Friday, September 30, 2011

Words Matter--"Only a Trail Horse"

The horse/human relationship can never reach its full potential as long as people say with a hint of shame, "I do not compete my horse. He is only a trail horse."

Such a horse is so much luckier than one whose owner boasts, "I do not ride on trails. He is a competition horse."

What a warped perspective. Would such a man say of his family,"She is not some stranger that I picked up at a bar. She is only my wife."?

Ignorance Is Only Temporary, But Stupidity Lasts Forever

There is no shame in being ignorant. Ignorance is only the state of being uniformed. However, if after being informed one still adheres to the same flawed reasoning, one is more than ignorant. One is stupid. Few things are more rewarding than to teach an ignorant, but curious, person. Few things are more frustrating and ultimately futile than trying to teach a stupid, arrogant person.

Unfortunately, the established horse world teems with the stupid and arrogant who reach out to the ignorant. The ignorant are then left only with the advice and knowledge of the stupid and arrogant as their source of knowledge of horses and horsemanship. This is worse than the blind leading the blind. This is the blind leading those whose eyes they are gouging out.

I revel in my ignorance. It helps me enjoy the constant process of learning. I make no pretense of knowing everything about horses. Instead I am happy to know that I am seeking to learn everything about horses.

One cannot always readily distinguish between the ignorant, who make great students, and the stupid and arrogant, who make great spokesman for the established horse world. Certain hints help in making the determination.

Eyes opened wide in awe of the sight of their first wild horse--ignorant
Eyes squinting and smirking at the sight of their first wild horse--stupid and arrogant

Ten dollar blue jeans a bit too large for riding--ignorant
Four hundred dollar riding pants that were too small for her even twenty years ago--stupid and arrogant

Is not certain of the name of the father of Sea Biscuit--ignorant
Is not certain of the name of the father of her third child--stupid and arrogant

Thinks that horses need to wear shoes--ignorant
Brags about how expensive her horse's shoes are--stupid and arrogant

Thinks that horses should be kept shampooed clean--ignorant
Hires someone to shampoo her horse weekly--stupid and arrogant

Mouth closed--ignorant
Mouth constantly open--stupid and arrogant

Asks me if my 13 hand Corollas can carry me 50 miles in a day--ignorant
Tells me that my 13 hand Corollas cannot carry me 50 miles in a day--stupid and arrogant

Does not know that kids can learn how to tame wild horses--ignorant
Brags that they send all of their horses off for professional training--ignorant and arrogant

The experts of the established horse world seem to dedicate their lives to proving the truth of former Vice-President Quayle's misquote, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste and it is even worse to not have one."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Good Moooooooorning Vietnam!

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Good Moooooooorning Vietnam!: My blog now has some statistical analysis to which I have access. Of course, I still have utterly no understanding of either the technology...

Monday, September 26, 2011

You Cannot Forget Who You Are

"She looked up at what she thought must be the dirtiest grownup that she had ever seen. From the top of his beat up Australian hat to the bottom of his worn out boots, the only part of him not covered in dust was covered in a mud made of sweat and dust.

Being only five years old, she didn't realize that it was impolite to stare.

"What's wrong girl? Don't I look like a lawyer to you?," he asked, with the voice of a very worn out Wilford Brimley.

"No sir, you look like a man that teaches horses to be nice for little girls," she explained.

And that is who I am. I have no interest in being more than that. On a few occasions I have allowed my program to drift into versions of other trainer's programs. That has been a mistake. Parelli can be, and should be Parelli. I doubt if he would have any interest in doing what I do. I also doubt that he would be able to do what I do.

I do not want to be anything different than the man that teaches horses to be nice for little girls.

Thinking Out Loud:Overcoming Limitations

What if:

We rented a significant portion of land and used it as the base for an extensive breeding operation for the Corollas, a sort of super site for the off site breeding program. At the same place we would focus on breeding authentic early colonial livestock. With enough pasture we could raise endangered pigs, goats, cattle and chickens along with our nearly extinct colonial horses.

Our current site would remain the center of of riding program. With fewer horses on site we could maintain deeper grasses and native plants for forage. We can proceed with the construction of the Gwaltney Frontier Farm. This re-creation of a very early colonial settler's hard scrabble farm would serve as the picture frame to show off the Corollas.

We could also go back to having events on site in which the public gets an opportunity to learn about natural horsemanship, natural horse care, natural hoof care, Corolla horses, colonial agriculture, and everything else that we do. In the past festivals have drawn nearly a thousand people. That was years ago before our program was well known. Now that figure would multiply.

I am convinced that this must be the model to save Colonial Spanish horses. We cannot look to the established horse world to preserve them. The established horse world has either taken an active role in their destruction in years past, or at best, sat idly by while that destruction has been on going.

These horses will not be saved by putting them out in view of the established horse world and groveling for their approval. We have piped to them and they did not come. These horses can be saved by putting them out in front of Scout troops, Boys and Girls Clubs, school teachers, church youth leaders, and others that care about kids.

Mrs. Drysdale has turned her back on these horses. We have to reach out to Ellie Mae.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Not All Great Horses Are Mustangs

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Not All Great Horses Are Mustangs:   Some just look like they are. Comet is 75% Appaloosa, 25% Arabian, and 110% tough. Comet is about 12 years old, just under 14 hands, and w...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Another Inconvenient Truth

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Another Inconvenient Truth: With spring's arrival we have been thinking up new ways to improve the appearance of the horse lot. Emily suggested that a good first step ...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Red Feather Has His Own Book

Last night I received a copy of the just released book, "The Adventures of Red Feather, Wild Horse of Corolla" by Linda Whittingon Hurst. Erin Casteel illustrated this wonderful, hard bound children's book, which was published by Wild Pony Press.

This is a great children's book. It combines true aspects of the lives of two great wild horses, my Red Feather, and his father THE Red Feather along with a bit of fiction that helps the story flow. The author does not sugar coat the threats faced by these horses. Indeed she includes a discussion of a foal hit by a car. She includes some hints of stark realism that makes it more than just another book about a "cute horsie." For example, Red Feather does move lightly and beautifully in the wild, yet he sports an ear that is missing its tip, likely lost in a stud fight in the wild.

I love the illustration. The simple style evokes freedom, but it always shows the horses as vulnerable. The unfortunate reality is that they are not the masters of their own domain. In fact, their domain shrinks with each season.

Red Feather was already a bit of a media star. A picture of him in the wild atop a dune on a windy day is one of the more popular post cards in Corolla. If you search this blog you can find out more about my Red Feather. He has a daughter that is a part of the off site breeding program.

He was once the most violent, aggressive horse with whom I ever shared a round pen. He has kicked and bitten me more than every other horse in my life combined. He is no longer violent.

He was once the most athletic horse with whom I have ever shared a round pen. He still holds that distinction.

He is also exceedingly intelligent. He plans to read his copy of the book on his Kindle.

(Here is a shot of Red Feather and Jimmy. Jimmy has both of his ears, but he's tough too.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: I Feel Good--Like I knew That I Would Now

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: I Feel Good--Like I knew That I Would Now:

(This is what Edward looked like when he was delivered to us 9 months ago. He is now healed, very well started for riding, and ready to be adopted by someone that wants a great little stallion to use in the breeding program.)

Edward Teach is healing well. In the bottom shot he was about to be unloaded at our place after having spent two weeks at Dominion Equi...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Half Of The Job

There is currently a big herd dispersal being conducted by a breeder that sought to preserve a particular type of mustang. It is causing many who care about the preservation of the Colonial spanish mustang to question the future of breeding these horses.

Many point out that breeding the horses is only part of the job. They stress that it is equally important to train the horses and to offer fully trained or well started horses to the market place. I agree, but even this does not go far enough to insure the preservation of these horses.

We must create horses and we must train them. We also must create riders and we must train them. Without a new generation of riders there is no hope for the horses. It is not brain surgery. If you understand horses and you care about kids, you can teach kids to ride.

The mustang's competition is not the Quarter Horse or the Arabian. It is the X box and the Iphone.

The best way to save the lives of the horses is to give a kid a life.

Is There a Spiritual Connection? V

"What do you mean 'Do I have any proof that God exists?". He let me ride a horse, didn't He?"

Is There a Spiritual Connection? IV

"Regardless of which path one chooses to get to Heaven, the best way to arrive there is on a horse."

Is There a Spiritual Connection? III

"If you are completely alone in this world, except for your horse--then you are not alone."

(This is Red Feather in the Living Room of the Little House.)

Is There a Spiritual Connection? II

"T'was said that I was a wild horse in another life. I doubt it. I do not believe in such. But I am a wild horse in this life. In fact, 'tis the only part of me that is alive in this life."

Is There a Spiritual Connection?

"The white man, who is almost a god, but still like a child, says that the horse has no soul. How can that be? Many times I have looked into the eyes of my horse and have seen his soul."--Plenty-Coups, Crow chief

Saturday, September 17, 2011

DNA Testing Is Not Always Necessary

Sometimes a close examination of phenotype is sufficient, particularly when looking for a particular trait.

Note the picture above--the one without the horns is my granddaughter.


For the first few years that I trained horses my little brother, Lido, was the first person to get on all of the wild horses and colts that we started. He did so though he was only about ten years old, had cerebral palsy and had a right hand and leg that were of nearly no use to him.

Lido, without letting anyone know, slipped an old Appaloosa mare back to the tack shed late one night and bred her to Tradewind, one of my Corolla stallions. Several months later he told Daddy what he had done but Daddy assumed that it was a joke.

The colt was born several months after Lido died. Legacy is a very impressive colt. He will likely be gaited and will definitely be beautiful. That is his owner, Samantha, there with him in the picture above.

Yesterday was a big day for Legacy, Samantha,.....and me. I took Legacy into the old round pen that Lido and I used to use and put him through all of the despooking and calming exercises that we always used. He took everything well. It was the first time that I put any intensive work into the colt, though Samantha's mother has been doing a great job of introducing him to learning.

Yesterday the introductions were completed. I paid back the favor to Lido. I gave Lido's colt his first mounting the same way that way he provided so many of my colts with their first mounting. He did great as I got on and eventually let him take a few steps with me. He will continue to be trained slowly and patiently---the way that we used to do it.

Samantha was not so sure that she wanted to mount up. However, we proceeded--slowly and patiently--and before the sun set Samantha had also sat on her horse. She went home happy. Legacy went back to the pasture contented and I went home with a feeling that I had nearly forgotten--satisfaction.

I encourage my little riders to study every thing that they can get their hands on concerning natural horsemanship. I encourage them to go see every great clinician that they can meet and to learn all that they can from them. I encourage them to apply everything that they can learn from every great clinician.

I discourage them from falling into the trap of believing that any particular clinician has all of the answers and that all other methods are wrong.

That false belief is an insult to Lido, and to Legacy.

If You Think That You Are Too Old To Ride...

You might still be young enough to glide. The half Corollas that I have seen move as lightly and beautifully as their Corolla fathers. They have the same calm disposition of their Corolla fathers.

This is Parahunt, the son of Manteo and Black Shawl. It will not be long before we get a chance to find out if he moves the way his father does. We already know that he has his daddy's mind, soon we will see if he has Manteo's glide.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Now Just How Bad Can Things Get?

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Now Just How Bad Can Things Get?: I took it as a bad sign when this morning when I awoke to find Dante sitting in my living room. He told me that he was there doing resear...

In Defense of Parelli

I have slipped off the sane part of the internet and fell into the mire of training videos posted on Youtube and the bizarre comments that they attract. I have found an entirely new community among horse people--the terminally humane. The established horse world was difficult enough to deal with but those who think that horses should be given the responsibility of choosing every step in their training and other activities are even worse. They deride all efforts at "forcing" horses to do anything and focus on getting the horse to "want" to do the right thing.

It amazes me that such people feel that, alone among every other animal species in the world, the horse has the right and the ability to only do that which it wishes. I woke up a few hours ago. I would have preferred not to. I am going to work after I spend an hour and a half caring for the horses. I do not want to go to work. My coffee tastes a little weak this morning. I do not want it that way.

However, life forces me to wake up, work, and drink weak coffee. Why does someone not post a video of me being forced and coerced into this captive lifestyle? Where is my cyber savior?

I once saw a completely blue bull frog. It was a very odd looking creature. I could not take my eyes off of it, though I found nothing attractive in it. It simply was too bizarre to believe.

That is the same experience that I had when I read comments complaining that Parelli coerces horses and forces them to do things that they do not want to do. There are many legitimate criticisms that can be made of the Parelli movement, but the idea that it is too violent and coercive is not one of them.

Do these people also complain that marsh mallows are too hard?

No, Parelli's basic formula, Love, Language, and Leadership is sound. Those who deride his methods as being too harsh have no understanding of leadership and, hence, they have no understanding of love. (Their understanding of language does not appear too impressive either.) Without providing a horse with leadership one will produce a horse that is dangerous and has a very poor future ahead of it.

The result all too often will be a horse that lives idly in a stall, waiting for turnout because that is the life that is has been taught to want.

All of the horses shown above were born in the wild. Several are stallions. All of the kids shown with them took very significant roles in the training of these horses. (Some did nearly all of the training.) We did not ask any of the horses if they wanted to be gentled and ridden. We did not ask those that were captured because they were injured or ill if they were emotionally prepared to accept our assistance. We did not ask any of them which flavor wormer they preferred.

(If some drug company invented a wormer that was applied by rubbing it on a rope halter and having the horse wear the halter on a Tuesday, or any other day of the horse's choosing, within 48 hours the internet would be filled with comments from those attacking the cruelty and abusiveness of wormer that was not given using this new, humane method. Within 72 hours posts would be up demanding that those who use cruel, old fashioned, coercive wormers be criminally charged. Within 96 hours posts would go up pointing out that cruel, forced injection wormers were all invented by men who received psychological gratification from these assaults on horses.)

Worst of all, these extremist set themselves up as true natural horseman. As such they present the perfect foil for those that want to argue against natural horsemanship. They are a blight on the movement.

I practice natural horsemanship. I am not Gandhi. Neither are my horses.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Another Reason to Get Your Kids Active and On a Horse

This was a real shocker for me. Of course, we all know that type 2 diabetes is exploding among our population of overweight, under exercised adults. The number of cases of anxiety disorder is growing like fertilized weeds.

But I did not know that Americans are no longer the world's tallest people. Children raised on sugary diets and a sedentary lifestyle are not reaching their full height potential. Of course, it is not just what we eat, it is what we do not eat. Kids are not eating the fruits and vegetables that we need.

The irony--we are producing malnourished kids just as we are producing overweight, unhealthy horses and the salvation for our horses and our kids is the same prescription--more exercise and a more natural diet.

A horse given the opportunity to live with natural horse care and a kid given the opportunity to ride that horse regularly, until they are both worn out, is a great prescription for health and happiness for horse and kid alike.

(This is Liam, perhaps the happiest kid that I have ever known.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Health Alert: Help Curb Equine TTFM

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Health Alert: Help Curb Equine TTFM: TTFM (Too Tall For me) is a genetically related disorder that often results from breeding mares over 13.3 hands to stallions of equal siz...

We Were Young Once, And Wild

Tradewind had not been with us long when this shot was taken. Rebecca had handled him. I had only gotten so that I could could touch him a few hours before this picture was taken. He never bucked. He never put me on the ground. I handled him a bit different from the other wild ones that we trained. He never went through all of the steps that I usually take horses through.

But since then he has taken many steps--more than would have ever been envisioned for a little wild stallion, utterly crippled with founder. I do not know how many hours my little riders rode him last year, but I now that he carried my 212-222 pound frame though swamp, woods path, cutover, pine forest, and around field edges for over two hundred hours in twelve months, 75-85% of that trotting or gaiting. Six hundred twenty six pounds, 12.2 hands and immeasurable heart and endurance.

And he has a son available for placement through the Corolla offsite breeding program. The Black Drink will be four months old in a few weeks and will be weaned around five months old.

If there actually are 6.5 billion people on this planet, than that means that an astonishing 6.5 billion people have made the horrific mistake of not contacting me to acquire The Black Drink.

Be more than just a statistic. Send me a note concerning the offsite breeding program and how you can have a first rate stud colt and help prevent the extinction of one of Americas rarest and oldest distinct genetic grouping of horses.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Choosing a Clinician To Follow

I do not believe that it should be necessary to choose which natural horsemanship clinician or method of training one should follow. I have learned from examining the techniques of a range of the better known clinicians. I find Ponyboy's broad and deep theme of relationship with the horse to be the most important philosophical underpinning of training that I have encountered. John Lyon's ideas on developing a lesson plan to deal with each training session have been of great benefit to my horses. Monty Roberts' teaching concerning the use of body language to communicate with a horse provides the student with the first bridge to true horsemanship. Clinton Anderson keeps an open mind and seems to be always on the look out for a better way to do things. Don Reis obviously understands that to become a great teacher one must be a perpetual student. Buck Brannaman fits my idea of what a teacher should be, blending both a heart and a mind. For one looking to produce first rate working horses Curt Pate has a great program.

All of the big name clinicians have systems that can produce happy, well trained horses. However, I think that a person should take that as a given and expect more. The most important reason to practice natural horsemanship is to become a better person. That is the true test. I consider any system of natural horsemanship training that does not make one more gentle, more patient, more humble, more confident, more compassionate, and more kind to be a failure. It does not matter if a system produces horses so well trained that they can fill out income tax returns , if it also creates trainers that are not the better for the experience of following the system, it fails.

It does us absolutely no good to replace the established horse world with a world that that shares all of its flaws but has the veneer of natural horsemanship pasted over it.

(If you are looking to do something good for yourself today, contact the Corolla Wild Horse Fund and adopt this beautiful little stud colt and make him part of the offsite
breeding program.)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Finding Talents

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Finding Talents: Learning to tame wild horses is not a dead end road. It inevitably gives confidence that leads one to take new roads. Rebecca produced th...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Deadly Serious, No Satire here

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Deadly Serious, No Satire here: One of the purposes of this blog is to encourage others to develop riding programs that teach natural horsemanship to kids, teach kids ...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: A Great Year Two

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: A Great Year Two: Jacob and Harley did it again. Harley was named the Horse of the Americas Registry's Pleasure Trail Horse of the Year for the second year...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Never Too Old To Learn Horsemanship

Got a bit overwhelmed with the number of very little new riders that I now have. With out a doubt it is much harder to teach natural horsemanship to a five year old than to a twelve year old.

But then I remembered that my young teen stars, Jordan, Lydia, Danielle, Sarah Lin, Christian, and Rylee were all very small when they started and each of them has trained a colt or a wild horse and most of them have ridden fifty miles in a day. Sarah Lin was so small that when she put on her rib protectors she looked like a turtle!

Give me five more years and Ainslie will be a very effective trainer. I just hope that by then she will not be too shy to talk to me.

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: On Such Things History Can Turn

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: On Such Things History Can Turn: It was a time when the Revolution was not going well for the colonists. Lord Dunmore was moving British troops into Chesapeake and had rece...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pain That Never Sleeps

When I was 28 the surgeon told me that my spine looked like an old man's. He did not recommend surgery. Instead he seemed to suggest that I simply had to accept the fact that I was not a kid anymore and would have to live accordingly.

It struck me a moment ago that I am not in any pain. I should be. Yesterday I began a new routine consisting of barefoot running, Tabata Protocol, resistance training and strider shoes. Of course, the major part of my workout is riding, particularly trotting and gaiting.

Too few people understand the health benefits of riding. When I run into people my own age that I have not seen in years I am often amazed at how poorly they move and how unhealthy they seem. If I did not ride my weight would likely be around 275. My joints would ache with each movement. As a result there would be fewer and fewer movements. The spiral would continue until I was essentially a sedentary, near invalid.

Of course, riding does not roll back the calendar. When I fall I am very likely to break a bone. That causes me to be prudent. Some of my riders do not understand this. They equate my prudence with fear. I would have come the same conclusion when I was 22.

Arthritis is not the only thing that comes with age. Sometimes wisdom does too.