Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Remember, The World's Most Beautiful Beagle

Comes in dead last in a Basset Hound show. Because they are so rare few people have any idea what a Colonial Spanish mustang should look like. Because they are so common too many people think that all horses should look like Quarter Horses.

Larger heads, often ram's head noses, high spines, rafter hips, slab sides, small stature, these are not conformation flaws for Colonial Spanish mustangs. Instead they are part of the package that makes them able to comfortably carry riders over distances and through terrain that most modern riders would think impossible.

In fact, the best time to discuss these conformation "flaws" is at the conclusion of a 50 mile ride. Go ahead and ride your mustang fifty miles and then wait a couple of hours for your friends who ride modern horses to catch up. Give them time to have the vet see if he can repair the damage that has occurred to their super horses from going through the ordeal of being ridden, and then discuss weak hind quarters, lack of visible muscle and the vital importance of a refined head.

Then let your friends know where they can buy a scruffy looking, undignified mustang.

Looking to Help Out?

For those interested in preserving the nearly extinct wild horses of Corolla there are a lot of opportunities to do so coming up. If you are going to be in Nags Head for the week end stop by the Duck Parade at 9:00 am on July five to meet some of these gentle athletes. Wild Horse Days will be coming up next week in Corolla. On July 7, 2010 we will be down there doing a demonstration of our training techniques on an untrained Corolla mare. While you are down there pick up a copy of the great new book "Saving the Horse of Kings" to learn more about these Colonial Spanish mustangs.

Looking for a colt? Werowance is our only 1/2 Corolla left. A portion of the proceeds of his sale will go directly to the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. Want to be an active participant in the off site breeding program? Contact the Shackleford Wild Horse Foundation to see about adopting a Shackleford mare which can then be bred to one of our Corolla stallions to increase the genetic diversity of the Corollas without compromising their Spanish lineage one bit.

So this week one can have a great vacation, get a great book, buy a great colt, and adopt a great Shackleford mare and while doing so assist in preserving the Corollas, which is surely a great thing.

Service without sacrifice. Now where can you get a better deal than that?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Looks Up

Here is Ta Sunka's other daughter, Looks Up. Her mother is Star Dust. Along with her 1/2 sister, They Are Afraid of Her, they will be one of the finest pair of American Indian Horses born in the region this summer.

These two are exactly the type of affordable family horses that fits the niche created by the expansion of natural horsemanship techniques.

Affordable, trainable, lovable...and tough.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Complete Horseman

Forget a big barn. What every horse/kid operation in the country needs is their own version of the Little House. Our Little House was the tenant home on the big farm owned by my family for generations. The Little House also housed younger relations of our family often for several years just after their marriage. My mother was born in the Little house. I lived in it for a few years when I was a child.

No one lives in the Little House now. Instead it serves as the heart of our riding program. It houses our art program where young riders receive professional painting instruction from Kay Kerr. Their equine art is donated to the Corolla Wild Horse Fund where it is sold to raise funds for that organization. It houses the most complete library of natural horsemanship that I have ever come across. It also houses our collection of training videos and horse movies. It provides a cozy setting for our weekend guests.

The Little House is our center for cook outs and parties and has recently become the sight of our weekly Old Time Music lessons on traditional southern folk instruments. This month we will hold sessions teaching kids the leadership skills necessary to conduct meetings and participate fully in organizations that help preserve wild horses and this winter it will be the home of our monthly lecture series on aspects of Native American life and horsemanship.

The Little house is about 150 years old and works very hard considering its age.

To Be Fair

Last year I met a lady with lifelong equine experience, every bit of which came as part of the established horse world. She lacked the haughtiness and arrogance of so many such people but she had every bit of their ignorance of horses. She was an interesting case study.

Our conversation reminded me of something that I had forgotten in all of my arrogance and haughtiness. I am learning every day and have been doing so for the past decade. I was recently thinking over the things that I either once did not know or was dead wrong about.

There was a time when I:

1. believed that horse feed and stables were good for horses.
2. believed that horses that were ridden a lot would benefit from being shod.
3. did not know that the oldest and rarest genetic grouping of horses in America are located in Corolla.
4. did not know that obesity is the greatest threat to a domestic horse's health.
5. did not know that, after proper conditioning, a 13 hand, 750 pound Spanish mustang could carry my 220 pound body 50 miles in a day with no difficulty.
6. believed that the show world's idea of proper equine conformation had any basis in reality.
7. believed that a harsher bit was the answer to the problem of a horse that was difficult to handle.
8. believed that there was a correlation between the cost of a horse and the value of a horse.
9. believed that Lido and I could go on training wild horses for another 20 years.
10.believed that happiness could be found anywhere out side of the horse lot.

(The photo above is of Croatoan, the father of my last 1/2 Corolla, Werowance, left to be sold.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why Don't I About Know This?

That is what a very bright, educated young women asked me after viewing a documentary on life at the Pine Ridge Reservation in the 1970's? She had never heard of AIM, nor Dick Wilson, nor the Goons. She had heard vaguely of a place called Wounded Knee, but knew nothing of Spotted Elk, the Ghost Dance, or the death of Sitting Bull.

We do not forget that we are Mill Swamp INDIAN Horses. The names of our horses are history lessons in themselves. Not long ago a visitor asked me what we called our beautiful bay mare, Standing Holy, expecting me to say that she had some cute "barn name", perhaps "Standy". I explained that Standing Holy was named for the last daughter of Sitting Bull and that we called her Standing Holy.

Ta Sunka Witco was translated into English as "Crazy Horse." Crazy Horse had a daughter whose death at age five cast a veil over his life that never lifted. Her name was They Are Afraid of Her.

The filly in the picture above is only a few hours old. Her father is my Spanish Mustang, Ta Sunka Witco. She is his first daughter. Her name is They are Afraid of Her. She will not have a cute barn name. We will call her They are Afraid of Her.

And when we do so we will have to explain all about Crazy Horse, the Greasy Grass fight, the flight to the Grandmother's land, death at Fort Robinson, and maybe even a bit about life at Pine Ridge today.

Then there will be at least one more person who knows about this.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

On the Move

Since January 1, 2010, twelve new riders (including three parents) have joined our program. Most are entirely new to horses but a few are refugees from the established horse world who grew tired of lessons that consisted of riding in circles while being told to sit up straight.

Of course, the downside to this program growth is...wait a minute, there is no downside. Leaven is what makes bread rise.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Working Class Horses


The greatest sin of the established horse world is to create a system of horse care that is beyond the economic means of working families. Natural horse care is a humane, enlightened approach to horsemanship that is as significant for the happiness of a horse as is natural horsemanship. The principle is so simple that it should be obvious. Horses evolved as grazing prey animals whose life was driven by a basic desire to eat, drink, reproduce, move freely and avoid predators.

The key starting point is to recognize that the point is not that horses can "get by" without stables, supplements, blankets, and shoes. Step one is to recognize that the first step towards producing healthy, happy horses is to recognize that many of these "necessities" are obstacles to that goal.

If one is thinking about purchasing a horse for the first time, first go purchase Joe Camp's great book, "The Soul of a Horse." It opens the door. If you care about horses walk through that door. And take someone else along with you.
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Monday, June 14, 2010

The Second Crossing

Persa is a rough cut, heavy type Shacklford, much like "Clint", shown above. Clint is Holland's father and I suspect that he is rather closely related to Persa.

Recently we succeeded in breeding Manteo, our stylish Corolla stallion to Persa. Next year I hope to have at least two Corolla/Shacklford cross foals born. They will all be Bankers of the same blood but the cross will add much needed genetic diversity to the domesticated Corollas.

Next spring I hope to obtain another Shackleford stallion to continue the crossing of these last two lines of authentic Colonial Spanish mustangs to be found wild east of the Mississippi.

I now only have one half Corolla colt left that resulted from my crosses with mustangs and modern horses. Those colts were not bred to be part of the Corolla off site breeding program. They were bred simply to produce a few super horses. Of that group only Werowance remains for sale.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Riding in Style


In less than two weeks we will make the trip up to Covington to deliver a great string of mustangs and mustang crosses to the Boys Home. They will be a solid foundation for the riding program that is being developed there. The horses will have several great young trainers. Jimmy, shown above, riding with us recently is going to be among the best.
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Nearly thirty years ago inspectors from the Spanish Mustang Registry gathered on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. They waded ashore on Shackleford island where they saw a wild herd of Spanish mustangs whose type and conformation shocked them. They described the herd as a 'treasure'.

Most of the group waded ashore, not in rubber knee boots, but in the cowboy boots that were as natural a part of their every day attire as were their socks. One had come in all the way from Wyoming. Emmet Brislawn, the son of Bob Brislawn, founder of the Spanish Mustang Registry, knew that he was looking at something special. He recognized the Banker horses for exactly what they were, wild Spanish mustangs.

He was so impressed with these horses that Son of Sailor, a Banker stallion, became one of the herd stallions on the famed Cayuse Ranch in Wyoming. He ran with his herd of mares for years there on the ranch and provided much of the foundation stock for what became known as the famed East/West cross of Spanish mustangs.

Emmet and his daughter Josie carried on the family work of preserving Spanish Mustangs for the remainder of his life. That life came to an end two days ago. It was a long and a full life.

For many horses are a hobby, for others they are a lifestyle and for a lucky few they become life itself. Emmet's life was his horses and the horse world is all the better for it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Welcome Home

After a lengthy hiatus resulting from working hard and wedding planning, JK is all set to return to riding. Her horse, Sampson, will be ready to go after a bit of desensitizing. He has never been ridden by anyone wearing a wedding ring and will have to get used to it gradually.