Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Last One Out Close the Door and Turn Out the Lights

A.P. Carter died before I was a year old. I was 19 when Maybelle Carter died and it was the first time that I just skipped class at William and Mary sat in my dorm and played a guitar all day. Grand Pa Jones is gone and I just watched a memorial tribute to Charlie Waller. Before Lester Flatt died I saw him perform at a festival when he was not strong enough to stand and played sitting down.

When music had meaning,when music could be heard as clear words telling an important story, they were all there. And now they are all gone. Today's bluegrass instrumentals usually feature jazz influenced riffs and today's country music comes with all the trappings of cheap pop bands from the 1970's. Too often in modern country songs one could insert the line, "I'm sitting here in this trailer court and I can't pay my child support, " and no one would notice because it would fit right in.

Bottom line, so far this has been a sorry excuse for a century.

(Some of my riders and their family members are seen above playing music from a time when music had meaning, in the shot above.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

More Right Hands Than An Octopus

I never was much for saying please. I find calling someone Mr or Ms to be profoundly obsequious. If I do not know someone well enough to call them by their first name then I certainly do not know them well enough to converse with them. However, I always try to remember to say thank you because I genuinely appreciate it when others give me a hand, particularly with the kids and the horses. It would be impossible to run this program with out all of the help that I get from riders and their families and it delights me to see people take a sense, not just of pride, but of ownership in the program.

However, I do hesitate to thank all of our great helpers in public because I fear that as much help as I get, I will surely forget to mention someone. Some people have a hard time understanding why I delegate so much authority and responsibility to teens and very young women. Completely aside from the fact that I benefit greatly from their help, I also want to teach them leadership, competence and confidence. I think that this is very important in a world that values teenage girls and young women nearly entirely on their looks. (Such a short sighted focus! By the time a man is forty years old he realizes that nothing looks better on a women than competence.)

But as I am often told, I digress. I especially want to thank Ed Yousey for driving all the way up from South Carolina on Friday to give me a water tank that will make watering the horses in our near permanent drought conditions much easier. That was a long drive and will be a great help to us.

Years ago I heard about a discussion concerning a policy matter that was before one of the mustang registries. I was not present for the discussion. One of the participants in the conversation advised another that if I could not be reached by phone to simply contact Rebecca because she would know what I would think and would be able to speak for me. They were right.

I have helpers who provide me with any assistance that I ask for and I have helpers that provide assistance before I ask and I even have helpers who provide assistance when I did not even know that I needed help.

Being responsible for an important program does not appeal to me, but, being part of a team that runs a very important program is wonderful.

I Do Not Dance

I find it to be a wholly undignified endeavor. However, if I did dance I most surely would have been dancing all over the woods yesterday. Yesterday was Star Fire's first ride in the woods. Star Fire's father is Manteo, one of my most beautiful Corolla stallions. Her mother is a Chincoteague/mustang cross that is one of the prettiest mares that we have raised.

Her owner is Sarah Lin, a long time little rider and one of my favorite distractions in this world. (e.g. When I got home from Lido's funeral I realized that someone had slipped a cherry tomato into my suit pocket. I soon learned that Sarah Lin did it because, as she put it, she "wanted you to have something to smile about.") She is one of the stars of the DVD on mustang training that we produced several years ago.

She made no bones about the fact that she was nervous to be taking Star Fire on her first trail ride. On the other hand, I tried my best to cover the extreme tension that I felt. From the very beginning, when she was only about 4 or 5 years old, Sarah Lin trusted me and did exactly what I told her to do when riding. I feel more responsible for her safety than I do with some of the other kids because of that. Were she to get hurt, chances are that the injury would occur while she was doing something exactly the way that I told her to.

We saddled Star Fire and slipped the hackamore over her head. She took the number two position and fell in behind me. I had not ridden Holland much this week and he was more wide open than usual. He was keyed up and ready to move out. (I suspect that his mood was affected by the enormous hole that was burning through my stomach as we set out.)

We took a short jog--no problem. We rode by some heavy lumbering equipment--no problem. I let Holland gait on out for about a half of a mile. As I looked behind me I could see the filly moving her hips a bit from side to side with her front legs extending as if to reach out as far as each limb could go. She had not inherited Manteo's gait, but instead had one much prettier--the long smooth step of Red Feather. Sarah Lin was grinning and the fire in my stomach had just about burned itself out.

We were on a long straight stretch of the path. I had enough of a lead on her so that if Star Fire bolted I would be able to spin Holland to the left to block her in. I wanted to try everything but I did not want anything to go bad to ruin this perfect start for this wonderful young horse. I gritted my teeth a bit and opened Holland up into a canter. To my surprise, Star Fire gaited faster and faster but did not break into a canter. She looked calm and as relaxed as a ten year old trail horse. Just then I heard Sarah Lin snap in a firm voice, "CANTER!"

And the wonderful little horse did. No crow hop. No hesitation. No fear.

This first ride lasted nearly two hours. Two hours of utterly problem free trail riding for the little horse. If I was the kind of person to do such things, I would probably still be doing one of those Irish River Dances this morning.

(This shot of of Sarah Lin on one of last year's long rides.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Horse Flies, May Flies, and Gnats

There are things that one can learn from a donkey. One of those things is that one cannot transform a thing into something else by simply declaring it to be so. Calling a donkey dumb does not alter the fact that when properly handled they learn much faster than horses. Calling a donkey stubborn does not alter the fact that they have a much less intense flight instinct than horses and cannot be easily intimidated into complying with a person's wishes.

Perhaps one of the most important lessons that one can learn from a donkey is how to determine which fights are worth engaging in. My donkeys will strike at a big horse fly. They will mash mayflies but none of them react to the gnats. If they did so, they would spend every waking moment in the summer responding to the haze of meaningless movement in the air all around them. They would not be able to focus on the horse flies and may flies that live to suck their blood.

Those engaged in preserving all endangered strains of Spanish colonial horses need to learn from the donkey and maintain their focus. The established horse world is my horse fly, entrenched bureaucracies of every sort are my may flies, and those who stand on the sideline and talk about how things should be done are my gnats.

Those who care about preserving any particular strain of Spanish colonial horse must support those who are involved in preserving every other strain. I am very proud of the assistance that my little riders provided to a Choctaw conservationist when a fire struck her barns and out buildings. I do not promote the Corollas because I believe them to be superior to other strains of Spanish Colonial horses. I do so because it has fallen to be my lot to care about the horses that have shared the swamps, marshes, fields, and dark woods trials with those who have worked the fields and the marshes, and crossed those swamps and dark woods trails of our region for a few centuries. Were my roots other wise I suspect that I would feel as strong about the Moneros, Choctaws, Cherokee, Cracker, or Tacky strains.

I support the HOA because it shares that sentiment. It supports every true preservationist. It seeks unity and leaves the whining and the carping on the playground where it belongs.

The HOA knows the difference between horse files and gnats.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Let There Be Light

I am not sure what the death certificate said, but Hank Williams died from alcoholism and addiction to pain medication. Minnie Pearl wrote about efforts to keep him away from liquor before he was to go on the stage at the Grand Ole Opry by locking him in his room. He was still able to get to the bottle and was quickly in a stupor. She put him in her car and drove around Nashville, hoping that the time and the ride would help sober him up.

She tried to get him to sing to focus his mind and suggested one of the best songs that he ever wrote.

"Come on Hank, Let's sing 'I Saw the Light'.

"No, no", he replied pitifully. "There ain't no light. There just ain't no light."

We are just beginning to touch the tip of the iceberg as to how much working horses can help kids with autism and heal the emotional scars from physical and sexual abuse. We have not even scratched the surface as to the use of horses in substance abuse treatment. Funding substance abuse treatment should be one of our top national priorities. Horses have taken men long ways throughout history. I suspect that with enough research we could learn how to use horses to take men away from the bottle.

No more darkness, no more night.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Celebrity Comparisons

If Truman Capote had ridden mustangs he just may have looked a bit like this.

There is More to Saving these Horses Than Just Hoping

Ten years ago I would have never guessed that one of the most imporantt things in my life would be preserving the wild Spanish mustangs of Corolla. At that time, I did not even realize that they were endangered, much less teetering on the brink of extinction. I had no idea how easy they are to train, how smooth their gaits are, how friendly and affectionate they can become, how strong they are, and, most of all, how much endurance they have.

Working for these horses has taken me into many areas that I never could have imagined, like this blog and spear heading the off site breeding program.

Now I am really breaking new ground.

We are in the middle of a documentary that we are producing on the effort to preserve the Corollas as a viable domesticated breed as a safety net, not as a replacement for life in the wild. Joe Davenport and Mark Stevenson have put together some remarkable video and now we are moving onto narration and use of still shots.

I do hope that going Hollywood does not spoil my simple, virtuous inner being.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Way That Surprises Should Work

Last night I got too happy for a man my age. As I pulled up to the tack shed in the darkness I could make out the outline of my riders as they began to saddle up for a night ride. Andrew, one of my newest riders, looks a bit like KC, one of my favorite riders who now rides bulls instead of mustangs. Last night the resemblance seemed a bit too uncanny. It was not Andrew. It was KC saddling up Manteo just like I had seen him do so many times in the past.

Before KC moved on up to training for bull riding I could always count on him for anything that we needed done with the horses, fences, trees, tack, pastures, etc. He learned to ride in no time and quickly picked up natural horsemanship. He is brilliant with a cutting sense of humor. He filled in a big hunk of the hole that Lido left.

But dreams should be pursued. KC's interest is in the rodeo business and I can teach him nothing about such an enterprise. He is pursuing his bull riding dream and I certainly wish him well.

His appearance at last night's ride was a complete surprise. It was the best surprise that I have had in a very long time.

Quick Snack Before Supper

Here is a shot of last Thanksgiving's meat and fish over the fire. We will be starting the fire again on Friday.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Most Peculiar of Seasons

I am entering the most productive part of my year. After the time changes in the fall my internal clock puts me on a schedule that allows me to get more done over the next 8 weeks that would normally be accomplished in 16 weeks.

I have not hunted in years, but when I did it was the major source of pleasure in my life. If I knew that I was going to hunt the next day I had a very difficult time sleeping and began to wake up earlier and earlier. By the first of the year I was often going to bed at 5:30 and sleeping until around midnight. This was also during a time in my life when I tried to read at least three books each week and I got a great deal of reading done each morning by 4:00 am. Then after about an hour of exercising it would be time to feed the dogs and load them up for a day in the woods.

It has been about a decade since I have loaded a gun. I have given all of my hounds away. However, I still retain this sleep schedule which works wonderfully because it allows me to work without interruption. This morning I woke up just after 1:00 am and have worked on the on line natural horseman hip classes that we teach, handled a great deal of correspondence, reviewed all of the cases that I will be prosecuting today and have begun to work on the script for our DVD on the preservation of the Corolla horses. The moon is shining brightly and the sun will rise in about half an hour. After a bit of exercise I will cleanse and medicate Edward Teach, feed up, and either do a five mile canter or sow three acres of fertilizer with the push spreader that Emily repaired Friday.

I just finished a pot of coffee and half of a pizza. I expect to finish court around four and get in a bit of a nap before our night ride, which begins at 7:00 on Monday nights. I am coming off of a very uplifting weekend in which Sarah Lin and I worked her half Corolla filly to the point that she will be ready to ride in the woods next weekend. Stands with a Fist Responded so well to Emily's training that she will be woods ready with about 16 more hours of training. Edward Teach is healing faster than my wildest hopes. Samantha, a new 7 year old rider, cantered through the woods yesterday after church on Wind in His Hair, and did so beautifully. Rebeca continued her great photographic work, taking hundreds of pictures for the video project and web site that she is working on. Samantha's mother, Shelly, joined us for her first ride in the woods, ...and my wife knocked 12 seconds off of her 5k time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wide, Wide Nets

Every time I meet a person I have no way of knowing if that person might end up being someone who dedicates themselves to preserving the nearly extinct wild Spanish mustangs of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. None of us who care about these horses were born with a stamp on our foot saying "Future breed conservationist." All of us had a person, a place or a moment that drew us to saving these horses. One never knows what might kindle the attraction.

That is why I take every opportunity that I can to expose people to our little super horses and to make sure that they understand that they are looking at a remnant of all that remains of one of America's most important phases of equine history. Perhaps one out of a thousand people that meet our horses will join in the struggle for their survival. Their preservation is not a one man job. So if I can only hope for one out of a thousand to become part of the effort I better reach at least 25,000 people if I am going to help shape the future of these horses

The writings, the articles, the clinics, the on line classes, the field trips, the Boy Scouts, the Weblos, the county fairs, the expos, the DVD's, the museum presentations, the 50 mile rides, the newspaper articles, the little riders who now own Corollas or 1/2 Corollas, the networking with those who care about Spanish mustangs and/or wild horses, the parades, the ride over to a Mountain Man Rendevouz, the photo sessions, the family tours of the horse lot, these are all part of that effort to get these horses and their plight out to the public.

I stumbled into a fun new way to do so recently. A friend of Lydia's with horse experience wanted to have her 16th birthday somewhere special. Lydia suggested our place. I explained that my insurance did not allow me to conduct commercial trail rides but the kids and their families could come over as my guests at no charge.

Hot dogs, happy birthday, and horses--a great way to turn 16. Who knows, one of the saviors of these horses of the next generation may have ridden her first wild Corolla stallion Friday night.

(These are wild Shacklefords, a strain of Banker horses who are so closely related to the Corollas that we can breed them to Corollas, prevent genetic collapse and maintain pure Spanish mustang horses. I have the son of the wild stallion Dionysus bred to a Corolla who will give birth this up coming spring.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Honey Suckle

Back when I used to plant gardens for the deer, rabbits and turkeys I experimented with planting honey suckle as cover for little turkeys and baby rabbits. It never grew where I expected it to. Some shoots shot up and grew beautifully seemingly all on their own.

About 8 years ago Abby Marble was the prime mover in getting her family to come out and purchase their first pony from me. Abby was about ten or 11 years old. In my book I detailed how the Marble kids ended up with two mustangs that they trained on their own and what first rate riders they had become.

Priscilla was very small at that time. So small that I did not work directly with her and the horses but she watched intently everything that we did. I knew that Abby would be great with horses and I suspected that Emily and Harrison would be also. But Priscilla was just too little for me to hang much hope on.

Like the honey suckle she has grown wonderfully without my direction. She has become a serious Parelli student whose advice I have sought for problems with my horses. It will be quite a while before she is old enough to drive and she is already better with horses than I will ever be.

I cannot claim credit for how well that vine is grown but I am glad that I had a little something to do with planting it.

(Here is a shot of Priscilla and Cricket)

Pain In The Neck

Fights between wild stallions are rarely to the death. This one would have been but for the intervention of the staff and volunteers of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. The young stallion was captured and taken to a veterinary hospital where he spent two weeks and was delivered to us five days ago. This picture, taken shortly after the fight does not really show just how deeply he was bitten and how much flesh is missing.

The round pen in which we placed him had to be moved. It was close to the road and the gaping wound was so striking that he was causing traffic to come to a near halt as people passed by. I do not shock easily at wounds. Horses, like dogs, have a remarkable ability to recover from significant soft tissue injuries so I do not go into a panic everytime I see a bit of missing horse skin.

This one shocked me. However, I expect that he will fully recover. He is full of life and seems to be in no discomfort. I assume that the nerves in the region were destroyed along with the muscle tissue.

For the foreseeable future I will have to cleanse and medicate his would daily. He is wild and has Red Feather like athleticism. In short, if he so desired he could put me out of my misery with the greatest of ease. He does not so desire. In fact, he whickers out for me as I approach and stands well for the cleansing and medicating.

It is an amazing thing to stand there and care for him. It strikes me that in all of this world I am the only person at the moment who has the privilege to participate in the care and rehabilitation of this stallion. There in his small pen stands 2% of the breeding age stallions of the group that makes up the oldest and rarest distinct genetic strain of American horses.

His body may be of steel but his DNA is made of very fragile crystal. He represents part of the hope that these horses have for survival for another five hundred years. Before the Civil War, before the Revolution, before Jamestown, he was here. That alone is enough to make every effort to save him and the DNA that he carries.

But that is not the only reason to do so. He is part of a remnant of horses who are gentle enough to be trained by children, strong enough to carry heavy adults, and smooth enough to be ridden by people well past their own prime.

That is why my little riders and I worked so hard to save Croatoan and Valor. That is why we must work hard to promote their breeding in captivity and even harder to preserve their life in the wild.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Bucket's Got A Hole In It

We all must understand a very important point. We are not trying to save something as plentiful as Quarter horses. We have left only the remnant, of the remnant, of the remnant, of these horses who have been wild here longer than any living tree on the island. Every horse that dies or is killed in the wild at Corolla represents about 1-2% of all wild Corollas.

Every Corolla that is gelded is the equivalent of loosing more than 2% of the wild stallions at Corolla. With many other breeds I have to agree that a colt should be gelded unless there is a compelling reason not to do so. We do not have any Corollas to waste. Corolla colts should not be gelded unless there is a compelling reason to do so.

And no, now is not the time to discuss only breeding the "best to the best." The worst Corolla is good enough, and for the riding that I do, better than nearly any other kind of horse that I could own. Porter once had enough ugliness in his body to be able to start ugliness franchises. At age four, he became beautiful. I would love to have colts from him. Samson's endurance is off of the charts. Perhaps he could have produced a colt or two that carried his heart.

Jurassic Park was fiction. Extinction is permanent. We can be agents of preservation or agents of extinction. We cannot let the stallions slowly leak away.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Searing Indictment

Joe Camp's great book, 'The Soul of a Horse," is one of two required readings for our online class, "The Horse, The Herd, and The Hoof." I have been re reading it while working up lesson plans and it hits harder than it did when I first read it.

Joe has put together an owner's manual for horse people and the book should be treated as such. He hits the horses' three greatest enemies, the stable, the shoe, and the sugar as they should be hit.

The simple fact is that natural horse care is the key to keeping a horse physically and emotionally healthy, but there is simply no money in it for the bloated equibusiness establishment. Joe Camp is the horse's friend and advocate and as such he is the adversary of the established horse world. He does not mince words.

The book is a call to arms and it forces caring horse owners to confront the utimate question of modern horsmanship--Whose side are you on? One may stand with the horses or one may stand with the established horse world, but one cannot stand with both

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cool, and Sunny With a 70% Chance of Pain

The bow hunting season for deer came in over a month ago and I never gave it a seconds thought. With only one functional arm, Lido did not bow hunt. The muzzle loading season for deer came in last week and the regular gun season will be in in about a week or two. This was his favorite time of the year. He loved nothing more than to sit silently in the woods and wait for his chance to get a shot.

Yesterday I was working some smaller colts that need some miles on them and it flashed through my mind that Lido would ride these out for me. It is amazing how often, for just a fraction of a second, I forget. This weather, the sound of gunfire, and the smiles of the young boys who recount in tremendous detail how they killed a nice buck really brings it all back.

Perhaps the best way to deal with all of this is to recount a few incidents when Lido cracked me up. At about age 12 Lido was riding with me in the truck that I had at the time. It had a smaller section behind the front seats that could hold two people. My saddle was in that part of the truck. I told Lido that the saddle needed some repair work and that while I was cantering Honey on the Sand Path a stirrup leather broke in two.

He asked me if I was able to fix it and I explained that I had pieced it together with a leather thong. His face lit up and he dived over the seat to exam the saddle as we drove along. He looked with great disappointment at the tie job that I had done with the thong.

"Daawn, he said. "Ah thought dat a fong had sompin to do wif gurl's draws."

2-1 and Insulin Resistance


Trade Wind was captured in Corolla because he was crippled with founder. Without any horse feed, living solely on hay and being ridden very hard, he still maintains a football size lump of fat on his neck.

I see little change in my horse's health when I simply toss a mineral block out there in the pasture. However, cattle mineral in powder form that has a 2-1 Calcium to Phosphorous ratio gives horses what they need. With out that ratio they simply cannot get enough calcium to their bones and they must rob it from their muscles and blood stream. If horses are eating a lot of oat hay or alfalfa 2-1 mineral is a must for sound nutrition.

I due not understand the medical reasons that it works, but 2-1 mineral is the only thing that I find that appreciably effects Trade Winds obesity.

The down side is that 2-1 mineral is expensive. But it works. It is the only supplement that my horses get. 2-1 mineral and Pete Ramey's trimming techniques have turned this severely crippled horse into a horse that has completed several fifty mile rides in one day with out showing the slightest sign of discomfort.
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Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Constant Need For Education

I am very pleased with my vet. She is exceedingly intelligent and a great diagnostician. I am in no way criticizing her when I use her as an illustration. It is just that she is the perfect illustration of how little the public, and even equine professionals, know about Spanish mustangs.

Yesterday she was out taking a look at Ice, the 1/2 Spanish mustang colt shown above. In discussing his conformation she mentioned that he was narrow in the front end. I explained that that is an important trait in Colonial Spanish Horses. The narrow chest is part of the package that gives these horses their tremendous endurance. On countless occasions I have had to explain that,"No, the Corollas are not lame. They are gaited in a gait that few have ever seen." One Spanish mustang breeder was advised that his horses have neurological damage and joint problems. They had neither. The vet had simply never been exposed to horses that have the flexibility and range of joint motion that is regularly found in Spanish mustangs.

Unfortunately, many Spanish mustang owners do not fully understand what the natural appearance of these horses is. These horses are "spine high." A flat backed mustang is too heavy in most cases and a gutter backed mustang is likely to be very seriously over weight, regardless of what the body condition scale, which works fine for modern breeds, indicates. No, the hips are not too thin. "Rafter Hips" are another important part of the package that produces horses that have machine like endurance. No, that rounded muzzle does not "make him look like an old cartoon nag." That ram's head nose is one of the typical profiles found among pure Spanish horses.

All of this would be only a minor irritant were it not for but one thing. The efforts to preserve the various strains of Colonial Spanish horses are in the hands of a very few breeders, supporters and promoters of these great horses. Every time a mustang breeder tries to "improve" these horses we risk loosing the traits that make these horses worth saving. The saddest part is that when people speak of improving the horses, in reality, they mean to change a feature so that it more resembles a modern breed.

If one likes modern breeds then that is what one should get. One can obtain a quarter horse very cheaply these days. They have been bred and improved to the point that they are prized in slaughter houses around the world.

Competition With Meaning

I do not approve of most forms of equine competition because I can think of so few that have actually been of benefit to the horse. I despise any institution that would teach a 12 year old girl that she should sell her best friend because he can only bring home the red ribbons and that if she is going to win blue ribbons she needs a "better" horse.

But there is one form of competition that I love and that is competition against one's self--working and driving yourself to become better. This competition is good regardless of the endeavor. I compete with myself to see just how lightly I can use a cue and still get a horse to respond properly. I compete with myself to see how conditioned I can make my horses. I compete with myself to see how effectively I can teach little ones to properly handle horses.

My wife has taken self competition to a wonderful level. This summer she began barefoot running. Her progress has shocked me. She now runs four mile stretches and is off to do another 5k run this morning. She never talks about how she "placed." She never gauges her success by comparing herself to others. She is only interested in improving her time. She is competing against herself and she is winning.

Five years ago she was competing with herself to stay alive. Five years ago she was going through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. She won.

Take a good look at this picture of her and my granddaughter from Halloween. She looks pretty good for a women her age, doesn't she.

Where Kids and Wild Horses Learn Together

Looks Up, named for one of the warriors at Little Big Horn, is about ready to wean. It has been a few generations since any of Looks Up's ancestors were wild. Her grandmother was a beautiful BLM mustang who was bred when captured. Her foal, Star Dust, is Looks Up's mother. Her father is my SMR stallion Ta Sunka Witco. His grand father was the AIHR super horse, Choctaw Sundance.

Thomas is one of my youngest riders. The more time that he spends in the horse lot the sooner he will be out on the big rides.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Time Will Tell

I have always had an unusual relationship with my age. My age and I never seemed to quite fit each other.I started walking, running, reading, writing, and riding at ages much earlier than would be considered normal. When I was a young politician I could not wait to be at least forty so that newspaper articles about me would start off with something besides how young I was. At age 29, when I first began to have serious problems with my back, the doctor told me that I had the spinal column of a 60 year old man. As a teenager my closest friends were old men who were veterans of the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties. Today my closest friends are between twenty and thirty years younger than me.

Essentially, for all of my life I have never been my age. However, I have kept going fine with this peculiar dichotomy being only a slight irritant, not a real problem. But it seems now that I am daily hit in the face with whether or not I am acting my age.

Those with whom I went to school seem older than me, but not that much older. Those five to ten years older than me look ancient to me. I have to admit that I do not feel as old as I must be.

Maybe this is why--looking over the records for the last two months I learned that I spent just over 60 hours in the saddle in October and 51 hours in September. Such activities encourage circulation of the blood, it seems.

But to further add to my confusion, it appears that this computer thinks that I am older than I feel. The spam that I get is aging rapidly. Until very recently, something kept sending me spam about "Hot chicks in your neighborhood." This morning my spam was an advertisement about assisted living for the elderly. The change in spam was that quick and startling. No effort was made to slowly ease me into accepting my age. Perhaps, it would have been better to have received an interim set of spams suggesting "Hot chicks in your neighborhood to provide assisted living for the elderly." But no. It appears that time waits for no man.

(In case you missed the central point of this discussion--I SPENT OVER 100 HOURS IN THE SADDLE OVER THE PAST TWO MONTHS. Take that, Father Time)

Read This One. It's Important

There are only about 5000 Spanish mustangs left in the world. They are supported, preserved and promoted by a small group of dedicated breeders who are the breed's only hope of survival. Just as we must come together to help the horses through important efforts like the HOA's Lido Fund, we must also come together to support those preservationists in need of our assistance.

Monique Sheaffer and her family, located in PA, have lost their 1860's historic barn and many outbuildings, including a car in a fire on Tuesday. There were no animals or people injured in the fire, thankfully. However, they have a small herd of Choctaw Indian ponies that are in need. ALL of their equipment, tack, helmets, saddles, etc. were lost in the fire. They are going to have to quickly construct some sort of shelter and new fencing for the winter to house their horses. They are in need of everything that is horse related. Tack, brushes, first aid supplies, buckets, barn equipment, blankets, etc, perhaps hay as well. I'm sure they could also use cash assistance to get the things that they immediately need.

Stephanie Lockhart sent me a note indicating that Ms Sheaffer has been active in the preservation effort in Oklahoma. I hope that you will join my little riders in helping out in this crisis.

Please contact Stephanie Lockhart at and she will provide you with ms Shaeffer's mailing address

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Edward Teach Bloodied Off of the Colonnie of North Carolina

Black Beard, the most interesting if not the most successful of the pirates of the Caribbean, may have been named Edwards Teach. Even if he was not so named, that was his most famous alias. Black Beard robbed and pillaged from bases that were often hidden deep in the islands that made up the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Without out a doubt, when ashore he and his fellow pirates would have ridden the small Spanish mustangs that roamed the Outer Banks whose descendants at Corolla and Shackleford have recently been declared to be the state horses of North Carolina.

Eventually, Teach/Black Beard bit off more than he could chew. His boldness and penchant for a fight gave the British navy the opportunity to capture his ship. He lost his life and his head, which was taken to Norfolk and hung on display.

This week another pirate of the Outer Banks was captured. A young stallion, who was so good at hiding out from others that he had only been sighted from an airplane got a bit too bold and decided to pirate away an older stud's mares. Like Black Beard, he should have stayed in hiding a bit longer. The old stud whipped him and left him a bloody mess. He was not beheaded, but his neck received quite a chewing. He was taken into custody and is now receiving medical care that will put him back on the road to health.

He is luckier than Black Beard. His entire body will be soon coming to Virginia, not just his head. He will reside in a round pen with us while he heals and my little riders and I will gentle him. He will be eligible for adoption from the Corolla Wild Horse Fund at that point. I hope that this stallion will be part of the offsite breeding program and will father Banker colts for the next decade or two.

Of course, he will be named Edward Teach.

Shiver me timbers.

On Line Classes Starting this Week

My first class of online students will begin their studies this week. They will start off by giving a quick reading of Joe Camp's book, "Soul of a Horse." This book presents many good points for anyone who cares about horses and fits in perfectly with our program. He teaches the advantages of natural hoof care, natural horse care and natural horsemanship. However, his best point is that he teaches what can be accomplished by novices.

It would be great for Joe and Vickie Pinner to meet. They are both inspirations for those wise enough to throw away clocks and calendars.