Sunday, September 10, 2017

Horses, History, Education, Permaculture, Conservation..and Music

The time has long since past when our program was simply a place to learn to ride. We teach and practice natural horsemanship,riding,rare and historic livestock conservation, history,soil and water conservation, natural hoof care, natural horse care,public service, permaculture, and music.

We are a non-profit breed conservation program with no paid staff. We are all volunteers. Our program has become a cultural and educational institution. And every aspect of our program serves our central focus of preserving and promoting nearly extinct strains of Colonial Spanish Horses. Each aspect of our program serves to attract more people out to the horses lot to learn about these horses.

On Monday nights many program participants get together to learn ancient songs, often on ancient instruments.

The thread that ties our program together is that every aspect reaches back to bring some of the best aspects of the past to the present.

And that is what we are doing with our horses.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Simple Soil Solutions: No It Is Not a Typo

I want to keep our hay bills down. I want healthy horses with strong backs and necks. I want our soil rich and vibrant. I want resilient, highly productive pastures.

Of course, that means that I will be soil testing, putting down appropriate levels of fertilizers and herbicides, and buying the best horse pasture seed on the market. I then will need to wait about a year before a hoof print appears on that soil.

Except that I will not be doing any of that. Instead I am going to achieve these goals by allowing (encouraging?) my horses to waste hay.

I know. I am still reeling from the concept.

Waste hay to save money and get a better pasture! I have the same feeling about this concept as I first did when I encountered natural horsemanship. It is contrary not only to the way everything has been done here for ages. On the surface it makes no sense.

But neither did natural horsemanship.

I am currently taking an online class, "Grazing Power Training" from Simple Soil Solutions. It is an extraordinary learning experience. I am learning the role that microbes play in building the soil and creating better forage. The picture above is of the 20 acres that my wife and I purchased for the use of our program. It was a pasture about 15 years ago. Since then it has over grown with trees, briars, weeds, and vines. Clearing the land is a slow task for us since we are all volunteers with no paid staff.

Last winter I cut down about 70% of the trees that need to come down. This winter I will take down more trees and remove stumps.

And I will waste a lot of hay. The pasture will be slightly over stocked with horses. The round bales will be rolled out and the horses will trample and manure it as the season moves on. Doing so will put a carbon sheet on the soil to cover it as it heals and all the while residual seeds from the hay will create forage for the future. We likely will use temporary electric fencing to concentrate the horses' activity.

This entire journey began for me when I spread a damp, moldy bag of feed up in a thin layer away from the horses so the birds could eat it. To my surprise, the grass under that layer grew tall, rich and dark of leaf. I could not understand why the waste feed produced better grass than did fertilizer.

Years later I became further confused when doing soil samples on portions of pastures that had been sacrifice areas for many seasons. The areas had been covered with scores of tonnes of horse manure. I expected the land to require a tremendous amount of lime, but the soil test showed these areas to need no lime.

The real spur to my curiosity happened a few years ago when Wendell suggested that I use organic fertilizer instead of regular 10-10-10. He told me that it cost more but I could use less and it would be worth it.

I assumed that this organic fertilizer must be very concentrated if I could use less of it and get better results. Instead it was much less concentrated than 10-10-10 yet I still got much better results with it.

The answer was microbes. The microbes put the nutrients that the plants needed in a chemical form that they cold utilize.

As I am learning from this class and a general study of permaculture, the microbes are the key and a sufficient ratio of carbon to nitrogen is necessary for those microbes to begin the process of healing the soil.

So, beginning today I am going to work diligently to waste hay.

(If you think saying that out loud hurts,imagine how it feels to type those words)

Monday, September 4, 2017


- Start Service Code -->

Just fourteen months ago I finished riding 1002 miles in six months. Yesterday I rode 14.65 miles, likely the most miles that I have ridden in one day in all of 2017.

It was brutal.

Not all that long ago I would never call such a short ride "brutal". I would have likely called it simply "Tuesday". My physical deterioration has been at a lightening pace. In terms of simply my ability to lift weight, I am weaker than I have been at any point since 1990.

Once again, I am working to restore my health. Back to tabata. Back to a bit of barefoot jogging. Back to a bit of kettle bell work. Back to clearing land with the chain saw.

And most importantly--back to riding and writing.

The writing part is very important. When I keep a rigidly accurate log of the number of miles that I ride I find that I ride more--many more--miles than if I fail to do so.

Perhaps there is something out there better for my mind and my body than riding hard. If so, I have gone fifty seven years without finding that thing.

There really is no need to.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Fall Home School Friday Program to Begin in October

Our Friday Home school pilot program has been a tremendous success and we are ready to take it to a higher level beginning the first Friday in October. A herd of nearly extinct Colonial Spanish horses, endangered Colonial Spanish goats and hogs, heritage turkeys and a replicate 1650's era farm site with a settlers home, tobacco barn, corn crib and smoke house is our class room.

The Friday sessions do not focus on riding lessons. Instead they present a wide range of programs that include using natural horsemanship to train horses, rare breed conservation, history, stone age technology (making arrowheads, bow construction, hide tanning, etc, soil and water conservation through the development of permaculture projects, and even music sessions where students old time American folk and roots songs and are given the opportunity to learn to play ancient American folk instruments.

And they learn to work, and work together. Work projects often include fence repair, land clearing, and feeding and care of livestock.

And all of this for only $85.00 per family per month. And if a family participates in our riding program there is no charge at all for the program.

Visit for an introduction to our non profit organization. We are all volunteers, no paid staff.

For more information email us at We are located just outside of Smithfield Virginia. Sessions last from 9-4 each Friday

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Tractor Revolution

Of course, we would still continue to do a tremendous amount of work by hand as we always have, but a tractor with a good set of implements would revolutionize the setting in which we produce our horses and administer our ever growing programs.

It is not so much that it would make the work easier, it is the fact that it would make things go so much faster. I can dig post holes by hand all day long. I am only fifty seven and I expect to be able to do so for years to come. But the progress that I can make is 6 hours of digging by hand is eclipsed by what can be done with a tractor in an hour.

With a tractor we could:

1. keep the sacrifice pastures scraped clear of manure and create wind row compost lines.
2. dig two small ponds on the new land.
3. complete the clearing of the new land at a much faster pace.
4. ring the lower side of the pastures on the old land in a half mile of hugeleculture mounds.
5. build mounds, trenches, and water coursing obstacles in the training portion of the old land.
6. drill annual winter forage seed into the pastures.
7. keep our nearly 1/2 mile path back to the tack shed in good driving condition.
8. maintain a maze of trails through Jacob's woods for riding during hunting season.

Such a revolution would be expensive. Our deep well and sprinkler system was expensive and it has given us our first summer in which water did not need to be hauled to the horses and, most importantly, it has allowed us to maintain lush pasture though the summer. That has been great for the horses and has reduced our hay bill several thousand dollars.

The tractor and implements that we would need would likely cost between twenty and twenty five thousand dollars. Just a few short years ago that last sentence would have been the end of the analysis. In those years years Beth and I covered monthly program deficits and what equipment was purchased was generally purchased by the two of us.

As our program has attracted more regional, and even national, exposure I have learned that we can raise money.

 That would be a lot of money to raise, but it would be worth it.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Livestock Conservancy: Heritage Breeders Tell Your Story

In November the national annual meeting of the Livestock Conservancy will be held in Williamsburg and on the Friday session of that meeting will be held at our horse lot. We will be presenting sessions on how we bring the horses that we are working to preserve before the eye of the public. The bottom line is that we have a lot of programs that attract a wide array of people to see the horses.

These programs give us a lot of volunteers and active participants, but the publicity about what we do is the first step in bringing those people in. We have a story to tell and we tell it, using social media, using our blog, in presentations to civic organizations and on tv and in print media. Kay Kerr has done tremendous work traveling across the nation promoting her children's book about Croatoan.

I have a link below to Margaret Matry's tremendous article from the Virginian-Pilot from several years go. If you have not read this article make sure you do.

If you have already read it many times, read it again.

And share the article.

It helps us tell our story. At the Livestock Conservancy meeting we hope to be able to tell other preservationists how to tell their story.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Taking the Plunge: A Bold New Programing Step

Growth is not easy when everyone is a volunteer and already hampered with the hassle of normal day to day living. To have reached the point that our program has with out a paid staff is difficult tohave foreseen.

But we have made it

This spring we are taking a bold step in the educational programs that we offer. We are going to be offering very affordable field trips to Tidewater schools in the spring of 2018. We will likely have at least two separate types of field trip programs available, one focuses on the horses and livestock breed conservation. The other will focus on soil and water conservation programs that we incorporate in our permaculture approach to land management. (this topic has proven to be tremendous interest to our home school program participants).

We will make it clear that we are not a petting zoo and this is not a riding opportunity, or merely a trip out in the country to play horsey. We recognize the breadth and diversity of our programs.

Our focus is on breed conservation and preventing the extinction of nearly extinct stains of Colonial Spanish horses. We do that within the context of being an educational and cultural institution with tremendous emphasis on promoting the horses by using them to bring pleasure and healing to people with little or no horse experience.

Second Foal of the Year Born To the Corolla Breeding Program

This little filly, Lefty, was born to Polished Steel this week. Her father is Tradewind, named the 2011 National Pleasure Trail Horse of the Year by the Horse of the Americas Registry. In about six months I hope that she has been purchased by a breeder who will join us in seeking to prevent the extinction of these historic horses from the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

We are a 501(c)5 non-profit breed conservation program. We are all volunteers with no paid staff. If you would like to learn more about these horses, how you can become a breeder  and even come up and ride some of these Banker strain, Colonial Spanish mustangs send me an email at

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Dirt Farmer: Simple Soil Solutions

I am where I was twenty years ago. I had trained horses to saddle from the time I was an adolescent. I knew how we did it. I genuinely believed that the way we "trained" was the same way everyone else did.

We trained a horse by riding him. Period. Of course,the result was that the horses that we all rode were not trained. We were good riders. If one is not to be a good trainer than one had better become a good rider.

Then I heard about natural horsemanship. What I heard did not seem possible. It was alien to everything that had been practiced around here for over 100 years.

I was intrigued and confused. I purchased Parelli's "Natural Horse-Man-Ship". Read it cover to cover--I genuinely believed that the book must be part of a multi volume set and I had simply picked up the first volume. It seemed to me that the entire volume was designed to teach one to teach a horse to be lead. I wanted to find the volume that must be out there that taught how to train a horse to be ridden.

Of course, what I learned led to the opening of my eyes and better lives for hundreds of horses and scores of young people.

I was only the second man in my direct line since coming to America in the 1630's who was not a farmer at some point in his life. I had a basic understanding of agriculture and I studied everything that I could find about pasture management from the publications of the established horse world.

Then I started learning about permaculture. All of that has lead to bumping into a spectacular teaching program found here in Virginia. Vail Dixon's programs though her company, Simple Soil Solutions, particularly the program Grazing Power, are something that I hope to take complete advantage of.

I am impressed with her for several reasons. She actually has horse pasture that she manages. She relies on science but learns from trial and error. But most importantly she is a first rate communicator.

And she believes in what she is doing. She has another session coming up on August 10.

Take a look at her website

Keep your mind open. That is the only way that knowledge can slip in.

( This foal was born nigh before last. She is the second foal born to our Corolla breeding preservation program this summer.)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Run Find Your Hackles and Get Ready to Put Them Upp

For too long I have been holding back in order to try to find a subtle, diplomatic way to impart this very important lesson.

I give up--can't figure out a way to do it.

I despise cliches. They do not pass through my lips or even my mind. When it comes to horsemanship they are the sum total teachings of the established horse world, all filtered down to simple rules that can be followed by the simplest of minds.

They tend to have one thing in common.

These cliches help direct a steady cash flow to the agribusiness industries that depend on the ignorance and inompetence of horse owners. Not all of these agribusiness interests are bad. Many, like veterinarians are essential and filled with dedicated professionals.

But veterinarians have much more important things to do than doing physical exams or tests on perfectly healthy horses who are guilty of being poorly trained or,even worse, simply exhibiting normal, horse behavior.

I constantly read of people with poorly behaved horses being advised to "first have him checked out by the vet to see if there is a physical cause to his problem."

Yes, on the rarest occasion there is a physical problem. Those cases are dwarfed by learned behavioral problems and the consequences of living in stables and eating sugar. Check the horses training and lifestyle first. Train the horse. Allow it to live as naturally as possible.

Then you can check with the vet if the problem persist.

But what does it hurt just to check with the vet first--you know--just to be sure?

What it hurts is that is skyrockets the cost of owning horses. That means more horses go to slaughter. That means fewer kids ever get a chance to have the life altering experience of owning a horse.

I could not be happier with my veterinarians. I strongly suspect that they are very happy with our horses.

They know that they are never going to be called out and asked to give a horse a pill to make it stop biting people

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Time In A Bottle

About twenty years ago I was squirrel hunting near a section of marsh that I had not walked around since I was a small child. Way above the normal high tide mark I found an old bottle. It had a top on it and was clear and easy to see though.

 Inside it was a piece of folded paper. The top was not easy to remove but it came off with some hard twists. The hand writing on the note was beautiful. It was dated before the frst World War. The writer was a young man traveling and working his way though the southeast. He talked a bit about his life and explained that he put this message in the bottle and set it to sea (did not say where)and asked the finder send him a note to his home in Maryland to let him know that it had been recovered.

I put it back in the bottle and headed home. I made a few phone calls concerning my very unusual discovery. About the third time that I removed it from the bottle I noticed that it was much more fragile and brittle.

A few days later I opened the bottle to find the paper so deteriorated that it essentially disintegrated upon touch. It could not be unrolled and none of the words were any longer legible. Of course, it likely never had any value except as a personal curiosity.

But it could have been saved.

It could have been preserved. Had I been willing to do the work to find an expert who could have kept it in the correct environment and who could have taught me how to maintain it, I would still have this little piece of time safely sealed in a bottle.

But I was younger, impatient, and most of all I was busy with what the rest of the world calls, "having a life."

Nothing is more detrimental to  having a life with meaning, a life  that focuses on building something  bigger than one's self, than "having a life."

"Having a life" leads to a trivial existence with meaningless priorities. It leads to simply trying to figure out the easiest way instead of the most  efficient way.

Ultimately it leads to a huge volume of excuses, with endless new editions and reprints, but only a small sticky note sized list of solutions and accomplishments.

For everything there is a season. As every horse culture that has existed in history has shown the taming and training of horses can be, and often was, child's play. It still can, and should, be.

But the actual work of preserving these horses can only be successfully done by those old enough to realize what a worthless pursuit "having a life " is. The hard work of preservation is, with a few rare exceptions, left to those whose only interest in life is that it have meaning.

And that is why one is never to old to begin to work to preserve these nearly extinct horses. That is why one is never too old to begin to work to develop a riding and training program  that serves the needs of those that your community has left behind.

That is why one is never too old to look ahead with hope.

It is an ironic aspect of human existence that as our eyesight fades, our vision can become clearer. Only those who have through past  decades have the vision to see what is possible in future decades.

The seeds of our program were planted about 18 years ago. I once wished that I had begun thirty years ago.

 I no longer have that wish.

That would not have worked well. Thirty years ago I "had a life". It's focus was on meetings, martini's and the accumulation of power.

Now I have a life whose only focus is  meaning.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Temperament of Our Horses--For Sale

Yes, one thing that we are able to sell because of our efforts to preserve the nearly extinct horses of the Outer Banks of North Carolina is their temperament.

Their gaits are smooth and they endurance is beyond the imagination of most owners of modern horses. With strong, healthy hooves and remarkable need to bond with people, they make the perfect family horses.

Matchcoor's mother was born wild on Shackleford Island and his father was born wild in the Corolla herd.

When he is weaning age he will be available for placement with someone who will help carry on the work of the conservation of the Colonial Spanish mustangs of the Outer Banks. His sales price at weaning age will be $1,200.00. Purchaser must agree to maintain him as a stallion and allow him to be bred to mares who are in the conservation program at no cost.

Our program currently has six stallions from Corolla or Shackleford on site. Most of the stallions, even those born wild, are often ridden with groups of mares and geldings. Great genetics gives them a big head start but the gentle, yet firm, early handling that all of our horses receive brings out the sweetness of their nature.

One of the points that I have to constantly stress to riders in our program is that they cannot expect other horses to be as safe, calm, and sweet natured as ours and that they will have to be much more careful around modern horses who are not allowed to live as naturally as our herd does.

Within the next few weeks we expect several more foals to be born and We plan to breed three mares for next year.

If you want to acquire one of these horses and become part of the effort to preserve this nearly extinct strain of Colonial Spanish horses contact me at

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Permaculture Payoff

The work has been hard. Some of it remains to be done and all of it, in one way or another, is perpetually ongoing.

Substantial soil and water conservation programs, vermicomposting, deep well and intensive irrigation, daily small pasture rotation for about 20% of our horses, clearing off new land and leaving coppage stumps for grazing, better use of forage in the woods lot, organic fertilizer, no artificial  chemicals, encouragement of dung beetle production, adding high carbon materials to compost piles, hugelkulture demonstration plots, swales and soil decompaction techniques, pasture inoculation experiments with helpful bacteria and fungi, mowing weeds in pastures, combining goat and horse grazing, encouraging growth of existing "wild" vegetation and planting several different grass species

......lead to a forty percent reduction in our hay bill for the last month. When one considers that our horses were consuming 10-12 thousand pounds of hay per week, that is a lot of money....and healthier horses, and less mud and less dust.

And perhaps equally important, we have included th teaching of these techniques in our educational programs.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Will You Allow Your Veterinarian To Tell You The Truth?

We use The Oaks Veterinary practice here in Smithfield. I could not imagine having a better team caring for our horses--first rate diagnosticians, completely up to date on research and new findings, and able to handle a horse that is in pain.

One of the reasons that we have as good of a relationship as we do is that they are all completely comfortable in telling me exactly what a horse needs.

For example, if the best treatment for problem is to simply leave it alone and let it get well, they know that I am never going to think that they should instead "do something." If the horse is going to die, they tell me that it is going to die. If there are range of treatments out there they explain each and they know that after I have all of that information I will let them know which way I want to go.

I will never say "do what you think is best." That is  unfair to a vet. When the vet has explained the pluses and minuses of every option and asks you what you want done--take the responsibility to make that informed decision.

Don't just position yourself to be able to set back and say, "I did everything the vet said to do and my horse still died!"

The test of the quality of a horse owner as a client is simple. Would the client seek another vet if their vet looked them in the eye and said, "The problem is that your horse is 300 pounds over weight and the diet and lack of exercise that you are providing him will likely drastically shorten his life and will likely lead to horrific pain from laminitis and then full blown founder."?

Do you care enough about your horse to accept the vet's advice that what your horse needs to be healthier is exercise, good hay, water and companionship or are you going to feel cheated if the vet does not leave you with a string of supplements and prescription drugs for your horse?

Your horse needs a first rate vet. Even more importantly, your horse needs for you to be a first rate client.

(The picture above is of Burns Red, son of El Rosio, and one of the few high percentage Bacca colts in existence.  Lloyd is a veteran, not a veterinarian--but its still a great picture.)

Saturday, July 1, 2017

How to Handle A Stallion

....with 51% control and 49% affection.

That is the best way to handle every horse. I never grew up with mares and was around few geldings. Both of may parents rode stallions.

I did not grow up to be testostrophobic.

When one of our stallions is in the immediate vicinity of a mare in heat we have to take special preparations. Otherwise our experienced riders ride them as they would any of the other horses.

We would not be able to do that if our stallions were kept shut up in stables with limited "turnout." We would not be able to do that if our stallions were fed abusive levels of high sugar feeds. We would not be able to do that if we taught our stallions that they were ticking time bombs. It is simple to do so. All one has to do is treat their stallions as if they were ticking time bombs and they will oblige.

Tam is a highly impressive young lady. She worked Scoundrel Days, our high percentage Grand Canyon stallion in the round pen for several minutes before this picture was taken. He resisted her leadership and she insisted that he move in the direction she indicated and at the speed she indicated.

In short order he felt secure knowing that he was in the presence of a benevolent, powerful leader.

Not control or affection. Not control now affection later. Not affection now and control after we bond.

51% control now. 49% affection now.

Simply the best way to train horses. Simply the best way to raise children.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Why Don't Your Pig Pens Stink? Why Is There Cardboard In Your Pig Pens?

The same answer applies to both questions. The available carbon that is held in the card board binds the ammonia/nitrogen in the manure, virtually eliminating odor while at the same time producing a rapidly decomposing compost.

Permaculture and related natural soil building techniques are fascinating to apply. The results are shocking to those of us who are only learning about this new/old world of agriculture.

On Conserving Super Horses: Saving the Corollas

A person whose experience was limited to modern horses was shocked at hearing that the Corollas could easily do fifty mile rides on one day to be followed with another such ride the next day, carry adult riders with no problems whatsoever, be trained to ride by children, and do it all with incredibly smooth, relaxed gaits, once huffed at me, "You seem to think that they are super horses!"

"Only when compared to modern breeds", I responded.

Here is our most recent colt produced in the Corolla offsite breeding program. Matchcoor is a warm and affectionate little athlete. A life of natural horse care, natural hoof care and being trained with natural horsemanship will bring his full talents into fruition.

Yes, super horses, in a very different category than most modern horses...and nearly extinct.

One cannot abstain from participation in this crisis. Unless one assists in preventing their extinction, one is clearly assisting their extinction.

Contact us at if you want to become part of this breeding effort.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


It was easier to make Lizzie smile than any kid at the horse lot. She liked to smile.

She was an athlete and she became a solid rider and trainer. We can't forget that she was the one who put the early morning hours of riding and training into getting Hickory Wind into the woods. She patiently trained her Colonial Spanish horse, Trouble, on her own. On a wonderful day nearly exactly a year from today's date she rode him flawlessly in the woods for the first time. And a bit over two years ago she was working to give Jasmine the confidence that Emily Heard brought to fruition.

And she was kind. She cared deeply about other people. When all is said and done there is nothing better to be said of a person than that they were kind and cared about other people.

And she was seventeen.

Pain can cloud one's vision. The vision can become so clouded that one will fail to see the myriad of paths and opportunities that are ahead. Pain can cause one to think that the options don't exist, that there is only one way to end the pain.

Everyone needs to be constantly reminded that there are options. No thought increases the pain more than the thought that there is only one choice. No thought helps fight off the pain more than the thought that there are options available.

Pain can cloud one's vision so that one feels a particular false feeling of isolation--a false feeling of being genuinely alone. If one could somehow see how much they are missed when they are gone and just how many people there are out there who cared deeply about them--they would have never felt alone.

It strikes me this morning that I never told Lizzie that I loved her. I talked to her about many things and gave her my best advice when I thought the time was right, but I never told her the one thing that is the most important thing for any human to ever hear.

I am not going around with any feeling of false guilt that if only I had said or done something else things could have turned out differently.

And no one should feel that way. I am not saying that we always have the power to say or do something that can extinguish the pain like some form of emotional Novocain.

But I am saying that every time God grants us the extraordinary privilege of being able to help someone else we should jump at that opportunity.

Lizzy liked to smile.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Two Generations--Family Horses

Colonial Spanish Horses have as strong need to bond with people. These pictures were taken a few years apart--my youngest daughter and my oldest granddaughter.

Things like this are part of the reason that author, Doris Gwaltney, referred to Mill Swamp indian Horses as a "place of love."

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Monday Night Music Program

Recently I was visited by a lady who wanted her grand children to learn about horses. She had researched riding programs across the region and had found that our program seemed "different from all of the others."

She was right. The breadth of what we do without a single paid staff person is shocking. There is nearly no aspect of our program that started with a concept followed by defined goals and objectives. Such thinking leads to conformity and adherence to rules and accepted beliefs that stifle creativity.

I have never been susceptible to such paralyzing beliefs. Our programs develop by polishing ad lib concepts. In every case the successful products end up being much better than my initial vision.

The best example is our music program. Teaching a few little  kids to sing the choruses of old songs has lead to weekly sessions where kids and adults learn to sing and play folk,  bluegrass, gospel and Americana music on a range of instruments.

They learn the meaning, history and cultural context of what they are playing. Most significantly, they learn of the origin and fusion of these songs from African, Scottish, Irish, and English roots. They learn how these songs fit into the development of our nation. They learn the power that music has to shape a culture's view of itself.

The music is taught the same way these ancient songs developed, on a pre-literate level. It is rare for the kids to ever see a written set of lyrics, much less sheet music. Instruments---- fiddle, banjo, dulcimers, dobro, autoharp, mandolin, bouzouki, wash tub bass, are introduced to program participants and they gradually pick up the basics of making beautiful and very simple accompaniments to very simple and deeply meaningful songs.

The picture above is from the Smithfield Concert series last August. It was the biggest performance that this group had ever had. This performance grew from our Monday night learning sessions.

Our last session brought something new to the Monday night music program---a small audience. These sessions are not concerts. They are not performances. We are used to having audiences for performances, but not for Monday nights at the tack shed.

Those are learning sessions and it never occurred to me that such sausage making would ever attract an audience. And as is typical in the development of all of our programs, that small audience creates the opportunity for program development and growth.

So, I will now start posting on the Mill Swamp Indian Horses group face book page an open invitation to the public to bring a lawn chair and come on back to the tack shed from 7-8 pm on Monday nights to watch and enjoy these learning sessions.

Don't come out expecting to hear spectacular performances. Instead come out expecting to watch an incredible group of young people enter the world of music in a relaxed pr,essure free atmosphere.

Check the facebook page each Monday to make sure that we are not rained out or otherwise having to cancel. If it suits your schedule, come on out to Mill Swamp Indian Horses at 9299 Moonlight Road Smithfield, Va 23430 on Monday's for the rest of the summer.

Monday, May 29, 2017

And There Were Once Two Twelve Year Old Girls

Each had gotten a three year old thirteen hand, green broke pony for their tenth birthdays. Both girls were athletes and neither had any fear of their young horses. Experienced horse people urged their parents against getting such young horses for such young children, but for reasons of their own, the parents ignored that advice.

Each child showed incredible skill at riding and relating to their horse. Each girl  rushed home from school every day, dropped their books on the kitchen table, changed clothes, and hustled out to see their horse.

One of the girls received first rate riding instruction that built on her natural skill as a rider. At age 11 she was winning at every local horse show she entered. By age twelve she was mopping up the competition at regional shows. She was alone in the ring, focused, confident, silent---and so very alone.

He future as a competitive rider could not be brighter.

The other girl was not drawn to competition. She sought out long, slow rides in the woods peppered with hard sprints around the edge of the field. She often rode alone, sometimes with other children, but most often with her parents as they joined in on the old horses that they had had for years. The solitary rides were silent, but for her occasional soliloquies to her horse regarding the challenges and successes of junior high school. Her rides with her parents were filled with long discussions about every facet of her life and how they faced challenges at her age.

After winning her first statewide competition one of the girls was told by her trainer, "You have outgrown this little pony. If you are going to be a serious competitor you will need a much bigger horse.--Time to leave him behind."

She remained stoic and did not cry until the trainer left. When no one else was around she threw her arms around her pony's neck and cried harder than she ever had, harder even than when she learned that her Grandmother died.

Exhaustion was the only thing that stopped the tears.

She tried to let her parents know that she did not want to sell her pony, but they were hard to talk to. She knew how happy her riding made them. They beamed with each trophy she won. Her mother recounted every step of the most recent shows to every one that she met that week. Her father let everyone know how much money the horse show life was costing him. Every penny spent was further proof of what a great father he must be.

He could not wait to tell his golfing buddies  about the  $25,000.00 check that he had just written. He and the trainer decided to surprise his daughter by simply putting the new acquisition in the old pony's paddock late one Friday night. Even better, they had found a wonderful, "forever" home for the little pony and while the daughter was at school that day the new owners came and picked the pony up.

When she got home she saw the stranger standing in her pony's paddock. She immediately understood. If she was going to be a serious competitor she needed a bigger horse. The night before when she went out to the paddock her pony ambled over to her and put his head on her shoulder.

That was the last time she ever saw him.

When the other girl was reaching her thirteenth year she started getting tall and gangling. Her friends wanted to know when she was going to get a big, beautiful, super expensive horse as her competitive friend had.

She was confused. She already had a horse. Why would she want another one?

When she was about seventeen she stopped getting taller. As she came closer to her adult weight more and more she found herself confronted by experienced horse people who told that she looked silly on a 13 hand pony and she needed a bigger horse.

She never argued with them. She knew that there was no use. Those people thought with a different part of their hearts than did she.

The hardest part about college was missing her pony. By her senior year she found a farm where he could stay only a few miles from her dorm. Her life was complete again.

And it was not long after college that she got married. Her husband loved her pony, and it was good for him that he did. She taught him how to ride. As their careers progressed they could afford a horse for her husband.

They took long, slow rides in the woods peppered with sprints around the fields. The rides were filled with long conversations about every aspect of their lives and how they were dealing with the challenges they faced.

She had to lay off of riding for a while. The doctor was not keen on the idea of a young women with her first pregnancy sprinting around the fields. A few months after her daughter was born she mounted back up. By the time her daughter was four the child could catch the old pony and saddle him herself. Her mother purchased another pony and the family of three set out on long slow rides in the woods, peppered with sprints around the fields. They talked about every aspect of their lives and how they were dealing with the challenges they faced.

And when the little girl was in the second grade her mother got a call to come to the school right away. It seems that the second grader had had an anger control episode. She not only smacked a larger boy, she pushed him down and kicked him over and over until she was pulled off of  the cringing little mass of tears curled up on the pavement.

When her mother entered the principal's office the child was still angry. " I hit him , Momma, because he was teasing Carlton for riding the special bus and being in the special class. Momma, he called Carleton a 'retard.'"

She stood up and took her child by the hand, thanked the principal for handling the situation and assured her that she would take further action.

When they got in the car instead of going home, they drove straight over to Carleton's house. She introduced herself to Carlton' mother and sat down in the living room and had a long talk with her about their children.

She explained to Carlton's mother that she could only think of one thing to do. Carlton needed to come over to visit about two or three times every week. She told her that her daughter had an old thirteen hand pony that would be the perfect horse for Carlton to learn to ride on.

And Carlton learned. And Carlton rode. And Carlton laughed. An her daughter laughed with him. And Carlton joined them for long slow rides in the woods, peppered with sprints around the field. They talked about every aspect of their lives and how they were dealing with the challenges that they faced.

And when the pony was thirty four years old he laid down and did not get up. Carlton was grown now and worked over at the sheltered work shop. His mother picked him up from the job and took him over to the paddock.

The pony put his head in Carlton's lap, closed his eyes and died.

And that was the last time she ever saw him.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Point of Personal Privilege

"In parliamentary procedure, a motion to raise a question of privilege is a privileged motion that permits a request related to the rights and privileges of the assembly or any of its members to be brought up."

It is technical, often misused, and rarely understood, but there is a very good reason that in matters of parliamentary procedure a point of personal privilege takes precedence over  nearly other motion that could be placed on the floor.

It is true in life also.

This morning I realized that it is time for me to rise to make a point of personal privilege regarding our program and my role in it.

I hit bottom around 5:30 yesterday.  We have made some tremendous improvements in our program in recent months. The most significant is bringing our irrigation system on line while clearing nearly twenty acres of new pasture. We have worked hard to build a very special fence around much of the new land. We have developed significant soil and water conservation projects at the horse lot  and formalized a home school program that is a unique educational opportunity for young people.

We will continue to grow and improve what we do, but for the first time we have reached the point of being instead of the point of becoming. We no longer will be, now we, finally, are. 

And over the last seven months getting here has worn me out.

Clearing land, doing so much of the feeding and fence repair, writing for fundraising, and developing new programs and special events, with a pesky couple of broken ribs complicating matters, have caused me to spend less time in the saddle in the last half a year than any other such time period for the last fifteen years.

The result is predictable. My weight has skyrocketed. Movements that use to be mildly uncomfortable have become intensely painful. Two weeks ago I trotted for about nine miles and was absolutely worn out.

I did not expect for that to be the case until I was at least seventy.

I am only fifty seven.

As I left the horse lot yesterday I found a severed fitting on a hose that was causing water to spew through the woods. I need to walk back and turn the water off.

I could not do it. Had to go home, eat and rest for an hour before I could take care of that simple task.

This morning when I could not get all the way awake after drinking nearly a pot of coffee, I decided that it was time for me to rise to make a point of personal privilege.

And in accordance with said motion it is hereby resolved, in the strongest terms possible, that effective this date, I shall ride.

I will ride in the morning. I will ride on many nights,
I will ride in the heat of August. I will ride in the cold of February.

I will ride young, half broken horses. I will ride old, trail worn horses.
I will ride when the dust is heavy. I will ride when the mud is deep.

I will ride with small children. I will ride with adults.
I will ride when there is work to do. I will ride  when all of the work is done. 

I will ride when I have time to. I will ride when I do not have time to. 

And be it further resolved that when I am not riding I will be playing music. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Does This Horse Make My Butt Look Fat?

On occasion on Facebook I fall into reading posts on various "horse chat" sites. The experience is invariably painful. The persistent ignorance, arrogance, sycophancy, and the desperate clawing to discover whatever it is with which all good horse people should agree, has certainly taken years off of my life expectancy.

Facts are real. They do not change. They are not subject to referendum. They have no need to be supported by consensus. They do not need cheerleading by the loudest and most obnoxious voices in the crowd.

Facts are not, to use one of the most obnoxious terms of this century, "snarky."

Think how often one has seen a question on these boards along this line, "I am thinking of changing the de-wormer that I use--any thoughts on which brand is best?"

Now think how rare it is to ever see a question on these boards along this line, "I am thinking of changing the de-wormer that I use--any lists of peer reviewed research articles on the effectiveness of the various classes of drugs currently available to kill internal parasites?"

The opinions of ten thousand posters that the rotational worming schedule hyped in the late 1990's is the only way to go do not trump even one factual, unbiased, well researched study on the efficacy of various strategies for controlling worms.

And those who do not even know who these "experts" are  place their horse's health in the hands  of these self appointed arbiters of all things equine.

What does it say about the self esteem and over all mental health of those who post pictures of themselves or their horses and ask for a verdict from the internet jury on how well they ride, their horse's conformation, and whether or not they are too big for their horse? Why do these masochists invite the derision of equ-fascist commentators whose only skill and knowledge that can be proven from their comments is the skill to type on a keyboard and the knowledge to press the "enter" key?

The internet is a tremendous tool for spreading knowledge and solid information.  It is an even stronger tool for spreading ignorance and falsehoods.

Everyone out there who puts a saddle on a horse owes to that horse the responsibility of acquiring every bit of solid knowledge about all things equine that one can possibly garner.

And the quest for knowledge should never end. No teacher should ever stop being a student.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Old Post On Holland

I Could Not Have Hit Him With a Shotgun

This morning Holland showed us all something. With a 160 pound rider on him we set out for a five mile run. I was on Ta Sunka Witco, my SMR stallion whose grandfather was Choctaw Sundance. Holland was allowed to choose his own speed and gait. He completed the entire five mile run in 20:54 after waiting over 10 seconds for me to catch up at the 2.5 mile mark. I finished in 21:34. Holland had such a lead on me for most of the run that he was beyond shotgun range. At the 4 mile marker he lead me by 1/2 a mile.

Holland is a Shackleford, the closest relatives to the Corollas. Shacklefords and Corollas make up what is left of the Banker ponies of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Their beauty is enough reason to save them. Their history is enough reason to save them. For those who do not care about history or beauty, go run your horse five miles. Then you can appreciate the athleticism of these horses who gave rise to many modern American breeds. When one watches Holland pull away it is easy to understand how these horses, crossed with the "spotted race horse", Janus in the 1720's provided much of the foundation of the modern Quarter Horse.

When one watches Manteo, my Corolla stallion pull away from the pack, one can see the root of all of the gaited American breeds in his swishing hips.

They are too good to throw away.

This is Holland when I first met him a few years ago wearing his rough Shackleford winter attire.

Marking Time

When one of you reads this particular post it will be the 300,000th view of our blog. I intended to write a deep reflective post on how the subtle changes in the tone of the blog over the years have reflected the change and growth in our program.

And perhaps one day I shall do so. But for now I am satisfied to celebrate the 300000th view by simply presenting my favorite picture from the horse lot.

Yeah, She's Grown

It's raining and the rain is getting worse as the minutes pass. I just left Lydia, Jen, Abigail and Wendell at the horse lot. They are loading Manny and Holland to go to Biltmore in Ashville, North Carolina for an endurance race.

Jen won't be racing in this one. And I am proud of her for that.

I have little good to say about nearly all forms of equine competition. All too often the interest of the horse falls in way behind the interest, or even the whims, of the rider.

Jen is not letting that happen.

Her horse is the great granddaughter of Choctaw Sundance. Looks Up, the daughter of my horse, Ta Sunka Witco, and Star Dust, a BLM stock mare belongs to Jen. Looks Up is a super athlete. Jen has brought her into peak cardio vascular conditioning. Last spring we did a little "in house" 25 mile race. Looks up was in such solid shape that when it came time for the vet check her heart rate had dropped to sufficient levels with no break but for being walked the last 200 yards in.

But a few weeks ago she got a very minor strain or muscle pull. She is a ball of energy and often zips around the pasture for no reason that the human eye can see.

Her very minor injury remained very minor but was not all the way healed as of two weeks ago. Jen made the decision to pull her from the race. We have several other horses that she could have ridden in this race. All were conditioned enough to have made the run safely, but none were in peak condition. Holland, a Shackleford, and Manny, a Choctaw, are in perfect shape. Jen knows why we enter such events--to promote the talent of these nearly extinct horses in the hopes that more people will breed them.

If Jen had ridden another one of our horses who was not in top cardiovascular shape the likely result is that it would have lead to slower times for Manny and Holland.

So Jen made the painful, and very mature decision, to be the horse hauler and to be part of the pit crew for Manny and Holland.

Lydia has worked very hard to get Manny's mind and body ready for this event. She would not have been able to do that without Jen.

You see, Manny was not quite green broke when he came to us. It was Jen who gave him his earliest training. That is her on board Manny in those early days. Her skills put him on the rode to being refined by Lydia.

Yes, Jen made a hard, mature choice, keeping only the interest of the horses in mind.

I am not be surprised.

Yes, she is one of my big girls, but on days like this I am reminded that she is also a grown women.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

North Carolina's State Horse To Run IN Endurance Race At Biltmore

North Carolina's state horse is the Colonial Spanish Mustang of the Outer Banks. Holland, shown above as I began to set out on a big ride at 3:00 am, is from Shackleford Island. He was born wild and born tough. The biggest surprise about this blocky little horse has both explosive short distance speed and endless endurance..

He has been carrying me at around 220 pounds for several years now. When we went to our only other endurance race the mass of riders on their Arabs and Anglo-Arabs were confused as to why we had a shaggy little pony entered in the race. We carried five horses to that race, three Choctaws, a high percentage Choctaw/BLM cross, and Holland--13.2 hands of barrel, heavy bone, and muscle. We won four of the top ten spots in that race. Jen rode Holland on that ride and I was on Joey,one of my Choctaws.

Holland could have won the entire 30 mile race but for his resistance to having a vet take his pulse.

On May 6 Abigail will be aboard Holland and Lydia will join her on Manny, a Choctaw. That is Abigail above doing a little jumping on my wife's horses.

The desire to compete against anyone but myself left me years ago. I am not predicting that our team will win this thirty mile race. I am not predicting that these two young ladies will swamp all of the experienced riders in this race. I am not predicting that they will bring home trophies and laurels.

As he prepared to enter the ring surrounded by a despondent group of trainers and corner men before the "Rumble in The Jungle" with George Foreman, Muhammad Ali brought life to his entourage by simply repeating "We gone dance. We gone dance. Oh yeah, we gone dance."

I am predicting with a great deal of certainty that when this race begins Lydia, Abigail, Manny and Holland well...they gone dance. They gone dance. Oh yeah, they gone dance..

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Unique Training Clinic-May 13, 9--?


Over the past decade we have hosted many training clinics but this one might be our most important session to date. Sunshine, the Corolla mare shown above, was removed from the wild because she was suffering from the enormous abscess shown in the bottom picture. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund saved her. After healing she was adopted and lives in Lexington, Va. She has been well handled by her owner and the young trainer who has opened the door to trust for this stunning mare.

On Saturday May 13, beginning at 9:00 Sunshine will enter the round pen at Mill Swamp Indian Horses, 9299 Moonlight Road, Smithfield Va 23430. After a bit of conventional round pen work Lydia Barr, who works as a professional trainer with horses who have complications, will come into the ring and work the mare through a series of training techniques based on a gentle and humane training regimen rooted in the practices of South American India tribes.

Oscar and Christobal Scarpati brought these techniques to America in a training program that they named Doma India. Though in no way affiliated with the Scarpati's, Lydia has begun to incorporate some of the relationship building fundamentals of their work into her training repertoire.

We will begin at 9:00 am and will continue until the horse gains as much from the day as is possible. That could mean that we will wrap up at noon, or we could still be going at 4:00.

Don't count on that--come on out at 9:00.

Bring a lawn chair. The charge for non-program participants is only $10.00. There is no charge for those who participate in either the Mill Samp riding progrm or the Friday home school program. Also included in the day's events will be a tour of the sight and an introduction to the many strains of nearly extinct Colonial Spanish horses, heritage breed livestock, and replicated 1650's era farm. Take a look at our Website for more information on our programs.

We are a 501 (c) 5 breed conservation program with no paid staff. We are all volunteers.

To register for this clinic send an email to

Share this invitation with anyone that you know who cares about horses.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Got To Run To Keep From Hiding

It is a cost of success. Our program is growing in leaps and bounds. My time and talents are not growing an iota. During the first six months of 2016 I rode 1002 miles. I have not kept track this year but since January 1 of 2017 I cannot imagine that I have ridden a total of 100 miles. I have been very busy clearing land, writing and working on new programs like our Home School program. A complex murder and a string of abuse cases have kept things hopping at the office.

( I try to stay away from too much negativity and heightened aggressiveness so fill in this missing paragraph with whatever phrases you would use to describe that special feeling that one gets just before biting a chunk out of a laptop.)

For much of the past two weeks I had hoped to complete the electric fencing around the new 20 acres that we have been  clearing as soon as I got in from the office. Day after day I have been too worn out to get that done. The delay in utilizing that land has cost us about $1,500.00 in hay.

Yesterday I rode in the rain for about 45 minutes. This morning I was to start getting back into heavy riding. I was quite excited to pull up to the tack shed, grab a saddle and go and lope on Ta Sunka Witco for about an hour.

Instead I found about an hour and a half of things that needed to be taken care of. I did not saddle up.

I am beginning to realize that I can get everything done that needs to be done and ride heavy and play music or I can sleep all night, but both cannot happen.

On the bright side, I have been very conscious of the fact that over the past year or two my memory seems to be significantly fading. So it is quite likely that by tomorrow I will have forgotten about it all.

Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone? A Life With Meaning

He seems like such a humble old guy. He works around the clock for little, if any, financial reward. His life is dedicated to saving something precious for people that he will never meet--for people yet to be born. Odds are you have never heard of him.

Even better odds that you have never seen the horses that he preserves.

But Bryant Rickman matters. Look at this incredible little film about saving the Choctaws--  

Feel the past when  you look at the film. Feel the present when you look at the film and feel what the future will be if we simply let these horses disappear.

Take a look at the picture above. That is Lydia on Manny, a pure Choctaw and the fruit of the work of Bryant Rickman and a handful of others who keep the candle from being blown out.

On May 6 Lydia and Manny will be down at Biltmore in North Carolina for Manny's second official endurance race. His first race was up in New Jersey. it was the first endurance race that we had ever seen.

We carried five horses to the event, three Choctaws, a Shackleford, and a very high percentage Choctaw/BLM cross.

We won four of the top ten spots in the thirty mile race--in the first race that we had ever seen. Other racers went from sniffing at our unshorn ponies and our western saddles and boots, and our "pit crew" composed of only one person for all five horses to asking, at the end of the race, "What are these little ponies, they look as if they are related to one another?" And my favorite question, "Where does one acquire one of these ponies?"

I rode, Joey, also a Choctaw with a touch of Cherokee lineage. As I recall the weight of our tack and his rider was 256 pounds. Needless to say that was much more than any other horse there carried.

Joey came in ninth. (I forget how many contestants there were but there were between 35 and 55, I think.)

Super athletes, beautiful, rich history, incredibly smooth to ride--but those are not my favorite things about the Choctaws. I have reached an age where I am no longer impressed with a horse's speed. Long ago I realized that it is easier to get where you are going first by simply starting before everyone else does instead of trying to break the sound barrier.

What draws me to the Choctaws the most is a bit of unhorseness in their temperament. They need to be with people. They want contact. They want to follow you around.

In some ways they act more like milk goats than like horses. Horses generally are asking scores of questions every time a person approaches. My Choctaws only seem to have one question--"So, where are we going today?"

Of course, the Banker horses, such as those of Corolla and Shackleford, have strong historic and genetic ties to the Choctaws.

And I would not be privileged to know all of this first hand were it not for Bryant Rickman's  decision to find meaning by dedicating his life to preserving these horses.

Make sure that you take time to look at this video--especially if you have not yet figured out how to give your own life meaning.

It's not too late.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

So Much Left To Learn

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

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

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

Education is a fundamental aspect of our program. Although I have not been riding or exercising enough in the past six months, I am averaging at least an hour every single day reading and learning about how to make dead dirt live. is a great site worth checking out right away. I look forward to going out to her operation and learning everything that she is doing that we can apply.

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

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Not Just For The Kids

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

The more they give, the more that they receive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

And We Work Hard To Preserve The Choctaws Too

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

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

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

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

We have since obtained three more.

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

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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

We Preserved His Life and His Corolla Bloodline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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