Friday, January 31, 2014

The Relationship--"But Does My Horse Love Me?"

Don't worry. I have myself all braced for being misunderstood, taken out of context and even having these views intentionally misrepresented.

I am very pleased with the relationship that I have with my main horses. In fact, (and here it comes) I am satisfied with that relationship.

I am satisfied because the question of whether my horse loves me is not the most pressing issue in my relationship with my horses. I cannot force a horse to love me anymore than I can force a person to love me. It is outside my realm of control.

But I can control how I treat my horse. I can control how I feel about my horse. That is why the most important question concerning the relationship is not whether my horse loves me, but whether I love my horse.

(That noise that you just heard was the sound of the hackles of teenage girls who own horses being raised.) I do not understand those who are looking for "the perfect fit" or a "horse that clicks with me". My lack of understanding is not a problem in itself. The problem is that those looking for that form of quasi-romantic relationship with their horse often spend every bit as much time wringing their hands and asking "why does he act like that" as do 13 year old girls with their first boyfriends.

There is a great deal of money to be made by telling these horse owners that if you simply buy the next series of tapes that we are selling your horse will love you. One can make big money by joining in a partnership with a lie and often the truth is a miserable business partner. People will happily pay big money for a complicated lie but they won't take a simple truth even if it is free.

No, I do not worry about whether my horse loves me. But I put a great deal of effort into loving my horse. If I love my horse enough it makes up for any love deficit that might be there on his part. And therein lies the rub for most people with relationship problems with their horse

The problem is that the human has love limitations. The reality is that if one loves their horse enough that feeling will be reciprocated.

Stop asking "why would he treat me like that?"

Instead ask yourself if you love your horse enough.

Do you love your horse enough to....

teach him to be in your control?

allow him to live like a horse evolved to?

allow him to eat like a horse evolved to?

spend your time with him instead of trying to make up for it by spending your money on him?

learn his body language and communicate with him in a way that he can understand?

refuse to equate his "value" with his purchase price or the number of ribbons he wins?

keep him in a comfortably lean state instead of allowing him to be dangerously fat?

exercise him hard regardless of how busy you are or how unpleasant the weather is?

be completely uncaring as to what other think of your horse?

be a constant student of natural horsemanship always researching and looking for better ways to communicate with your horse?

become a lay expert on horse health so you can properly monitor your horse's health?

If you love your horse enough to do those things your horse will love you.

Or you can pay some clinician big money to tell you how to fail less often than you think that you do now.

(The big bay Corolla is a gelding named Creed. He is currently available for adoption through the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. He has been ridden on our woods trails on many occasions and has a long, smooth Corolla gait. He will really be a first rate trail horse. If you would like to help preserve the Corollas one of the best ways to do it is to adopt one of these horses and show your region what a spectacular animal he is).

A Deadly Trend

The major threat to the future health of kids of my generation was cigarettes. Of course, cigarettes are still around but their use has plummeted.

We forget that there was a time when the use of cigarettes was nearly universally confined to men and boys. In one of the most perverse advertising campaigns of all time, ""Virginia Slims", a women's cigarette, advertised their slogan, "You've Come A Long Way Baby" on the women's professional tennis circuits. A horrible death from lung cancer was something that women were told they had earned the right to. Equal pay and passage of the Equal Rights Amendment must have been a little too much to ask for but corporate financed death was an equal opportunity killer.

Now girls are participating in another male dominated  pastime that may very well one day lead to as much misery as smoking-obsessive use of video games. Metabolic disorder, type II diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, increased incidences of cancer, more substance abuse and depression are the fruits of an inactive lifestyle. We now are raising children whose life expectancy is shorter than our own. The body, whether horse or human must move or decay at an accelerated rate.

There is no third option.

Television certainly reduced the amount of exercise kids get. The time spent in P.E. and recess in school has plummeted. And then a new toxin was introduced into kids lives--video games.

Simple question--ask yourself--who gets the most exercise a heroin addict living on the street or a 12 year old child addicted to video games?

There is no question that these games are psychologically addictive for many kids. They provide the human body with a deadly cocktail of excitement without exertion. Our bodies did not evolve to become revved up on a constant basis without moving to burn off some of those stress hormones.

Absent actively abusing one's child there are few things worse that one can do than to allow one's child to become a slave to a blinking screen.

Of course, I believe that there is no form of physical activity better for a kid than learning to ride and train horses. When taught properly the experience is physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually beneficial to the child. But any form of consistent physical exercise is great for a child and every impediment to receiving that exercise is morally no better than a pack of cigarettes.

Of course, the best way to get your kid moving is to move right along with him.

(In a rational world how could a kid possibly be more fulfilled with a video game than doing mounted arechery?)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Quick Tip #77--Looking For Development Of Upper Core For Riding?

Use Tabata Protocol principals for hitting a heavy bag. (five minutes of warm up, 20 seconds hitting as hard and as fast as possible, 10 seconds resting, repeat 8 times,(two 20 second sessions per minute for four minutes) five minute cool down) If no heavy bag is available one can shadow box vigorously with hand held weights using same timing schedule.

Again, check with your doctor first.

Saving the Banker Horse Chapter II--CSI Is Not Real--For Humans Or Horses

Preserving a strain of nearly extinct horses requires more than watching a tv fantasy show and thinking that it has all of the answers.

DNA is a tool for breed preservationist. That is all it is. In addition to DNA one must also look at traits like movement, bone shape, history, and the phenotype of all those in the sample.

Consider the Chincoteagues--to my eye perhaps the most beautiful horses to be found anywhere--yet their Spanish heritage has been intentionally diluted with the blood of modern breeds to the degree that they cannot be classified as a Colonial Spanish Horse. There are some among that herd that are about as perfectly Spanish in their appearance as one will ever find.

But each of those beauties has full siblings that show their partial modern breeding and those traits would surely come up if I used them in the Corolla off site breeding program.

Many modern breeds trace their lineage back in part to the Colonial Spanish Horse. Quarter horses, the most common horse in America is a great example. Most of the gaited breeds developed in the New World also have some Spanish lineage. Those traces of Spanish heritage would not be enough to include in a strain recovery program unless absolutely no other options existed.

The ideal form of strain recovery is to be able to start the project with sufficient number of horses of a given strain to allow 100 percent of the breeding to be with in that strain. We are well past that point with the Corollas. Genetic collapse is beginning to show itself in the wild and if we only used the small portion of those horses that have been domesticated for breeding that collapse would be hastened exponentially among the offspring of such a program.

That is why we look to the closest living "cousins" of the Corollas for limited inclusion in the off site breeding program--first the Shacklefords, who are also in the Banker strain and come from the other wild herd on the Outer Banks. Then we include the Marsh Tacky who obviously shared a common ancestry with the Corollas and,lastly, we season the mix with a touch of Choctaw. Each of these lines are indisputably Spanish and are geographically appropriate. The off spring of these matings will then be bred to pure Corollas and pure Shacklfords.

This spring I am looking at eight such breedings. If you would like to become part of this effort to prevent the extinction of these amazing historic horses now is the time to do so.

This is the time to arrange to own one of these foals and to become part of saving the horse of yesterday for the riders of tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Pain In The Neck

This is what Edward Teach looked like shortly after he as captured. At the time I wrote this post I agreed with the guess that it must has been the result of a stallion fight. I no longer think that. We have had wild mares with similar neck wounds turn up. When these horses chase pigs they put their heads down and snake the pigs before trying to stomp them. It puts them at perfect level for a sow to strike at a horse threatening her little ones. There are likely more wild hogs than horses on the small area where the wild Corollas live. Edward is owned by one of my adult riders, receives a great deal of love and is regularly ridden. He has fathered one foal to date. Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Pain In The Neck: Fights between wild stallions are rarely to the death. This one would have been but for the intervention of the staff and volunteers of t...

Recording? Performing? Cd's?

One never knows where a trail untaken would end. Over the past fifteen years I have found myself on trails that I never envisioned when younger. Yes, when I was fourteen I wanted to be a horse trainer. It did not seem practical so I set the thought aside. I always wanted wild horses, but I never thought it would be possible to own one. I always was drawn to music, but I have also always known the difference between being able to figure out how to make a tolerable sound come from an instrument and being truly talented. I have never been under the illusion that I had any significant musical talent.

I have never cared for innovation of any sort. I have always been drawn to rediscovering which has been lost and preserving that which is nearly gone.

Now I sit at a point in my life that I never imagined. I have a herd of formerly wild horses and I teach children how to tame and gently train them. My hearing is fading significantly but, ironically enough, I am a much better musician than I have ever been. I have always been able to make words do the heavy lifting for me. When I was still a teenager I was an experienced political speech writer. Before Lido died there was no trial lawyer around here that could give a jury as powerful a closing argument as I could. That door in my life closed years ago, but I can still call out the English language to perform tricks for me as the situation demands.

I began actually putting pen to paper on song lyrics forty years ago. The shelf life for these lyrics was quite brief. Few lasted more than seconds after completion. I promptly destroyed written lyrics after reading them and not being satisfied with the amount of emotional punch they delivered.

About three years ago I started putting lyrics on the computer instead of on yellow paper. After yellow paper gets torn up and thrown away it is gone forever. But with a computer I can throw away a set of lyrics and keep them saved all at the same time--out of sight, out of mind but within the reach of a key stroke.

I have a group of riders that I am teaching to play ancient instruments and ancient songs. They got excited about one or two of the songs that I wrote--I had only performed two songs that I have written for anyone else up to that time. I started playing some of the more recent songs that I have put together and did not tell people where the songs came from. To my genuine shock many of these songs were very well received.

The biggest criticism, especially from happy young women, is that the topics are too dark and depressing. I do not find them to be so. I merely find them to be descriptive. Some are of actual events like Nat Turner's Slave Insurrection or the near lynching of Shirley Winnegan. Other topics include the effects of the Vietnam War on a small fictional Pentecostal church in Tennessee, alcoholism, a family of German pacifists whose father is forced to fight in the Civil War, a young couple who drown as they are trying to elope while being hotly pursued by the bride to be's father, the unusual cemetery kept by a rural killer and the funeral of an old man who taught kids to play music and ride horses.

While I expected these songs to mean nothing to anyone but me, to my shock, it seems that they strike a chord with some people.

Which brings us to the picture above. One of my most unprofessional (and uncontrollable) quirks on stage is that I constantly find myself slightly changing the words (and even sometimes the tunes) to songs with no warning. I consider this to be spontaneous creativity. Others view it as the musical equivalent of Tourette's Syndrome.

Over the years I have had many people on stage with me. No one of them has ever had the ability to adapt to my mistakes and flow with them the way Ashley does. Now the girl has a great voice, but there are a lot of people out there with great voices. What is so wonderful about here voice is that it not only sounds wonderful, but it is flexible.

All this leads up to our announcement that I will be recording a cd of original songs with Ashley singing on many of them and my brother Joseph, who is one of the best fiddle players that I have ever seen, playing on nearly all of them.

I hope to have the project completed by the end of spring. All the proceeds will go to our efforts to preserve the Corollas and continue our natural horsemanship program. I am sure that Ashley won't mind and when I get around to telling Joseph about it I am sure that he will sign on.

As we complete conversion to being a nonprofit we will be selling many more things on our web site. There will be books and I suspect more videos.

This cd will likely be one of those things.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Legacy

Lido's scheme ended up producing a great horse, now owned by Samantha. Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Legacy: This colt is only a yearling who had not been handled at all. It took Emily six hours to gain his trust enough to halter him. After three...

Saving the Banker Horse--Chapter One

This colt is The Black Drink. His father is Tradewind and his mother is Baton Rouge. He is the first stallion produced by the off site breeding program and is the anchor of the satellite breeding program being developed at Boys Home of Covington Virginia.

Both of his parents were born wild at Corolla.

The Corollas may very well be the oldest and rarest distinct genetic grouping of American horses. A small wild herd exists just north of Corolla, N.C and south of the Virginia line on the Outer Banks. They teeter on the brink of extinction, threatened by encroaching real estate developments, entrenched bureaucrats and powerful Washington lobbies that view these historic horses as trivial impediments to progress.

A handful of horses remain at Ocracoke, near the middle of the Outer Banks, who have traces of Banker lineage but have been infused with the blood of modern horses. (The beautiful horses of Chincoteague (Assateague) on the Virginia/Maryland border have also been infused with a range of modern horse breeds). Near the southern tip of the Outer Banks is the island of Shackleford where the only other herd of Spanish mustangs, undiluted with modern breeding, can be found.

These horses came to the southeast with the Spanish exploration in the 1500's. For about the next 200 years the Spanish horses were the only horses found in the southern colonies in any significant numbers. Small, sturdy, intelligent, easy to train and surefooted in water, sand, mud, and rock--they were the perfect frontier horse. In an era before the existence of roads these horses were superior to large northern European horses in every way. But with the roads came wagons. Larger horses than the Spanish steeds were better at pulling heavy wagons. As northern Europeans began to dominate the southeast they shunned the little horses that were associated with the Spanish and Indians, and to a lesser extent, former slaves of African and Caribbean origin.

Once the horses of Kings, the Spanish Colonial horse fell out of style. He became the rusty old pickup truck of his time--a symbol of backwardness whose only purpose was to give way to progress. Though now the Coastal islands of the south are prime vacation sites, until relatively recently they carried more of an an undeserved  stigma of poverty, ignorance, and backwardness than did the hollows of Appalachia for those who deemed themselves the official arbiters of all things proper in the South.

Even the word, "Banker", which applied to all things of the Outer Banks, not just the horses, was term with a derisive tinge in the minds of those who used the word as if the mere use of the term left a foul taste in their mouth. Their close cousins to the south, the Marsh Tacky of South Carolina, suffered a similar fate. The term "Tacky", indeed, means plain, ordinary, and commonplace.

As the horse moved from being the partner of the working man to being the toy of rich man the Banker horse seemed destined for oblivion.

Perhaps they would be gone, but for their champions like Dale Burrus, Karen McCalpin and Carolyn Mason. It is much more convenient for those who seek to destroy these horses to be able to call them simply back yard ponies with no historical significance. They can only do that if people are allowed to ignore the spectacular report written by Vickie Ives of the inspection tour of the wild herds of Corolla and Shackleford which nailed shut any question about the lineage of these horses. (That report can be found on the Horse of The Americas Registry web site).

Future posts will explain more about precisely how the off site breeding program works and how you can become a breeder.

But as you read these future posts keep one thing in mind, not a single one of us in this effort stands to make a penny from it.

 I am too old to play a bit part in an infomercial. We are doing this because we believe in it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Workman Worthy of The Wage

She earned it. Abigail has worked hard and smart with Rico and yesterday it paid off for both of them. Rico was captured because of a serious long term lameness. His suffering was such that he came with in a few hours of being put down. He is about seven years old.

But he is tough--he healed himself. And Abigail wanted a special horse to train on her own. With my direction and with some important assistance from a couple of the big girls, she got it done. Slowly, gently, and affectionately she trained this Corolla and yesterday took him into the woods for his first hard ride.

He shed the mud. He shed the ice....and he shed Abigail. He started to chase Lydia-dog and then decided that the chase would be easier on his part if he proceeded without a rider. He bucked long. He bucked hard. And eventually he bucked successfully.

Abigail rode him for many bucks but she came off--and she got up---and she caught her horse---and she got back on her horse---and she rode him.

And they had a great time. She smiled. He pranced.

And Abigail is not the same kid she was a few months ago. She is proud and she should be. She earned the right to be proud.

When a kid trains her own wild horse, she changes as much as the horse does. She stands up straighter. She walks with authority and confidence.

 She has smiles, giggles, dimples...and  gravitas.

(Pictures can be a bit deceiving. Rico is small but not as small as he looks in this picture)

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: It's Not Bad To Think Little Spanish Horses Can On...

One kind soul suggested that I be "shot" for riding a horse Tradewind's size. I decline to take that suggstion. Instead, I intend to continue to rehabilitate injured Corollas, breed them domestically, work hard to fight off their extinction, and teach those who are teachable what these extraordinary, historic horses can do. I once did not know any better than those who suggest that I be driven extinct for riding these horses. The difference is that I learned better. Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: It's Not Bad To Think Little Spanish Horses Can On...: ....what is bad is refusing to learn to the contrary when the facts are presented. Ten years ago I did not know that the Corollas and Sh...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Why Don't I About Know This?

When  people ask me about the names of my horses they get a chance to open their eyes a bit. Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Why Don't I About Know This?: That is what a very bright, educated young women asked me after viewing a documentary on life at the Pine Ridge Reservation in the 1970&#3...

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Reemerging Sound?

Sort of. Slave owners worked hard to destroy every bit of African culture that they considered a hindrance to holding humans as animals. Sometimes their efforts merely drove the subject matter underground, such as is the case with African religions that continued to permeate slave culture in ways that the white owners did not recognize.

But the drum cannot be driven underground. It cannot be hidden. Whites feared the drums out of fear both that they could be used to communicate with slaves on the next plantation and with spirits from another world.

The drum lost its place in the Americanized music of Africa by the end of the Colonial era, leaving behind the bania  (banjo) as Africa's principal contribution to American music.

Though I am not a percussionist, I have fallen in love with the Irish bodhrun and one of my little riders is working to include a well played bodhrun into our music.

Someone, (I really do not know who) put a set of large hand drums in the Little House. I am going to see if the kids can incorporate those sounds into our music.

Traditionalists of old time music will howl at the sight. Ironic indeed to be more traditional than the traditionalists.

(Lydia and Owl Prophet reemerging from the James River in the picture above).

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Precious Memories

Yesterday my wife found a small stack of old press clippings from various events at the horse lot. Terry has found a similiar trove at the Little House.

I have to admit that they are interesting and I know that I should look fondly back at them. Some memories are good.

But the most important memories are those of events that have not yet happened. It is only plans that matter. Hopes, wishes, dreams, get one nowhere.

Rock solid committment to getting a job done is the only thing that matters.

This is a picture of my beautiful Marsh Tacky mare. I love looking back at how beautiful her first foal born from a Corolla stallion in 2015 will be/is/was. It will be/is/was a very important step in our efforts to prevent the extinction of the Corollas.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Problem Between You And Your Horse nearly always a problem with you. Too often the problem is the expectations of what the proper relationship should be. I emphasize "should". It is the trap so many people fall into by letting others define a proper relationship. If one's horse deviates from the expectations of these self appointed experts then one can feel like a failure.

It is so sad to see a person feel rejected because their horse does not act like Lassie. It is even worse when having one's horse become a trick pony becomes the definition of a solid relationship. These riders feel betrayed if their horse acts like a horse and on occasions does things that they do not like. The unfortunate reality is that they believe that the test of whether or not there is a good relationship is whether or not their horse acts like a horse.

They miss so much by doing so. The real relationship begins when the person learns to act like a horse. That is where the closeness comes in. That is when the horse experiences genuine affection and genuine happiness. Horses long for security. Humans long for autonomy. Humans often try to bend their relationship with the horse into a model that comes as close to allowing the horse autonomy as possible.

All forms of control or restraint are to be avoided in such a misplaced relationship. Riding with a rope halter suggest to many people a relationship while the use of a bit or bosal denotes coercion. The ultimate dream is to ride without any device on to control the horse. Control becomes a dirty word.

I work hard to train with 51% control and 49% affection. I am not embarrassed to hug and rub and gently sing to a horse in pubic. I am also not embarrassed to make a horse go where I say, in public.

For many, cantering down a beach on a horse that wears no saddle and has no bridle or even a halter on his head becomes the ultimate symbol of a true relationship

There is nothing wrong in such a beautiful ride, but please understand that while running naked down a beach might be a human's idea of freedom and autonomy, it is not the dream of a horse.

Horse's share Kris Kristopherson's view of freedom, ("nothing left to loose" from "Me and Bobbie McGee"). A horse's happiness depends on feeling secure. A horse's happiness depends on two questions that we do not consider when we do them the horrible disservice of anthropomorphizing them--"Do I have grass (hay is fine too)"? and "Am I safe from anything that would try to kill me at the moment"?

Look at the picture above. The rider is having a beautiful experience of freedom. The horse is quite contented. He knows that he is safe with this rider who controls him beautifully. (I know horse and rider very well.)

If your leadership does not provide the horse with that security you do not have a sound relationship, even if every time the two of you come together you look the the cover on a paper back romance novel.

Does your horse come running when he sees you? It is great if he does.

Are you contented to spend hours simply standing close to your horse's shoulder with your head down,occasionally stroking his drive line, chewing now and then and working to breath in sycronocity with him? If so you have a lucky horse who has an owner who is willing to redefine pleasure to take into account the horse's wishes.

Doing so will often be the beginning of a life long relationship.

So why don't the big time clinicians encourage more of this? Well, one cannot make any money off of a video about how to stand still beside your horse as the sun goes down.

But if your horse had a Visa card he would order a video like that just for you.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Problem With Wind Mills

Ironic, looking back at this old post that I had forgotten about, I realize now that I was running though a course of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever at the time and did not realize it. Spotted Fever is the most exhausting thing that I have ever lived through.Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Problem With Wind Mills: Yesterday simply watering everyone by myself in the extreme dry weather took more time than I had before I had to get to court. One would...

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Little Job To Do, A Little Fun To Have, A Little Pride To Earn

It is cold and I am old. It is dark and I am awake. It is quiet and I am alone.

But it won't be that way for long.

Several of my riders will be joining me for a distance training ride. It will be the longest distance that many of them have ever ridden. At first they will be quiet and apprehesive. Then they will become loud and boistorous.

Then they will become dead silent and determined.

Some will join me at 9:00 am. But Christina, our wonderful intern who recently graduated from Rutgers, will join me as we set out at 7:00 am to get some miles in before everyone else arrives.

No set distance. No set time for completion. Today I simply will ride as far as my horses take me.

Next time I will ride further.

Training hard for the Terry O'Boyle Old Folks Hard Riding Cup to be held in March.

Tradewind, shown above, will be returning from the World Horse Expo this afternoon.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wilbur and Orville

I doubt that the pair at Kill Devil Hills over 100 years ago were any happier than this pair when they reached their goal. Kelly has spent endless hours getting this 15 year old stallion to feel secure in her presence and to move at her direction.

Samantha came into the game late--she is the designated driver--the first person to ride El Rosio. She rode him for a while and then Kelly mounted up. That is success in their faces.

El Rosio, a stallion never ridden before last Friday--A Baca stallion--super horses--even rarer than the Corollas.

Two very rare women who are expanding his life.

Tradewind At The World Horse Exposition

Here is a shot of Tradewind, our formerly wild Corolla stallion at the World Horse Expo in Maryland yesterday. He is being ridden by Karen McCalpin, Executive Director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

Tradewind is there showing the audience how much equine beauty and grace can come in a small package.

Some might call the picture blurry, but I think that it is perfect for Tradewind. It looks like something out of a dream. As it should . His life has had a dream like quality about it.

Once his life was a pure nightmare.

Tradewind was captured because he was foundered to the point of complete lameness and one of his hooves was over grown and abscessed. This beautiful stallion was completely crippled. Sharon Sluss of Rainbow's End Farm in Suffolk was his initial adopter. She began his hoof rehabilitation with skillful natural hoof are trimming techniques.

He came to us while feeling much better but still lame on the front right hoof. Continued natural hoof care trimming and exercise drove the lameness away.

He has not been lame a day since that time.

Like nearly all of the Corollas, he was very easy to train to saddle. He gentled so well that he was often ridden by children on long trail rides with mares in the group. He is one of the main stallions in our off site breeding program.

In 2011 he proved a great point for every formerly wild horse, every stallion,every once crippled horse and every small horse in the country. During that year he carried me 206 hours in the woods on trails. That does not count how many hours he carried other riders. When we began the year I weighed 222 pounds and at the end of the year I had dropped about ten pounds, as I recall. Very few of those hours were done at a walk. Nearly all were gaiting at his fast paced shuffle and a bit was cantering.

He became the picture of health as both of us worked hard to get in every hour on the trail possible.

He went long enough to win the Horse of the Americas Registry's "National Pleasure Trail Horse of The Year Award."

He once hobbled in a nightmare of crippling pain. Now he gaits along at a fast pace for as long as far as a rider can go. He has done several rides of fifty miles in a day.

And he is healthy. And he is happy.

And he is living in a dream. Just like the picture shows.

The Choctaw Horse Component

I asked the leading expert on preservation of rare Colonial Spanish horse strains what lines I could use to provide a bit of genetic diversity to the Corolla off site breeding program without bringing in breeding that was so outside their genotype and history as to blur the lines between them and other Colonial Spanish horse strains. He recommended that I look to Shackleford first, then Florida Cracker, Marsh Tacky or Choctaws.

Only one matrilineal dna line exists today among the wild Corollas. The other strains set out above are close enough relatives to bring back traits lost to genetic drift as opposed to bringing in traits that would alter the quality of the horse as he appeared throughout early American history. For example, though the Bacas and Galiceanos are great examples of Colonial Spanish horses they differ in body type so much from the Corollas that using them in the breeding program would produce spectacular horses, but horses who are not similar to the Banker. (Corolla is a herd of wild Colonial Spanish horses that are known as Bankers, as are the Shacklefords.)

We are looking to obtain a beautiful young Choctaw stallion to use in the off site breeding program. We have acquired a Marsh Tacky mare and have a Shackleford mare and stallion. We have four Corolla stallions and four Corolla mares, and a young filly who will be bred in a few more years. Our stallions are available for breeding to outside mares.  The Marsh Tacky and Choctaw lines will be crossed into the program rarely and judiciously.

This group will be the core of our off site breeding program for years to come. Their off spring will go to people who are willing to work to preserve the Corollas.

Boys Home in Covington, Virginia has a stallion and two fillies that we produced for use in their future off site breeding program. The owner of the first horse produced in the off site breeding program will be breeding her this spring.

Of course, the off site breeding program is not a replacement for having a wild herd in Corolla. They serve both as a complement and a safety net to prevent the extinction of this line of athletic, docile horses who were such an important part of life in the Colonial southeast.

(Joey and Twister, two Choctaws shown above are part of our program at the moment. Joey is our great new trail horse and his little half brother Twister is in training with us and has recently gone on his first trailride in the woods.)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

And To His Credit....

Yesterday Kelly rode El Rosio, a fifteen year old Baca stallion. El Rosio has a kind, good heart and came to us with minimal handling. Never saddled, never ridden, etc. His only training was to have spent his life basked in love and respect.

Kelly has a kind,good heart and came to us with no experience in natural horsemanship and minimal experience with horses. Their mutual lack of experience and kind, good hearts made them a perfect match and exactly the kind of match that the established horse world would run from like they were on fire

The established horse world would have little use for El Rosio or Kelly. They cannot squeeze any money out of either one of them so that renders each without value.

Lot of wonderful things around this morning on Facebook about El Rosio and Kelly--the most important was the comment that we need places like our horse lot "everywhere". And there is no reason that there can't be.

We are neither magicians nor rocket scientists. What we do can be replicted by anyone who cares enough about kids and horses to learn natural horsemanship and put it into practice.

The unfortunate reality is that the most important step in getting things done is that one must utterly reject the values and judgements of the established horse world. One cannot cater to or compromise with that world.

It is a world that equates the value of a horse with how much cash it can put on one's corporate books.

Poor fools.

The value of a horse is how much credit it can put on one's book of life.

(Kelly on El Rosio yesterday with Samantha proudly watching both.)

Friday, January 17, 2014

"Did I Write That?"

I am still a bit knocked off of my chair.

 Just saw clip of interview of Townes Van Zandt near the end. He asked the interviewer if he was the one who wrote "If I Needed You" (sic). Van Zandt knew that he wrote "Pancho and Lefty" but was not sure if he wrote his other most famous song. I know that there were many other problems with his mental health, but it was drugs and alcohol that ended everything.

It does not get discussed often enough, but one of the best things about practicing natural horsemanship is that it is powerful alternative to being spattered drunk.

We practice natural horsemanship not just to make better horses, but to make better people.

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Pride and the BLM Mustang

This old post goes to the heart of seeing a horse as a hore and not as a peice of paper. Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Pride and the BLM Mustang: The established horse world cringes at the thought of breeding horses of BLM stock. The fact that they are "mongrels" withou...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Keep On The Firing Line

Here is an old post about one of the major builders of what we have grown into.  Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Keep On The Firing Line: I was delighted to wake up this morning to read on the Horse of the Americas Registry Message Board that Rebecca Stevenson has agreed to ...

Split In Half And Charge

During the civil War an outnumbered cavalry commander found his men surrounded and subjected to fierce mounted charges from both sides. Instead of surrendering he promptly ordered his men to split into two formations and charge in both directions.

 He routed his opponents and saved his men.

Preservationists of Colonial Spanish horses, especially the rarer strains, like the Corollas, are being assaulted by constant bad news, pessimism and a poor horse economy caused by the policies of the established horse world.

I have to admit that surrender seems prudent and I cast no stones at those that do.

We are not surrendering.

We are splitting in two and charging both ways. We are going to breed more Corollas and work to preserve the Baca's, Choctaws, and the occasional Marsh Tacky. We are going to have more horses, not fewer. We are going to have more programs not fewer. We are going to draw more people into this effort, not fewer.

And I am going to work harder and longer hours, not fewer.

And the best news is that what you have just read above does not represent a dream, a hope, a wish, or even a plan.

It is a description of what is going on right now.

Mountains that cannot be climbed will be circumnavigated. Those that cannot be circumnavigated with be tunneled.

Those that cannot be tunneled will be strip mined.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Sincerest Form of Flattery

It seems like yesterday. And yes that is really what she said. Hit this link.Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Sincerest Form of Flattery: I must admit that at times my physical strength surprises me. I am not much for running or jumping but I can still toss a bit of weight a...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Quick Tip #72--Rapid Conditioning

Unfortunately this will not work for everyone. Some people are genetically predisposed to require more work than this. Don't assume that you are one of those people.

Check with your doctor before giving this a try.

I do not know of anything that provides aerobic condiditoning better for the time put into it than Tabata Protocol. People have not heard much about Tabata Protocol because the Protocol is so simple that no one can make money by hyping it on television.  Though not complex, it is extremely physically challenging.

Saw a great PBS show last week, "The Truth About Exercise", that showed how using a system easier than the Protocol for a total of three minutes a week can create tremendous benefits for some people.

To oversimplify a bit, warm up and exercise as hard as you can for twenty seconds. Rest for less than twenty seconds and then go at it hard again for twenty seconds. Do it one more time. That is a total of hard aerobic work for one minute.

Repeat this three times a week. You won't loose weight or look like a body builder, but for many people who are so genetically predisposed their level of aerobic fitness quickly improves. When one is more aerobically fit it becomes easier to move round and take on the calorie burning challenges of an active life. That is where weight loss occurs.

I lazily started doing this last week. On a whim this morning I did a mile and a quarter of barefoot running on the treadmill. I have never found jogging that distance as easy as it was this morning. Even when I was a teenager a jog of that distance would have tired me much more than it did today.

That means that genetically I am programed to benefit from this regimen. It gives me more energy to do more conventional exercise and most importantly to ride harder and farther. It seems too good to be true. I am shocked at what it is doing to my aerobic fitness.

Again, check with your doctor first.

(This is a Baca Stallion, not our stallion El Rosio, but a relative of his. These horses have the endurance to cover a hundred miles in a day. That is a great goal to train for.)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: A Safety Net Cannot Have Holes In It

Hit this link to undrstand why breeding domestic corollas is so important. Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: A Safety Net Cannot Have Holes In It: The off site breeding program is not designed to replace the idea of having a herd of Corollas living wild and free. Instead,it serves t...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Modes of Conduction

This is my bouzouki. Though of Greek origin, it is more often associated in the American mind with Irish music. Was listening to some Irish music this morning--fiddle on fire, bodhrun beating a clear and steady path for the lyrics to follow, guitar working with the lyrics instead of fighting to drown them out--a unity of sound.

Such unity only comes to people who have a common enemy. Music is an imperfect conductor of joy, but it conducts pain perfectly. That is why the lyrics of those who are stepped on carry so much more power than the vacuous lyrics of those who step on them.

Steve Earle said that Townes Van Zandt once said that there are only two kinds of music, "The Bues and zip-a-de-do-da".

Poor people do not have to have the meaning of that line explained to them.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye

They never found the person who shot and killed this wild Corolla stallion. Hit this ink about him from over three years ago. Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye: Rebecca took this photo during the inspection tour of the Corolla and Shackleford herds. This stallion was sunning himself in an openin...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Horses and Your Health

Just got back from the doctor. I am startlingly healthy according to the lab tests. You might be surprised to read that from looking at me. By any calculation I am thirty-fifty pounds over weight.

But I am in great health. I am about to become much healthier. I have begun conditioning myself and my horses for a ride of over 100 miles. I want to go back and get everything rechecked after that ride. It will be a one person test that will speak volumes about what an active lifestyle that centers on horses can do for one's health.

The major training for riding is to ride, but barefoot running and tabata play a huge part in training also. Posting hard on an exercise ball helps condition the quadriceps for long hours  in the saddle too.

Do your child a favor--make him exercise. Do your horse an even greater favor--give him the chance to exercise long and hard.

Do yourself a favor and get out there with your kids and your horse and get healthy.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Put the Apple Down And Go Tell William To Saddle Up

Oh yes, it is nearly time to start mounted archery again.


For those interested in the day to day goings on in the horse lot check out our Mill Swamp Indian Horse group face book page.

(This is a shot of Ghost Dance, A beautiful blm mare.)

Sunday, January 5, 2014


Of course, I should have been a teacher or professor instead of a lawyer. I love teaching. I love teaching kids. I love teaching horses. But most of all I love to teach interns how we teach kids and horses.

I am always interested in having interns come and learn either on a short term or long term basis. And when one finds an intern who enjoys the Tea Room one has hit the jack pot.

Christina is coming back next week for a two week stint. She will see several new horses, many new riders,.....

and even a new Tea Room, Discover Teas in Newport News.

And if you know someone that might enjoy an internship with us please have them contact me. This is a unique learning experience in a very special environment.

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Not A Two Pack Habit Or a Motel Tan

This old post is about one of her earlier rides with us. Soon as I get dress I am going to have a ride with her and her husband who will be riding their Corolla stallion Edwards Teach.Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Not A Two Pack Habit Or a Motel Tan: People, who meet me in midwinter and know nothing about me but that I am a lawyer, have a remarkable tendency to look at my brown skin an...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Iron Horseman, and Women

To see a post from quite a while back hit this link.Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Iron Horseman, and Women: Although I am still very far from home at prosecutor training, I am only 86 miles from Boys Home. Yesterday Wendy picked me up and we mad...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Quick Tip #73 A Mind is A Terrible Thing To Waste

The moment when the trainer/rider stops defining ethical behavior as doing what is good for the horse and replaces that definition with the doing only what the horse wishes to do the rider/trainer ceases to practice natural horsemanship. Such a person often seeks to elevate their weakness into a virtue--equating their failure of leadership with compassion.

It is not.

It is bad enough that such an attitude poisons their relationship but the more significant problem is that it taints the reputation of natural horsemanship. Of course, there is a ready market for such a weak and deceptive message.

Natural horsemanship has as its first principle the recognition that horses are looking for a leader. It is only in that leader that they find true security. If a person's psyche is so damaged that it equates leadership with coercion and abuse the human needs a healing that proper natural horsemanship can provide. There certainly is no healing in the idea that looking out for the horse's best interest instead of giving into its whims is bullying.

Humans want autonomy. Horses want security.

If one thinks that natural horsemanship means a relationship governed by the horse's whims than one certainly has no autonomy. And the poor horse certainly has no security.

Training that is based on 51% control and 49% affection builds an honest relationship.

(Here is a photo of our beautiful Marsh Tacky mare. More about the Marsh Tacky's to come. If you are looking for a Marsh Tacky I know will be happy to direct you to a breeder.)

Quick Tip # 71--Rider's Self Exam

Riding significant distances is an intense sport that requires (and produces) a high level of physical fitness. One can become a better rider by conditioning muscles used for riding with weight training, aerobic exercise and stretching.

However, there are only 24 hours in a day. Efficiency demands that in addition to having a sound body one should have super conditioned riding muscles. Riding uses different muscles depending on the gait one travels and the saddle one uses (english or western.)

Fortunately it is possible to identify particular muscle groups that the rider needs to condition by simply trotting and cantering to the point of the rider's total exhaustion. Within 24-48 hours after such a ride a deconditioned rider will experience significant muscle soreness in muscle groups that need conditioning.

This can be a tremendous short cut to reaching optimal fitness levels. Those muscle groups can be emphasized in training with weghts, etc.

Don't blow this suggestion off--it is an important one.

(Another great photo by Tom Crockett. He should be photographing your horses too.)

Quick Tip #63 Don't Walk In Straight Lines

Look at the worn path under our feet in this picture. It is not in a straight line. Predators walk in straight lines when possible. Prey animals walk in meandering lines.

When we walk in a direct line up to a horse we send out the signal that we are predators.

Avoiding eye contact and walking in rambling steps help relax horses.

Learn how to relax your shoulders to let a horse know that everything is ok.

If you want your horse to listen to you it is important that your body not scream so loudly that it hurts the horses eyes.

Friday, January 3, 2014

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

Stumbled over this post that the girls wrote a few years ago after what I susect was my first night ride in the snow. Emily and Lydia wrote mos of this post. Hit this link and take a look back...Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: It Was Too Dark For Me to See the Ice Hanging From...: my aged body. In fact it is too cold for me to even write about what the kids and our horses just took me through so I am now turning this...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Facts In Black And White (And In Color Too)

The new year has hit us and we are ready to begin our six month transition to being a non-profit. There will be changes in our program and I hope that each of them leads to a stronger and better program, both for my riders and for the preservation of the Corollas.

A few years ago one of my little riders was asked, "What do you do on those little ponies anyway?"

Without hesitation or a hint of irony or sarcasm she answered, ""Uh, 46 miles last Saturday, but I am going to do more next time."

Beginning today, all riders will keep records on the number of hours they have ridden and special events in which they have participated. The resulting statistics are going to shock a lot of people,including many of my riders. We will be generating cold, hard numbers to assess our progress.

We also will be looking at some beautiful documentation of our successes. Tom Crockett is a spectacular photographer. He is particularly adept at getting the soul of our program to appear in pictures. His work will continue to fill the pages of this blog and our Mill Swamp Indian Horse group page on Face Book. (Check that page out if you have not done so.)

We will use these records and pictures to continue to build a case for the preservation of the nearly extinct Corolla Spanish mustangs.

We will be like detective Joe Friday on the old "Dragnet" show. We will be giving "just the facts" but we will also be giving them in living color.

(Tom did not take this picture but it is still a great one. These are three BLM mares waiting for the storm to come in.)