Tuesday, December 27, 2011

As Porky The Pig So Often Said

..that's all folks. Over the last month this blog had over 2,800 page views. I started writing this because I had things to say. I have said them. This is the final post for this blog.

A writer once told me that she was told that her writing needed to be "edgy" if she was to write for today's kids. She was not edgy and would not pretend to be. Perhaps my views have come to contain too little zip-a-de-do-da.

Facebook makes blogs like this one obsolete. If I have anything worth announcing I can put it on Facebook. I appreciate all of the nice comments expressed over the life of this blog. Such things are very meaningful.

As it was so well put in that timeless work of literature, 'The Big Red Dog', "Good-bye!"

Monday, December 26, 2011

By Now You Ought To Know Better

The essence of wisdom is to replace optimism with realism. The key to happiness is to replace pessimism with optimism. The key to survival is to simply persevere.

This week I got infused with a optimism and hopes for a better year coming. By now I ought to know better, but it was so good that I just could not help it.

Katie came out and rode with me. Katie as one of my first riders. She was the first kid to really throw her heart into what we were building. Once when we were riding around the Green Path she looked over to the mud and crooked fences and said, "One day this place is going to be famous."

At the time we had few horses. Her horse, Wounded Knee, is the Paint horse pictured above. Katie has succumbed to the greatest flaw that little girls have. She has grown up. Except for that she is as wonderful as ever.

Without a doubt no year of our program has brought me less pleasure than 2011. In fact, only one or two years of my life have been as sorry and empty as has this year.

But I have come to believe, perhaps foolishly, that this next year could be better. Before long Liam will be riding with me. The baby will start serious riding this summer. I expect that Beth will return to the saddle. Maybe this spring I will finally succeed in riding 100 miles in 24 hours.

Regardless, we will persevere. We have mastered perseverance.

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Crying Oh The Dreadful Wind and Rain

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Crying Oh The Dreadful Wind and Rain: I think that I am living through the wettest season in my adult life and it is beginning to tell and others around me. I hate muck and deep ...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Collateral Benefits II

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Collateral Benefits II: Here are three key facts to understand: 1. By most measures I am 50-70 pounds over weight. My diet is composed largely of cheese, pork cho...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Only The Rocks Live Forever

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Only The Rocks Live Forever: Or at least so goes the old war cry and death song of the Plains. A meaningful life. A meaningless death. But through it all--perseverance...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Marital History?

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Marital History?: It gets a bit frustrating when some of my riders tune out as I work to pump a little knowledge of history into their heads. I am amazed t...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Perhaps I Have Been Too Subtle

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Perhaps I Have Been Too Subtle: This picture was from a ride yesterday. The rider is seven years old. Manteo, the wild Corollla stallion that she is riding, is much younger...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

He Played to Rave Reviews

War Admiral followed up on the smashing success of his Christmas Parade appearance with a thoroughly convincing appearance today in the role of "goat" at the Trinity Methodist Church's Christmas Eve service. Things got off to a rocky start. When it was time to head out he slipped into his, at times infuriating, star/diva gone Hollywood mode and insisted on riding in the front seat of the truck. I had planned for him to ride in the back, but it seems that I did not hear him yell "shot gun" as we got to the truck.

He did not like being handed off to one of his co stars, a shepherd, and insisted on me staying within arms reach while waiting for his stage call. Of course, all of the tension resulted in a few "accidents". But far from being embarrassing, each turned out to be powerful ad libs that gave a certain gritty realism to his character.

When he was lead down the aisle of the church he was not prepared to be confronted by all of the flashing phone/cameras that went off like fire works. Unfortunately, I forgot to warn him about the paparazzi. Next time he will be prepared.

I do not understand why some churches spend fortunes on consultants to develop plans to increase attendance. Here is the formula for success and, in the spirit of the season, I will give it out at no charge.

To draw in kids have at least one goat attend each church service. For adults, start serving cracklin biscuits at church breakfasts.

Without a doubt you will put Satan on the run in your community.

Ever Expanding Horizons

Today is a big day for my Baylis Colonial Spanish goat, War Admiral. He is making his theatrical debut at Trinity Methodist Church for the Christmas Eve service. He will be playing the role of "goat." Last night we went over his lines and he did great.

This is a very big step for him. I can tell that he is nervous. He has never been inside a Methodist Church before.

He was raised Baptist.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Intangible Recognition of That Which Is

"No need for apologizin'
Just time for recognizin
that that what is ain' how its got to be."

Suppose,in addition to teaching children not lie, we also taught them to neither believe, nor tolerate lies. Suppose instead of teaching that there are two sides to every story, we taught kids that the only side that matters is the side that is true.

Perhaps it started with the old patent medicine shows--a lie to sell a product was not a lie, it was simply "marketing." Then mass communication moved lying from shooting a flint lock rifle to shooting an AK-47. Politics in the world of mass communication began to raise lying to an art form. Computers brought that art down to being within the reach of the masses.

Consider the possibilities. I can hit "send" and lie to more people before breakfast than my grand parents could have lied to in a week of steady, dedicated, industrious lying.

All of that marketing, mass communications, politics and technology has reached a zenith in the effort to restore horse slaughter to America. It is not that individuals that support horse slaughter are necessarily evil. The bigger problem is that so many are so gullible. They drink the line of those who would cover the concrete floors with horse blood with the zeal of a cocaine addict taking in his line of truth.

Ignorance plus misinformation does not equal knowledge. Many that oppose horse slaughter get sucked into believing that they carry the burden to explain why horses should be privileged among other livestock.

No such burden exists. It does not matter if one cannot articulate a distinction that is acceptable to those that would drip blood. We are human and all that which makes us human demands that we recognize the rightness of that which is right. We need not always understand righteousness. We need not explain righteousness. We certainly do not have to apologize for believing in righteousness. We need only to recognize righteousness and act righteously. Nothing more can be demanded of us and nothing less can be expected of us.

We live in a filthy, wicked, lying age. That does not mean that we have to like it. It most certainly does not mean that we have to pretend that it is otherwise.

I do not believe that I need to go out and live a pure life in a cave somewhere. I just believe that it is wrong for me to smile weakly and say, "Well I guess you have a point."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Say What?

As a lawyer I talk for a living. That means that to do my job well I also listen for a living. That is causing me to have to make some big adjustments and to change my expectations of how well I can communicate.

There are not (I hope) a lot of people that realize how poor my hearing has become. Without my hearing aid, if everything breaks just right, I can clearly make out about a third of the words that I hear. With my hearing aid I can hear that third louder. The rest rumbles and with the hearing aid the other two thirds of what I hear rumbles louder.

I think that I do a very good job of figuring out what people must be saying to me. It is exhausting having to concentrate, theorize, speculate and interpret conversations. The other thing that I am learning about the workings of the brain is that in order to remember a given thing one must hear it pretty clearly. Things that are half heard are completely forgotten.

Last weekend someone brought me a ham to the tack shed while I was in the woods. The person that was there did not know the name of the person that brought it to me. He did not get the name because the person told him that he had told me that he would be bringing one by for me. I cannot figure out who that person was. I have no recollection of such a conversation with anyone.

I have made plea agreements that I would have never made if I had correctly understood what was being proposed. The worst part of it all is the telephone. I never liked talking on a phone away. I really find it very difficult to do now. There are very, very few people that I am comfortable speaking with on the phone. There is a small handful of people that know me well enough so that they can tell from my response if I did not understand the question. Speaking with everyone else is bad, very hard to do.

Sounds that come from multiple directions are the most difficult. Last week I attended a meeting of our local bar association. I think that it will be my last. I can only figure out what one person at a time is saying to me.

Oddest of ironies is that while every other aspect of my hearing is declining, there has never been a time when I had better pitch. There has never been a time when I could figure out songs better. Perhaps the skills acquired from having to concentrate so hard to understand people have lead to a better ability to concentrate on pitch and tone.

The bottom line is simply this--Send an email. Especially if whatever you are asking me is important.

Monday, December 19, 2011

When Life Ain't Zip-a-de-do-da

Life is Best Lived When One Is In The Key of "D"

Bad to be lonely when you lost no one
Even worse to be guilty of things you ain' done
A worn out drunk that don' even drink
A burned out genius that just can' think

Well educated in things that ain' true
A red stripped tie and oxford shoes
Keep your self back, don' come too close
Like the sand in the desert from the sand on the coast

Well the good life's become having comfortable shoes
Eating supper on the sofa and watching the news
Tomorrow might not be as bad as today
That's what fools think but it ain' never that way

Need a microphone 'bout five foot tall
And a podium as thick as a castle wall
Well a good round pen will do in a pinch
Words hit so hard they could make a stone flinch

Truth don' shave, it don' hardly take a shower
Lies wear perfumes that smell like power
Pack up a few horses, a guitar and move
But Lawd, you hate travlin' that just won't do

Peculiar, or strange, or just eccentricity?
Hostile, cold, and mean or insecurity?
If the sun don' shine through the clouds so good
It takes a fool to think the moon would

But some things will keep you smiling when you got a dead life
A first rate pony and a damn good wife
Little bitty fingers on an old banjo
When we sing "Will You Miss Me" how do my part go?

Girl go get your banjo and we'll try it once more
Do it with Grandaddy, One-Two-Three-Four
When I raise my eyes you sing real loud
Close to the mike, Make Grandaddy proud.

Life ain' worth the trouble I have no doubt
But life sure is worth singin' about
Get the auto harp, press down on "D"
Come make life worth living for Granddaddy

Ain' never seen a banjo molest a child
Ain' never seen a guitar start a deadly fire
So I'm on keep on living until I die
Cause I never heard a mandolin tell no lie

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Yesterday we had a lot of guests at the horse lot. Ate lunch at the Little House, pulled out the guitar and called a pair of the little ones over to my chair. No hemming and hawing--I said sing--they did, beautifully--and confidently. Not the way most second graders would do.

If you learn to handle horses when you are very small you develop a satisfying sense of confidence in every endeavor.

Where This Old Dirty Road Has Taken Me

City people do not know what a bad dirt road is like. They think that the path to the tack shed is bad. A bad path is one in which you have to get another tractor to pull out the first tractor that got stuck while trying to pull out your four wheel drive truck, which was buried up to the axles.

Nearly a decade ago I had a few horses, did not teach riding or natural horsemanship, did not do training clinics, had never written a book or done a training video, had never turned on a computer, and had no clue what a website or a blog was. On a cold morning I looked behind me and saw a van and a truck edging up that path towards the spot where I now have a tack shed. The van opened its doors and kids began roll out like circus clowns. I was impressed that the van had made it up the path so easily. But it had an Alaska license plate. I suspect that this was not the first imperfect path that it had ever taken.

I do not stand in my pasture and play with one horse without knowing that others will be jealous and that some kicking and biting is about to begin. I have to be very careful about singling out any of my riders for any positive comments. The others become jealous and serious kicking and biting begins. I am going to take that risk because I think that each of them can appreciate that everything that goes on in our horse lot began when Emily and Abby and a slew of their siblings rolled out of that van.

Abby was a gangling little girl whose face consisted of roughly 62% teeth. Emily was quiet, very modest, and was obviously the oldest daughter. She kept her eye on the younger brood the same way an old hen does when the chicks venture into strange territory.

I could have never guessed what they would grow into. Abby is the best rider that I have ever seen. I do not know anyone with her ability to stay on a bad horse that is determined to rearrange its current configuration. Red Feather gave her his best bucking and simply gave up after a while. I think that she embarrassed him when she began laughing while he was bucking.

Emily is as good as I am at relaxing a scared horse and might be better than I am at relaxing a scared kid. She is a nurse. (She would not like for me to tell you how she did on her national board exam. Reluctantly, I will not not say how she did. Instead, I will only congratulate the 2% of those across the country that scored higher than she did.) During nursing school she was given a personalty profiling test. She found the results curious and suggested that I take the same test.(It was online). She and I ended up with precisely the same score and personality type among the 16 various personality types that the test classified.

When they moved back to Alaska they stayed in touch with me. When they moved to Colorado they stayed in touch with me. And when they were grown (or at least thought they were) they ended up back in the area. Abby is program manager for the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. Both intensely strong in their Christian faith, both athletes, both great singers, and both grew up to be right pretty. People often assume that they are my daughters, especially when we play music somewhere. In fact, it was even commented that they both "look just like you." (Abby took that news harder than Emily).

They smile, often for no reason at all. It is hard to frown, on the outside or on the inside, when Abby is around you smiling. It delights me to see them laughing and riding, especially with Lydia or Ruthann. If either of them stubs their toe, it makes my entire leg hurt, a lot.

Several years ago I mentioned to Emily that I was never afraid of a horse in a round pen because I would much rather be killed by a horse than to be in a nursing home.

Without hesitation she clucked and scoffed, "You won't need to go to a nursing home. I'll take care of you when you get old."

Every thing that is good that happens at the end of our old dirt path can be traced back to those two little girls coming to look at an old pony for Abby on a cold windy day nearly a decade ago.

Townes Van Zandt was right. One never knows where this old dirty road's taking me.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

As It Is So Often Said, "Some Things Are Best Kept Between A Man And His Hog."

Amos, my halter trained boar hog, went out to survey his domain today. We might not pay as well as the big factory farms, but it is a whole lot more fun to be a hog in my horse lot than in any of those big name establishments.

Friday, December 16, 2011

High On the Hog--Putting 'Cuz To Work

I love Marsh Tackys. They are now the state horse of South Carolina, as they should be. Their history is intricately bound with the history of working people from the Low Country to the Mountains. Small, gaited, remarkably calm, trainable and tough--endless endurance (sound familiar?) I have no doubt that these horses share not only some common roots with the Bankers but I suspect also the Choctaw and Cherokee lines of Colonial Spanish horses.

Like the Bankers, they were the horses of poor, hard working folks. Indeed, the breed name "Tacky" is rooted in its Colonial meaning, not as being of poor quality but of being common and widespread. Today they are neither common nor widespread. Like the Corollas, their future is very tenuous. David Grant has spearheaded the recent efforts to preserve and breed these horses. He has worked closely with the American Livestock Breed Conservancy and the Tackys now have a good foothold.

In recent years they have been used by hunters for jump shooting deer in cut overs and other places that the tree line was more shrub like than tree like. Though not widely known, until the mid fifties the white tail deer was gone from much of the south. Efforts to restore them were so successful that we are over run with deer. On into the early sixties deer were still quite rare in our area. Back then hunting usually meant small game, squirrel, rabbits, coons, and quail, in particular. When deer came along small game hunting fell by the wayside for nearly everyone.

Much of the south is becoming over run with wild hogs. The hogs are destructive beyond imagination. Within twenty years I expect hog hunting to cause deer hunting to go the way that small game hunting has. To "go hunting" will mean to go hog hunting in a large chunk of this nation. David Grant is getting out in front of that curve. He provides guided hog hunts on Marsh Tackys at Carolina Marsh Tacky Outdoors (

Saving these horses requires getting them in public view and showing what they can do. David Grant has come upon a great way to do that.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fat Kills

And it does not just kill insulin resistant horses like Tradewind. Obesity is the leading contributor to the shortening of the lives of modern horses. The established horse world with its emphasis on conformation and "halter" classes are greatly to blame for this epidemic.

Over feeding is a much more common form of neglect than lack of feeding, yet I have never heard of a case of an owner being charged with abuse and neglect for maintaining a horse in a chronically obese fashion. Ironic--it does not seem to matter if you abuse your horse. The question is how you abuse your horse. Too thin--criminal charges--too fat--blue ribbon in the halter class.

I am not suggesting that owners of fat horses be carted off and sent to jail any more than I would suggest that parents of overweight kids be criminally charged. The solution for both situations is the same--education.

Some horses, like some people are genetically prone to obesity. They require special care because their lives depend on it. Some horses, like some people are genetically prone to maintain very little body fat. They require no special care. They are blessed, not abused.

The more one looks at problems that horses have the more one realizes that the solutions tend to come back to three things--natural horsemanship, natural horse care, and natural hoof care.

Monday, December 12, 2011

This Is How You End Horse Slaughter

A few weekends ago Mikhail had his first lengthy canter (that was on purpose, there was an involuntary lengthy canter a few months ago but that does not count). Saturday he was in his first parade. He is young, 6 or 7, I think, athletic and loves fun.

He also represents a very important part of the answer to the problem of "unwanted horses." Of course, we do not have a surplus of horses in America. We have an extreme shortage of riders. The only hope for the horses is to attract more riders. That means reaching out to novices and teaching them to ride. The best way to do that is for them to learn much more than to simply be relatively safe passengers in the saddle. The more that they understand about natural horsemanship the more likely it is that horse ownership will be part of their future.

One of the major reasons that horses go to slaughter houses is because boys are afraid to ride them. Even worse, they are part of a society that encourages and supports that fear. After all, why should a boy risk injury, pain, or even a saddle sore, when he can quietly entertain himself with a violent video game?

I do not have a lot of helpful suggestions in this regard. I have lost my ability to inspire boys. I hate to admit the fact, but denying it would not change the situation. Little girls are easy to inspire. Even with all the advances of the past fifty years we still live in a world in which little girls are constantly taught that they are fragile, incompetent, and not capable of demonstrating real courage. From the moment of our first conversation I make it clear to little girls that if they break, they will mend and that if a thing is worth doing they can do it. I give them tasks that I doubt that their parents think that they are capable of and they do it. As they get older I delegate a great deal of authority to those that earn it. Again, often to the surprise of their parents. (Lydia's mother looked a bit surprised when I told her that the reason that we chose a particular BLM mare was because Lydia had looked them over quite closely and felt that she was a good choice.)

Little girls respond to encouragement, trust, and high expectations. Too many little boys do not. Given the opportunity little girls exceed the incredibly low expectations that society has for them. Were I trapped in a burning building Emily Wilda would find enough strength in her seventy some pound body to drag me out while the firemen were still putting on their gear.

Mikhail will be different but not because of anything that I instill in him. In a few years I will be able to tell him to get in a round pen with a bad horse and gentle the meanness out of her. He will be another Jacob. He will be able to ride as hard as Christian. I will be able to depend on him and so will his horse.

In short, he will be just as good as the girls.

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Treatable, Perhaps Curable

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Treatable, Perhaps Curable: I hope that I am not being overly optimistic in my belief in rehabilitative education for true horse professionals. Until proven otherwis...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Bankers in the Spanish Mustang Registry

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Bankers in the Spanish Mustang Registry: Dale Burrus was a resident of the Outer Banks, an inspector for the Spanish Mustang Registry, and a tireless advocate of the Bankers. He w...

Teaching the Unteachable

A man is allotted only a certain number of breaths in this lifetime and it is a shame to waste any of them. As soon as one recognizes that one is casting pearls before swine, pick up your pearls and relocate rapidly.

This is Tradewind, HOA National Pleasure Trail Horse of the Year for 2011. This wild Corolla stallion was captured because he was utterly crippled with founder. He has completed a fifty mile in a day ride and carried me 206 hours in the woods last year, the vast majority of that time being at a trot or canter.

He is 12.2 hands and, when in top shape weighs 626 pounds. I have no idea what I would weigh in top shape because I have not been in top shape for decades. In any event, I weigh less than 626 pounds.

I do not blame anyone for not knowing that a Spanish mustang had such a weight bearing capacity. Several years ago I did not know it. However, I will not waste a second of my time arguing with those who still want to tell me that the Corollas are just too small for a "grown up." (Look at the evidence. I am grown. In fact, my height has not increased for the last 37 years. I have come to terms with the fact that my dreams of an NBA career will likely not be realized.)

If I encounter a disheveled person sitting alone on a park bench loudly carrying on a conversation with both Groucho and Karl Marx, I do not stop to join the conversation. When a member of the established horse world sniffs disapprovingly that "no adult should be riding a pony" I have three stock responses, depending on the specifics of the situation. All three serve me equally well.

1. "Sure been dry lately." (Then walk away)
2. "Sure been wet lately." (Then Walk away)
3. "Sure been raining just the right amount lately. (Then walk away).

In fairness to them, perhaps I should not compare apples to oranges. The distance that Tradewind carried me in the woods pales in comparison to the number of miles that their horse paced back and forth in its stable last year. And yes, you are probably correct that I give my horse's "stupid" names. I apologize.

In fact, please instruct your horse's stable manager to have the groom pet your horse, "Gucchi's Wrinkled Skin Old Prune" once just for me. Don't forget to pickup some WD40 the next time that you buy your horse's supplements. With enough WD40, I am sure that you will be able to find a way to get that stable door open.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Parade

Rare, historical Colonial Spanish goat. Rare, historical, Colonial Spanish horses. Unique, hysterical, granddaughter (she is still only green broke)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: An Honest Slogan

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: An Honest Slogan: Slogan--the very word hints of dishonesty, puffery, and exaggeration. The catch about creating an honest business slogan is that it must ...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Whoever Said it Had a Good Point

My memory has dulled a bit. I cannot remember if it was Lincoln or Fredrick Douglas that said, "I hear many that speak of the virtues of slavery, but I find none who would volunteer to be a slave."

Horse slaughter advocates that claim that we need to kill horses to keep something bad from happening to them seem to me to make the same moral equivocations.

If a humane horse owner supports horse slaughter because of all of the neglect claimed to happen without it, would it not be a more humane and virtuous stance to take to offer up all of your horses that, after all have had such good lives, to the slaughter house and replace each of them with horses from rescue operations? That would free up more space in the rescues. Doing so doubles the number of horses that have an opportunity to have years of good lives. Seems like a more humane trade off than simply killing those that you have deemed neglected, which will not increase the number of horses that have had the opportunity to have a good life. This must be so, unless you find slaughter so appealing that you find the value of a good death to equal that of a good life.

The return of horse slaughter will give those of you who cry such crocodile tears over the fate of the neglected horses a chance to really demonstrate how much you care. Put your daughter's show pony on a slaughter bound tuck and replace it with a neglected horse. Now there is a win-win, for everyone! I mean you do really care about all of those neglected horses don't you? I understand that you cannot save them all. I understand that you cannot even afford to take in even one neglected horse. But therein lies the beauty of horse slaughter's return. After you allow each of your horses to make that one last road trip you will have room to give a great life to a neglected horse that you now have room for. And think of all the happy Belgians you will be making by giving them the opportunity to enjoy high quality American horse meat. So if you really love your horse, don't give him treats. Help make him into one!

This is a great solution, unless you are one of those that merely preaches the virtue of slaughter with out being willing to volunteer to offer up your horses to the blood factories. You need to act now. We certainly cannot expect those that run rescue facilities to take up the slack by emptying their pastures of horses. Obviously they do not care as much about neglected horses as do you or they would be on the forefront fighting to bring back the horses best friend, the slaughter house.

Morality only becomes difficult when one seeks to actually apply it.

The Horse That is In Your Head

Some belief systems reject the belief in a subconscious. They reject the idea that humans have any form of shared archetypes buried deep within them that help understand certain behaviors. If one adheres to such a belief system there is no point to read further.

Horses are a rich part of the symbolic and fantasy lives of humans, particularly children. It suggests nothing perverse or obscene to point out that many young girls refer to their horses as if they are their boy friends. Such an attraction is to a relationship and is not a sexual attraction. I have been asked by little girls, with the greatest of concern in their voice, if their horse will think that they are "cheating on him" if they ride another horse. I have seen such little girls sneak a ride on another horse , but only in a pasture out of sight of their horse "so he won't get jealous." The flip side of this is the unfortunate reality that if a little girl feels that a horse has betrayed her trust by bucking, biting or kicking she will often try to drop him quickly and get a new horse friend, even if the miscreant is her own horse that she has ridden for a couple of years. ("Yea, but he bit me for no reason and I like Comet now."...I used to really love my colt, but he bucked." etc)

Most interesting to me is the psychological symbolism that a horse takes on for many older teens and young women. The horse comes to represent the freedom and autonomy that they crave for themselves. They flock to videos of horses being ridden without any tack. They melt over phrases like "I do not catch my horse. I let my horse catch me." They view bareback riding as the ultimate riding experience because it is both free and natural, two things that they long to be themselves. Their attitudes towards bits are the most telling point. They often feel that they are being humane when using a rope halter instead of a bit. A bit is easier to abuse than a rope halter, but both are subject to abuse, and more importantly, neither need be an instrument of abuse when used properly.

The differences between teen age boys view of their horses and that of teenage girls is best illustrated by their very telling terminology in describing training problems. When a horse is not compliant the boys generally say, "He will not do what I tell him to." Girls are much more likely to say,"He is not listening to me." Boys look to obedience. Girls look to communication.

When boys approach a horse in the pasture they generally catch him and immediately make him move. When girls approach a horse in a pasture they are more likely to have the horse stand still and talk to him. Young teen boys too often view a horse as their first car. They have little interest beyond making it go fast and being in complete control of it. As soon as they realize that they are not in complete control they panic and many become too afraid to continue riding. These little boys have been raised with video games in which they press a button and get a result. These games cause 75 pound, ten year old boys to believe that they are physically able to control, or at least blow up, any obstacles. Girls who play no such games have a much more accurate view of the universe. They do not believe that they are all powerful and seek to compromise and compensate. That is why it is so much easier to teach girls to ride than it is to teach today's video game loving boys.

On the other hand, adult women often refer to their horse as their "baby". Many talk to their horses in baby talk. A maddening few of them seem to think that their horses are every bit as fragile as an infant and treat them as such. To this I cringe. It never ceases to cause involuntary convulsions in my internal muscles when a women refers to me as one of my horse's Daddy. No, no, no, no, no, no, no..I do not think of my horses as fragile. I do not think of them as infants (Even when they are infants. I mean, they can canter a few hours after they are born!) It is not a comfort to my psyche to think of a horse as a pre-invalid, made of crystal, likely to break at any moment. Instead, the subconscious symbol that a horse has to me is as the stoic, quiet hero that overcomes all odds and ignores all pain and discomfort to get the job done. That is Tradewind. That is Croatoan. And that is what I should be.

In short, I recognize that the horse symbolizes for me human characteristics that I admire.

All of this would be merely interesting observations were it not for one important part. We must recognize that the horse is not an embodiment of our desires and world views. He is a living creature that has evolved to live as a prey animal in a world in which every movement and every sound could be that of a predator slipping in to terminate their existence. The result is that a horse has a huge range of physical and emotional needs that we do not share with them.

The most important point should be seared into every horse owner's head. The Golden Rule Does Not apply to Horses. Do not treat our horse as you would like to be treated. To do so is to force a horse into trying to live successfully as a human. You may love the comfort of a warm bedroom, sweet deserts, nice shoes, and a life of rest and leisure. But do not delude yourself into thinking that you are doing anything more than abusing your horse when you seek to give him that which you would like to have.

Instead, make the effort to understand what your horse needs and provide it to him.

Or you can try to shrink your horse's existence down to make him fit your image of what would be good. Look at this picture. It does not matter how beautiful a horse is if the existence that you give him is so shrunken that it cannot be recognized as that of how a horse needs to live.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Serious Threat of Genetically Modified Organisms

The tragic results of putting genes of a human child into a pumpkin seed. Will the horror ever stop?

Do Some Good With Your Christmas Gift

The Center for America's First Horse in Johnson, Vermont is a great organization dedicated to preserving Spanish Horses and working with young people. They are seeking funding for upgrades to their power and water system.

I have toted many buckets of water to horses in pastures far from the source on the rare times that things froze up down here in the winter. It is brutal, time consuming work. It takes time away from doing the other work of the organization. I can't imagine having to do so in Vermont.

For those who are hard to find a gift for, or if you already have everything that you need and people keep asking what you want for Christmas, a donation to the Center For Americas First Horse is a great gift.

Go to their website, to learn more about how to help this great organization.

(This foal is now about 18 months old and is available for purchase from us. She would make a nice Christmas gift too.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Old Time Religion

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Old Time Religion: This morning, my father, who is about 73, my niece who is about five, and Terry, who is not about to have her age discussed in this forum,...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Teach Your Children Well: Learning Should Be Fun

Now this was what the Little House was made for! Yesterday it was filled with riders and guests to hear Gene Gwaltney speak on the artifacts that he has collected over his lifetime in the immediate vicinity of the Little House. Many of these artifacts came from an Archaic site in pasture number one.

We have done a lot of things at the Little House but I believe that the kids had more fun and learned more yesterday than they have in any other program that we have done.

This weekend I also found a great source for the kind of authentic appearing lumber that we will use to construct the Gwaltney Frontier Farm in pasture number two. The early colonial reconstruction will serve as a back drop, a picture frame, for our programs to preserve rare colonial livestock of the region. The emphasis, of course, is on the Corollas, but they will be joined by other livestock that would have accompanied my earliest white ancestors when they settled around the Little House in the late 1600's.

That was not the only learning that was going on yesterday. We did not saddle up yesterday. Instead several families worked, and worked hard, on fencing, moving lumber, beautification and general clean up. Jacob continued marking the trial that he will be cutting through nearly 20 acres of woods to create additional riding challenges. Two families of guests came out to see our animals and programs. Kay's painting class continued and Jesse showed me a spectacular piece of art work that he is creating to benefit the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

Tomorrow night is Monday night so beginning at 7:00 pm several of my riders will be working up a collection of ancient songs along with some Townes Van Zandt and Gram Parsons songs.

It is a very real thing that when a kid learns to appreciate history, art, music, the outdoors and the good feeling of being tired from working hard, they become better prepared to live a full, and meaningful, adult life.

Spiritually it does more. Without any hard sell, lectures, threats of damnation or promises of reward, a kid that learns to recognize the beauty of a deer trail through a tangled swamp, the sweet harmony the notes of B and D, the vibrance of color on a canvas, and the life altering power that one can obtain over a wild horse through love and discipline, cannot help but recognize that there is a God who loves them.

And tomorrow I will go into court, as I do on every Monday, to prosecute people that never had a Little House to go to.

A most peculiar existence.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wild Spanish Mustangs In Corolla

At times the wild Spanish mustangs of Corolla have to be captured for medical treatment. When it is necessary for the Corolla Wild Horse Fund to do so, the horse may not be returned to the wild. The risk, however slight, that it could bring back a germ that would erase one of only two herds of wild Spanish mustangs east of the Mississippi is too great a risk to take.

We rehabilitate and train these horses and breed them domestically, not as a replacement for the wild herd, but as a safety net in the event that the wild herd is destroyed by bureaucrats, developers, or a natural catastrophe. The off site breeding program is designed to insure that these horses, which are the state horse of North Carolina and are among the rarest and oldest distinct genetic grouping of American horses, will always be with us.

This is Croatoan, an older wild stallion that was removed from the wild because he was swimming out to areas where he could be struck by a car. He is typical of the Corollas in that he is so gentle natured that, although an older stallion when captured, he is ridden by beginners and small children.

He has fathered some beautiful foals, including Mokete, the first pure Corolla produced in the offsite breeding program. (He has also produced some spectacular 1/2 Corolla foals that are great horses but are not part of the off site breeding program because their mothers are modern horses.)

We have horses available for placement to those who wish to participate in the off site breeding program. In addition, we offer the free breeding services of our stallions to outside mares. All Corollas and Shacklefords are eligible to be registered in the Horse of the Americas Registry. Any offspring of my stallions that are not from draft stock mares can be registered with the American Indian Horse Registry.

Exactly what can one expect from a Corolla Colonial Spanish mustang? I can only speak from experience. They are the easiest horses to train with which I have ever worked. They are strong, easy keeping horses with incredible endurance. Many of our horses have completed rides of 50 miles in a day.

Tradewind, the 2011 Horse of the Americas Registry's National Pleasure Trail Horse of the Year, is a 12.2 stallion, weighing 626 pounds in peak condition. In 2011 he carried me 206 hours in the woods, the vast majority of those hours either trotting or cantering. This does not include the many hours that others rode him on the trails.At the time my weight was from 212 to 222 pounds. He did so even though he was captured because he was utterly crippled with founder. He is now wonderfully recovered and has produced two beautiful colts.

Look back over the stats in the paragraph above. Most people who are only familiar with modern horses would think these achievements are impossible. I am afraid that they would be impossible with most modern horses. In reality, he is typical of the horses of Corolla.

If you are thinking about getting a horse don't settle for second, or third or fifth best. Become part of the Corolla offsite breeding program and ride a spectacular, and nearly extinct, horse.

If you would like to come and ride with us and see what these horses are like just send me an email.

Extinction lasts forever and the clock is ticking.

Stomped to Death by Donkeys and Elephants

I do not care about the politics of an issue but I do still appreciate the value of truth. Many are trying to seek political points by blaming the President for horse slaughter. To do so is inaccurate. The President can accept legislation or veto it in whole. This amendment was part of the bill to fund the government for a short period. A veto would have resulted in a government shutdown. It was the Congress, and sadly leaders of both parties in Congress, that created this situation.

While it is not accurate to blame the President for this disgrace, it is entirely fair to blame him for each and every abuse that the BLM commits. It is accurate to blame the President for the Department of Interior's opposition to legislation to protect wild horses.

There are heroes in the struggle to save the wild horses in both parties, none more dedicated than Jim Moran, and Walter Jones. There are villains in both parties.

Unfortunately, in Washington, as in the rest of the world, there are a few more bad guys than there are good guys.

That is why the good guys have to work harder.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Send Me Dead Flowers

There are many similarities between playing music and riding. Most of them are physical---hand/eye coordination, focus, and timing to name a few. Some transcend the physical. A strong work ethic to practice and improve is a key to success whether riding or playing music. Playing music improves skills for a host of activities. It makes everything better.

Sitting still and playing, especially alone, creates the opportunity to reflect and to develop insight. I stumbled into a pretty important one a few weeks ago. Standard guitar tuning on an acoustic guitar puts the instrument in a straight jacket. A guitar cannot relax and enjoy itself in standard tuning. But if you tune it down about four frets a guitar will take its shoes off and sit back on the sofa. Tuning it down four frets allows a guitar to take its tie off and quit faking who it really is.

Your horse is not happy when tuned to a standard pitch either. Standard pitch for horses requires them to be clean. Want to see how much your horse hates standard pitch? Turn him loose and watch him wallow. Standard pitch requires horses to be shaved in the winter and blanketed to replace the hair that you just shaved off. Tune your horse down at least four frets. Let him wallow. Don't shave your horse. And if you feel that you must put a blanket on your horse during "turnout" be fair to him and purchase one that has clearly emblazoned on each side, "Don't blame me for this blanket. It's my owner's fault."

Tune your horse down at least four frets. If you are not willing to risk the disapproval of all of your horse owning friends, (who are likely the most standard tuned bunch of people one will ever encounter) by tearing your stable down, at least take the door off of it. Quit feeding him that standard pitch horse feed. Drop him back four frets to a good diet of hay and grass.

Face reality--your standard tuned horse is not going to get you to Carnegie Hall. However, if there ever is another Woodstock your horse will be delighted to take you there as long as you and him have been living at least four frets low.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Ugly Season

I hate muck. My love of the green of springtime is dwarfed by my hatred of the gray/smoke/black/blah color of our wet season in eastern Virginia.

But even in this setting, even in this buffet of vile tastes, visitors love what they find at our horse lot. They love riding through slippery cut overs that weeks ago were vibrant and green. They love seeing weanlings slip and slide in a pasture where a few weeks ago they would prance and glide.

It brings home the simplest of truths--that beauty has nothing to do with appearance. Beauty transcends the season, the time, the place and even the age.

Beauty was in the appearance of Sarah Carter, nearly eighty years old, stepping up to the microphone for her last public performance and singing "Happiest Days of All" with Maybelle. Beauty is in the appearance of Huskinaw, a spunky, wide eyed weanling that approaches everyone to silently give the most important news of every day, "I Waked Up Again!"

But most of all, beauty is in the face of a muddy, Red Feather standing there, missing part of his ear, and without a sound saying, "You damn right I made it. I am still here. And you made it too."

There is great beauty in the ugly fact that to persevere is to win.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Yeah, But in the Real World....

In darkest night our eyes deceive us.
The Things we see might not be there.
At dawn and dusk the shadows fool us.
But in the brightest of the sunshine
The truth we seek will not be spared.

When it comes to supporting horse slaughter it does not matter to the horse whether one has been fooled by chasing to keep up with the established horse world, confused by the crocodile tears of those who want to kill unwanted horses to keep something bad from happening from them, or feel that it shows "tolerance" to accept the "right" of others to stumble around in darkness.

Regardless of the pitiful excuse that one gives for supporting horse slaughter, the blood on the slaughter house floor is just as red. Foolish horses, if only they understood that we are killing them because we love them so much.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Life's Lessons Learned

Emily, my niece, was about three in this picture of her and Croatoan, a wild Corolla stallion. At that age she could get a rope and go out in the pasture and bring a horse back to the tack shed. People from town would ask things like, "What if a horse steps on her foot?"

Odds are that if that happened it would hurt. If it hurt enough and happened often enough she would learn to be aware of where her feet and the horse's feet were at all times in order to avoid the problem. Eventually she learned how to carry herself in a manner that causes the horses to respect her and avoid uninvited contact with her body.

She is seven now. Yesterday she was riding her young horse, Spotted Fox, a 3/4 blm, 1/4 Chincoteague of great promise. As we rounded a bend in a field another horse bit him and he kicked out and set in for a bucking. She went off high and she landed hard.

She did not turn the reins loose. Laying on her back she maintained control of her horse. To do otherwise would have been irresponsible. Had she not held on he might have spooked other horses. He might even have gone home, leaving her with a four mile hike back to the tack shed.

Instead, she sniffed a bit, got back on and had a good ride for the rest of the ride. Her conduct pleased me, but it also caused me to reflect that what she did only seems outstanding in today's world. Up until about 1970 her behavior was what was exactly expected of a child her age.

Modern parenting seems perfectly designed to create kids that cannot cope with the problems of every day life. Instead we give them the impression that life is simply a series of choices for them to make so that they can have whatever makes them happy at the moment. I wince when I hear kids asked what they would like to eat instead of being told what is for supper.

Adult life does not give us such a series of free choices constrained only by our whims. Adult life does not ask what we would like to eat. It often tells us what we should not eat. But even such simple decisions as facing the choice between what you should eat to extend your life and what you "like" will yield the wrong choice when one has been raised to believe that one can have what one "likes."

The objective reality is that our modern parenting model is producing an epidemic of Type II diabetes and anxiety disorder. We love our kids so much that for the first time in modern history we are teaching them practices that will give them shorter life spans than we have.

We do a fine job of preparing kids for the good things that come our way. Unfortunately, such things require no preparation. To coin a new phrase "Fun Happens!". Sadly, the modern parenting model also does nothing to create a sense of appreciation and thankfulness for those good things.

The simple reality is that life is, at times, good. But life is also cold, nasty and mean. A child that is taught that it is fine to lay on the ground and whine with utterly no expectation that they will responsibly hold onto their horse so that no one is injured is not given any preparation for life as it actually is.

In actual life the reports back from the medical tests are not always fine. In actual life one finds out that family members and others that they love face horrible turns in their lives. In actual life a kid that is taught that life should only deliver him pleasure and comfort and good news will be of no value in helping that family member or loved one.

I did not raise my girls according to the modern parenting model. We had just turned off of the highway when I told Amanda that one of her loved ones had received a discouraging medical report. One tear ran down her left cheek. By the time we reached the first curve on the path she had already begun to develop a plan on what she could do to help out. By the time we reached the tack shed the tear was gone.

I am not a voice crying out in the wilderness on this issue. I know many kids that were not raised with an eye only to keeping them safe, happy, and protected. I know kids that were raised to have faith in God and themselves and to fight back. Rebecca, the Barrs, the Marbles, they were all raised to value other things more than their own temporary comfort.

If today I were to receive terrible medical news (which I will not I am fiercely healthy. This is a hypothetical example)I would go to my wife for comfort, encouragement and a clear assessment of the situation. I have no doubt that I could count on her for anything.

The second person that I might go to could very well be Lydia. She would be a source of strength. She was raised that way.

Lydia is 16 and she has been raised right. She understands that what is best for her is not the deciding factor when choosing a course of action. When Lido died I called Beth and as soon as I got off of the phone with her I called Rebecca, gave her a quick list of instructions and never gave a second thought as to whether I could count on her to get it done. Abby came across the nation to be with us at Momma's funeral. A few year's ago I had a serious health problem with our horses. Emily was in Colorado visiting family for Christmas. She sent a note that she could get a standby flight and be at the tack shed right away if I needed her.

To re-cap, my seven year old niece got bucked off hard and never turned the reins loose. If she had turned loose her spooked horse could have caused problems for other riders.

My sister is raising her right.

Ho, Ho, Ho

The little riders love parades. I love the end of parades. A sense of relief is one of my favorite emotions.

On December 10 we will ride about five miles, through the woods and down the highway into Smithfield for the annual Christmas parade.

T'is the season to be jolly. Ever seen a jollier looking bunch of little riders than in this picture?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: I Do Not Dance

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: 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...

The Measure of A Man

I do not mind most of the things about aging that seems to bother other people. I do not care if my hair is brown or gray. It does not bother me that I have only a few more teeth than the average duck. It does not bother me that I cannot run as fast as I once could. Now I simply leave sooner and that works just as well as having run fast to get where ever I am going.

It does bother me that I set goals that I have yet to achieve. I have now, on three occasions set out to ride 100 miles in a day. Each time I got in over 50 miles, but my best day was only 69 miles. About four years ago I was picking up a sick colt (he later recovered fine) when my right bicep tore in two. It was a nasty looking affair but the pain was not that serious. In fact, we went ahead with the ride that was scheduled that afternoon. It never hurt badly but it did not heal correctly and is only about 40% as strong as my other arm. I have even gotten used to that.

But tonight the ravages of time hit hard. I had a sink full of live oysters and an empty house with no distractions. I put three large containers, all filled with oysters, in the oven. I planned to knock off the first 130 some oysters while I was cooking some more. I was looking at a three hundred oyster night.

Before I ate my hundredth roast oyster I began to feel full. My kitchen sink is full of oysters. There is nothing holding me back, but I simply am full. There has not been a time since I was a kid that I could not eat even a hundred roast oysters.

Forget the Mayan calendar and the 2012 apocalypse. This is much bigger. If I cannot easily consume even 100 roast oysters, that must surely be a sign of terrible things to come.

This is a picture of my grandson on Wanchese, a Shackleford stallion. If you ever happen to bump into him, please don't tell him that his Granddaddy could not even throw down 100 roast oysters. He is a sensitive child and might not be able to bear the shame.

Strains, Stains, and Automobiles

Too much time is spent among Spanish mustang preservationist arguing about...,actually every moment spent arguing is time wasted. And with so many strains teetering on the brink of extinction there is no time to waste. Among the worst wastes of time are the efforts to define a particular type of Colonial Spanish conformation as being the only type of true Spanish conformation, with a suggestion that everything that deviates from this Platonic "form" is the result non-Spanish bloodlines. We can all have our preferences of the variations within strains without trying to claim that our individual preference is the only pure strain.

In the report of the inspection tour of the Corollas and Shacklefords (which can be found on the Horse of the America web site) Vickie Ives does a great job of showing the variations of Spanish types that appear even in a genetic grouping as isolated and defined those of Corolla and Shackleford. I find some of these variations more attractive than others, but to say that any variation is proof of purity and any deviation from that variation is proof of foreign blood would be absurd. The DNA of these horses makes it very clear that they have been isolated from outside influence for a very long time.

Every mustang preservationist should love their particular strain. It is fine to even pretend that that strain is a separate breed. It is very poor strategy to attack those who promote other strains. It is even poorer strategy for those who are attacked to respond. Such exchanges simply provide ammunition for those who wish ill toward all of our strains.

Efforts to preserve these horses are already shackled by the existence of multiple registries for Spanish mustangs. The HOA promotes all of the strains without trying to stain the image of any recognized strain. That is a model that all preservationist should follow.

I recently contacted a breed organization that strongly promotes 1/2 breed crosses of their breed. (I am very impressed with the 1/2 Corolla horses that we have produced by breeding to several modern mares. These 1/2 breeds will not be used in the off site breeding program. The purpose is to produce super horses that will get the Corolla name and bloodlines in front of a broad audience. Werowance is already doing that in South Carolina). I explained a great deal about the Corollas with particular emphasis on their calm natures and freakish endurance. I made it very clear that we are offering the breeding services of each of my Corolla stallions at no charge to mares from this organization. I made it very clear that there were no strings attached. I wrote twice with the offer.

That organization did not deem the correspondence worthy of a response, either time. That is what we are up against, an established horse world that sneers at our horses. Every time we refuse to work together, every time we claim that our strain is the purest, and every time that we try to "breed up" our horses by making them taller we give aid and comfort to that established horse world.

This is a picture of a daughter of Red Feather. She is a pure Corolla and is every thing that I would look for in a Colonial Spanish horse. Many of you have horses of strains that developed hundreds of miles from Corolla. You also have horses that are everything that I would look for in a Colonial Spanish horse.

We sink, or we float, together.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Marsh Tacky

This is a shot of my oldest wild stallion, Croatoan, a few months after he was captured. He is a Corolla from the Outer Banks and is a great representation of the state horse of North Carolina, the Banker horse or Colonial Spanish mustang of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

His long domesticated cousin, the Marsh Tacky,is the state horse of South Carolina. They share many similarities and likely have many common ancestors. Like the Corollas, they are at risk of extinction. They are proving their worth in the woods and swamps of South Carolina not only as first rate trail horses, but also as top hunting horses.

Future posts will cover the efforts to preserve and promote this strain. I hope to have a few pictures of some of them up soon. The more that I learn of the Spanish horses of the east, the Choctaws, the Corollas, the Shacklefords, and the Crackers them more impressed I am with them.

It is possible that for those looking for a trail horse that can do it all, day after day, mile after mile, horse breeding may have reached its zenith in the southern swamps two or three hundred years ago.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

It Makes a Great Christmas Gift

We still have some copies of my book "And a Little Child Shall Lead Them: Learning from Wild Horses and Small Children" available. The book may be ordered by $15.00 check payable to Mill Swamp Indian Horses,LLC and mailed to Steve Edwards, 13644 Bethany Church road, Smithfield, VA 23430. To put matters in proper perspective without sounding too biased--it is, arguably, the best book written in Smithfield in the past decade concerning efforts to teach natural horsemanship to little kids.

We also have some horses in various stages of training available for the most special Christmas gift that a person will ever receive. Among these is Medicine Dog, one of the best trail horses that I have ever trained.

Anyone interested in buying a horse please contact me at .

Friday Feast At the Little House

By noon tomorrow I hope to have the grill full again as we have in the last two years. The day after Thanksgiving the kids come out and we make a wooden cooking grill like those shown in the early settler's drawings of Indian life here on the coast. We cook all day and these town kids taste things that they might not have tasted before--deer, oysters, duck, maybe rabbit and quail.

Learning is done with all of the senses--including the sense of taste. We ride the horses that were ridden here 350 years ago. We dig wells by hand. This winter we will tan some deer skins and raise little pigs. In a few weeks we will have a great archaeological session using artifacts recovered from the horse lot.

Riding is the biggest part of what we do, but no the only part.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: What I Learned In 98 Miles in The Saddle

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: What I Learned In 98 Miles in The Saddle: Holland, the brown Shackleford shown above, took me 48 miles in one day and Ta Sunka Witco, my SMR who is the grandson of Choctaw Sundan...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: What I Learned In 98 Miles in The Saddle

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: What I Learned In 98 Miles in The Saddle: Holland, the brown Shackleford shown above, took me 48 miles in one day and Ta Sunka Witco, my SMR who is the grandson of Choctaw Sundan...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: What I Learned In 98 Miles in The Saddle

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: What I Learned In 98 Miles in The Saddle: Holland, the brown Shackleford shown above, took me 48 miles in one day and Ta Sunka Witco, my SMR who is the grandson of Choctaw Sundan...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: A Kid's Horse

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: A Kid's Horse: When people create arbitrary rules of proper horsemanship it is often the horse that suffers. I came across a great example in an of hand...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: It Was Too Dark For Me to See the Ice Hanging From...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: It Was Too Dark For Me to See the Ice Hanging From...: my aged body. In fact it is too cold for me to even write about what the kids and our horses just took me through so I am now turning this...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

When Seized By The Power of Music

Learning powerful, emotional lyrics creates strong feelings in little girls---Shyness, happiness, excitement, intensity, and apparently an uncontrollable need to pick one's nose.

Yes, But Summer White After Labor Day?

Quien Es? is one of the mares that we produced by crossing, Wind in His Hair, a Chincoteague stallion, with several BLM mares. The result has been a series of horses with shocking endurance and unforgettable beauty. Terry recently began competing Quien Es? in competitive trail rides. Always the smallest horse in the events, she leaves the owners of 16 hand horses wondering why their horses cannot perform as bravely as does the little American Indian horse.

On November 20 she gave birth to Peter Maxwell shown above. Though only 1/4 Chincoteague he took 100% of his color from the island at the Virginia/Maryland border.

His father is Edward Teach, a black Corolla stallion. If past experience bears out, he will have the endurance of a marathon runner and the disposition of Grand Pa Walton.

His ancestry comes from the sands of the Nevada basin and the sands of the Atlantic ocean. His extraordinary toughness will come from the grit in his soul.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Soul Of A Horse--Joe Camp

Horses should come with an owner's manual and it should be Joe Camp's great book , "The Soul of a Horse." Joe does not do ground breaking research. He simply puts the ground breaking research that has been done in the last twenty years concerning the importance of natural horse care in a form that can be readily understood.

I am very serious when I write that every horse owner should read this book. Your horse deserves it. Everyone that wants to be a horse owner should read the book several times. Every riding instructor should read it and listen to it on tape. Everyone that boards horses for others should seek to memorize it like scripture.

This spectacular BLM mare is very lucky to be owned by someone that understands every syllable of the book.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Horse Slaughter, A Debate Misdirected

Legislation has been advanced that will make it more likely that horse slaughter houses will return to our nation. The debate over horse slaughter has, to date, been played on a playing field created by the biggest agribusiness and factory farm interests. It is sad that so many people that would otherwise be expected to stand up for horses have been lured away from taking a strong stand against horse slaughter by a savvy media and public relations strategy. This effort, designed to show that horse slaughter is the best thing that could happen to the equine industry and a practice so kind and humane that those who slit the throat of horses should be lauded as humanitarians who only seek to end the suffering of unwanted and abused horses, has found fertile ground.

We must first look at the actual issue here. The factory farms and agribusiness corporations that are funding the return to horse slaughter do not have a financial stake in the slaughter houses. Only a handful of such facilities will exist either way. They are looking down the road and fear that efforts to end horse slaughter could one day lead to efforts to end the factory farm system. Their ultimate concern is that it could lead to the banning of the slaughter of other livestock. That is what underlies this debate.

There is nothing unusual about such a strategy. It has been employed through out our history by institutions both of the right and left, both good and bad. The ACLU supports the right of Nazis and Klansman to parade, not because of support of either group but for fear of what their suppression could lead to. The ACLU is open about its motivations. Other groups are not always so open. The NRA opposes every effort at firearms regulation because of the fear that the passage of one restriction, however minor, could lead to the passage of more restrictions.

Of course, some of the major horse registries that support slaughter have a direct financial interest in the spilling of horse blood. Few of the other entities that are funding the efforts to make the slaughter of horses seems like the work of angels have such a direct financial interest, yet they are spending a fortune on lobbying and public relations.

Make no mistake about it, the concern that such groups have is not for the good of horses today, but instead is aimed at protecting potential threats to their coffers twenty to fifty years down the road.

They have succeeded in causing too many opponents of horse slaughter to play their game and engage their claims. I decline to do so. Of course, they have completely mislead people into believing that the closing of slaughter houses in America has had any impact on horse prices. The simple reality is that the export for slaughter market coupled with the extreme reduction in of breeding over the past decade has resulted in a horse supply much smaller than it was when we still had slaughter houses in America. The truth is that we had very few death houses and they had a minimal impact on horse prices.

The remainder of their policy arguments are equally vapid and I will not engage them because each ignores the only issue that is relevant to the discussion--"Is horse slaughter immoral?"

If slaughter of horses is immoral than none of the other issues matter. Morality does not adjust itself to suit practicality. If a practice is immoral it does not matter how many advantages its acceptance would bring to society. That is why we do not look at the economic advantages of euthanizing "unwanted senior citizens."

If one accepts that the slaughter of other livestock is not immoral one must either accept that horse slaughter is moral or that their is a fundamental difference between eating a horse and eating a cow. In short, one must assert that the life of a horse is of a different value than the life of a sheep.

I believe that it is. In making such a determination I look to several factors, religion, tradition, reason, and the intangible recognition of what is.

It is easy to look at the views of various religions on the issue. The consumption of horse meat is banned by the Torah, the Koran, and has faced condemnation by the Pope dating back several hundred years. I am not a student of Eastern religions but I am not aware of the promotion of equine consumption by humans in any of the larger Eastern systems of belief.

In looking to tradition, western civilization has never placed the consumption of horse meat on the same level as the consumption of other livestock. The French fondness of horse meat is relatively modern and dates back when horse meat was considered a food of the people and not as "elitist" as the consumption of beef and mutton. Eating horses was a political statement, not one based in hundreds of years of tradition.

The most difficult case to make against horse slaughter is to rely on simple reason. Reason tells us that a horse is not a human and there is no logic in distinguishing between the flesh of horses and that of any other beast. Such an argument is compelling and were the issue only examined on that basis it is impossible to argue against horse slaughter. But reason has its limitations. The use of pure reason can lead, and historically has lead, to justification for the most horrific acts of cruelty perpetuated by man.

The ability to use reason is a great part of what makes us human, but it is the ability to go beyond reason that harnesses the brute that is our nature. It is that view beyond reason, the ability to recognize what simply is, which, when coupled with reason, that brings out what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature.

The recognition of what is must lead to the conclusion that the horse is spiritually linked to us as is no other animal. Humanity is not characterized by merely what we build or that which we create. The core of the human experience, that which distinguishes us from the apes, is our system of beliefs, dreams, aspirations, and ideals. The human body rarely lasts over a century but those beliefs, hopes and ideals can continue to last until the last human no longer does.

It is the spread, advancement, refinement, and improvement of those ideals that give us hope for a better future. It is our innate flaws as humans that hamper that spread, that advancement, that refinement and that improvement.

That which is "me" is not only that which I do, but that which I believe. And those ideas, beliefs and ideals were brought to me and to all of us on the backs of horses. Until quite recently in human history the spread of knowledge, culture, and belief could travel no faster than could a horse. For two decades now much of what is known has been communicated via computer. For several millenia much of what was known was communicated via horse back or horse drawn conveyance.

I do not suggest that we should not eat horses because we owe them a debt of gratitude for their service. I believe that it was the horses unique ability to form a bond with humans that made that service possible. It is that bond that distinguishes the horse from the sheep. I do not suggest that there are no other animals to which some people can bond. Nor do I suggest that all people can form such a bond with a horse.

I believe that the slaughter of horses is immoral primarily because of that intangible recognition of what is. The ability to reach into the human spirit and lift it is what makes horses different than other livestock. This is not because of a classification that people make regarding animals. It does not matter if a horse was "raised for slaughter" anymore than it would matter if a child was cloned for spare parts for future organ transplants. We cannot classify. We cannot designate. We can recognize what is. We can deny what is. We cannot designate what is. God has done so already.

The intangible recognition of what is--the recognition of the spiritual connection between humans and horses is what caused Crow chief, Plenty Coups, to express in exasperation, "The white man, who is almost a god, yet still a child, says that the horse has no soul. How can that be? Many times I have looked into my horse's eye and have seen his soul."

Is banning horse slaughter practical? Of course not. However, practicality has no place in considering issues of morality. One must simply do that which is right.

What gives me the right to say that horse slaughter is immoral? I am bound to do so because, like Plenty Coups, I have looked in my horse's eyes.