Friday, October 31, 2014

You Must Be Healthy To Get The Best Out of Horse Training

Can't catch your horse? Are you operating on an extreme sleep deficit. Go to sleep --come back--now your horse wants to be caught.

Horse not moving out as well since you sprained your knee? You are compensating for that hurt knee by shifting your weight confusing, and perhaps even causing discomfort, for the horse.

Horse is super spooky and scared of things that normally don't bother him. Are you under severe pressure and stressed to the point that it is impeding your ability to function. It's impeding your horse's ability to function too.

Exercise. Drink incredible amounts of water. Sleep. Take vitamins. Eat Sour Kraught every day and watch how much easier your horse is to handle.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Quick Tip # 83--Use the Big Rope

As often written, the best conditioning for hard riding is to ride hard. Certain other exercises really benefit a rider--barefoot jogging, kettle bell sessions, and posting on a large exercise ball really help with stamina and in building strength in riding muscles.

I just found a new one that I love--the battling rope--a 1.5 inch rope fifty feet long. There are a range of strength building exercises that can be done with the rope. Look up Battling Rope on you tube for examples.

Completely aside from conditioning for riding , it is important for older people to maintain their strength--you might end up having to tote around a hefty grandchild.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: How Old are Grown Women When They Get Their First ...

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: How Old are Grown Women When They Get Their First ...: Seven. That's right regardless of what their birth certificate says they become seven years old when they realize that the horse at th...

Just A Pinch Of Leaven

Haily is moving to Georgia this week. Today will be my last ride with her until she comes to visit again. She has become a first rate teacher and young horse trainer.

My sadness at losing one of my favorite people ever is tempered by the fact that I am absolutely certain that when she is grown, and maybe even before, she will be teaching natural horsemanship to students in Georgia. She will show them why every horse and every person matters. She will show them how to properly care for horses. She will show them how to properly care for themselves.

And she will teach them how to properly care about others.

And what she has she will give away. And as she does so, she will create more people to give away what they have been given.

The revolution comes slowly.

One person at a time.

One horse at a time.

A Horse Lot Needs A Sound Track: The Beat, The Rhythm, The Blues

Natural horsemanship  provides the tools to understand life.

Music provides the tools  to tolerate life.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Horses, Little Girls and Role Models

Over the years I have had a solid group of big girls and young women who serve as wonderful role models for my little girls. They have exemplified four of what I consider to be the most important virtues---kindness, compassion, honesty, and toughness.

Two weeks ago I really saw it pay off as one of my little riders took on that leadership role before my eyes.

Haley is young and has been riding with me for a couple of years. She is dedicated and remarkably mature. She is also used to being successful and gets frustrated when things make no sense.

Her mustang mare, Kiowa, was making no sense that day.

She was simply ignoring cues and moving when and where she wanted to. She even set in for a bit of bucking. I had some new kids out that day. The first time Kiowa gave a bit of a buck I saw fear in their eyes.

The second time she bucked Haley rode it out for a while but was eventually pitched high over the horse's head and landed with a thud. She got up, wiped off a tear, caught her horse and mounted back up.

She was a bit in pain, had been a bit afraid, was a bit disappointed in her horse, but she knew that she was also teaching at that moment. She knew that there were new riders watching. She knew how the big girls had ridden for her when she was a new rider.

This creates a chain of continuous leadership.

The best way to get riders like Haley is to have already had riders like Haley for years. I can instruct, but it is my big girls who teach.

My big girls are the best part of my program.

The picture above is Haley riding Manteo, a formerly wild Corolla stallion in a training demonstration.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ten Months Later..

...and now Ashley rides him bareback, in the woods, in total darkness.

First rate horse, even better person.

It Don't Matter What Kind of a Building We Go in.... (an old post I bumped into)

.....all the janitors know my family."

I had forgotten about that. Someone in my office today quoted it to me. It was from what I said in Momma's eulogy. Actually I was quoting my little sister Jeannette, who, at about age 7, said it with great pride--it was a sign of real status in the community to her way of thinking.

Momma headed up the Virginia Foster Parent Association. She was one of the first female members of the Rescue Squad. She worked with the Red Cross in disaster relief. She and Daddy had over 120 foster kids and I have a slew of adopted brothers and sisters.

She was her own private Department of Social Services. Momma was a rural mail carrier so she knew every family in the neighborhood. She knew who needed clothes for their little ones, who had found out that they could not have children and wanted to learn about adoption, who had kids in trouble, who was being beaten by their husband, who was being evicted, who needed money for a doctor, who had a child that was not getting the special eduction services that the law required.

And she knew who was hungry. Yes, there are a lot more hungry people around then we like to admit.

She did not learn these things because of the kind of mail the people were getting. She learned because people brought their problems to Momma. They did not come to Momma because she was "a good listener." They came to her because they wanted help.

And she always tried to help. Even when she had no money. Even when she was in significant pain. Even when she knew that this bout with cancer would be her last one.

And generally, she was successful in helping out. And when she wasn't it was not because she didn't try and it sure was not because she didn't care. 

But she was not syrupy sweet. Momma was hot tempered with a sharp, biting tongue. She never forgot anyone that had ever helped her out and she never forgot anyone that slighted her. She despised injustice and oppression. She was utterly contemptuous of society's norms and lack of values. She preferred the runt of the litter, admired those who worked hard for everything they had, and only really looked up to those who had over come tremendous hardships to prevail in a world where the odds were always against them.

Before she died Governor Mark Warner designated a late September day of 2005 as "Nelson and Aileen Edwards Day." It was one of the few honors that she received that seemed to really mean much to her. Momma always liked Mark. She knew that he meant what he said about taking care of forgotten kids.

My wife bites her tongue when people comment, after seeing me and Daddy on stage, that I am just like Daddy. Of course, there is much that I get from Daddy, but Beth sees me as more like Momma--a bit dark and worried, disdainful of all norms and most rules, constantly conscious of my own mortality and being driven to get some things fixed before I die, and loving a whole lot more people than I actually like.

And I must admit that it means a lot to me when a member of the custodial staff in some big building looks over and asks, "Ain't you Aileen Edwards boy? Ain't you the one that is a lawyer?

1 comment:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Like Pieces Of Meat

I have been prosecuting domestic violence cases and sexual assault cases for over 15 years. I should be beyond surprise and certainly beyond being shocked.

Last night I was shocked. I attended an extraordinary program at Christopher Newport College in which students who were behind a screen, and presented in silhouette, described the impact that sexual assault has had on their lives. The crowd was enormous. Rosemary Trible gave a powerful opening message.

Ten young ladies who had experienced a wide range of sexual abuse presented the program. I was shocked at the level of physical abuse at the hands of their boyfriends that several of them described. I was even more shocked at how young some of the speakers were when their boyfriends began battering them.

Every crime was all rooted in the same thing--a deep seated lack of respect that the abusers held for their girlfriends. Debased boys degrading girls in high school.

I was not raised on Leave It To Beaver. My friends in high school had a wide range of problems-life was not easy--but never, not once, did I hear of any incident of a boyfriend battering his girl friend.

I am still reeling from what I heard last night.

Why is battering one's girl friend not viewed as completely unforgivable by high school kids? Why are such abusers not completely scorned and stigmatized by their peers? Why do the boys feel a right, a need, and an absolute justification in beating their girl friends? What kind of fathers raise boys to have such contempt for half of humanity? How can the parents of the girls not notice that their daughters are bruised and battered?

What kind of coaches do not teach the boys on their teams to become men?

How can we raise boys to have no empathy?

And if you are waiting for me to criticize the girls for tolerating the abuse or asking for it, you will have to wait a very long, long time. To place even a modicum of blame on the girls is not to be even handed. It is to ignore reality. This is never a matter of "looking at both sides of the issue."

But I agree that there are two sides to this issue, right and wrong, good and evil, moral and immoral, decent and indecent.

Why is it difficult for any parent to decide which side they want to raise their son on?

How many parents have even discussed this with their sons? Time to start today. How young is too young to try to instill values of kindness, decency, and compassion in your son?

As soon as he understands words teach him--and fathers teach with more than words--teach with your example.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Compassion Without Action....

....does exactly the same amount of good as does cruelty. This foal died after being born with severe birth defects. It was one of the less than 110 wild Corollas still in existence. Without passage of The Corolla Wild Horse Protection Act more foals like this will be born and eventually genetic collapse will lead to sterility.

Once again the bill passed the House and was not voted on in the Senate. The big money developers, the bureaucrats, and the log rolling "conservation" groups do not have to actually go out and shoot the horses.

They can simply be patient.

Every drop of concern, compassion, and caring that is not followed up with action to secure passage of this legislation is simply wasted emotion.

The bill will go back in next year. It will sail through the House. The fight will be in the Senate again.

Be ready to fight again.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Do Not Let Your Horse Hurt Your Feelings

People often allow their horse to negatively impact their self image or allow them to loose their elf scontrol. Good horsemanship boosts self image and self control.

The horse that is hard to catch is:

1. making you angry because of his insolence
2. making you feel hurt and rejected
3. a horse.

Number three is the only answer that is either accurate or helpful. Don't fall into any other trap. Instead, spend time working with your horse on sound strategies to teach him to be caught. With diligent, hard work at such training you can be assured of producing a horse that....

....still will have the occasional episode of not wanting to be caught.

If you want a relationship with an animal that you can catch with the slightest of exertion every single time consider snail or slug ranching. Slugs are easily caught and even as an older person you will find that you can out run even the most rambunctious snail.

This is Croatoan from a Christmas parade a few years ago. On occasions he was difficult to catch. I shed no tears or tantrums over those occasions and we both lived to a ripe old age.


I am not sure whether any of my riders met Momma. They often asked me about her and they make a lot of incorrect assumptions. I cannot blame them because Momma was hard to peg.

She and Daddy took over 120 foster kids into our home. She was the first women in our Rescue Squad. She worked hard in disaster relief with the Red Cross. She carried mail and was her own private Department of Social Services for people with problems on her route. She took in stray animals. She and Daddy adopted a dozen children, including one with cerebral palsy. She kept the freezer outside on the porch so people in the community that needed food could just come and get what they needed. She was an officer in the National Foster Parent Association and was President of the Virginia Foster Parent Association. She befriended many people in the community that polite society had no place for. That is but a small portion of how Momma lived her life. A few weeks before she died Governor Warner designated a day in September as Nelson and Aileen Edwards Day.

People who know little snippets like that about Momma often say, "Oh she must have been such a sweet person." Absolutely not! Momma was not sweet. She was tough. The world is filled with kind, sweet people with good hearts and no guts. Unfortunately, those people accomplish very little because they simply are not tough enough.

When I got to the first grade I was shocked to find out that not only could everyone's mother not ride and shoot, Momma was the only one that could handle a good gun and a bad horse. She was not like modern young parents who seem to see their roles as determining what ever it is there children want and quickly getting it for them.

When I complained about food when I was little Momma simply said, "Shut up and eat it. When you get big and go to Vietnam the food will really taste terrible so you just as well get used to it now."

On more than one occasion when people hear that when I was three years old Daddy used to have me cantering around as hard as Tanka could go, they often comment that that must have really upset Momma.

I recall one time that we cantered by the Little House that did upset her. She saw me go by and yelled out of the window to me, "Get your hands off of that saddle horn and stop riding like a damn sissy!"

Momma found the antics of children to be funny but otherwise she was about as close to humorless as one can imagine. The only humorous thing that I ever heard her say was when I was about 10 years old and we were driving by the campus of William and Mary. In 1970 college girls did not feel the need for as much clothes as do college girls today. The sidewalks were filled with barefooted 20 year olds in cut off blue jeans. Daddy was driving.

Momma snapped at him, "Nelson, are you looking where we are going?" When he said that he was she told those of us in the back seat that we had better hold on because it looked like we were about to drive "into one of those poor girl's a---s."

She was rather hot tempered, especially if she felt that any of her kids had been slighted by anyone. Around 1990 several of my little siblings, me and Daddy were playing music at a fairly large event. Unbeknownst to me the sound man did not have the microphone to my Dobro on. Unfortunately it was beknownst to Momma who was sitting in the audience. I doubt if that poor man ever touched a sound system again.

At my first Indian Horse Festival a well dressed young women turned to the lady beside her and said that she was going to have a facility like mine but that it certainly would be more "upscale". There were nearly 1000 people there and the poor girl selected Momma as the stranger with whom she would share her future plans and her assessment of my horse lot. That was, as they say, a bad move.

But none of those stories really explain Momma. This one does. Momma's social circle was composed to a large extent of other foster parents. One of her friends had an entire family of foster children that she planned to adopt. She called Momma and told her that she had found out that she had cancer and asked Momma to adopt the family. She did not want the kids broken up and sent to different homes.

Momma readily agreed. She did not tell her friend that she also had cancer. And that was the essence of Momma. She understood something that too few others have. Theologians are like Dressage teachers. Both take something simple and beautiful and complicate by a bunch of rules and artificial standards.

Momma lived her life as do only those who truly understand what has been called the Golden Rule. One can only love one's neighbor as one loves oneself if one puts away all self interest. Momma was the least self protective, self interested person that I have ever known. Momma knew that she was dieing for a long time. Though she never did so at home, she was in a wheel chair a national foster care meetings. My home was more comfortable for the special bed and other devices that she needed at the end so she lived, and died in my home. She died with Me and Beth, and Daddy and Shelly in the home. As would have been expected she died in her sleep so their was no death bed vigil. (She would have considered such things ridiculous.)

Beth and I own the Little house where Momma was born and we own our house where she died.

She had the biggest funeral in the church up to that day. It was a very integrated crowd. In 1966 it seemed to me that Momma must be the only white women in the world in favor of integrating schools. She did not mind being out of step with the other white people in our area.

In fact, she decided to stick her thumb in convention's eye one more time, even after death. Momma's body was handled by her friends at a black funeral home. Don't believe that that had ever happened at that little church.

No, Momma was not sweet. She was not soft hearted. Momma was tough. I am very proud of that.

So for all of my little riders that know Daddy so well, that is what Momma was like.

(Daddy's cousin pointed out to me last week that the older I get the more I look like Momma. This picture looks a lot like Momma)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Perhaps I Have Been Too Subtle

An old post--Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Perhaps I Have Been Too Subtle: This picture was from a ride yesterday. The rider is seven years old. Manteo, the wild Corollla stallion that she is riding, is much younger...

Bows Arrows and Horsemanship

Vocabulary is frustrating, especially when teaching real horsemanship that is more than the , "sit up straight ride around the arena" variety. The concept of controlling and interacting with your horse using intense concentration that I call "focus" might be what Dorrence called called "feel", what some refer to as "energy" and is partially encompassed by the concept of "chi."

Whatever it is, it is difficult for children to apply. Completely aside from the actual medical condition, our culture promotes deficits in the ability of a child to maintain attention. There are simply too many distracting stimuli in our highly mechanized and digital world. Not only is the concept difficult for kids to apply, it is nearly impossible for them to even conceive of the meaning of focus.

As I explain constantly, one can teach a horse best only after one develops the ability to look a person directly in the face and instantly focus one's gaze such that one sees only the tip of the person's nose, as if there was no face there at all, only a nose.

What I am seeing is that kids who practice target archery, even if only for an hour a week, dramatically increase their ability to focus while riding or training in the round pen.

That matters. Riding without focus is not as emotionally fulfilling as riding with focus. Riding with focus is safer because it allows the rider to direct the horse's movement more effectively than simply using the reins.

Focus is the beginning of horsemanship.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Whew! We Passed!

After a thorough, top to bottom inspection of our programs and horses the final report is in. Lydia conducted the study and evaluation and after doing so....

...she awarded me 16 cracklin corn bread muffins.

Previous evaluations had yielded a high of a dozen pieces of cracklin bread  at most.

I celebrated our recertication by having a wonderful supper of about 10 cracklin muffins.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Is He Hungrier Than The Others Who Hunger....

.... or deader than the others who have died?

Once again I see stories about horses who have been successful competitors or who have made money for their owners yet end up in slaughter houses or being starved or abused.

Seems that these stories get a lot of attention.


The vile reality is that we put a higher value on the lives of these horses than on anonymous horses. After all, these horses once had market value.

The equation of market value with the value of a horse's life is the fundamental underpinning of the established horse world. It is the fundamental moral flaw of the established horse world.

Decent, compassionate people should not tacitly endorse such a belief by wringing their hands over the slaughter of a once highly successful race horse an iota more than they ring their hands over the slaughter of horse #371 of undetermined breed or origin.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Grand Canyons

There were so few Grand Canyon Colonial Spanish horses that it is hard to even call them a strain. Small and wonderfully Spanish in movement and conformation these little horses project a raw, primitive quality that I find much more appealing than more refined looking horses.

This is a picture of Barbwire, a Grand Canyon stallion. I don't think that he owned a tuxedo or even knew where to rent one. Probably burped out loud at the Sunday dinner table too.

Take a look at that head. That is not the head of one who spent his time shining the shoes of rich folks.

Sort of looks like what we should all aspire to be ---a noble peasant.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Wendell's Right Much Younger Than He Used To Be

That's him there with the white shirt on with the glasses hanging from his collar. The picture was taken at the end of the 109 mile ride Terry and I did last March. He was there early that day helping out. He was there at the end, helping out. He is instinctively a team player--doing things that need doing without being asked--supporting the kids--and riding.

He started riding with us about ten months ago. He and Comet have become close. They make a good team. Comet's a team player too, people just don't notice it enough with him. Saturday the two of them got tangled up in a swarm of ground bees. They fought the bees together as long as that appeared to be a good strategy. Then they decided to split forces and wage war on the bees on their own. The rider was stung over ten times, not sure how many times Comet was stung. 

Yesterday the two of them rejoined forces and Wendell saddled him up and rode on.

When he started riding Wendell was about ten years older than me. At the rate he is going the two of us will be the same age in about six months

Sunday, October 12, 2014

An Educational Facility

Yesterday was the first day that these riders had ever worked to tan deer skins. Work is the word for it. Hide tanning and rawhide production is on of the most laborious tasks that I have ever undertaken. All the way through college and law school I worked at Jamestown Settlement. While there I developed a number of stone age skills. At Jamestown we taught by demonstrating, explaining and hands on participation, all backed by solid research.

That is what we are emulating at the horse lot. That is part of what makes our program unique. Consider yesterday's activities:

We fed the hogs and replaced some posts. As the kids arrived we brought Manny, beautiful young Choctaw into the round pen. Several kids worked him on ground work. They saddled him. KC and Atilla mounted up. Lloyd even rode him a bit in the round pen. A family of visors came by and we gave them a tour of the horses and told them about our program. Hailey put another Choctaw horse in the round pen and demonstrated how we train.

Chloe took Polished Steel, an untrained Corolla, into the round pen and gentled her to the point that she freely accepted a blanket. We did not do mounted archery yesterday.

We were too busy with the deer hides.

And none of this is brain surgery. Anyone who cares about kids and horses who is willing to work hard to learn and practice natural horsemanship can develop a program like ours.

It is worth it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Following the Crowd Over a Cliff

This old post  has a good picture  with it- hit this link Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: Following the Crowd Over a Cliff: Training wild horses is easier than raising healthy children. Forty years ago in rural cultures in every corner of America being a good p...

A Fall Replanting--2015

If a picture is worth a thousand words what I have set out here
is a very lengthy programing proposal for the upcoming year.

This will be both our best and our most important year.

The Importance Of Synchronicity

I heard about a Corolla that when ridden behind a Tennessee Walker did a version of the running walk and when ridden behind a Paso Fino did a version of the Paso gait. Seemed hard to believe/understand. Then some of my riders noticed that their horses wee more comfortable to ride when they rode directly behind Holland. It seems that some of the horses seemed to emulate Holland's gaiting. In recent years I have noticed that when the dog who is with us in the lead changes her gait the lead horse changes to match the dog's gait--instantly, on their own, without any cue.

Why is moving in synchronicity with the herd leader so important to a horse?

This week I learned why. A pasture that I dive by to get to my horse lot has a line of electric wire running around it. The wire is hidden by weeds that are a foot or two higher than the fence. The fence is easy for deer to jump but their is no obvious reason to do so. The lead deer broke through the darkness at top speed. I expected to see the strand of wire be destroyed.

Instead she sailed over it, landed in tall weeds just like the ones she had just jumped over and continued to run through equally tall weeds without jumping again. Clearly the obstacle that she was jumping was he hidden strain of wire that  experience may have taught her was there.

Just behind her was a fawn of the season. As the old doe soared the fawn instantly did the same and landed safely beyond the wire. Moving in perfect sync with the lead animal had provided the younger one with a safe place to land. Synchronicity lead to safety for the younger animal.

This principle has strong implications for training.  If your horse is not moving in sync with you while being lead it is telling you that it does not trust/respect your leadership. Equally important, when your young horse is afraid that fear can be reduced by pausing and standing calmly beside the horse while synchronizing your breathing with the horse's.

If you want to know what synchronicity looks like take a look at Hailey and Kiowa in this picture. Togetherness is more than just being at the same place at the same time. It is a melding of two separate existences.

Friday, October 10, 2014

I Am Difficult But I Am Not Crazy...

....and I am bone, cold, deadly serious about what I am about to write. I often speak of predator and prey forms of communication. I have not spent enough time understanding the difference in predator and prey consciousness. I have been wrong in the simple view that I have of their consciousness.

I have told thousands of people over the years that if horses were human they would all qualify for a diagnosis of anxiety disorder. I was completely wrong. Horses cannot worry about the future or have regrets about the past. They only can apply what they know to the moment. The fact that a horse can go from calm to terrified in a faction of a second does not show anxiety. Anxiety is better shown when that moment of calm is nearly impossible to find.

One cannot equate prey animal consciousness with victim-hood, fear, or weakness. One cannot understand predator consciousness without understanding that it is a reward based consciousness that seeks competition, excitement, and risk taking.

I am doing a great deal of oversimplifying in the discussion above. The great book, "Zen Mind, Zen Horse" fills in the blanks. (After one understands natural horsemanship this book is the perfect thing to read.)

Please understand that while I spend more time with humans than with horses, I have spent more time communicating with horses than with humans over the past decade. For years it has seemed a bit whimsical to me that darkness has ceased to bother me, but wind, even a gentle breeze is unsettling. Or that drought such that the grasses crunches when I walk on it completely unnerves me. Or that the sound of movement outside my range of vision causes an immediate reaction.

But after reading Allen Hamilton's book I realize that it is much more than simply absorbing those equine behaviors.  In a group of forty horses scattered over nearly half a mile of pasture even if I am  in mid-conversation with a person, I generally notice when any horse alerts on some movement or strange scent---- even when the horse is over 100 yards from me. Most of all  I am always conscious of what is going on with my riders, on and off site.  Though it might sound absurd, for no objective reason I had an uneasy feeling that two of my young adult riders were having a problem last week. The feeling was based on nothing. I had not spoken with them nor seen them in several days. In fact, I was on the other side of the state from both of them.

But what struck me most while reading Hamilton's is that I am no longer reward based. Predator consciousness is absolutely reward based.  It is not that I have always been this way. Prior to getting heavily into natural horsemanship about 15 years ago I was about as ambitious and driven as a man could be. I was politically successful at a very young age. From the time I was a child until I stopped playing ball I played with a viciousness that is difficult to imagine. To try to score on a close play at the plate when I was catching assured one of significant pain and exposed one to serious potential injury.

Now I not only have no desire to win. I have no interest in competing, not for fear of losing, but for fear of winning. For me to win others would have to lose and I get no pleasure from participating in any activity that would create a loser. I am puzzled by those who are concerned that others might get credit for our program. I really cannot force myself to care who gets the credit.

If horses are saved and people's lives become deeper and richer how could I possibly care who gets the credit?

I have no interest in excitement. I recently noted that when asked when I return to the tack shed after leading a long ride in the woods if we "had fun" my response is that no one got hurt and to comment on which horses are becoming smoother. 

None of this is to suggest that prey animal consciousness is appropriate  for humans. None of this is to suggest that it is advantageous for humans. It certainly is not to suggests that it is morally superior.

But I have come to realize that I am now a very poor predator but that I know how to take care of my herd, horse and human.

I suspect that Bill Dorrence did to.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Wild Horse Dilemma--Bonnie Gruenberg's Great New Book

The best book that has yet been written about the wild horses of the east coast is Bonnie Gruenberg's work, "Hoof Prints In The Sand". Within the next few month's a better book will come out, and one that I do not ever expect to see bested, her encyclical "Wild Horse Dilemma: Conflicts and Controversies of The Atlantic Coast Herds". It is comprehensive, a stellar piece of research, and simply fascinating to read.

I got a chance to read the book before it went to final publishing. Everyone will find their own favorite parts by I am especially drawn to her research on the "two source" theory of the background of the wild horses of the Outer Banks. It may very well be that there was a significant introduction of Colonial Spanish horse genetics through what were called Chickasaw horses (horses from the tribes of the southeast prior to their deportation to Oklahoma). I doubt that the other source , called Seminoles in the old writings actually came directly from those tribes. I suspect that they are remnants of the earliest horses to reach the Outer Banks.They are the smaller of the two possible root strains. Living and evolving on the harsh environment of the Outer Banks would case the horses to become smaller over time.

If you have a question about any of the island horses and  if the answer is not in this book, the answer is not known.

(Here is a picture of the author a few years ago when she rode with us and gave my riders a special presentation on her research)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Friday, October 3, 2014

The End Of The Beginning

Several years ago it sunk in to me that the long term chances of survival of the Colonial Spanish mustangs of the Outer Banks of North Carolina were quite bleak. Not long after that an old stallion at Corolla was captured because he was in poor condition and was getting out into the highway.

It took quite a while to get him healthy but it took no time to get him gentle. I named him Croatoan, for one of the tribes/villages near the Lost Colony.

Of course, everyone knows that a teenage wild stallion could never be tamed or trained, especially not well enough for children to ride. But on the other hand look at those pictures of Croatoan. (I don't know how to work photo shop.)

He was the first stallion in the Corolla off site breeding program and he produced, Mokete the first foal born to that program. Over the years he remained sound and I retired him to a pasture with Hickory Wind to produce another foal for the program.

He was kind,regal,gentle and incredibly smooth to ride.

He was also old. And Monday night he moved on. I have his daughter and another one of his daughters is just up the road. Though he is dead his lineage will continue to run through the offsite breeding program.

Kay Kerr's children's book about him will be out this spring. She was working on the illustrations when he died Monday night. 

I do not know if our program would have gotten off of the ground without him but I do know that one of you reading this post will be the 150,000 view of this blog.

Maybe one of you will end up owning some of his progeny.

Maybe one of you will become a satellite breeding operation for the effort to prevent the extinction of these horses.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

From Years Ago--A Recycled Post

If They Try Hard Enough They Could Learn to Like Me

I have been called an opinionated, know-it-all. Could be right, but I do not know enough about whether I am or not to form an opinion.

Here is a young Corolla who once had a reputation for being difficult being despooked with a tarp. Training a horse to accept a full body tarp cover can be useful both for those with truly ugly horses and for those who plan to slip their horse into the house without their parents noticing.

The Wrong Turn

About fifteen years ago I strongly pursued something  out of character for me--a position that I did not want solely because it paid a lot of money.

 A lot of money.

It paid so much money that I would be able  to build a beautiful barn big enough to showcase the three or four horses that I intended to have. It would have a wide center hall  lined with beautiful stables.The horses would simply be for me to ride on the occasional weekend and the barn would sit on the hill where the settler's home now sits.

It would be beautiful and would be fitting for the successful, and highly respected person that I would be from having such a position. I was recruited for the position. I was in line to accept the offer that would be coming soon.

I do not know what happened. I was not offered the job. I was shocked,disappointed, and a bit confused.

That is how close I came to having a totally meaningless existence. That is how close I came to being a total failure as a human being.

That is how close I came to not dodging the bullet.

Had I been offered that position I would have taken it, built a beautiful barn and had a wretched existence.

It was a wrong turn nearly taken.

Don' t Let Any One Ever Tell You That....

...they are natural horsemanship.

I see arguments made against natural horsemanship that are,in reality, arguments against a particular commercial  training program. That is to be expected.

It is the best tactic that a dieing established horse world has to use against the teaching of humane, simple training techniques that take the mystery out of building a relationship with horses and allow people to find a path to the horse's soul.

Natural horsemanship exposes the king's nakedness.The established horse world does not look good naked.

A more troubling event is when a customer of a commercial natural horsemanship program comes to realize that many of the things that they are being taught serve only to enrich the big name clinician.  They fell head over heals for the promises of the clinician's program. They fell for the belief that they were following the only voice of the True Wisdom.

Some may react like the church member who, upon discovering that his preacher is a fraud, rejects not only the preacher, but the religion entirely. Such a parishioner had his trust in the wrong place.

A person who realizes that they are merely customers of a big name trainer and not students of that trainer can have the same reaction. Such a person has had his trust in the wrong place.

Natural horsemanship is good and pure and true. Human beings are not. Anything that humans use to enrich themselves must be viewed skeptically. When art, music, or religion is commercialized it suffers.

So does natural horsemanship.

If you loose faith in your big name commercial training program recognize what let you down. It was not natural horsemanship that did so. It was the program that taught you to equate natural horsemanship with a particular program. 

No person is, no system is, natural horsemanship.