Monday, May 28, 2012

Remaining Ignorant Is Harder Than It Used to Be

It used to be much easier for the established horse world to issue edicts as to how horses are to be fed, trained, shod, and ridden. They had a monopoly on the equine media and the perfect ally in big agribusiness. Of course, they still have those advantages but cracks are forming in the dams that have held back truths about natural horsemanship, natural horse care and natural hoof care. Joe Camp is doing a great job in teaching horsemanship that focuses on the horse's best interest. The internet gives people that care about horses the opportunity to teach without having to censor their words to meet the approval of the industries that profit from a system that creates unhealthy, obese, lame horses that are in constant need of "supplements", "corrective" shoes, and beauty products. The truth is,indeed, out there. Of course, obstacles remain. The same internet that allows important information concerning nutrition, health, and humane training also allows misinformation to continue to be taught. The worst trend out there is for clinicians to compromise with the system by tacitly endorsing discredited practices like shoeing and directly endorsing "supplements" instead of forcefully speaking out for natural horse care. The decision that every horse owner faces is a simple one. What matters most the horse or the approval of the established horse world. I believe that it was George Shaw who phrased what is the horse's only hope--"It's not too late to build a newer world."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Riding Is Rhythm

I have come to notice that kids that can play music tend to pick up riding at an accelerated pace. In fact, the perfect riding student might very well be a gymnast that can play and sing

Friday, May 25, 2012

Quick Tip #14 One Man Wire Fence Construction

The tightening of wire mesh fence is difficult to do by oneself. However, an interesting appearing, well stretched fence can be put up by one person with wooden posts and wire fencing. Dig fence posts about 30 feet apart. Stand the wire up and attach it to each post, one section at a time. Now get in the precise center between the posts and force the fence outward as far as it can possibly go. Dig another post hole about 2 inches beyond that mark. Insert the post so that the tension of the wire pulls tightly against it. Staple into place and repeat. The result is an attractive fence that becomes a secure horse fence with the addition of a stand of electric wire. Dig all holes with hand held post hole diggers. Power driven augers are for sissies. With the help of my number one ranch hand shown above I rarely have to build fences by myself.

Quick Tip #13--Cut The Corners

Horses are much more likely to run through a fence at a corner than at any other point in a fence line. At best one is left with a fence in need of repair, at worst a horse injured or dead in the highway. Round the corners of the lot. This can be done either at initial construction or as a post construction addition inside the corner of the fence. Here is a shot of Peter Maxwell who is now weaned and for sale. He is 1/2 Corolla, 1/4 Chicoteague, 1/4 BLM mustang and 100% tough. His mother is Quien Es? and he is the son of Edward Teach.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Precisely Why I Despise Change

This computer worked fine until some geek with too much time on his hands decided that the blogger program needed changing. Now it cannot pull up but a very few pictures and moves very slugglishly. The program worked fine. Now it barely works at all. The equation of change with progress is one of the best illustrations of the fundamental stupidity of humanity. With the exception of medical advances and the civil rights movement every other form of human endeavor over the past two hundred years has been a wasted effort. As a species I fear that we will never understand that swamps are not improved by draining them. A swamp is just fine the way it was. So was this blogger program.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Boys Home Preserves Corollas

Boys Home of Covington,Virginia has taken a major step to assist in the prevention of the extinction of what might be the oldest and rarest distinct genetic grouping of American horses, the Colonial Spanish Mustangs of Corolla, North Carolina. As recently as the 1920's over five thousand wild horses roamed the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Today only two small herds of these horses remain in the wild, the Shacklefords and the Corollas.

Although they are the state horse of North Carolina, these horses teeter on the brink of extinction. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund has encouraged breeders of Colonial Spanish Horses such as Mill Swamp Indian Horses of Smithfield, Va and the famed, Karma Farms, of Marshal, Texas  to develop a network of breeders to raise Corollas domestically, not as a replacement for the wild herds but as a safety net should those wild herds disappear.

To participate  in the offsite breeding program stallion owners must agree to maintain their Corolla as a stallion and to offer his breeding services free of charge to others in the breeding program. Mare owners agree to seek to produce at least four pure foals over the life of the mare and to place them with others that will maintain them in the breeding program.

Tracking of the horses in the program is made much simpler by the fact that, as pure bred Spanish Colonial horses, they are eligible for registry in the Horse of the Americas Registry. In 2007 the Horse of the Americas Registry joined with several other organizations interested in the preservation of Colonial Spanish horses and did a ground breaking herd inspection of the wild horses of Corolla and Shackleford that put aside any legitimate questions of the ancient heritage of these historic horses.

Last spring three foals were born at Mill Swamp Indian Horses as part of this breed conservation effort, two fillies and a colt. The little boy is the son of  Tradewind, a formerly wild Corolla stallion  who was named Horse of the Americas National Pleasure Trail Horse of the Year for 2011. The two fillies are from different fathers which will allow the three to be bred to produce horses for the breed conservation effort for years to come.

Each of the yearlings carry historic names significant to the natives that lived in the area in the fourteenth and fifteenth century when these horses likely first made their way to the Outer Banks. The Black Drink is named for the medicinal purgative that was consumed as part of late winter/early spring rituals. Huskinaw is named for the most important cultural ritual of the people of Tidewater at the time. the Huskinaw was a ritual that spanned nine months in which future leaders were selected among adolescent boys. Pasquinoke was an Indian town not far from the site of the Lost Colony. It was called the "women's town." Perhaps it was a town lead by a Werowancesqua ("Rich Women") instead of a Werowance ("Rich Man") as was more typical.

Boys Home has developed a natural horsemanship program in  using Indian horses of primarily western descent. The program uses horses donated by Mill Swamp Indian Horses and residents and staff of Boys Home have made several lengthy visits to Smithfield  to learn to train and ride wild horses and colts.

With the inclusion of three Corolla's in their program Boys Home will be one of the focal points of the breeding program for years to come.

"I cannot think of a better match. This spring I am breeding two more mares and next fall we will have two more great horses seeking placement with breeders that are willing to work to preserve these super horses", said Steve Edwards of Mill Swamp Indian Horses.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Importance of the Grandsire to a Solid Breeding Program

Because of the oft noted phenomenon of traits skipping a generation it is important that careful selection of a grand sire be made in all breeding programs. Note here that the baby has obviously inherited a keen intellect, a gentle, approachable nature, and a modest, humble demeanor from her grand father.

Monday, May 14, 2012

To Earn the Respect of Intelligent People

Bonnie Gruenberg, author of "Hoof Prints in the Sand," the best book heretofore written about the horses of the islands of the east coast, is working on three more books on the subject. She spent the weekend with us after spending Friday at Assateague and heading out for Corolla this morning. Bonnie has been researching and writing about these horses for nearly twenty years but had not ridden one before. She is a very skilled rider. Saturday night she joined us for a night ride. She rode the first half of the ride on Holland, a Shackleford, and rode home on Manteo a Corolla stallion. The last stretch through the woods was in total darkness. She learned first hand what these horses can do. She gave a great presentation to our riders on topics to be featured in her upcoming books. We work very hard to be more than a "ride in a circle in the sand" riding "lesson" facility. We are a center of education with speakers and programs that cover archeology, equine history, music, natural horse care, natural hoof care and natural horsemanship. This weekend was one of the most important ones for our program yet. This is a great shot of Bonnie over at the Spear's home during her presentation.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Blood of Good Blooded Horses

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Blood of Good Blooded Horses: A bit of perspective is needed when looking at the current horses market. I must admit that I was caught off guard a bit when it was sugg...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: I'm Not Kin To Most of My Family

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: I'm Not Kin To Most of My Family: Yesterday was a great day for our program and I think that it could lead to a great day for the Corolla preservation effort. The day was ...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Quick Tip #11--Don't Forget the Bosal

A lot of ink is spilled on the question of the perfect training bit for a young horse. It has become stylish in some programs to start a colt using only a rope halter. There is merit in doing so. I have achieved the kind of results that I want with a bosal.

Until I started having very young riders I rode all of my horses in a bosal. However, kids as young as four or five seem to need the additional power that can be found in a simple snaffle. This summer I am going back to the bosal for all of the colts and wild horses that we start and I will keep them in a bosal indefinitely.

The bosal comes with a great deal of history and tradition behind it. I find them more attractive than bits. I love their simplicity. Most importantly I love that they are not bits. It is not that bits are per se bad. The problem is that they provide a built in excuse for performance and behavioral problems. All too often the "solution" to every training problem is to find the perfect bit.

Don't spend your money on the search for the perfect bit. Instead spend your time training a horse that is perfect for you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

To Teach is To Learn


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I wince at the term "riding instructor." The world is filled with people better suited than am I to teach riding. Instead I work very hard to teach kids to want to ride. Kids that really want to ride become dedicated riders. I strongly suspect that you are looking at a picture of a boy that will be a first rate mandolin player. Monday night I was impressed with what he has been taught to do on a guitar and I told him that at the appropriate time he could borrow my mandolin and figure it out. At the end of our session Monday we decided that we had reached the appropriate time. His mother sent me this picture with a note that he has been playing nonstop since then. This all brings us back to one of the central purposes of this blog. The established horse world has created a system of horse care that is detrimental to the health of horses, destructive to efforts to build solid relationships with horses and all at a cost that is beyond the means of working families. That system must be replaced one step at a time and one of the first steps is to get more people teaching kids to ride at affordable rates. Teaching kids to ride amounts to teaching kids to not be afraid to ride. After that everything else falls into place. When it comes to teaching kids to ride inspiration is the most important part of instruction.