Saturday, June 29, 2013

Simply Honorable

Gwaltney Edwards was born 102 years ago. His brother was my grand father. Like most of the men in the family he was slightly short of stature and significantly stronger than most men. Never heard him raise his voice. Never heard him cuss--"By Hannah" was as rough as I ever heard his language get.

He farmed all of his life. He raised his crops and his hogs. He cured his bacon and his hams. When he was 100 years old he still used a shovel to turn over his garden. He hunted hard all of his life, but did not shoot does. His hounds listened to him and he handled them like pets. Neither of those things were typical of hunters and their deer hounds.

I never heard him speak ill of anyone else. I never saw him try to force his opinion on anyone, but whenever he did speak those around him got very quiet and listened hard. He was not an educated man. He was a smart man who grew into a wise man.

He could catch dogs that could only be caught by their owners, and sometimes even dogs that the owners could not catch. Dogs will come to a man with a good heart who sits down and patiently calls them over. Shy dogs flee from an angry man as they would flee from a man on fire.

I never saw him angry.

When I was younger I thought power mattered--.never cared anything about money, but power was different. As I got older I thought respect mattered. I have out grown any need to feel powerful and seeking respect of others is surely striving after the wind. Now that I am in the fourth quarter of my life I have come to realize that simply being known as an honorable man is what matters. To live with honesty, generosity, kindness, courage, and unyeilding integrity is what matters.

In 102 years I cannot imagine that the word liar and the name Gwaltney Edwards were ever used in the same sentence. A good man, an honorable man

I had more to say but the hour is getting late and I have to shower and get dressed.

Gwaltney's funeral is in an hour.

We are going to go bury an honorable man.

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Teaching the Unteachable-an older post

As Lincoln said about one of his Generals, "I ain't afraid of all the things that the doesn't know. I am afraid of the things that he does know that just ain't so.| Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: 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 tha...

Friday, June 28, 2013

Here's Vickie Ives From 2009

 Several years ago Vickie did an interview with me for this blog. She has done more than anyone alive to keep these horses in the public eye. Karma Farms is the other off site breeding program that has a Corolla stallion available for breeding, the award winning Sea King. I just learned that Sea King is being bred to a mare whose grand father is Rowdy Yates. This should be a fascinating cross.Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Vickie Ives--The E Interview: What drew you to mustangs? My first was a BLM that we rescued from a horrible starvation case in Pittsburg, TX. I was the first trained l...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Have Better Horses Than I had Two Months Ago

And the reason is obvious. Lloyd is out nearly daily. He actually works with several horses but he pauses to rub nearly everyone of them. He knows how to calm a horse. He exudes an air of calmness. Training must be 51% control and 49% affection. Lloyd provides both.

Here is the key point. Much of what Lloyd has gleaned about horses has come from the last few months of constantly being out at the horse lot and reading and absorbing everything that he could about natural horsemanship. He was not a novice, yet his achievements speak to what is possible for those who actually are novices.

To those who are novices, find a mentor-- find a solid library of natural horsemanship books---find the time to spend every moment possible with the horses--Find the ability to observe and absorb.

And when you do, you will discover that you have found a part of yourself that you never realized was there.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pass It On


I am 53 years old. Today I rode with my Grandson around the same farm that my Grandmother rode around as a child. Aidan told me that riding in the woods was "better than Christmas".
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Quick Tip #33-What Does A Horse Want?

A horse is not a person. People seek autonomy. Horses seek security.

If one adhere's to the false belief that "partnership" with the horse requires that the horse have the "freedom" to decide what it wants than one is substituting the human love of autonomy for the horse's actual need for security.

A horse deserves better than that.

Horses feel secure when they are given unlimited amounts of affection and are controlled as much as the situation requires.

Instant Maturity

That is what a kid must develop to be a safe part of a riding program. That means that they have to do things that are not normal. A kid has to become a better person than society expects kids to be. They are floored when they first learn that the horse lot is a different world--that I expect them to move from being helpless to helpful, from selfish to selfless, from powerless to powerful--and worst of all that I insist that they do so NOW.

Kids come to the horse lot expecting adults to do everything that the kid finds difficult, or even merely inconvenient, for them. They are shocked to learn that it is their job to remember to bring their helmets,to know which saddle they use, to learn to saddle their own horses, and that saying "my bad" is not a sufficient response to irresponsible behavior.

It is normal for little girls to pout through out a ride if someone else has their favorite saddle or is riding the horse that they wanted to ride. It is normal, but it is not acceptable. Life does not reward the pouters and whiners and the sooner they move out of that stage of their lives the happier they become. It is normal for kids to stand back to have a grown up saddle their horses. The pride that they take when they not only saddle their own horses but help the newer riders is an important part of character development. Forming mean little cliques to exclude other little riders is normal. It is not acceptable.

Watching the transformation from being normal to being exceptional is one of the most rewarding parts of our program for me. If a riding program does not make a child kinder, more generous, more responsible, more compassionate, and less self centered then the program is failing.

If a program does none of these things but does produce little girls that win ribbons then it is doing something much worse than failing. It is trampling on human potential.

And that is a profoundly immature thing to do.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Marital History?

To see a dark part of Virginia's history hit the link to this post from 2012.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...

A Cultural and Educational Program

There is much more to our program than learning how to sit on a horse. Our music program is flourishing. Kids are learning new instruments and ancient songs. They are getting the confidence that comes from being on stage. The are developing a new appreciation of how music has fit into the lives of people in the past.

Monday night the great cowboy singer and song writer from Montana, John Westbrook, came over and played music with my kids.

Much more on John in future posts

Giving Shots To A Horse That Would Just As Soon Shoot You

One step at a time, every time, and over time. Horses hate the pain of the needle. They quickly learn to associate a series of sights, sounds and smells with that pain. When a shot is administered quickly enough the pain is minimal. The catch is to get past the terror induced by the sounds, sights, and smells that come first.

The vet very rarely comes to our horse lot, mainly for innoculations and once every year or two for a call involving injury or illness. Even that being the case I have a few horses that tense up at the sound of the vet's truck, get wired at the sight of the truck and become pumped with fear when they smell the medications kept aboard the truck.

A horse that cannot be given a shot safely is a danger to himself. A medical emergency might require a shot and a terrified horse who is already injured can make the situation much worse by flailing and fighting.

The best thing that I have found to teach a horse to relax to be given a shot is to give the horse daily, needle free, injections until it does not react at all.

First acclimate the horse to eating from your hand. (Don't buy expensive "treats". Use black oil sunflower seeds.)Get a syringe from your local feed store. Remove the needle. Let the horse smell the syringe. He likely will blow up at this point. Expose him to the syringe and give him sunflowers as he settles down, just a few at a time. Use the syringe as a small brush and rub it on the area where the shot will be given. Continue desensitizing with the syringe every day until you work up a routine of being able to approach the horse and give a simulated, needle free shot to the area to be actually injected one day. Every time the horse relaxes give a few more sunflowers.

Of course, this will never work if one approaches the hoses in tiny, shuffling fear filled steps. The trainer must relax first. Then the horse can relax. Make the syringe and simulated injections regular part of grooming. Keep a syringe in with your brushes.

Keep in mind that a needle phobic horse can be dangerous during this training. Be alert. Be prepared to move and protect yourself. One can be alert without showing fear.

In fact, safety demands it.

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Brand Loyalty

The key test of a given school of natural horsemanship is whether it makes one a better person. As this post from last year points, out glitz can get in the way of that determination. Hit this link to see what I mean.Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Brand Loyalty: Learning natural horsemanship is much easier than teaching it. Teaching natural horsemanship to kids is much easier than it is to teach it t...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tossing, Landing , Bouncing, and Succeeding

Tim is a throw back to a different era. He has little experience riding, but has more experience being thrown and getting back on than do many of my kids that have ridden for a year or two. To make it even more impressive--Tim is a boy.

Modern boys are very difficult to teach to ride. They have two primary emotions--cockiness and fear. Tim has neither.

This is a wild Corolla mare that Tim is on. She has never thrown anyone but Tim. That is because no one has ever been on her but Tim. He is doing a spectacular job helping train this horse. He can do more than just hold on. Tim is a great teacher for a horse. He not only is not afraid to be seen getting thrown, he is not afraid to be seen hugging and rubbing a horse.

We have a lot of great new people involved in our program.

Tim is one of my best surprises of the year.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I'm Just A Pilgrim On This Road Boys

This filly was born in the wild at Corolla a few weeks ago. The problem is that their are too few of her and too little of the wild. Truth means little to those who are seeking to gradually drive these horses extinct.

Those people point out that these horses have no cash value and they value little but cash.

This space is open to anyone that will give honest reasons to oppose the Corolla Wild Horse Protection Act which pending in the Senate. This invitation is open to all the bureaucrats, all the special interest groups, all of the developers, everyone that wants to see these horses erased from history. I will happily print your position unedited.

The only caveat is that you must tell the truth as to your motivations and you may not rely on lies in your argument. Just tell the truth.

I am waiting to hear from you.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Whew, Barely Dodged That Bullet!

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Whew, Barely Dodged That Bullet!: Several years ago I was attending a planning meeting for our county fair, which was to be held at a brand new site. There were still some...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Importance of a Good Set of Wheels

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Importance of a Good Set of Wheels: When Lido was about 12 or 13 he and I were watching RFD-TV when a commercial for a manure spreader came on. 'Dat's what Ah want,...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Why Ride Alone?

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Why Ride Alone?: Especially if you have a brindle treeing hound cross to trot along the swamp trails with you? These two are both named Lydia. Lydia dog w...


Wake up--over slept but not slept enough--stomach burning-alkaseltzer not working-appointments, cases, truck repairs--more appointments--more things to do--any red maple fall?--go vote--primary today--late into office--go pick up medicine--need hog feed--paperwork-paperwork--pain, sore back, stiff muscles---head ache, head ache, head ache--phone calls--eat lunch stomach still burning--check on horses at Chucks

And then...Ghost Dance, the first wild horse that loved me, came over. I made a fist, like Sara Lin is doing in the picture above. I rubbed her hard. She stood relaxed and happy. She put her face on mine. I left--she followed. I stopped and she stood with me more, maybe fifteen minutes. There was a time when me, Nick, Comet and her ended nearly every day doing this. It is why Comet never killed me.

Head ache gone-stomach fine, no pain, muscles not sore.

It is the most peculiar of ironies that the greatest problem in my life is that I do not spend enough time with my horses.

Quick Tip #31 Combating Equine Obesity

I read much over blown concern about younger horses carrying weight on their back before their growth plates are completely fused. While this is a tremendous problem in racing and other competitions, very few horse owners actually place their young horses at risk because of the age that they begin training. Most horse owners, like most humans, are extreme procrastinators and even if they intended to start a colt too soon, they generally do not get around to doing so.

However, young horses are at risk for serious health problems that are associated with having too much weight on their backs....and their necks...and their bellies. Fat kills. Fat cripples. No horse, but especially colts, should be allowed to become, or remain, obese. The terrible problem is that fewer and fewer horse owners have any idea what a healthy horse looks like. That is especially true of younger horses, stallions in the spring and summer, and pregnant mares.

The body weight score is a good guideline but some breeds do not fit correctly into those broad out lines. Akal Tekes, Saddlebreds and many strains of mustangs would be dangerously obese if those standards were strictly applied to those, and similar breeds. For most strains of Colonial Spanish horse a horse with a flat back is too fat. Our horses are generally spine high and rafter hipped. Enough sweet feed can fatten them up into looking like quarter horses but their bodies pay the cost for doing so.

Here is a shot of Ta Sunka Witco at about age three. I suspect that many horse owners would think that he needed extra weight. They would be wrong.

And if fattened badly enough, for long enough, they would be dead wrong.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ending Equine Unempoyment

A horse is not a human and efforts to plug human thoughts into them are often to the horses detriment. Horses to not like lives of nearly steady immobility. They like and need movement.

The little mare here is Noelle. She is sweet and gentle. She has suffered serious injuries in the past and although she is healed her small size would require a small rider who was also a skilled rider. There are not enough of them around.

So she is in new job training. We have her at the horse lot and are training her to be a calm reliable little pony for rides on a lead for small kids. The best thing to hope for is that she ends up in a therapeutic riding program.

Even if that does not happen, she can have a very happy life at "Meet a Mustang" events for the CWHF and will be a great part of their mustang rides for kids.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Getting Back Into The Swing Of Riding

Exams, school trips, and family vacations often lead younger riders into extended periods of time without riding. Many of those riders will feel a tinge of anxiety when they get ready to ride again. They often conjure up every memory of every imperfect ride, exaggerate it greatly and cause it to grow into a real fear of riding.

That is when parental intervention is the most important. Parents need to explain to the kids that it is normal to feel that way and that the cure is to get on and ride and within 1/2 an hour the fear will go away. The child should ride more than normal when such fears come into play.

The worst step for a parent is to take actions that feed into that fear--for example, having the child "work slowly back into riding", as in skipping rides until the confidence come back. Such strategy makes it nearly impossible for the confidence to return. Even worse is to allow the child to "decide on her own" when she is ready to ride again. Children do not have the emotional maturity to make such decisions and it is wrong to force them to do so. In fact, deciding whether to ride causes more stress than riding itself. Allowing a child to say "I think that I would rather just brush my horse today and I will ride next time.", increases stress. "I think that I would rather just work my horse in the round pen today," is just as bad.

The very worst thing a parent can do is to allow a child, whose stress may genuinely causes them to feel bad or one who simply pretends to be sick, to stay home because they "are not feeling well today". the child quickly associates stress with illness and "sickness" with being a solution to avoiding adverse situations. Such parenting causes hypochondria.

Riding stress, and overcoming it, is about much more than just riding. It is about one's attitude towards all of life's challenges. It is about giving a child the confidence to have a happy adult life. It is about caring enough about your child to require him to do something that he may not want to do.

The rallying cry of today's parents all to often is "I certainly don't want to force my child into doing something that they do not want to." Somehow such an abdication of parental responsibility has become viewed as a virtue.

As soon as the child comes to understand that he has no choice in the matter his stress will go down. As soon as he learns that it does not matter how sick he feels, and  that he will feel better as soon as he gets a few hours quickly back in the saddle, he will remember how much he loves it.

Love requires firmness. Parents need to simply tell the child that his feelings are normal, that they will go away after a few hours in the saddle, that he is going to ride, that it does not matter if he feels bad, riding will make him feel better, it does not matter if he wants to--none of that matters--there is no debate and the child has no decision that he has to make.

I have been told many times by little riders--'I am glad I had to ride to day. It was so much fun. I do not know why I was afraid."

Well, I do know why they were afraid. It is entirely normal. I understand it entirely and I know that there is one quick, simple cure. I also understand that the failure to administer that cure has lifelong consequences.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Four Formerly Wild Stallions

Lydia sits on Edward Teach, captured because of a gaping wound in his neck. I am on Tradewind, captured because he was utterly crippled with founder. Christina is riding Manteo, captured for stifle surgery. And Terry is riding the lead stallion at our place, Wanchese, captured as part of the adoption program for herd management at Shackleford.

Please note how much of the wisdom of the established horse world this picture refutes. A teen age girl riding a stallion! Two riders over 50 riding stallions! One rider with limited experience riding a stallion! Four stallions being ridden together! Four adults riding ponies!

Natural horsemanship trained these horses. Natural hoof care saved one of these horses. Natural horse care--hay and grass, never confined in stables made these horses physically and emotionally healthy.

Could this be done by most horse people? I really want to be an optimist and say, yes. We all have to deal with our past experiences. Some people have had horses all of their lives, expensive horses, well bred horses of every fad breed that has come up in the past 20 years. Some people have been winning horse show ribbons since age five and steadily purchasing more expensive horses to win even more ribbons throughout their teen years. Some people have the resources to hire the best trainers, build the best barns, use the best shoeing techniques, and some even have enough money to pay riders to ride their horses for exercise.

If you fall into that category do not despair. It is still possible for you to learn something about horses. You can overcome that crippling background. It takes a great deal of character to walk away from the established horse world and to walk into a world of meaningful horsemanship, but it can be done.

No, I Don't Think That She Is More Eccentric Than Me. Why Do You Ask?

In "Tombstone" Doc Holliday asked Wyatt Earp, "Are you a deliberate man, Mr. Wyatt Earp?" By "deliberate" he meant calm, steady and unflappable.

Lydia is a deliberate horse person. She is makes up her own mind. Slowly sometimes, but generally with very sound reasoning. I never dismiss any thing she says out of hand and I usually do not end up dismissing it all.

She's much like Rebecca in that regard. They both know what's on my mind without asking and will do what needs to be done with out me asking them to do so.

I have never been an inflexible manager. Of course, when I was younger I wanted things done my way. Now I simply want things done. I do not like having to think all the time. Lydia let's my mind rest.

I have a great core of people that really understand what we are doing out here. They are willing to put in the time and hard work to help build a program that is meaningful to horses and to people with lives that need meaning.

I am lucky to have those people and I am especially lucky to have Lydia.

To Teach Is To Learn

Of course, I regret having gone to law school. I should have been a high school history teacher or maybe a college professor. I like learning and I love teaching.

My wife's grandfather was a great example of why learning to love learning is such an important thing. When I met him he had had some serious heart trouble and his activities were restricted a bit. However, his face would light up and his eyes would twinkle if he had just read an article in National Geographic that caught his interest. Whatever he learned was something that he loved to share with everyone around him.

When I learn something that interests me, be it musical, historical, or horse related I love to let everyone know about. Not because I want to show off how much I know, but because if it gives me pleasure to learn something I want to share that pleasure with those around me.

I love being around bright,inquisitive young people. Our most recent intern, Christina Caro, a student at Rutgers, has certainly fit that bill. She is about to wrap up her internship and head back to New Jersey. She has worked on horse training, riding, livestock care, and even hog slaughter. I expect that she will be a wonderfully well rounded veterinarian in the future.

In fact, it has been so good to have her around that she is changing our approach to internships. In the past we never advertised such things and people contacted us. Next summer I intend to seek out young people like Christina.

Samantha Patterson has worked in an unstructured internship with us. She comes out once a week and helps train horses. She is good. She has all the attributes of a great trainer. In fact, last week I asked her to focus on one of our mustangs that I want to have as one of my principle riding horses. I would love to have more young people like her that are looking to learn horses and how horse operations can work.

Kelly Crockett is bringing a great Youth Challenge program to what we do. Christina has caused me to become very serious about seeking out interns. The educational aspects of our program, which are so important to me, are falling into place.

There are a lot of good things happening at our horse lot.

(Christina took great pleasure in the musical performances at the Victorian Station Tea Room, where this picture was taken.)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Just Another Monday Night At The Tack Shed

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Just Another Monday Night At The Tack Shed: ( Shelly, one of my adult riders and a very important part of our program wrote this post) Steve has a new instrument, a Bouzouki. He...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Man Of The House

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Man Of The House: Rattling Blanket Women, named for the step mother of Crazy Horse is shown above with her mother, Standing Holy, who was named for the last...

The Morality of Breed Conservation--The ALBC

I am not a goat expert. This is War Admiral, a Baylis goat. The black billy is Spicer, a San Clemente. Spicer is an interesting historical relic. His relatives can be found at Plimouth Plantation in Massachusetts.

War Admiral is from a much rarer line of Spanish goat. The Baylis goat lives quite well in very wet environments. The Baylis goat also converts very poor quality forage into meat at an incredible rate. They do not get as big as Boer goats, the leading breed of meat goat. However, they have a higher live birth rate in range situations than do Boers and a higher survival rate in those same situations.

Though not a part of most American dinners, goat meat is perhaps the most commonly consumed meat worldwide. There is tremendous hunger in this world. The Baylis goat turns dry weeds into top quality protein. The Baylis goat is also nearly extinct.

It is patently immoral for us to let these animals die out in a world in which so many children die of malnutrition daily. This is real. This is practical. This is important.

This is part of how the hobby farmer can make his farm into a hobby that gives, a hobby that matters.

And that is just one breed. The American Livestock Breed Conservancy is that little candle that keeps the fire lit for a wide range of breeds and strains like the Baylis. Heritage breeds have an importance in preservation of the worlds food supply that few people understand.

Go to the ALBC web site. Look at the great work that they do and give them your support.

Monday, June 3, 2013

How Other People Do It

Time is standing still this morning. In fact, I have about 10 minutes to waste. My days are not like this normally. In fact, can't recall one like this. I planned to mow pastures from just before sunrise until 8:00 am, hustle home, shower, eat a can or two of sardines and drive to court. That meant that I needed to feed up before sunrise so I could get to mowing.

While feeding up it began to rain. I do everything else that needs doing rain or not, but mowing tall wet plants is different. I do not mow in the rain.

So there I sat, sun up, raining and I had no work that I had to do at the moment. I came home,watched tv, played guitar a little while, did some paperwork and could not help but look around and wonder, "what now?"

I am glad such days come up so rarely. Not having anything that needs to be done is entirely too close to not being needed for my comfort.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Giving Your Hobby Farm Meaning

This old post is for those who have moved out in the country and would like to leav a legacy for the future.Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Giving Your Hobby Farm Meaning: The hobby farm movement gives us hope that as a people we are not entirely loosing our connection to the land. The hope of passing farmla...

Won't Be Long Now

My granddaughter will be coming to spend the summer with us in about two weeks. That means that I will not be feeding hogs, riding, or fixing fence by myself for the rest of the summer. She is five now. That means she will be saying "Hurry up and come on, Granddaddy."

"Wait for me Granddaddy" was little girl talk. She has out grown that now.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Quick Tip # 30--Evaluating Your Training Program

There are many solid clinicians out there. There is more than one variant of natural horsemanship that is worth understanding. There are also programs that are of little value. One cannot evaluate any program based on its popularity. One cannot evaluate any clinician based on his fame. Evaluation should be based on something that too few people consider.

Has the training program made you a better person? Are you more patient, more kind, more assertive, more confident, more humble, more gentle and more in control of the situation around you, whether in the round pen, at work, or at home?

If the answer to these questions is "no" then you are part of a program that is failing you and your horse.

Having the cutest little trick pony in the world is of no value if the production of the trick pony makes you arrogant, judgmental, and converts you into a mindless follower of the clinician.

You horse deserves for you to become more than one who has mastered the art of writing checks for more videos that will help you become more arrogant and judgmental.

Do not ever let anyone define for you what the definition of a relationship with a horse should be. Even if you are paying a fortune for such advice.