Aroma's Coffe House in Town Center in Newport News on Wednesday nights one can find such eclectic musical experiances.

In fact, at times you can even find an old man playing a bouzouki being joined by his four year old grand daughter on "I Shall Be Released."

No Mountains But Moist

Without a doubt riding in hilly terrain places additional work on a horse, but riding in mud also creates much higher work loads than riding on firm ground. Our Corollas, Shacklefords and Chicoteague crosses are very sure footed in muck and water. Where we ride, a horse that will not cross water will be out for a very short ride. Most of my pastures have large water holes that the horses use to cool off in hot weather. Foals learn from their mothers that water is not an enemy

As part of their saddle training I have begun ponying saddled colts through heavy water while riding a horse that they respect and with whom they have a particular bond . It is safe , simple and effective. One of our training priciples is to quickly show the horse that the scary object cannot inflict pain. I do not let a horse go through hours of terror of water waiting for it to "want" to enter the water on its own.

The riders require a bit of training. They learn that they let a horse stand still and paw the water at their own peril. Most of the horses will paw about twice before they decide to lay down and wallow in the water, saddle, rider and all.

Never had anyone get hurt when that happens but swamp water has a special aroma all its own.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wild Animal Lovers Segment to Air During the Last Week of November

"Wild Animal Lovers", a syndicated TV show that plays in most TV markets across the nation will air a segment that was filmed last spring in our pastures and at Corolla. It will focus on efforts to preserve these nearly extinct horses. Because the show is syndicated it shows on different channels at different times in different regions. You will have to do a little research to find it in your area. Mokete, shown here not long after her birth, is the first Corolla produced by our offsite breeding program. The program has now expanded to other locations but we are always looking for more breeders that want to take part in the effort to help preserve this historic horses.

Work Horses

The highest and best use of a horse is not competition. The highest and best use for horse is the same as the highest and best use for a human, service to others. The photograph above is of several horses that are the core of a natural horsemanship program being developed at a Teen Challenge in Arkansas. The horse in front is the daughter of my Spanish Mustang, Ta Sunka Witco. Ta sunka Witco is the Lakota name for Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse had one daughter, They Are Afraid of Her. The dun mare leading the charge is named, They are Afraid of Her. She is followed close by Shoshone, a young Mustang mare from the Virginia City range.

They are Afraid of Her is halter trained and has had a saddle. Shoshone has been ridden many miles in the woods. We donated both horses to Teen Challenge, a highly successful substance abuse rehabilitation program for young people. The program is developing a natural horsemanship component to its treatment program.

To restore a life with a horse is infinitely more meaningful than to win a ribbon with that same horse.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Rebuilding

One of the worst things about being incapacitated for a long time is that you not only forget who you are, you forget who you were. You forget what you are capable of doing. A few months ago there were days in which I was not strong enough to walk the half-mile length of my pastures. There were  many days in which I was not strong enough to stay in the saddle. Those days are behind me now. 

This morning I got up and ran 3.1 miles, took a shower, saddled up one of my faster horses and along with three of my  riders we cantered and trotted for an hour. This afternoon I will ride for two hours most, of which will be trotting. I intend, and expect, to do my  next 50 miles in a day ride in February. My wife will joining me for this on her first 50 mile in a day ride. 

It's ironic that both of us will be in better condition than we were in our 20s.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

This is a great shot of one of the most important parts of a horse's early training. This is Legacy, a half Corolla whose father is Tradewind. I worked with him earlier in the week and had gotten to the point of standing up in the stirrup. It seems that all of these half Corolla colts gentle easier the older they get. After about age 2 the Corolla calmness really starts to come out in these horses. Yesterday was the first day that Legacy was ridden independently in the round pen. Abby Marble, program manager for the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, gave him a set of routine round pen exercises prior to mounting up. As soon as he was calm enough to do so she sat down in the saddle, flexed his neck in both directions, had him back up a few steps, and then began to move out.

 Legacy's mother is a modern Appaloosa horse. He is well-built for very substantial endurance riding and it would not surprise me if Samantha, his owner, has him in the American Indian Horse Hall of Fame before she is old enough to drive a car.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The City Person

A city person was out at the horse lot one day while I was digging fence posts. (Post holes are dug for a mile and a quarter of fence.) He asked where my mechanical post hole digger was. I told him that I have never owned such a thing. "You're not going to tell me that you and your father dug all these post holes with your own two hands are you?," he asked. "No," I explained, "Lido dug a lot of them and he only had one hand he could use." (Here is Lido when he was about 12 years old on Sand Creek at the second training clinic that we ever did)

A Complete Riding Program

The most difficult part of running this program is something that no one else ever sees. It is not the care of the animals, or the teaching of the kids. It is the requirement to live in my role every minute of every day.

I have very strong beliefs as to the value of belief. I do not hold these beliefs as something to aspire to. I hold them as something to be lived without fail. If my little riders do not learn these values from me then I have failed, regardless of how well they ride or train wild horses.

 Perhaps at the forefront of values that matter to me is generosity. I only feel justified in working to acquire something if it will put me in a better position to give away more. Absolute honesty is paramount. Sobriety must be practiced without a moment of giving into temptation. Hard work is reminder that one is still alive. Hard physical work is a reminder that one has been blessed to be able to do that hard work. Without a degree of courage all other virtues are hollow. One cannot live a value filled life without having the courage to reject the values of the rest of the world. I try to teach a love of learning and an appreciation of meaningful art, particularly music that has stood the test of time.

 When Lido died I got a note from an acquaintance to the effect that I have worked to teach my little riders about life, now I must teach them about death. I doubt if I did a good job at that. Some holes in a wall can never be covered with Spackle.

 But perhaps I am succeeding in teaching perseverance. Learning to ignore discomfort and pain makes it possible to to persevere. Lest one preservers one cannot practice any of the the other virtues that I hold dear.

Monday, October 8, 2012

He Earned It

He is over 20 years old. He lost his eye when he was a less than a year old--not lost his sight in one eye--lost his entire eye--just a hole there. He doesn't care. I don't either.

He is scarred from years of fighting--usually won--not as often in recent years as he did when he was younger. He adjusts. So do I.

 I met him in 2007 during the HOA inspection tour of the wild herds of Corolla and Shackleford. It was late in his career as Emperor of Corova Beach. He had worked at the job for years--whipping young studs that sought to take his harem--looking for a bit of sea oats and scrub to eat--avoiding the flies and the tourists of summer. For the past few years he took to spending his winters across the line in Virginia away from the young studs. This summer he even still had a few mares with him.

 A young stud put an end to his years in the wild--bit the eyelid nearly off of his one eye. He had to be captured to be treated. So there he was--an ancient wild stallion, missing one eye, injured in the other, a nagging flesh wound to his hock. He retired to pasture number 1 here in my horse lot.

 Neither he nor I know everything, but we both now how it is. We both know the answers to the questions that people never ask. Neither of us are what we used to be, but both of us are enough. He writes better lyrics than I do. Here is what he thinks about the matter:

 One eye is a plenty when you ain't got any reason to go and run and hide.
 I can see with my heart.
 I can feel with my soul.
 I'll live forever cause I refuse to die.

 I been here five hundred years Though it seems like yesterday
 When they put me on a ship And brought me here from Spain
 Riding in a canvas sling, three feet above the deck
 Some of us trotted into port, some swam in from wrecks

 I hauled in your nets
 I drug out your boats
Plowed in your fields, even herded up your goats
 Now all this sand's still here, can't you leave some room for me
You can go and build that cottage down in Myrtle Beach

 Wading in the ocean
Sleeping in the sand
Eating tender marsh grass Drinking from the Sound
Got a lot of yesterday, ain't got much of now
 'Spect I'll have a tomorrow, but I just don't know how.

(This is Tradewind pictured above. The old one eyed stallion will be posing for pictures shortly.)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth: There is no advantage to lie to a rough horse in the round pen. When one stands alone with a wild horse that could, if it chose to, kill ...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Quick Tip #3

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Quick Tip #3: Calcium deficiency is a real problem for horses. Many other "deficiencies" are merely real opportunities for those that make supplements...

But On The Other Hand...

There was one advantage of being sick for so long. While I had little energy to train, I also had little incentive to be concerned about getting injured. I have not been comfortable hopping on an untrained horse to give him his earliest rides for a reason that few people can understand. While not pleasant, breaking a few ribs is no big deal. Toting water, rolling hay, digging fence posts with broken ribs are all very big deals. In short, getting injured is not the problem. Having to continue to run our operation while injured is precisely the problem. Over the summer I came to realize that no matter how sick I was, the horses still got taken care of one way or another. I really did not have much too lose. Edward Teach is the prime beneficiary of my summer of convalescence. His training had come to a stalling point. Months earlier, Abby had ridden him bareback in the woods twice. The fact that Abby can ride a horse is not a testimonial to the horse's training. Abby can ride a horse be he trained or not. Even Red Feather has never been able to toss Abby.

 Even as a teenager I could not ride remotely as well as Abby. I do not feel bad about that because I have never met anyone that could ride as well as Abby.

 Like all old men faced with a problem, I went back to looking at what used to work. I applied the same boring principles of natural horsemanship that Rebecca and I used successfully on other wild horses. I worked him the way that Lido and I used to work horses. I worked him without stopping to ask what big name clinicians would do. I worked using what horses have taught me instead of worrying about what clinicians have tried to sell me. And what I worked with him worked. I rode him in the woods several times--he never resisted--he never flinched--he showed no fear and he gave no pain. My initial encounters with this young, severely injured wild stallion had been intense. When he came to us he had a wound in his neck large enough to put a baby's face into it. He showed hints of having a touch of Red Feather in his heart. It turns out that he is as tractable as Croatoan.

He has one son so far, Ashley's colt, Peter Maxwell. Peter is 1/2 Corolla. His mother Quien Es? is a Chincoteague BLM cross. We will train Peter the same way that I worked his father with complete allegiance to the horse and with no concern for anything else.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: A Peculiar Post--Perhaps Helpful

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: A Peculiar Post--Perhaps Helpful: (What is set out below is not a normal blog post. It is from a note that I sent out to the parents of my riders last week. In the note I ...

The End of The Beginning

I am feeling better. Over the past week I have been in the saddle more than I have for a very long time. Sunday I was shocked to see how long it had been since I have ridden hard. I rode from the horse lot to my home through the woods. The trail had completely grown up in some spots and there was not hint that a trail had ever existed. For the past decade the horse's hooves have kept the trail open. It will be open again soon. This blog will also be making a comeback.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Just a Little More Time




Don't give up on this blog yet. I have not stopped writing but I am not quite all the way there in terms of feeling completely well. I normally write in the morning and I do not have all my energy back up every morning yet. I am getting there. Two days ago I rolled two round bales into the trailer by myself. It has been a very long time since I could do that.

Look at this horse closely. He could not be distinguished from a young version of Croatoan. Like Croatoan he has what Plato would have called the "form" of Spanishness.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Objection-Relevance?




The cruelest objection ever made in a courtroom is an objection to the relevance of the question. Implicit in the objection is the recognition that the question--and the resulting answer--simply does not matter. Even if everything thing the witness says would be true, the answer simply does not matter. The answer is irrelevant.

The cruelest evaluation of a life lived is an objection to it based on the relevance of that life. Simply put, at the end of it all, was the life lived a life that gave meaning to other people? If so it was relevant. If not it was a life wasted. If we had perfectly honest tomb stones too many of them would simply give a name and an epitaph that read "So What."

I have never been inordinately afraid of dying but I have always been inordinately afraid of dying without having mattered. The two minute warning has not been called but I am playing in the fourth quarter. My hair is possum colored and I have only a few more teeth than a rooster. Years ago when I stepped in front of a crowd, charisma dripped off of me like sweat. Now when I step in front of sweat drips off of me like sweat.

But finally our program is becoming relevant. Horses that need to be ridden matched with people that need to ride. Truths that need to be taught matched with kids that need to learn. Pain that needs to be healed matched with horses that can heal pain.

When we started this program I received several emails from members of the established horse world offering me their advice. They offered their expert advice on breeding (e.g. "Quit breeding worthless crap that has no market value.") One advised that "horse people all over the country are laughing at you."

Turns out that they did not matter then and they do not matter now. But, for the record, I object to their assertions, and their system of values,..... on the grounds of relevance.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I'm Back





I was sick enough so that Thursday I decided that I would postpone construction of the first buildings for the Gwaltney Frontier Farm. I was sick enough so that I cancelled riding for two weeks. I was sick enough to go to the doctor. I was sicker than I have ever been.

Now I am well. I have lost a lot of stamina and it will likely take a week or two before I am back to where I was a year ago. I left the doctor's office Friday and drove directly to the lumber yard to get wood to begin the smokehouse.

Yesterday we rode. I was in the saddle for over six hours. Charlotte had six beautiful little pigs. Boys Home will be coming down along with a Covington 4-H group to begin construction on the Frontier Farm. Beth has lost over 50 pounds. I have a bouzouki that I have figured out how to play and I have begun a new creative endeavor. I have a new granddaughter. My little riders sing on key and Colton will be a much better musician than I ever will be. Emily has contagious happiness.

I'm back. Just in time--horses to train, buildings to build, programs to develop, music that needs playing, raw oysters that need eating.

Life that needs living.

(A shot of little riders, and Daddy, Bill and Gerald playing music at a local nursing home this week)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Least Now It Has a Lable






It is not accurate to say that I have been too sick to write lately. It is accurate to say that I have been too sick to write anything worth reading lately. Turns out that this unusual collection of symptoms that I have had seem to be generated by Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

This is not a sickness that I would have expected to pick up. The name alone does not fit--sounds like a John Denver kind of sickness. I feel more deserving of something like Texas Tick Fever--evocative of Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle or even Guy Clarke.

Bottom line is that I am not going to die but I expect to be living in slow motion for bit.

The mind plays a huge part in keeping a body pumped up and ready to fight germs and my mind has been getting its guts kicked out lately. Baby murder, parents murder, rape, molestation-- a buffet of suffering to prosecute. Makes your brain tired. Such matters would be so much easier if I was just better at hating. If all I had to do was get up in the morning and go prosecute people that I hate, my life would take on a pleasurable tint. But I burned out my hater too long ago. They don't make replacement models that fit the person that I have become. I would rather heal than hate. Don't always have the power to do the first and don't have the ability the do the last.

So I will pick up a guitar, feed a hog, ride a horse, speak with authority to a goat and with sympathy to a chicken, and I will make a kid smile.

Then I will do it again tomorrow.

Poor germs. They do not have a chance when faced with a regimen like that.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Having A Fever Clears the Mind For Serious Thinking




Hate to see any horse described as a "prospect." Horses are not "will be." Horses are not "was". Horses merely "are." Of the myriad of lessons that one can learn from horses perhaps no lesson is more important than to live in the moment.

I have been ill and very weak lately. I expect to be well soon, but I do not expect to be strong. Since I was old enough to give it a thought I have always taken comfort in knowing that unless I was in a room full of college athletes I was likely the one of the strongest people in the room. At age five I could walk around with an 85 pound anvil in my hands. When I was fourteen years old I bench pressed 250 pounds. I have not been a violent person since I was a kid playing ball. Although I do not recall striking anyone in anger in over thirty years it was always a great comfort to me to know that if things really went bad at the end of a brawl I would likely be the one standing up.

A few years ago I was lifting a weanling up that could not get to his feet on his own. A terrible jolt went through my arm. My right bicep tore long and deep. I should have gone to the doctor for that one. Now there is just a big dimple where the muscle used to be. It does not hurt but it is weak.

But that only explains the arm. The rest of me is weak also. It is weak for a simple, permanent biological reason--I am 52 years old. Maybe strong for a 52 year old, but that is still weak.

The good news is that it does not matter. I feel sorry for those that worry so much about aging--the botox, the hair dye, the facelifts--the waste of it all.

For many fear of aging is really simply fear of death. I have an unusual relationship with death. When I was 19 I was misdiagnosed with Lou Gerhig's disease and given a rather short life expectancy. It took a while before that misdiagnosis was cleared up--a few odd weeks. On the other hand, men in my family that do not drink or smoke tend to live very long lives and are often doing right well at age 90. But Lido was 17 and as strong and healthy as a teen could be when he died. The correlation of age and death does not come naturally to me.

This unusual collection of experiences has given me a different perspective on aging and what it means to be "old." It irritates me when people ask me how old a given horse is. The problem with the question is the inherent assumption that the answer matters. Horses do not have regular "ages." Horse's come in three ages--too young to ride, too old to ride, too wonderful to leave in the pasture without riding.

Comet is likely in his mid teens. If my life depended on getting 100 miles in rough terrain, I would pick Comet over many younger, better conditioned, more athletic horses that I have.

You see, Comet is old enough. He is old enough to know that what ever spooked him is not dangerous enough to run us into something that really is dangerous. He is old enough to know that he would be best off if he looked before he put his foot down if he did not know what was on the other side of the log. He is old enough to know that if I say that it is ok to cross that water we can do it.

I am too old to be strong. I am old enough to have a slew of young people that would love to tote whatever it is that I need toting. I am old enough to know what will merely be difficult to tote and what will hurt me if I try to tote it.

In short, Comet and I are at just the perfect age.

We are both "now years old."

(Here is a shot of Bonnie Gruenberg and two fillies that we produced in the offsite breeding program. Bonnie is the perfect age to ride a wild Corolla stallion through pitch darkness at a very brisk pace. That is not a bad age to be)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Fighting Nature is Rarely Good Strategy

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Fighting Nature is Rarely Good Strategy: Horses evolved to survive nature's rhythms. When we force them to live counter to that evolution their health pays for it. Just because w...

No Gold In Them Thar Hills, but Enough Copper to Keep You Going




I received an inquiry from someone whose view of the horse/human relationship is entirely in line with mine. It was the kind of inquiry that I love to receive. It was not about why we have our program but how we have our program.

In short can one make any money off of doing what we do? The short answer is --yes. I believe that getting more kids and novices on horses is one of the most valuable services that one can provide to one's community. I believe that the greatest impediment to the provision of that service is that the established horse world is so adamantly opposed to that goal. They artificially send the cost of horse care through the roof by insisting on "necessities" that not only are not needed but are very detrimental to the health and safety of horses. Natural horse care, natural horsemanship, and natural hoof care are the keys to knocking these barriers to horse ownership down.

I was asked the nuts and bolts of the financing of what I do with our program. First of all, I am not a non profit. After years of very hard work we now make a profit. I could make much more of a profit if I had just a touch of Ebenezer Scrooge in me. I have never turned away a kid because they could not afford to pay. I do not charge parents to ride with kids because I think that it is great for families to learn together. I give too much of a break on fees for siblings. I do not charge for any of our extra programs, (music, horse training, etc).

Our fee structure is $160.00 per month for a single student. That student and the students parents can ride as often as possible at no extra charge. There are discounts for siblings. Many of my riders obtain a young horse from me and we train the horse together. Those riders are not charged any fee for riding lessons. They simply pay the board fee for the horse. My board fee includes hay, worming, provision of medical care as needed (not vet bills. I mean things like if a horse needs to have a wound cleansed daily for several weeks and the owner lives too far away to come out daily. I used to provide free hoof trimming but I am getting too old to trim all of these hooves and it is important to me that as many of my students as possible learn to provide professional quality hoof care. (A kid that understands natural horsemanship and can gently trim very rough horses can always make enough money as they get older to cover the cost of owning a horse. I trimmed professionally on a small level for 30 years. Eventually it got so that nearly all of the horses that I did for outsiders were those that know one else would trim. They were too rough for anyone else to do. I stopped doing outside trimming about five years ago.)

Cost containment is the key to making such an operation viable. Natural horse care is not only the healthiest option, it is the most affordable option. I nearly never hire anyone to do any work at the horse lot. What I cannot do myself my riders and their families volunteer to do. This is a very important aspect of how we do things. My riders feel a strong sense of ownership in everything that we do. It is wonderful when kids say "We have several Corolla stallions", instead of saying "Steve has several Corolla stallions."

My three highest costs are hay (they eat nearly 10,000 pounds a week), insurance, and wormer.

I have no doubt that a good manager could take our model and make it so that an operator could earn a sufficient living doing what we do.

I recognize that I have two enormous advantages over many others that might consider a program like ours. I started out with a significant of amount of land from my family at no cost. Secondly, I do not mind working around the clock because I have absolutely no interest in vacations, trips, going to the movies, shopping, etc. I could function quite well living the remainder of my life within 10 miles of the horse lot 24/7. I dine quite happily on a big hunk of cheese and some ice water. A half of a jar of peanut butter makes a fine supper for me. I could be referred to as low maintenance. The shirt that I am wearing at the moment was purchased in the early nineties.

I have one other advantage. I believe in this. Saving the Corollas is only one of the most important things in my life. Saving kids is the most important thing in my life.

So, for the person that asked me--this is how we do it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

And Some of Them Don't Look Bad In Pictures






Jacob and Jordan have always done great job at getting their AIHR and HOA horses out in front of the public. Here they are on a big regional trail ride on the eastern shore.

The horses love the ocean and the kids do not mind it either. Jacob is on Uncle Harley, a former HOA National Pleasure Trail Horse of the Year, who was bred by Tom Norush. Jordan is riding her great Paint mare, Mia, that she and I got going solid under saddle. Both Jacob and Jordan are solid horse trainers who have helped me conduct training clinics in three states.

They have both ridden fifty miles in a day on several occasions. Jacob is not old enough to drive and Jordan could order off of the children's menu but a short while ago.

They do a great job of showing what these horses can do.

They do a great job of showing what kids can do.

Just Another Monday Night At The Tack Shed





(Shelly, one of my adult riders and a very important part of our program wrote this post)


Steve has a new instrument, a Bouzouki. He explained that its heritage is Greek,
but Irish folk musicians started playing it in 1967. If you have heard any Irish music lately, you might recognize the sound. It is lovely. Steve's ability to play so many instruments is remarkable: the dulcimer, guitar, the banjo (regular and 3 strings), dobro, mandolin, auto harp and harmonica.

After supper this evening, Samantha and I headed out to Moonlight Road for Steve's music program practice. On the way, we saw many tree leaves flipped over showing their grey-green-white bellies. The sky was starting to purple up. A sure sign rain was coming.

Nelson, Steve's daddy, figures that he knows over 400 old time songs. He plays guitar. He can yodel, too. Gerald, Steve's 2nd or 3rd cousin, joins in on fiddle. Another cousin, JL, plays guitar. When I first met JL, I thought he had introduced himself as "gel". His rural Virginia accent is solid.

Everyone was comfortably assembled on the porch of the tack shed. Steve led the men and his little riders through the regular routine: I'll Fly Away, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Keep on the Sunny Side and few others. The rain began and pattered around us.

As the music continued, we kept an eye on the bigger weather coming across the pastures. A few bolts of lightening, some thunder claps and a brief spell of good rain gave way to a cool breeze. The little storm also left a brilliant double rainbow in its wake. The sun streaked clouds painted the evening sky. The little riders, now distracted by the storm, had scattered out to explore and play.

The men played a few more songs, and then the sound of Gerald's violin rang up like a sweet voice over the harmony of strings as they began Amazing Grace. I had never heard them play it before, and it sounded so pretty. It was a good night at Mill Swamp Indian Horses. It was perfect.

Monday, June 4, 2012

And My Legs Were Covered in Hair




In recent weeks I have made nearly no posts on the blog and those that are posted do not have the same feel that past posts have had. I am strangely, inexplicably tired. Lately I find it very hard to walk fifty yards with a fifty pound bag of mineral on my shoulder. If things break right I am going to go to the doctor this week.

Of course I have a lot of reasons to be tired. Taking care of the horses would be a full time job but for the fact that I already have one. I prosecute all crimes against kids, by kids, and within families. I also handle all crimes of sexual assault and crimes in which the victims have mental retardation. The last six months have been intense. Murder of a baby, murder of a father and step mother, bank robbery--these crimes make one tired from working. The molestation cases are exhausting in their essence. They cause one to feel a very strong need to go directly to bed after work. Sometimes just feeding up at night seems to demand more energy than I can muster.

I have thought a lot about potential causes and solutions but nothing solid came to mind until this weekend. As I was getting dressed I noticed that there was hair on my legs.

When one rides as much as I have for years past hair is not able to grow a midst the friction of jeans and boots. I have been riding so little and so slowly with novices that that friction is gone.

My lack of energy has had collateral effects. Tradewind has grown dangerously obese. He is insulin resistant and can eat nothing but hay, no grass at all. He needs heavy riding to maintain his health.

So, apparently, do I. Yesterday I had a good hour of good movement on Tradewind. Last night I slept sounder than I have in months. This morning I feel less muscle pain than I have in months.

If everything else works on schedule this morning he and I will hit the woods hard again before court. I doubt that a doctor will be able to give me a shot that will fix me up, but I strongly suspect that if Tradewind gets this hair off of my legs I will feel like moving again.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Remaining Ignorant Is Harder Than It Used to Be

It used to be much easier for the established horse world to issue edicts as to how horses are to be fed, trained, shod, and ridden. They had a monopoly on the equine media and the perfect ally in big agribusiness. Of course, they still have those advantages but cracks are forming in the dams that have held back truths about natural horsemanship, natural horse care and natural hoof care. Joe Camp is doing a great job in teaching horsemanship that focuses on the horse's best interest. The internet gives people that care about horses the opportunity to teach without having to censor their words to meet the approval of the industries that profit from a system that creates unhealthy, obese, lame horses that are in constant need of "supplements", "corrective" shoes, and beauty products. The truth is,indeed, out there. Of course, obstacles remain. The same internet that allows important information concerning nutrition, health, and humane training also allows misinformation to continue to be taught. The worst trend out there is for clinicians to compromise with the system by tacitly endorsing discredited practices like shoeing and directly endorsing "supplements" instead of forcefully speaking out for natural horse care. The decision that every horse owner faces is a simple one. What matters most the horse or the approval of the established horse world. I believe that it was George Shaw who phrased what is the horse's only hope--"It's not too late to build a newer world."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Riding Is Rhythm

I have come to notice that kids that can play music tend to pick up riding at an accelerated pace. In fact, the perfect riding student might very well be a gymnast that can play and sing

Friday, May 25, 2012

Quick Tip #14 One Man Wire Fence Construction

The tightening of wire mesh fence is difficult to do by oneself. However, an interesting appearing, well stretched fence can be put up by one person with wooden posts and wire fencing. Dig fence posts about 30 feet apart. Stand the wire up and attach it to each post, one section at a time. Now get in the precise center between the posts and force the fence outward as far as it can possibly go. Dig another post hole about 2 inches beyond that mark. Insert the post so that the tension of the wire pulls tightly against it. Staple into place and repeat. The result is an attractive fence that becomes a secure horse fence with the addition of a stand of electric wire. Dig all holes with hand held post hole diggers. Power driven augers are for sissies. With the help of my number one ranch hand shown above I rarely have to build fences by myself.