Monday, December 31, 2012

Chincoteages: America's Most Underrated Horses

Had one gone to Assateague in 1800 I suspect that one would have found horses indistinguishable from the Spanish horses of the Outer Banks. Unfortunately during the 20th Century modern horses were put on the island and turned the horses into fusion horses with Spanish roots. To my knowledge there is little documentation and even less DNA work to show what these horses were. There is the widespread belief that Shetlands were introduced but I am not aware of any documentation of that.

 In any event, the resulting horse is a super horse. The Chincoteagues have Corolla like endurance but gaiting is not prevalent among them as among the Corollas. Like Corollas they have great hooves and good bone. In addition, they carry a tobiano pinto coloring that I think is among the most beautiful of all horse colors.Some of the best horses that I have produced resulted from crossing a Chicoteague stallion with several BLM mares.

 I have several Corolla stallions and a Shackleford stallion available for breeding at no charge to Chincoteague mares. I have no doubt that the resulting cross would make great trail horses. This is Peter Maxwell, whose father is a Corolla and whose mother is a Chincoteague/BLM cross. He belongs to one of my adult riders and will likely be taking his first rides in the woods in 2014.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

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 ...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: From Lido's Point of View ( A post from 4 years ago)

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: From Lido's Point of View: You do ride pretty, but not as good as me. My riding is a little bouncy cause only part of my body works. Keep on riding. You'll get bette...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Do Not Look for Water At the Top of a Mountain or ...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Do Not Look for Water At the Top of a Mountain or ...: Horse&Rider magazine is primarily for those interested in showing their horses. Few things are more deleterious to having a strong relation...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Vice President of Weed Control

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Vice President of Weed Control: War Admiral, my Baylis line Spanish Goat, is a voracious eater. He is joined by a younger Baylis, Sea Biscuit and my San Clemente Island...

At What Age Should One First Swim on a Wild Horse?

Sooner than other kids if you happen to be my granddaughter.

At What Age Should One First Ride a Stallion?

It depends. If it is a modern American child it might be best to wait until the kid is grown.

 On the other hand, if it is my grandson, about a year and a half is a plenty old.

To Gauge Your Program

This year I plan to take a moment or two to answer questions that I get outside of the "comments" section of blogger. Here is my first stab at it.

 "You do not have your riders compete in shows. How can you possibly gauge the success of your program?"

 I think that there are better measures for the success of a riding program than show ribbons.

 I think the evaluation is pretty simple:
 1. When your riders are small do they come to you with the fears that paralyze them?
 2. When they are a bit older do they come to you with the dreams that inspire them?
3. When they are young teens do they come to you with the plans that drive them?
 4. And after they grow up do they come back to you for help with the problems that are facing them?

 If the answer to each of these questions is "yes" then your riding program is succeeding.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Corolla/MSIH Brand

Our 2013 goals include radically expanding our efforts to get the Corollas and their plight out in front of the public. I have come to realize that simply proving what extraordinary horses they are by showing their incredible athleticism, gentleness, strength and endurance is only part of the picture. First you have to get everyone's attention. That requires packaging and marketing in ways that do not come naturally to me.

 I realize that I am about the worst focus group of one that any market researcher could use.To start with I always prefer being educated to being entertained. That does not cut it for most people. Before we can educate we have to package ourselves in a way that entertains. I intend to get back to having regular open house demonstrations and clinics this spring and summer. We will have a Corolla wild Horse Festival at our horse lots. Those things make sense to me.

 What makes less sense is the fact that we need to develop a brand name--a simple, quick symbol that says a lot about the horses and why they are special. I want that symbol to say "rare, historic horses". I am looking at different ways to make that our brand. Of course, we emphasize that the Spanish mustang was THE Indian horse. But he was also THE Spanish horse.

 The most practical and comfortable riding garment that I have found is the serape. I love it for winter riding and I love it for night riding. It keeps the cold off of me and it keeps the briers off of me and as soon as I am out of the cold and the briers I can simply cast it over my shoulder to cool off. One of my adult riders uses one. The kids have not yet discovered how practical they are. I have just ordered two more at a very affordable price. If they are of high enough quality you just might see an entire group of riders, kids and adults wearing their brand while we ride.

 A serape might just be the brand to say what we want to say to catch the public's eye.

Essential Tack

Hard riding can be the center of a healthy lifestyle and a healthy lifestyle can make hard riding possible. Too few human trainers are aware of the cardiovascular benefits of trotting and nearly none are aware of the incredible core strength that results from cantering. The first summer that I added cantering 40 minutes each morning into my schedule I lost 17 pounds without changing my diet. Hard riding is solid exercise. The flip side is true.

 A solid exercise routine, tailored towards riding, makes hard riding feasible. Step one is to build super strong core muscles. To do so planks and kettle bell workouts are hard to beat. Step two is to build endurance and supple quadriceps. Posting while sitting on a large inflatable ball gives that specialized endurance and helps one develop balance for better riding. All running is good but not all running is the same. Barefoot running, or running with barefoot shoes, such as these, uses very different muscles than running with shoes. The muscles used in barefoot running are the muscles used in riding.

 It is the ultimate frustration to sustain a nagging injury that makes riding and training painful if not impossible. That means riding pants and long socks that will not cause abrasions and saddle sores.

 The entire program is designed to allow one to be able to ride for stretches of 8-10 hours. That concept is the one that holds most of us back. We cannot imagine having time to do all of that riding and exercising. It is the improvement in one's health that makes all of this worthwhile. One who makes riding the center of a healthy lifestyle does not spend time riding. Such a person invests time in riding. That investment pays huge dividends in improvements in physical and emotional health.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Some Great Books on The Horizen

Bonnie Gruenberg is the best writer around when it comes to the wild horses of the Atlantic Coast. I still consider her book, "Hoof Prints in the Sand" to be the greatest work yet done on these horses. I just got a wonderful note from Bonnie. I hope that several works, aimed at different audiences, that she has been working on for years will be out in 2013.

 The horrible irony is that fifty years ago few people even realized that there were any wild horses on the east coast. At the current rate the horrific policies of the Bureau of Land management will ensure that fifty years from now the only wild horses in America will be those of the few herds on the Atlantic.

 In fifty years I expect that Bonnie's writing will be the starting point for anyone wanting to learn about these horses. That certainly is the case today.

 Here she is with the yearlings that we produced in the offsite breeding program. They are among the three that we gave to Boys Home in Covington so that they could become a part of the offsite breeding program.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

In the Ugly Season

Beginning in early spring right on through the early fall there are not many places around that I find to be as beautiful as the horse lots and surrounding woods and swamps. Vibrant greens and splashes of colored wild flowers decorate the tableau all around the tack shed.

But in the winter the only plants left green are the pines, cedars, hollies, green briers, clovers, and the patches of honey suckle. The low, lead colored skies cause nothing to sparkle. Plants retreat into the mud.

All that is left to be beautiful are the animals. Samson, a Corolla whose ancestors came here in the 1500's stands contented in his winter coat. At his feet are a reminder that life is a circle and that spring will come again.

An unbroken circle of beauty and an unbroken circle of life.

Merry Christmas from the horses, hogs, chickens, and goats of Mill Swamp Indian Horses

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A Real Problem With Round Bales

I was horrified the first time that I saw round bales of hay in horse pastures. I could not imagine anyway they could be kept free of mold. Eventually I came to understand that properly cured round bales were safe for  horses. In fact, my horses consume 10-12 round bales each week. However there is one problem with round bales that I did not originally recognize. Horses that eat round bales are  nearly as stationary as horses that are kept in stables. This problem is lessened when round bales are kept in a large enough pasture so that horses are given the opportunity to move. When given the opportunity a  horse will take advantage of every chance to walk, trot, and even kicked up his heels and buck.

The problem with round bales that  is even more insidious than the fact that it does not encourage exercise as much as does life one a pasture. Lower status horses  position themselves around  so they can quickly escape if challenged by horses of higher status. Such horses spend several hours a day with their backs hollowed it out and their bellies sagging. This posture makes for a weaker top line than would be found among horses that walk freely while grazing.

All of the conventional exercises that are used to help horses straighten their backs and develop solid muscling help alleviate the problem. In a previous post I mentioned the extraordinary effectiveness of what Parelli calls "hill therapy." (That work out is great even if the horse has solid muscling.)

It's good  to take a close look at all horses as they eat round bales in order to make sure that the muscles are developing as they should.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Sounds of Silence

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Sounds of Silence: No rush yesterday morning. I had no early court and no plans to shower or shave. I had already had a hunk of cheese for breakfast. I had...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: A Death Of Virtue

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: A Death Of Virtue: Some of the Plains tribes shared a common broad view of virtue and ethics that were the underpinning of their society. Among the virtues ...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Reasons To Ride

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Reasons To Ride: Paul Revere rode 12-20 miles (exact route is unknown) primarily to prevent the arrest of Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Jack Jouett ro...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: And the Winner Is

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: And the Winner Is: The Horse of the Americas Registry held its national meeting last weekend in Missouri. Three of my riders, Jacob, Amanda, and Sarah Lin ea...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

To Build A Memorial

"When the Cyclone Appeared It Darkened the Air.
 And the Lightening flashed over the Sky
 And the children all cried, "Don't take us away.
 And spare us to go back home."
                                                "Rye Cove"--A.P. Carter

Horror  comes as a light so bright that it blinds us. It comes as a noise so loud that it deafens us. It causes us to forget.

We forget that horror has long been with us. To remember that is not to fail to to recognize the depths of yesterday's horror.  Instead it is to recognize that hope trumps horror. Inexplicable suffering has always been with us, but God has always been with us too.

If first we wring our hands from the horror, and then only wash our hands from the reality, we do nothing to honor the little ones that did not come home last night.  We cannot avoid wringing our hands but we can avoid washing them.

This is the time to get our hands dirty from working hard for the little ones around us today. This is the time for each of us to seek to build our own memorial.  This is the time to become a little league coach. It is the time to become a Scout leader.  It is the time to become a foster parent. It is the time to volunteer in our schools. It is the time to comfort the bullied and to counsel the bullys.

 It is a time for each of us to suffer the little children to come unto us.

It is a time to love. It is a time to turn our lives into living memorials.

Then it will be  time to heal.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: I Expect My Girls to Think

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: I Expect My Girls to Think: I do not talk down to my little riders. I explain what needs to be done, show them how to do it, and expect them to do it as instructed. T...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Wild Spanish Mustangs In Corolla

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: 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 ...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Boys Home Preserves Corollas

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: 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 rare...

Revamping and Restoring

This is the time of the year to look back over a program and assess ways to improve. Some of the strengths of my program have been slowly eroded over the years. This year we will renew our emphasis on several points. That does not mean that all of the children will enjoy this renewal. Improvements are not always fun. Hard work does not have to be fun; it merely has to be done. I've come to realize that the educational component of our program has slid over the past year. I am afraid that too much emphasis has been placed on riding and too little emphasis placed on learning. Of course, I want my riders to be able to ride long, hard, comfortably, and safely. I also want them to understand horses inside and out.

 That means understanding how to properly trim hooves. That means knowing which trees are potentially lethal to horses. That means knowing how to identify the smell of mold in hay when no mold is apparent to the eye. That means knowing how many gallons of water horse’s need to drink a day when the temperature is above 90°. That means knowing the average gestation length of a mare. That means understanding why a modern Andalusian horse is not the same thing as the horses from Andalusia up that made up some of the earliest colonial Spanish breeding stock.. That means understanding why ships from England would often bring Spanish livestock to Virginia and the rest of the Southeast. That means understanding what genetic drift is. That means understanding how shampooing horses is a potential threat to their skin’s immune system. That means understanding the tremendous health risks that obesity places on horse.

 That means understanding that the quickness of the release is more important than the intensity of the press pressure. That means understanding what happened near the Greasy Grass in June of 1876. That means understanding which trees and reeds are best used for arrow shafts. That means understanding why modern hogs have such a different appearance from colonial era hogs. That means understanding why we use a different wormer for tapeworms then we use for other parasites.

That means understanding why the calcium to phosphorus ratio in a mineral supplement must be two – one. That means understanding why a horse should have a broad, firm frog. That means understanding why we do not use curb bits. That means understanding the difference between natural horsemanship and hype. That means understanding how composting works and how it is an important part of parasite management. That means understanding what happened when John Smith visited the land just behind that horse pastures in 1608. That means understanding what the LP complex is.

 That means understanding who Rowdy Yates is and who Choctaws Sundance was. That means understanding why Betsey Dowdy rode over 50 miles in the middle of the night. That means understanding why Secotan, a pure Corolla mare, has a head shape exactly like many of the mares found on the Cayuse Ranch. That means understanding the horse’s natural body temperature. That means understanding why the fact that a horse is unable to vomit poses such a grave threat to its health during times of digestive distress. That means knowing when bows and arrows came into use along the East Coast. That means understanding how deerskin is turned into soft buckskin. That means understanding where Benedict Arnold was going when he rode out past our horse lots. That means understanding what a Baylis goat is and why it is so important to preserve them. That means understanding why breeding a Corolla horse to a Shackleford horse is not crossbreeding. That means understanding why we ride with the heels lower than toes, toes in front of these, sitting on our pockets, with their hands in front of their bellybuttons. That means knowing who Janus was. That means understanding the roles of the Corolla horses in developing what became known as the Virginia quarter-mile horse. That means knowing who Quannah Parker was. That means understanding why we now have coyotes along the East Coast. That means knowing the difference between a buck scrape and a buck rub. That means knowing what causes round ponds. That means understanding why a mixed forest is a better eco-system than a pure pine plantation.

 Most of all, that means understanding why learning matters.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Sulphur Mustangs

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Sulphur Mustangs:   How different my life would have been if I knew more about horse's when I went to my first BLM mustang auction. They were advertising rare...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: $$$$$$$$$$

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: $$$$$$$$$$: How much does it cost to plant ten acres of soy beans? How much can be earned from ten acres of soy beans? How weather dependent is that...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Next Step

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Next Step: We are about to begin our step by step process to create our replicated homestead circa 1670. We will start on the Smoke house in the nex...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

To Knock Off a Fifty Mile In a Day Ride


It pays to get your riding muscles in shape and to wear well fitting riding clothes. Simulated posting on the huge ball increases balance and strengthens riding muscles. Barefoot running or running in barefoot style shoes such as these give strength and stamina to the quadriceps. Long, tall socks can prevent calf burns from boot that is great for a two hour ride but by hour seven will cut your leg off.
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Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Fighting Nature is Rarely Good Strategy

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Fighting Nature is Rarely Good Strategy: Horses evolved to survive nature's rhythms. When we force them to live counter to that evolution their health pays for it. Just because w...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Proper Spanish Colonial Mustang Conformation in Tw...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Proper Spanish Colonial Mustang Conformation in Tw...: As long as those two words are "Rowdy Yates". One can learn all that is needed to be known about how a Colonial Spanish horse should be p...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: On Line Classes Back on the Road

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: On Line Classes Back on the Road: Shortly participants in our first session of on line classes will receive their next lesson. They will be 1/3 of the way through what I h...

And Keeps On Ticking

I played baseball for years as a kid. It never entered my mind, over the hundreds of games that I played, to wonder how those lines appeared on the field anytime I showed up ready to play. I was a kid. I was there to play. Seemed like that should be enough to cause those fields to be lined and bases set in place. A lot of kids have ridden at the horse lot over the years. I doubt if any have wondered who hauls the trash away from the tack shed and the Little House. They probably never wonder how it is that the things that I cannot pick up from town appear at the tack shed. They do not wonder who holds the animals that need emergency medical treatment. They have no idea who is always on the look out for coupons and anything else that we might have a use for at the horse lot. They do not wonder who helps put polishing miles on just started colts. They are clueless as to who it is that is always asking "What do you need done?" No one needs to wonder about these things. It's Terry. She has the enthusiasm of a child. The energy of a child. The optimism of a child. And the dedication and sense of irresponsibility of an adult. Our program depends on that rare combination of traits.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Strength For The Journey

Last January my niece,a third grader, did her first 40 mile in a day ride. This January she will do a two day 100 Hundred mile ride on her mustang mare, Stardust. There are several components to her ability to take on a challenge like this. First of all, she was not raised to be sissy. Secondly, she has good balance from years of gymnastics, but the most important factor is strength.

 Not enough emphasis is placed on the importance of core muscles strength for hard riders. Being strong helps keep one from being tossed from the saddle. It also allows the rider to ride comfortably in the saddle during an exhausting ride. That makes it easier for the horse and makes it easier for the rider. An efficiently strong body uses less energy than does a weak one that flops round in the saddle.

 The best training for hard riding is to ride hard. Barefoot running helps because it strengthens the quadriceps more than running with shoes. Abdominal exercises help. The best single exercise might be intense kettle bell sessions.

 A strong core can be the difference between being in the saddle and being on the ground.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What is Possible

I only consider modesty to be virtuous as long as it is honest. To lie to appear modest is no more virtuous than to lie to appear talented. I do not mean that I admire boasting and puffery, just accurate self perception. With that said I cringe when I hear people talk about our program as if it is the result of my unique skills with kids and horses. It is not. While the results of the program are magical, its ingredients are not. Anyone that cares about kids and horses can replicate what we do.

 I have come to accept the obvious. It is important to show not only that our program can be replicated but that those who replicate it can do so "successfully". (In America "successful" has come to mean making solid profits.)

What we do can be successful, though I prefer to think of it as sustainable, for others. The first step is to make solid plans for the program. That means considering legal implications as much as one considers it in any other business. One should first seek advice of a qualified attorney in your area. That does not mean someone who has a cousin in law school. That does not mean someone that has run a boarding stable for years. It means a business lawyer. Corporate laws vary from state to state. Federal tax law is the same in every state. If one is to operate as a non profit one must truly be a non profit in order to fit the federal tax code. In most jurisdictions a Limited Liability Corporation is likely to be the bet route to go. Currently such corporations can often be taxed in the family's personal income tax return so that profits are not taxed twice, both as a separate corporation and as income.

Step two is to make sure that you and the entity are properly insured. There are many different kinds of equine insurance. Make sure that you are only paying for policies that apply to your plan. Different policies are needed if one boards horses than if one owns all horses on site.

 Step three should be to develop a plan that keeps costs down while giving the horse every thing possible to maintain a happy and healthy life. That means natural horse care. That means no shoes, no stables, no sugary feeds, no obese horses. It also means that other facilities that continue to condemn horses to the lives of suffering and poor health that stables, pasture blankets, shoes, and sugar and grains insure will condemn your operation for being inhumane and abusive.

 Ironic, isn't it. (This wall of ignorance is cracking. Horses in the future will be more and more likely to actually be given the chance to live as happy, healthy animals instead of being "loved to death" by ignorant owners and operators who place more interest in having horses "look good" than being healthy.)
 Step four is to get an accountant in early on your business plan. Beware of using an accountant that is a "horse person" if by "horse person" one means someone affiliated with the established horse world. In fact, it is imperative that one avoid being influenced by anyone that is a part of that world. (Key test: When asked, "Do your horses compete or are they "just" trail horses?" Leave promptly. You can learn nothing of value from anyone that thinks that there is anything of value in equating competition with the value of a horse.)

 I realize that I might seem a bit evangelical about this,, but I genuinely believe that matching kids that need to ride with horses that need to be ridden is a service of the highest order. It is hard work. It is difficult. But it matters. I also benefit in ways not shown up on a tax return. Tomorrow I will prosecute a case involving the murder a a four month old baby. Yesterday Samantha joined me on her first ride on her 1/2 Corolla colt, Legacy. People that wonder how I can do the job that I have in the courtroom should be aware that what I do in the round pen makes the rest of my life tolerable.

 I am wrestling with whether I should take on a new program. I am considering developing a consulting package to assist others in developing a program like ours. Clients would be able to come down and spend a week in the Little House, watch what we do first hand, participate in it, all the while working up a business plan for their future operation. This will be a lot of work. It will take a lot of time, but it might be worth the effort.

 Can't be any harder than teaching a boar hog to walk on a leash.