Friday, February 23, 2024

Home School Hugle Kulture With Our Kubota

Today was the first day that we could use the wonderful contribution of this Kubota hauling and dumping mobile. This wonderful contribution from Oliver and Linda Brickhouse sped up this spring's work to expand and replenish our huglekulture mounds efficiently and at a much higher level than our past efforts of moving everything by hand.  

We use no poison in our program. We practice microbial pasture development and worm farming. Our vermicompost is a vital element in the mounds that are built from organic material with a heavy emphasis on compost and wood from our forest. We cut fresh logs, load and move them to the mounds, unload them, and go pick up a load of primarily organic soil created from trampled round bale residue. That residue goes onto the mounds which will be capped off with a few inches of topsoil prior to planting. 

Rain disrupted outside activities but still today we were able to put a Corolla mare in with a stallion for breeding, discuss applications of Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations", to life in this century, and have a session on local black history. We wrapped up planning for tomorrow's Heritage Sheep Shearing event. We hope to have a lot of local guests out to learn about heritage sheep, shearing and wool production, and colonial livestock management. 

We might even sell a goat or two. 

There is no learning experience out there like the Mill Swamp Indian Horses home school program. And we have room for even more families in the weekly sessions which run from 9-2. 

And the cost for the homeschool program is only$100.00 per family, per month. To register your family please send an email to

Tuesday, January 30, 2024


There are few things that I enjoy as much as riding with people that I care about. I generally do so several mornings each week before coming into the office. In the last week 

I fell back into doing something a bit different--something that I have not done much of in years. Riding alone. Riding with the sound of only one set of hooves--being truly alone with one's horse and one's mind is a great way to stimulate creativity. And it is not an "instead of" proposition. It is an "in addition to" proposition.

The simple reality is that if I am going to wrack up the number of miles that I must for 2024 many of those miles will be solitary rides. I don't know how I drifted away from riding by myself but I am certainly going to fall back into the practice to pick up several hundred more miles in the saddle beyond what I have been doing. 

Thursday, January 18, 2024

He Could Not Have Been More Wrong!

And there was a time when I would have enthusiastically endorsed his misperception. 

It was one of those few times when the two major parts of my life--being a criminal prosecutor and being a teacher of natural horsemanship overlap. I have been in a murder trial all week and as I was preparing for my opening remarks I was doing some breathing exercises. Sometimes they can be a bit loud.

Opposing counsel looked surprised and then said, "Oh, you are just psyching yourself up." 

In fact, the exact opposite was occuring. I was psyching myself down. I was going into a deeper state of relaxation that would make me less impulsive and more able to notice everything going on around me. I was slowing down my heart rate and clearing my mind.

 In short, I was doing the same thing that I do when I am confronted with a terrified horse with a training problem. I prepared my body to be under my own control. I put my emotions in my pocket where I could reach in and pull them out only if doing so would be effective. 

 When i was young I ran off of adrenaline and confidence. The two made potent fuel, but they burn too hot to use long term.

I am working hard to teach the kids that I am training now to understand that they must first control their emotions before they can control a horse effectively. It is a concept that matters.

If your horsemanship is not making you a better person it is failing you and you are failing your horse. 

Sunday, January 14, 2024

We Don't Have a Drive Through Window at Mill Swamp Indian Horses

I have been doing this for a long time, long enough so that children who learned to ride, tame, train, and work with me are now grown and often return with their own children in tow. It gives me a special perspective on what matters in our program. It is important to consider what these adults have to say to their children during these visits. 

 It is even more important to consider what I never hear them say. The adults do not speak of the "fun" that they had riding. They speak earnestly of the accomplishments that they made as kids in our program. They talk about the role that they had in training horses with us. They talk about exceeding not only their expectations, but their wildest hopes of what was possible. They speak with great pride of riding in weather that their parents had told them was too hot, or too cold to ride in. They never mention meaningless trophies or ribbons, but they know exactly how far they have ridden in a single day. 

They talk about how their parents did not believe that they could ever achieve the goals that they set for themselves as riders and as people. They talk about the land they cleared. They talk about the trees that they helped remove. They talk about the relationships that they built.

 And they talk about change. They talk about what they were like before they joined the program. They talked about how their fears and persistent anxiety abated. They talk about learning to love working for a goal. They talk about feeling that they are part of something. 

Parents who  have ever had such an experience cannot conceive of it, much less understand it. They see it merely as an "activity" to take up a block of a kid's time. The very worst use of what the program has to offer is to use it simply as a tool to manipulate a child's behavior, e.g. "If you do your chores you can go ride a pony." To do so is to choose the drive through window of a fast-food joint over giving a child a consistently healthy diet. 

 Yesterday we had another workday at the horse lot and like all of our workdays it was sparsely attended, especially by the youngest riders. They missed out on the comradery. They missed out on building social skills. They missed out on the chance to learn that they could do more than they thought they could. 

 They missed knowing what it is like to be seven years old and to put so much of your effort into a physical task that you fall over as you work to rip a tree stump out of the ground with your hands.

Even experienced horse people can miss the point of what we do. They can only see the by-product, not the product. Learning to ride and learning natural horsemanship is the by-product. Building character and teaching kids how to have a life of meaning is the product. Learning courage, honesty, compassion, and generosity is the product. 

 Kids learn that self-discipline is freedom. 

 This morning when I woke up, I found this post on Facebook from the proud father of a young lady who is taking full advantage of what the program at Mill Swamp Indian Horses has to offer: 

 "I want to say for the record how proud I am of my daughter for going out to msih to work on a Saturday that she could have spent any other way. I am impressed that she was up before I was ready to go. Good job Grace!"

Thursday, January 4, 2024

The Temperment Of the Colonial Spanish Horse

There are only a handful of these horses left--some estimates are as low as three thousand. Of those, a much smaller number is trained to saddle. Of that small number even fewer have been ridden by a wide range of riders. 

In short, if you have the privilege to handle, to  ride, or have the extreme privilege to own one of these horses, you already know why they are so special. Endurance, over all health and soundness, ease of handling, smoothness of gaits--all of these things matter--but the older one gets, the more one understands the importance of temperament. 

The good news is that more than any horses I have ever handled these horses focus on, and mirror, the emotions of the human with whom they regularly deal. The bad news, and it can be very bad news, is that these horses focus on and mirror the emotions of the humans with whom they regularly deal. 

Want your horse to be calm and steady?--then become calm and steady yourself. Want your horse to be alert and pay attention to footing problems on the trail, in the woods, or even in the cut over?--then be alert and pay attention to the trail. 

Are you having a problem with your horse?

Well don't blame the mirror.