Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Importance of Wheee!

Last Sunday was a very special day for both my littlest little rider and my oldest little rider. Sarah Lin has turned seven and she went on the Sunday ride with the Hard Riders. The Hard Riders cover a great deal of ground and go on rides as long as four hours on Sunday afternoons. All of the Hard Riders have demonstrated skill in both riding and understanding horses. We ride over ditches, through swamps, and deep into the woods.

This was Sarah Lin's first time out with the Hard Riders. I knew that she could comfortably ride a trot for miles at a time but I worried about her ability to canter for long distances. She rode Croatoan, my Corolla stallion, with absolutely no problem. She will now be a regular Hard Rider and may even do the Mill Swamp 100 Miles-in-a-Long-Weekend ride this spring.

She experienced no fear, only pure joy. My hearing has slipped badly over the years and I was afraid that I heard her scream out in fear at one point. I quickly turned around to see a delighted face squealing "Wheee!" as we cantered through the woods.

Sunday was a big day for Lea too. Her horse, Washikie, named for the Shoshone chief, had his first ride in the woods. At about two and a half years old, this stunning Chincoteague/Appaloosa cross might have the best potential for endurance and Competitive Trail Riding of any of the colts that I have raised off of Wind In His Hair. He is tall and lean. Like his father, he knows how to conserve his energy. Lea is tall, thin and athletic. She has done a great job helping to get him trained to this point. Last Sunday Brent rode him. This weekend, now that we have all of the kinks out of him, I suspect that Lea will ride him.

I bet when he canters she will cut loose with a loud "Wheee!", even if she does not want to.

Some things just cannot be helped.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Time to Reap, A Time to Sow

As darkness approached last night three of my little riders joined with three of my grown riders and we hand sowed a winter pasture across a few acres of our horse lots. One of the adults had mentioned her plans to come out and hand sow the pasture and was informed that that was not possible, that we would need tractors and equipment to get the job done.
We could have used tractors and equipment but it would have taken longer than it took for us, working together, to get the job done. It not only was not impossible, it was fun.
There are those out there who believe that it will never be possible to preserve the wild mustangs of North Carolina. They believe that we do not have the power to take on the tractors and equipment of the big developers and faceless bureaucrats.
This week those critics were proven wrong. The Corolla Spanish Mustangs received a new lease on life thanks to the hard work, done by hand, of Karen McCalpin, Director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. Last Saturday my little riders showed participants at the national meeting of the Horse of the Americas Registry just how good our little horses can be.
My riders were all hand sowed, with no heavy promotions or big money behind their efforts to learn to tame and train wild horses. I am proud of the crop that they are becoming. If you wonder who will be out there looking out for these horses 40 years from now, go over to the Spanish Mustang Focus message Board and look at the post of Lifetime Rider, under the Strains thread. Lifetime Rider is Katelyn, a Corolla owner and one of my riders. I am so glad that she mentioned that she is 13 years old because the quality of her writing and the maturity of her thoughts could lead one to believe that she is an adult. Forty years from now, she will not be working by herself. Sarah Lin, Chance, Emily, Amanda, Jacob, Lydia, and all of my other riders who either own or love to ride a special Corolla will be there too.
All precious seeds. All sown by hand.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

HOA Annual Meeting

The annual meeting of the Horse of the Americas Registry lived up to everything that I hoped. Vickie Ives, of Karma Farms in Texas, brought up two beautiful grandsons of the famous Choctaw Sundance. One of my stallions, Ta Sunka Witco, is also a grandson Choctaw Sundance and it was great to watch his relatives move.

The best part of the meeting was the announcement of the winners of the HOA horses that had been donated as prizes in the essay contest. One of my little riders, Jacob Anderson, is now the owner of a beautiful little East-West four year old. Tom Norush, HOA President, donated this colt. I am sure that Jacob will have him under saddle in short order. Jacob will be a first rate horse trainer and this colt will certainly be a first rate horse.

We carried seven Corolla Spanish Mustangs and Wanchese, my Shackleford stallion, over for the day. We did a training demonstration with Swimmer, a Corolla mare, captured in late August. Some of my riders have been learning drawing and painting from Kay Kerr, an experienced art teacher, and they had some of their work available for sale with all funds to go to the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. My riders rode the Bankers around the ring to demonstrate their beautiful Spanish movement. Steve Rogers, herd manager for the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, was on hand with information about the wild herd. The American Livestock Breed Conservancy had a wonderful program on the various strains of Colonial Spanish Horses. Tom Norush and Vickie Ives discussed the conformation of the Spanish Colonial Horse.

There is an organization out there dedicated to getting children on mustangs. There is an organization out there dedicated to educating the public about the amazing talents of these little horses. Most importantly, there is an organization out there dedicated to preserving all of the strains of these historic horses. That organization is the HOA. I am glad that my little riders have a chance to be part of it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Little House

I do not own as many houses as John McCain. My wife and I only have two. We have our residence where I eat and sleep and the Little House, the base of our operation and educational programs. My residence is about 40 years old and the Little House is about 140 years old. My mother was born in the Little House and she died in my residence. Mill Swamp Indian Horses is a Century Farm which means that it has been in our family for more than 100 years. I own a portion of the farm which belonged to my mother's parents and my wife and I bought the Little House about 2 years ago. It adjoins the horse lots. The Little House is old but my family is older. If one would stand on the porch of the Little House and draw a circle 20 miles all around, one would be circling land upon which a relative or two of mine could be found since the 1600's.
I lived in the Little House until I was about 5 years old. In the yard of the Little House Daddy taught Tonka, my first pony, to lay down so I could mount up. I started riding him when I was nearly three and could not mount from the ground.
The edges of the land are covered with Mimosa trees. Grandaddy Horace planted one beside his hound pen to shade the hounds over fifty years ago. From that one tree has grown hundreds of Mimosas. I hope that from my little riders will grow hundreds of future riders.
The Little House has air conditioning, TV and a VCR, a significant library of books on Indian history and natural horsemanship, and a refrigerator that will hold gallons of ice water. In short, it is everything that we need for our educational programs in the heat of the summer. Kaye Kerr, a talented art teacher, is teaching several of my riders how to paint horses. They are creating beautiful art that will be sold to benefit the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.
After the the 46 mile ride on September 20, parents and friends of my riders prepared more than a cook out. It was a feast. The yard and the Little House were both filled with worn out, hungry riders who were very proud of themselves. My mother would have been proud of them too.