Sunday, April 29, 2018
Sitting here feeling a bit reflective this morning--Jason Isbell, Brittany Howard, Gram Parsons, Townes Van Zandt, A.P. Carter and Ralph Stanley all been sitting here with me for the past few hours--eating Kim Chee and fried chicken for breakfast and thinking about how our program got where it is.
Thinking about how those who see how we do things fall into two camps--those who wonder how we get as much done as we do and those who wonder how much more successful we would be if I would just be more conventional in my outlook.
My favorite flower is the one that people try their best to kill, only to find it sprouting back no matter how much poison they heap on it.
I don't find any beauty in a flower's appearance. Real beauty is in its resilience.
Can't deal with pretending. Things are true or they are not. Can't put something in my mouth called "false teeth" and can't feel a bit better about such dishonesty by calling them "dentures" either. Music is to be judged only by how it sounds instead of how difficult it is to play. The test of whether or not a horse is well designed for endurance is to go ride him for 50 miles. The test is not to look up conformation and breed standards to make sure that you and your horse are appropriately clothed in Moa suits and marching in perfect step with what ever the established horse world has decreed.
Something fundamentally wrong with having a brain and refusing to use it. We must all be born the same and we must all die the same but we do not have to live the same. Speaking clichés inevitably leads to living them.
To lose the respect of a horse in order to gain the respect of a person is strong proof of a fundamental lack of self respect. Gaining the respect of the powerful by failing to place the interest of the powerless above all else is to live a failed life.
Appearances do not matter. Reality does. That is why a blind man often has truest vision.
We have a lot of guests and visitors come out for the first time.. Some people say, "This place looks so beautiful." Others say, "This place is so beautiful."
There is a big difference between those two statements that too few people recognize.
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Matchcoor will be a yearling this summer. For years now our efforts to prevent the extinction of the Banker strain of Colonial Spanish horses, left in the wild only at Corolla and Shackleford, have centered on developing off site breeding programs to carry on the fight. We will still continue to do so but we will be changing our emphasis from providing breeding stock to new off site breeding programs to raising and training first rate horses that will then be sold as young adults with the hope that they will be bred by their purchasers.
That will mean some major changes in how we do things. We will continue to offer foals for sale under the same terms as we always have to encourage off site breeding. However, our focus will shift to raising fewer foals and keeping them until they are dead broke. This is not my preference. Doing so will make it necessary for us to charge much more for a horse than I want to do. I hope that those who purchase one of these horses will instantly see how well they perform compared to modern horses that they will want to breed them on their own.
As he matures I will turn Matchcoor into a super-horse. Of course, he will remain a stallion. Gelding one of these nearly extinct horses is nothing more than vandalism and theft from future generations of horse owners who will never get to even lay eyes on these historic horses.
Producing several first rate adult horses each year will require our program to continue to develop first rate young horse trainers who practice first rate natural horsemanship.
Take a look at this picture of Audrey and Matchcoor. I bet I will be a able to find some first rate young trainers who will work hard to preserve these horses.
Bet I won't even have to look all that hard before one turns up.
Sunday, April 22, 2018
A brief word of explanation. In recent weeks I have written fewer posts and articles than is normal. I have been taking much longer to respond to emails. Our program is not slowing down. We are continuing to expand and we have been doing a great deal of riding before work and at 6:30 pm during the week.
We have experienced some significant wind damage at the horse lot, had some repair work to do on the mower and the settler's farm, a few horses to pick up and move, and a lot of horse training to do. We have a big spring fund raiser to organize and carry out. There are a lot of trees that need planting. The good news is that it is all getting done thanks to the great volunteer work of several program participants.
And that is great because I am not in a position to give much thought to these projects, much less taking an active role in getting them accomplished. There are four prosecutors in our office. Over the next seven weeks we have motions, preliminary hearings or trials in six murder cases. In twenty years of prosecuting I have never faced such a schedule. The bind is not simply that they are murder cases. The problem is the complexity of some of them. One of the cases has as much documentation to absorb and technical information to present as I would find if I added up all the cases that I have worked on in the last two years.
But, it will all get done and by mid summer life should be back on track. In the mean time, if you are looking for an opportunity to volunteer to help a unique riding/training/breeding/educational program go check out our website www.millswampindianhorses.com and contact us.
There is always plenty of work to go around.
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Grand Canyon Blood. Her father is a super star. She is beautiful and affectionate. This is her spring. A horse learns much more from being trotted 50 miles in the woods in a week than it learns trotting 100 miles spread out over three months.
Keep in mind our horses never see a stable. They live in bands with opportunity for movement 24/7. Their muscles, bones, and suspension systems are infinitely stronger than those of a horse who is stabled but for his limited time of turn out.
I have ridden her on many occasions but I wanted her to have the chance to mature before I immersed her in riding. This spring will be her immersion. Her gaits are already impeccable, even without the tremendous muscling and conditioning that she will receive. By the fourth of July she and I will flow together the same way Ta Sunka and I do. The same way Joey and I do. The same way Holland and I do.
She is unique in our horse lot. In the last 18 years I have sold a few horses but I have given away many more very special horses to very special young people than I have ever tried to sell.
Janie comes all the way up from Texas. She was raised at Lothlorian Farm. A very special little girl, who is now a very special young women wanted me to have her. I have been impressed with Brooke Simms since I first saw a clip of her training a young Colonial Spanish horses. I let her know that and I have followed what she and her family have done with these historic horses since then.
Janie is one of the most important gifts that I have ever received. And this spring I will teach this mare everything that I know.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Beth was surprised when I came in today. I told her that I had taken the horse lot as far as I could and and it was time for someone else take over and for my role to be that of land lord. I thought about several different options ranging from having one person do what I do, to suggesting that my role be divided among several people, to winding the program down with an eye towards its gradual dissolution. The idea of continuing to handle the cases that I am handling in court and throwing nearly all of my remaining time into the horse lot is more than overwhelming. Sunday Lydia and I went riding around Smithfield and I was surprised to see the new construction that has gone up in recent years. I don't see much of the area unless it is on my triangular route from home to the horse lot, to the office and back and it has been that way for several years.
I asked Terry to send me a list of the people that are on a special program development committee so that I could advise them that they needed to come up with a plan to run the horse lot without me. Then facebook messages came up. A nice post from Reba. A wonderful note from Monique. But most importantly, this picture from last night.
The reality is that others could do the work that I do at the horse lot if they were willing to do so. It is not brain surgery but it does require one to totally dedicate one's life to the program.
But on the other hand, please permit me to be more honest than modest, there is not another soul out there who can do what is in this picture. Kids achieve things for me that they think they cannot do. The only reason they even try is because I tell them that they can do it. It has always been that way.
On the positive side I am already fifty eight so I doubt if I will need to hang with this much more than another thirty years.
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Nothing motivates one like having a goal and achieving it. In 55 Days, on Memorial Day, May 28. We will have a fifty mile ride open to all riders in our program who do the following:
1. Submit a self conditioning exercise program involving both strength and aerobic fitness which the rider must adhere to between the time of submission and the date of the ride. For those who have questions I will assist in developing an age appropriate training program for you.
2. Dedicate at least three hours each week to riding with the majority of that being trotting.
3. Purchase a new saddle pad to donate to the program after its use in the fifty mile ride.
4. Submit to me the horse that you prefer to ride on the ride if you do not own your own horse. For those who wish to ride the same horse the first claimant will have priority although I reserve the right to put people on the horse that I think is most appropriate.
4. Email me a picture of the saddle that you wish to use if you do not own your own tack.
Kids who follow this regimen and complete the fifty mile ride can be assured that what ever challenge they face in life, whether it be getting a scholarship, making a sports team, getting into a college, getting a job, or beating cancer. their competition will not have ridden fifty miles in a day.
Sunday, April 1, 2018
Many great programs for dealing with riding anxiety fail to cover one important point--that, as important as balance is, strength what keeps one on a bucking or severely spooking horse.
Most of our fears of falling are not well grounded in fact. However, the fear that if you are over 35 you stand a great chance of breaking a bone when gravity is applied to speed and mass is very well grounded in fact.
You cannot do anything to make your bones younger, but you can, in about an hour a week, radically strengthen the muscles that you use when riding. There are a lot of great exercises for strengthening the muscles of the body's core but nothing beats the complete riding strength development of a simple exercise called the Farmer's Walk.
Do a bit of research on this simple exercise. Don't try to become a body builder, but carry enough weight in each hand to get results. With correct technique and sufficient weight in each hand you will likely see changes in your body faster than any other exercise that you have ever done.
Those changes will increase your confidence. The increase in strength that you obtain will make that confidence well grounded. The caveat of checking with your doctor before beginning any exercise program applies here. Unless there is a medical reason to refrain from doing this exercise, I only know of one thing that one can do that is even better for building riding strength and that is to trot without resting for many hours each week.
And when the two are put together you will transform your body and your horse's too.