Sunday, August 31, 2014

Arrows Falling Like Rain Drops In a Storm

Yesterday we started mounted archery again. Sure it is fun, but it also is a great tool to become a better, safer rider.

Archery requires concentration and focus. It provides instant reward and recognition of the success of that focus by seeing the arrow hit the target.

Riding, at its best, involves the control of the horse simply by focusing one's concentration on the task at hand. Few young people have the amount of focus needed to achieve what Dorrence called the power of "feel" in horsemanship.

I Have Resisted Posting This for Years, But Now..

... I have decided to do so. Horses make lives better. They improve the quality of human existence. They improve one's physical and mental health. They can allow one to become more empathetic and compassionate.

As important as these things are, they are not at the top of the list of wishes for many young people, especially teenagers. Working, riding and training horses do something else though.

They can make one better looking.

There, I said it--perhaps the most shallow of reasons to ride, but a reason nonetheless. For years I have had visitors to the horse lot tell me how beautiful my riders were. Of course, everyone looks better in a beautiful setting but the attractiveness is much more than the setting.

Across cultures definitions of human beauty seem subconsciously tied to appearing healthy, happy, and confident. Sunlight on the skin, the muscle toning effects of riding, (particularly on the core muscles), the mere fact of being healthier by having an immune system fired up by constant exposure to the microbes of the horse lot--all evidence of good health.

The smile of riders--the happiness of a rider handling and taming a scared horse, the lack of stressed expressions--these are all things of beauty.

And the confidence. Few things are more attractive than a confident carriage and demeanor. A deliberate stride--a sense of movement with purpose, the ability to make quick decisions, all the things that result from having real self confidence make one more attractive.

Male or female, young or old, riding, working horses, trimming hooves, and carrying buckets of water make you better looking.

So if all of the deep spiritual reasons to mount up are not sufficient to get you to go buy some boots, consider the fact that you will look much better in your prom pictures if you become a serious rider.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Reality Matters

I care nothing for appearances--even less for other's ideas of how a thing should appear. I do not care if a horse looks like it has great endurance or wonderful gaits. I care even less if a horse's grand mother looked like she had great endurance or wonderful gaits.

The test of a hammer  is in the driving of the nail.

I happen to find Feather to be exceptionally beautiful. That is of little significance to me. Holland is one of the greatest horses that I will ever ride. Others might consider him otherwise, but I find him to be no better looking than a rumpled brown paper bag. But he glides. He carries me where I want to go, at the speed that I want to go, through whatever terrain I want to go through, in what ever weather I want to go in.

And then the next day he does it again.

This is how Feather will be. Jen and KC rode her yesterday. They gushed when describing her movement and willingness. A winter of trotting and gaiting with me on board will build muscle and bone that will make her body lean and hard.

She might even become as great a horse as Holland.

She is about 13.2 hands and regardless of what a superstar she becomes there will be many who will feel that she simply "looks" too small for me to ride. Worst of all, many of those people will actually believe that because she "looks" too small for me I should not ride her.

And the odd thing is that many of these people do not "look" ignorant. In fact, if they kept their mouth's shut no one would ever know how little they know. Forrest Gump's mother had it right. She did not say that "Stupid is as stupid looks."

No, "Stupid is as stupid does."

If you must judge yourself or your horse judge based on reality, not on appearance.

Spectacular is as spectacular does.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Full Picture--It Is Happening

Hope, planning, and conviction are coming together. Mill Swamp Indian Horses is now a program of our recently formed and organized non profit corporation, The Gwaltney Frontier Farm, Inc. We are creating an educational and livestock preservation effort that will bring meaning to the lives of riders, young and old. The catalyst to this development was Tom Crockett's idea that we could convert to a non-profit in order to be able to acquire the funds to expand everything that we do.

Over the past two years we are making it happen and are on the verge of explosive success. Our key purpose is to prevent the extinction of the Corolla Colonial Spanish mustangs. We also seek to preserve and promote other nearly extinct strains of historic Spanish mustangs such as the Baca and the Choctaw and the Marsh Tacky and the Shackleford. We teach natural horsemanship and we teach young children to tame and train wild horses and start colts under saddle.

Ancillary to that mission we provide programing, at no charge, to veterans who are at the local VA hospital being treated for PTSD. We will be providing training to local law enforcement on using the round pen as a way to learn better communication skills. We make a special effort to work with young people (and adults) whose backgrounds have been filled with complications. We are reconstructing a small farming operation from the mid 1600's when my ancestors first came out to the area around my horse lot. We are working to include the type of rare and nearly extinct livestock that would have been found there during the early colonial years when Smithfield, Virginia was, in fact, on the frontier of the British Empire.

We teach horses to be gentle and happy. We demonstrate how healthy horses are when allowed to live in a natural horse care setting. Many of our kids learn to give natural hoof trims. Several of my kids go on to pick up a little cash training horses for other people. We prove what these little horses and little kids are capable of with rides of fifty miles in a day, night rides,and even a ride of 109 miles in 17 hours, mounted archery, hog butchering and smoking of hams,....

...and music. Music with meaning. Music that has stood the test of time. Music played on ancient instruments telling ancient stories and eternal truths. And we are all volunteers. And I have some of the best kids and best adults to be found out working in our program nearly every day.

And we teach kindness. And we teach compassion.

And we always remember that the purpose of natural horsemanship is to make better people.

And, at age 54, I have the very rare privilege of seeing something that has existed in my head for years come into being.

Few things give more satisfaction.

Few things give more peace.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Read The Comments

Lloyd often posts comments after blog posts. They are always worth reading. He thinks deeper than do I and writes nearly as well as I do.

If you just read the blog post without studying the comments you simply are not getting your money's worth from this blog.

The Dawning

KC is beginning to find out what is hidden in a guitar. He was up very late last night working up a double 'D' tuning and a series of blues riffs and some ad lib runs.

This morning he stumbled out of his room , drug himself into the computer room, and told me that he had to show me what he had learned over night. It was an extraordinary advance in his guitar skills. In one night he came to understand some of the math of music and opened his mind and his hands up to new styles of playing.

I do not believe that he thought that he was capable of it. Now he sees what he can do with enough intense dedication.

That was a lot to figure out about music, and life, in just one night.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Foal For The Fall

Persa, the bay Shackleford mare shown above, should be having Croatoan's foal this fall. This is a cross that I have been looking forward to. Croatoan was the most comfortable of the Corollas that I had ever ridden. He is now much older and is retired from riding. Persa is a heavy type Shackleford, like Holland. She is gaited and quick.

Their foal will be available when weaned. The foal will only go to a person who agrees to participate in the offsite breeding program to prevent the extinction of these historic horses.

Contact me now to learn more about the offsite breeding program.

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Not All Horses Are Supple Enough to Learn to Flex

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Not All Horses Are Supple Enough to Learn to Flex: Liam, a second generation bronc stomper, has been unable to teach this young horse horizontal flexion. He tried clicker training but faile...

Happiness Is Not For Everyone

Lincoln understood this. Shenck's great book, "Lincoln's Melancholy", showed Lincoln's incredible insight into depression and showed the strategies that he used to fight it off. In a feel good society like ours it is heretical to consider any coping strategy that does not include full recovery of the ability to be happy.

That is a shame. That sets the bar too high for many people.

Too many people with serious depression put themselves in shackles by ruling out some recovery mechanisms without out giving them a chance to work. It is pitiful to hear young people who should know better refuse to consider medication because they .....(fill in what ever meaningless excuse you would like here e.g. "don't like pills." or "knew someone who tried that and it did not work." The list is endless). It is particularly disheartening to realize that so many people equate anti depression medication with prescription pain pills and refuse to take them because they fear addiction.

No, every advantage that modern medicine gives in the fight against depression should be fully utilized. But at the same time their limitations must be recognized.

Unfortunately, not everyone can be happy. Many people have to simply shoot for zero--those wonderful days when the pain merely equals the  pleasure, instead of dwarfing it. Those rare days of respite should be savored. They are worth working for--whether that work means hard exercise in the sunlight, remembering to take medication, or finding the time to distract the mind with music, or any other creative endeavor.

For such people shooting for zero is not surrender. It is victory. The greatest virtue is kindness, but courage and resilience run close seconds. Shooting for zero takes courage, but most of all it takes resilience--getting up every morning and doing what must be done regardless of the day's particular horrors to come.

But is such a life worth having? Yes, if one replaces the search for happiness with the search for meaning. A life with meaning, a life of service to others is not subjectivly better than a life of happiness, but it certainly is objectively better.

Happiness is not for everyone, but satisfaction can be. A life with meaning will lead to satisfaction.

And satisfaction can lead to peace. And peace is good enough.

We do not misuse any phrase in the English language more than the phrase "good enough." In its normal usage is actually means that the subject is not "good enough", e.g. " Well I guess that will be a good enough job for now."

No, when something is "good enough" it is both good and it is  enough.

  And peace is good.

 And peace is enough.

Friday, August 22, 2014

When Old Men Talk

The less they say, the more they know.
The softer they speak, the more they mean it.
The less they smile, the harder they laugh.
And the more you talk, the better they listen.

The longer they sit, the harder  to stand.
The faster they run, the sooner they tire.
The further they go, the stronger they get.
And the longer they live, the sooner  they'll die.
The longer the ride, the harder the saddle.
The older the horse, the better the fit.
The further the ride, the more important the shade.
And the deeper the water, the shorter the swim.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Big Steps Backwards

My wife and I own two houses, one of which my mother was born in, the other of which she died in.

Two hundred yards down the road from where I type there is a cemetery filled with Edwards', Gwaltneys, and Jones'--my family for many decades. Just past that is the small country church that Daddy's family has attended since it was built during Reconstruction. Two hundred yards in front of the church are remnants of the earthworks of the Civil War fort known as Fort Bee. Just on the other side of the gas line from the trenches stood Mokete, a Warrosquoyacke village where John Smith visited in 1608.

What do our reconstructed colonial and Indian structures have to do with horses? We are an educational institution. We seek to teach. Over the years I have been shocked by how little even my brightest young riders knew of the past. Lack of understanding of the past assures lack of understanding of the present.

Of all of the young people who have visited the horse lot I have never had a single one who knew who Emmett Till was. Such a failure in their historical and moral education hampers any understanding of today's world.

Things would be different in Ferguson, Missouri today if those on both sides knew who Emmett Till was.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Building The Bond

It is sad to read of people who view horses as so different from humans that they do not consider any true bonding to be possible. They consider the horse to be essentially an animate machine whose actions are only explained as response to learned cues.

It is not anthropomorphizing to recognize that horses have,and express, deep emotions. It  is anthropomorphizing to think that their emotional needs are the same as ours. As predators we seek excitement and unfettered freedom. Horses have no such desire. As prey animals they seek safety and security.

This goat and horse have a deep emotional attraction for each other. Pete, the goat, sees himself as the protector of the mare. He tries to herd her back to the pasture when she is saddled up to ride.

She looks to him to look out for her.  She relaxes quicker if he is close by, especially if she is away from the other horses.

The young lady in the picture is developing a close relationship with this mare. She does so by doing the same thing that Pete does. She makes the mare feel safe when she is with her.

Time spent simply standing with and occasionally rubbing a grazing horse is the most important time that one can spend to build  bond with a horse.

It is one of the most important parts of training a young or wild horse.

" I am safe. There are no threats here. I can relax.".

Those are the most pleasant thoughts that ever enter a horse's mind. Understanding that point is the first step to understanding horses.

Why Take The Time... teach courage to a child? Not to make him more macho, not to turn him into a warrior, but simply to allow him to grow into an ethical adult.

In every case physical courage must be achieved before moral courage can develop. Aside from greed, the factor that keeps most people from doing what is right is that they fear sailing into the wind.

A child who is taught to be fearless and selfless will grow into an ethical, moral adult.

Fearless and selfless.

(The boy shown above is a prime example. I have no doubt that he will grow up to be kind, compassionate,and fearless.)

Sunday, August 17, 2014


If your horsemanship causes you to define yourself based on how well you adhere to a set of rules, your are suffering and your horse probably is also. If your horsemanship has not liberated you from mindless conformity to the edicts of the established horse world you are suffering and your horse is too.

Natural horsemanship is a window to see the real world. It gives one the opportunity to step out of the chains and leave the cave that Plato analogizes to the condition of those whose vision is limited by the illusions that they consider to be truths.

If working your horse does not cause you to grow closer to him as the days pass something is very wrong. When one seeks security by seeking a closeness to the horse, one becomes free. When one seeks security by constantly seeking out the rules that others have decreed about that relationship, one becomes a slave.

"Am I too tall for my horse? Is my four year old horse too young to ride? Which supplements should I give my horses? Am I sitting properly in a saddle? How can I best limit turnout time? If I use a bit am I being cruel? Is my horse fat enough?"

The list is endless. It is not a coincidence that the "answers" to questions like these always result in rules that financially benefit the horse industry.

Am I too tall for my horse? Yes--go buy a taller one. Is my four year old too young to ride? Yes--go buy a series of training videos on how to prepare your horse ad nauseum before a saddle touches its back? Am I sitting improperly in the saddle? Yes--buy more videos, and get a new saddle. If I use a bit am I being cruel? Yes, try every version of the $7.00 rope halter on the market, but make sure you pay at least $75.00 for it so you will know that you are getting a quality product. Is my horse in need of more fat on his frame? Yes, buy more feed and supplements, after all a fat horse is a happy horse and the obesity shows everyone how much you love your horse. Should I limit turnout time? Yes--if your horse is allowed to move about freely he might injure himself. Make sure that he is stable boarded, wearing shoes and standing on very expensive bedding.

For years it has been obvious to me that horses suffer horribly because of the dictates of the established horse world, but I am only now seeing the damages that those dictates to to horse owners.

A horse world that causes someone who loves their horse with all of their being to be  torn because of a perceived need to sell the horse because she has been told she "looks" too tall for the horse is a pitiful victim of those dictates.

My disdain for the established horse world is rooted in the fact that it trades pain for profit. It makes money by promoting values that hurt horses.

The established horse world's disdain for people like me is that we refuse to pretend that they do otherwise.If one spends enough time with one's horse one simply finds that their is not enough time left for all of the scraping and bowing to Ole Massah and Ole Missus that the established horse world demands of us.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Building Our Settlers Farm

To recap, my first white ancestors came to the land around my horse lot in the 1630's. Since then I have had some relative living within a ten mile radius of that horse lot.

We are building a replica of an early colonial farm of the type owned and completely worked by one man, unmarried and recently freed from his indentured servitude. He is my totally fictitious but perfectly accurate ancestor,
Patrick Gwaltney. Close readers of this blog have seen snippets of his life story. (If not you can search "Patrick Gwaltney" in this blog and learn a bit about him.)

In addition to the buildings we already have the kind of Colonial Spanish horse, Colonial Spanish Goats, and Caribbean chickens that he would have had, a along with some hogs that can trace their lineage back to the earliest colonists.

Patrick's farm is the picture frame around our efforts to preserve these nearly extinct horses from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It places these horses in historical perspectives. These horses are part of my family, and every other family that traces itself back to the earliest Colonial period anywhere in the southeastern part of our nation.

It is part of our educational mission. I hope to even have some living history performances here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: To Torture a Horse

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: To Torture a Horse: Last night I was in a huge antique mall looking for the kind of tools to use in the Gwaltney Frontier Farm. I saw an old snaffle bit labe...

If Robin Williams Had Horses

This tragedy might very well have still occurred. But those of us who work horses, use natural horsemanship, take the time to develop close ties to horses, and spend time simply being with them know what powerful medicine they are.

I see them heal yet I cannot understand how they do it. That should not bother me. I do not understand the precise working of antibiotics, but I know that they work.

When horse ownership becomes too expensive for working people they are denied this healing experience. That is not simply a bad practice. That is wrong.

That is immoral.

The established horse world would benefit from a good dose of morality.

Tom Crockett--Showing What Is Possible

We seek to preserve the Corollas and Baccas and to promote other strains of Colonial Spanish Horses. We promote natural horse care and natural horsemanship. We teach children to tame and train wild horses. On occasion we ride for extraordinary distances. We work hard to show how affordable horse ownership can be. We show how easily these small horses carry adult rider. We ride day and night.

We do things every day that the established horse world regularly teaches are impossible.

And that is why Tom Crockett is so important to our operation. Tom's skill as a photographer documents what we do and through this blog, our Mill Swamp Indian Horse face book group page, and his flicker account his pictures say more than words can tell. A candle hidden under basket sheds no light. Tom's pictures lift the basket off of our light.

He helps us shine.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pictures Will Be Coming Soon....

....Of an important part of our educational mission. We are working to put the Corollas in their proper historical context for our visitors. We have early colonial era livestock--- pigs, goats, chickens, and, of course, horses.

We are building a picture frame to display those animals in. My Gwaltney ancestors came here in the mid 1600's. Some of us never left. I have had family living within a 10 mile radius of the horse lot since that time.

The Banker type horses, of which the Corolla herd is a part of, likely came into the region even before that. Some of them never left. They have had family living within a 100 mile radius of the horse lot since that time.

Our colonial smokehouse was completed a couple of years ago. We smoked pork from some of our colonial stock hogs in it. Now the rest of the picture frame is coming into being. Our beautiful little corn crib is completed as is our one room settler's home. A large colonial tobacco barn is under construction.

We are building this for the same reason we built a chickee --a traditional Choctaw home beside the pen where our Choctaw horses stay.  We teach. We teach history. We teach natural horsemanship. We teach music. And we teach compassion, courage and confidence.

And we might even begin to teach a bit of drama. Our settler's homestead will make a perfect set for an outdoor drama perhaps telling the story of Betsy Dowdy.

Might sound a bit far fetched, but no more far fetched than my idea of creating the settler's homestead.

I hope to get some pictures of the two new structures up shortly.

The Hope Endures and the Dream Shall Never Die

Ted Kennedy's line from his speech at the 1980 Democratic convention applies to our horse lot. Thanks to Kelly Crockett's hard work we have the privilege of being part of keeping the Bacca strain of Colonial Spanish horse alive.

Kelly now has a mare and an untrained young gelding. We had previously obtained El Rosio, one of Joty Bacca's favorite stallions. He was fifteen years old and untrained. Kelly had never trained a horse before yet she had this older stallion under saddle in a remarkably short time.

Yesterday I watched as our 15 year old intern, Erin, loped him up and down an old farm path, beside a pen of mares. She handled him wonderfully. He had his first experience with repetitive jumping with a rider on board. In short order he was sailing effortlessly over a fallen tree trunk.

About this time next year we will have our first pure Bacca foal born. Corolla like gentleness and tractability coupled with Choctaw like endurance is what I expect to see out of these horses.

Yet, the established horse world sits on its hands and does nothing to prevent the extinction of these horses. It is up to those who dream to do the job.

We dream.

Individual Results May Vary

But they won't vary much if one follows a simple program---give a kid a chance to succeed--encourage that success and watch them grow.

He's thirteen now. He asks for tasks to do at the horse lot. He waters horses and hogs. He canters. He wants to get better at everything he does. He walks faster. He stands up straighter and he smiles more.

And he believes that he can get better. That is the part that can take the longest for a kid.

He is on a trajectory to become a leader. That is a very big deal.

And I am very proud of him.

I Like Oysters And Horses The Same Way....


Feather is a beautiful young Colonial Spanish mare descended from Choctaw Sundance. She looks like she was created by Fredrick Remington. Every part of her body exists with only two functions in mind--movement and cooling off. She is designed with internal organs close to the cooling surface air. Slab sides and rafter hips aid in that cooling and recovery. She is spine high with no unnecessary slabs of muscle on her body would only serve to reduce her endurance.

After trotting 200 hours in the woods she will be both raw and rock solid--long, lean muscle that propels her in a gait so smooth that one of her first riders complained after an hour or two in the woods that he did not feel like he had been riding--so smooth that she did not give him a work out.

Raw horses are rare today. Horses raised to look like a 7-11 muffin spilling out over its paper holder are the norm.

Why is it so easy for us to understand that obesity shortens human life expectancy, decreases quality of life, leads to a an endless list of physical ailments, increases the risk of injury, and makes every move we make more difficult than it would be for one who is in hard, lean shape, yet we still think that we are showing how much we love our horses by forcing them to suffer through the effects of obesity?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

And Now She Is So Very Strong

I just read once again a story in the Virginian Pilot from February 23 of this year. I had not read it in a very long time. It is a story about a little girl whose entire life had been...(I do not have a word that is strong enough to use here to describe the pain that she constantly faced).

The first thing she said to me when we met in my office was "No one told me why I am here."

She looked frail. She looked scared. She did not look like she does now.

Those looks were deceiving. A boat that has been battered by a storm, sails torn, taking on water, yet still afloat and refusing to sink looks weak and frail. But the reality is that were it not strong, well made, and resilient it would have sunk a long time ago. That boat is stronger than the eye can see or the mind can understand.

And now she trains horses and helps me teach kids. And she is so very strong.

And now she holds on to the rearing horse when others would have turned loose. And she is so very strong.

And now when she steps up to a microphone her voice electrifies the room. And she is so very strong.

And now her courage has helped to inspire people who she has never met who have also been battered by the storm. And she is so very strong.

And I love her as if she were my own daughter. She is so very, very strong.

Friday, August 8, 2014

In The Beginning

To grow a big tree you start with little seeds.

The little seed in this old picture is Kaleb on the guitar.

This was a benefit for a homeless shelter several years ago.

Training Law Enforcement Officers In The Round Pen

We are about to launch a pilot program that will become significant. Communication, leadership, self control, reading body language, and confidence will be taught in our round pen to local law enforcement officers.

It will be part of a three tiered instructional program. Aside from hands on work in the round pen, participants will learn to understand prey animal body language to use to replace our natural predator body language when speaking with severely traumatized victims and witnesses. Severe trauma often instantly transforms people into behaving like prey animals. The horror that they have been exposed to causes them to recoil from our normal, predator based form of communication. I have previously conducted this session for prosecuting attorneys.

I have used this understanding for over a decade in helping victims get through the legal process and to get them to the point that they can take on the tremendous pressure of testifying.

The last part of the training will be an in depth look at effective means of intervention to help ferret out cases of molestation when the victim is simply afraid to speak.

I have known our Sheriff for years but when i discussed my plans for this program with him yesterday he was more excited than I have ever seen him. He has been exposed to leadership training using the round pen as a model. As a former President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, he has significant contacts that will allow him to assist in the development of similar training for law enforcement agencies far and wide, should these sessions prove as beneficial as I expect them to be.

I have written very little about the program that we conduct for patients at a local veterans hospital who have PTSD. The program matters--it works--it is no quick and easy cure but it is part of the tools in a tool box that can help recover lives.

This new training program will prove to be even more significant.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

In Living Color: The Corolla Off Site Breeding Progam

The loss of genetic diversity has more subtle effects than birth defects and sterility. Colors are lost. This light color has not been seen among the Corollas for decades. There are a few that descend from a Shackleford mare left in the wild with that band, but none in Corolla.

One of the tests of the offsite breeding program is to bring some of that diversity back without altering the the Corolla horse in any way except for restoring that lost diversity. Half Corollas are super horses, but they are not used in the off site breeding program, unless the non Corolla parent is of a strain very closely related to the Corollas. It is wonderful to be able to count on the advice of Dr. Phil Sponenberg in making these breeding decisions.

The non Corollas used in the breeding program are their cousins from Shackleford Island, their close relatives, the Marsh Tackys, and the occasional Choctaw. Only foals that have strong Corolla type will be used for the breeding program, even with this limited amount of non Corolla blood in the program.

This will stave off sterility and will likely restore traits that have been lost.

In short, we want to restore them to what they were while fighting off every effort to "improve" them by breeding modern horses to them. No modern horses will be used in the off site breeding program.

Next year we will have several foals born. Now is the time to let me know if you would like to participate in the offsite breeding program by adopting one of these super horses.

Monday, August 4, 2014

They Killing Me Grave Yard Dead

I always expected to be killed by a horse. It seemed like such an honorable way to die.

Now I fear that I will not live long enough to be killed by a horse.

These two kids are gradually wearing me out. I am going to die from staying up past my bedtime playing music and watching them perform one time too many. But they deserve the attention.

Kaleb works hard with his guitar--much harder than I ever have. He earns every note that he strikes.

A few months ago Ashley had one of the best teenage voices I have ever heard. Now she has one of the best grown women voices that I have ever heard. Were I to make a list it would be:

1. Sarah Carter
2. Emmylou Harris
3. Brittany Howard
4. Linda Ronstadt
5. Ashley.

Of course, they do not hold a gun to my head and tell me to drive--I am a willing accomplice. Tonight I cancelled regular music with my little riders to get some rest. But a little while ago I remembered a good place to go play music on Monday nights.

I expect that I am going to end up making some coffee and looking for my capo tonight.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

One Day, When She Is As Old As I Am.....

I hope that Lydia will have a young person around that she can absolutely count on.

That would only be fair.

The Truth Is In There: The Round Pen As a Model For Self Understanding

Natural horsemanship does not merely provide insights and analogies that give rise to parables that have meaning for human understanding. Instead, when conducted properly and thoughtfully, it is a laboratory to directly explain human emotional agony and to provide a guide to getting out of that misery.

In past months I have been working with people who have PTSD simply brushing horses and moving them in the round pen until the horse comes to attach himself to the patient. I am floored at the degree of stress relief this brings to those in the round pen. Our program is now part of the regular protocol for treatment at a local veteran's hospital.

I am working on a training program for law enforcement to use the round pen to enhance communication and leadership skills. I have no doubt that natural horsemanship, specifically round pen work, can impart skills that will reduce the chances of gun fire in hostile encounters.

And understanding the round pen can make one a better parent. We train horses using 51% control and 49% affection. We teach the horse by instantly releasing the pressure the moment the horse begins to respond as we wish.

It is very easy to teach a horse to ignore direction--simply continue the pressure even if the horse complies. The person who constantly keeps pressure on the bit because they do not want the horse to run away trains a horse to do one thing--run away.

The parent who never releases the pressure on a child produces a child who can find no peace. The instant the child responds appropriately every once of pressure must be replaced with a shower of genuine affection.

Absent such instruction the child learns that she is not good enough. That is the first thing that she learns.

The second thing that he learns is that she has no ability to effect her own future. It simply does not matter what she does--be she good, bad or indifferent--the result is the same. She becomes angry and resentful.

What else could be expected?

But there is something worse that should be expected and will be seen. She will become helpless. She will come to view life as a series of random events--good and bad--all completely outside her realm of control.

Why would she work hard to achieve anything? Why would she not choose to drop out and burn out?

Or, she can be taught that work has rewards. She can be taught that he is of value simply because he exists.

She can than understand that everyone around her is of value simply because they exist.

And if you work horses in the round pen, or if you have kids, and everything written above does not make perfect sense to you then you are likely failing, with  both your horses and your children.