Sunday, April 25, 2010

Another Inconvenient Truth

With spring's arrival we have been thinking up new ways to improve the appearance of the horse lot. Emily suggested that a good first step would be for me to keep my shirt on at all times.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yesterday I Rode a Little Spanish Horse

The catch is that I had not done so in several days because I have been working with a large BLM stock mare. When I first got this horse I thought that she was the most comfortable horse one could ever encounter. Her natural collection gave rise to a canter to was one of the smoothest that I had ever experienced.

That was before I ever rode Ta Sunka, or a Corolla or Shackleford. Those with modern horses seem shocked that someone my age can take a fifty mile in a day ride and still walk the next day. I doubt if I could do so on a modern horse. I guess that modern horses are ok for kids, but when one's copy of Horse Illustrated arrives in the mail along with the latest news from the AARP, it is time to get on a Spanish Colonial Horse.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Now Sarah Could Just Flat Out Sing"

That was how one historian of American mountain music explained the enduring power of original Carter Family performances and recordings. Everyone is familiar with Maybelle Carter's guitar innovations and A.P. Carter's powerful arrangements of both the original songs that he composed and the ancient songs that he collected and preserved. Sarah Carter never got the credit that she deserved. It was true, Sarah could flat out sing.

When I was a teenager I worked horses and taught my little siblings to sing meaningful,ancient songs that we performed all over the area. I taught my daughters and my wife some of the same songs and we also performed until my daughters grew up and moved away.

Now a group of my riders and one of their sisters have come together for two performances at small get togethers. The first performance was not bad. The last one was just about everything that I could want out of the kids. They were like professionals.

The darker haired young lady (actually it is sort of red) is Sarah. Her sisters and Emily are really talented, but my God, Sarah can flat out sing!

This is a shot of last Wednesday night's performance at Ruritan family night. There are a lot of similarities between the drive that makes one want to preserve ancient folk songs and the drive that makes one want to preserve the horses of ancient folk.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Make History by Preserving History

In the next few weeks I will breed several Corolla mares to produce foals for the off site breeding program. The foals will be born next spring and anyone who is interested in participating in the off site breeding program should contact me know about obtaining one of these foals.

We will discuss the rules for participation in the program in a future post.

This picture is of Mokete at about a week old. She was the first foal produced from this program.

Monday, April 12, 2010


The rarest of things, a teenager whose wisdom exceeds her knowledge. This is a picture of Lydia and her young horse Owl Prophet. Both already know and understand things that few three times their age do.

I tire of using my own judgement all of the time and am delighted to have access to the solid judgement of others. At times that judgement comes in youthful packages.

Recently I fretted over how to get a new, very young, rider to understand the importance of focusing and following my safety instructions.

"Leave him to me," Lydia said without further comment. I will do so. He will be in good hands.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What Is is Not What Has To Be

I am not surprised at some of the reactions that I have received in regard to the posts on registry cooperation/unification. Most say "good idea, will never happen." A very few others support the status quo. Some discuss whose fault the splintering is. All of that I expected.

Some hint at defending the HOA. That surprised me. There is no need to do so. There is nothing implicit in any of these posts that is critical of the HOA, or its leadership.

Tom Norush, HOA President, has made it clear that the HOA is willing to discuss mutual cooperation with any or all of the registries. That is a far sighted offer. Now the question is whether or not the other registries will be willing to sit down and talk.

The status quo is not good enough. We can do better and the horses deserve better. The words of A.P. Carter's old hymn are only half true when applied to those who dedicate themselves to preserving these horses. Yes, "You got to walk that lonesome valley." However, in this case,, we do not have "to walk it by ourselves."

I do not claim to have all the answers, just all the questions. The most important question is, Are we willing to ignore past problems between the registry's to produce future solutions?

(In this picture Medicine dog and I walk a lonesome valley, but neither of us is alone.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Step Two:Confederation

Informal efforts to work together between members of the various registries are better than informal efforts to oppose each other, but they are no substitute for formal efforts taken by the elected leaders of the various registries. Such a step does not require any of the registries to make any change in their form of organization and certainly does not require any of the registries to dissolve.

Instead, the leaders of these registries could agree to form a confederation of registries that are coming together for the purpose of advancing some of the proposals set forth in the previous post entitled "Baby Steps."

It is time to start talking. It is time for leaders to lead. I am not Ghandi. I am not even Rodney King. I do not care whether or not we "can all get along." I just want us to work together. We do not have to love each other. We do not even have to like each other. We simply need to recognize that cooperation is in the interest of each registry and every horse.

The young Corollas in the picture above could face each other and start fighting. Instead they choose to eat. All of us need to follow their lead. It is supper time.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Doing the Impossible Takes a Little Bit Longer

People who have long been in the struggle to preserve these horses have expressed the thought that unification of the registries would benefit the horses but that it is not doable. Those who think that there is something unique about this issue should consider a look at a wider range of human history.

Splintering, divisiveness, the emergence of leaders with strong personalities, an innate desire to declare the horses of others to be unworthy of recognition, there is nothing about these problems in the mustang preservation effort that has not been part and parcel of a range of revolutions throughout history.

Crane Brinton recognized that certain patterns emerge as movements progress from being a wish, to a plan, to a revolution, to trying to govern. Revolutions often turn on their leaders after gaining power and expel, sometime with deadly force, those leaders. Consider the fates of Robespierre, Trotsky, Sadeg Ghotsedeh, Abul Hassan Banni-Sadr, Gorbachev, Chiang Chi-Shek, and a host of other leaders of revolutions in history, some good, many bad, all discarded by their followers.

Divisiveness and splintering are natural in all revolutionary movements, both because of a human desire for power, but more importantly because of the claim that only one sect represents the true faith and that the others are pretenders,at best, and heretics at worst. Consider the earliest history of Christianity. Constant infighting over issues of dogma, leadership, and most importantly which sect was the keeper of the true faith. Consider the Reformation and the splintering that occurred that lead to the establishment of many of the Protestant churches.

The search for meaning and definition in every movement leads to divisiveness. There cannot be an "us" if there is no "them." Groups too often define themselves by simply asserting that they are not members of the heretical "them."

The bottom line is that there is absolutely nothing unique about leaders of the mustang preservation movement. However, as Brinton pointed out, there was at least one revolution that broke the pattern and that was the American Revolution. Somehow, moderate leaders who made up the 'second generation" of revolutionaries were able to work out compromises that allowed for a birth of freedom that the world had never seen.

The same can happen with the mustang preservation movement. Moderate leaders who seek compromise instead of control can bring about unification. (I have utterly no interest in becoming one of those leaders. Perhaps I am a bit hypocritical when I call on others to set aside their differences and do the hard work of unification when I am not willing to do so myself. I recognize that I am not George Washington, but I can be Thomas Paine.)

And what of the important details? Does unification mean merger, absorption, or dissolution? These are all matters that would have to be worked out by leaders of good faith on both sides. That is why I proposed the baby steps set out in the previous post. The unified structure could take many different forms and each would be an improvement over our current system. I will be throwing out one possibility of a structure in a future post, but it will only be that, a possible structure--not the only workable solution.

Dianne W. asks the very good question of me as to whether or not I register my Bankers with the SMR in response to my call for the registries to urge cross registration. At this time the SMR registration rules for the wild horses of Corolla require expenses that I am not willing to incur. However, Ta Sunka Witco is registered with both registries and the AIHR. At this point I urge cross registration of all horses currently eligible for registration.

Unification will require a tremendous exercise of decorum and discretion on the part of anyone involved in talks toward that end. For example, I have refused to take the bait and respond in any way to those who have never seen a Corolla wild horse yet feel qualified to declare them to be non-Spanish.

Unification and preservation requires that we all pay great attention to our faces. We must learn to hold our tongues and keep our eyes on the prize.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Unification:Baby Steps

The only beneficiaries of the splintering of the various Spanish mustang registries are those who would like to see these horses relegated to the dust bins of history. We have too few troops to divide ourselves and march on the enemy and we certainly do not have enough troops to divide ourselves and march on each other.

The most important steps that can be taken to work towards unification will have to be made between the two largest registries, The Spanish Mustang Registry and the Horse of the Americas Registry. I suggest the following modest program.

The two registries should appoint a joint marketing committee to develop a three year program for marketing the horses and promoting and creating regional events that showcase the horses.

Both registries should urge members who have horses that are eligible for registration in the other registry to cross register those horses.

Both registries should respect the right of members to refer to their horses by any name the member chooses whether that name be Spanish Mustang, or Colonial Spanish Horse.

Both registries should appoint a joint committee to study unification and to make specific recommendations to advance the goal of unification of the registries in a timely manner.

Both registries should appoint agree on the appointment of one person to serve as the joint publicity committee for both registries.

Valor, pictured above, has a handful of wild relatives at Corolla. She has a handful of relatives in captivity. They need and deserve to have everyone who cares about the preservation of historic Spanish horses working together.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Match Maker


No one better understands the purpose of our program than Wendy. That is her standing up and looking to the side in this picture. She is the one who came up with the idea of getting us together with the Boys Home. She initiated what became one of the most pleasant and significant weekends in my life.

This picture was taken after the last ride and just before a great cookout that Terry, Jerry, Lisa, and Daddy put together for out guests.

I always felt that my little riders were a good bunch of kids. But the crew from Covington was so polite, mature, and well mannered that they made my little riders look like a bunch of Hell's Angels.
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End of the Trail


Here is a shot of some of our guests from Covington and many of my riders coming in from our last ride in the woods yesterday. We rode about 7 miles. They are serious students who soon will be serious horseman.
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Deceiving Looks


Neither Jimmy nor Red Feather would be big enough to fight in the heavy weight division, but both are tough enough to do it.

Jimmy was among our guests over the weekend from Boys Home. From the very beginning he asked to get on Red Feather. Before leaving Saturday he got his chance.
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A Man's Got To Do...


And do,and do,and do. When men stop doing, when men stop working, when men stop creating, that is when they stop being. Such men are much worse off than the ball player sitting on the bench. They are more akin to those who may be on the field but are content to simply run the clock out.

Bill does not let the clock run out. He has been recovering from surgery and has not been able to ride for much too long to suit either of us. Even though it is spring, things seem a bit less alive without Bill in the horse lot. He has not been able to ride, but he has been able to do.

This picture shows a great thing that he has done while healing. Bill constructed this head dress over the past several weeks. It will look great in parades for many years to come. So will Bill.
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Not All Great Horses Are Mustangs


Some just look like they are. Comet is 75% Appaloosa, 25% Arabian, and 110% tough. Comet is about 12 years old, just under 14 hands, and well over the expectations that others have when they first see him. Comet is featured prominantly in my book. He was the first horse that I ever trained using natural horsemanship. He was once a fool and now he is wise. He was once terrified and now he is calm. He was once terrifying and now he is soothing. He was once what my father described as one of only two horses that he has known that he was afraid of and now he is ridden by novices. He was once the absolute lord of the herd, and now he...still is, in all matters but for breeding.

While I have had him he has:
1. Never coliced.
2. Never needed to have his hooves trimmed more than twice a year.
3. Never been lame, for even a moment.
4. Never required a vet visit.
5. And never injured a child.

Had Comet been a stallion he would have been the only stallion I would have ever acquired because I could think of no better sire for my little ones. The mere thought of using a "grade" pony as a herd sire is an outrage to the established horse world. This established horse world breeds valuable show horses with distinguised pedigrees.

Valuable show horses with distinguished pedigrees:
1. Always seem to need another vet visit.
2. Always seem to require special, expensive diets because they
3. Always seem to be having problems with colic or ulcers.
4. Always seem to be lame or recovering from a lameness because they
5. Always seem to be stuck inside a stable awaiting for the elusive opportunity to have "turnout."

But Comet is not a valuable show horse with a distinguished pedigree and he and I are:
1. Always grateful for that fact.
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Mattering is The Only Thing That Matters

And Denise matters. For about four years she has been the mortar that holds together all of the bricks that make up the effort to save the wild horses of Corolla. Her precise job title is not as important as what it is that she actually does. She is the delegatee. She is the person who both implements the ideas of others and heads off problems before they come up.

It would be difficult to come up with a better team to staff the Corolla Wild Horse Fund than the team that we have. As good as the rest of our staff is, they could never achieve the successes that have been racked up in recent years without having her there. A lot of cliches about a first rate staff member come to mind. It may not seem flowery enough of a thing to say but the bottom line is that Denise is solid and she is a grown up. Non profit organizations of all kinds tend to attract well intentioned, good hearted people who are flighty, at times unreliable, and who always wear their hearts on their sleeves. The most frustrating part is that it is often the heart of a 13 year old.

To save these horses we need solid, grown ups like Denise.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mount Up Like On Wings of Eagles

Yesterday was the most important day that we have ever had in our horse lot. We have a group of guests down from Boys Home in Covington. They spent the day working horses and riding and we will do more of the same today.

They will be starting a program based on what we do, from starting colts right on up to riding. The boys are attentive and deadly serious students. They understand how much fun the horses are and I am working to get them to understand how much the horses can do to improve our lives.

Yesterday was like being in a Walt Disney movie. Rain in the Face has probably only had about 10 hours of handling in his nearly 3 years of living. By mid afternoon, after having worked him all morning, Jimmy and Cody rode him in the round pen. He never bucked. He never bolted. He never spooked. Later in the afternoon the boys and several of my riders went for a long ride in the woods. Rain will soon be one of their horses.

We have four colts and one older broke mare who have decided that they want to go and live in Covington. Boys Home has pasture, a barn, and kids. All they need is horses and heavy training in natural horsemanship. That is where we come in.

This is going to work.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

One For All


There are not enough people who care about the preservation of the various strains of Colonial Spanish horses to afford us the luxery of splintering. The existence of multiple registries for these strains bodes poorly for our prospects of saving these horses.

The Horse of the Americas Registry is the only registry that is designed to be a unifying force for the preservation of all strains. The HOA is the only registry with a potential to become a powerful unifying voice for the preservation of all strains.

I will be making a series of specific proposals in future posts concerning working to end the splintering and to come together. I will be speaking only for myself. I have not sought the advice or suggestions of any of the leadership of any of the registries. Though I am a proponent of the HOA none of the suggestions that I will make should be viewed as coming from anyone but me.

March 29--Sunka 1.25
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