Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Doing Your Part To Save Colonial Spanish Mustangs--The Lido Fund

Take a moment and go to and learn about the work of the Lido Fund. Then go to the Mill Swamp Indian Horse group page on face book and look at the great tote bags that Pam has designed to raise money for the Lido Fund.

You need a bag. The horses need to be saved.

The Lido Fund can help you solve both problems at once.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

This Post Is Four Years Old And As Accurate Today As it Was Then

Daddy, What Did You Do In The Revolution?

Pardon me while I take a moment to wrestle with the most important question facing the future of horsemanship in America--"How can we best hasten the implosion of the established horse world and replace it with system of enlightened horsemanship based on natural horsemanship, natural horse care, and and natural hoof care?"

The established horse world is fueled by greed and revolves around competitions which lead owners to view horses as fungible goods. The constant need to buy a "better" horse (one that gets a blue colored ribbon instead of a red colored ribbon)has given rise to an industry that supports over production and most sickeningly of all, horse slaughter.

Does not a registry which supports horse slaughter as being a humane solution to the problem of "unwanted horses" indict itself? Just as some rights are self evident, are not some wrongs self evident?

In the long term the current state of the horse market may be in the best interest of horses and real horsemanship because it will help to drive those most motivated by greed into other ventures. Lawd, I sure will miss those people. With them gone who will I have to tell me how wrong I am?

Herein for me lies the dilemma. There is no hope of preserving the Corollas unless more people understand and are given reason to care about their plight. The same is true of every other strain of Colonial Spanish Horse. How can that most effectively be done? I do not believe that involving ourselves in competitions that are the underpinning of the established horse world is the best way to do so.

I believe that getting our horses out in front of the non-horse owning world is vitally important. We must attract new owners that do not bring with them the crippling baggage of being an "experienced" member of the established horse world.

I am a mediator, a conciliator, and a compromiser by nature. I view conflict nearly always as something to avoid. However, in this case conflict is necessary. I cannot pretend that there is any validity what so ever in the preachings of the established horse world and the artificial agribusiness that has grown up to support. That is the case whether we speak of bits, nutrition, shoeing, or proper conformation. For the horse's sake we must refrain from doing anything for the simple reason that that is how the experts say that it should be done.

I do not want to do anything that remotely suggests that I am seeking the approval of these people. I do not want my horses to earn the respect of such people, but I would love for those experts to earn the respect of my horses.

The only effective alternative that I see for myself is to seek to be known by my fruits, to teach by doing. People start to notice.

"Steve's horses do not wear shoes but they are never lame. Steve's horses live outside 24/7 but they do not get respiratory problems. Steve's horses were wild or at least their parents were and they are gentler and friendlier than any horses around. Steve's horses are ponies but they often carry riders weighing over 200 lbs, sometimes for fifty miles in a day. Steve's horses are trained by his little riders but they are safer and more reliable than many horses trained by professionals. Steve's horses only colic in the rarest of circumstances. Maybe I should take a look at how his horses live if these are the results that he gets."

So that is where I draw the line. Parades, such as the one pictured in the shot above, we participate in. Horse shows, except for those of the type that the American Indian Horse Association holds, we do not participate in.

Coming Home To A Place He's Never Been Before II: The Grand Canyons

Next week Kelly will be making another long distance trip to bring home another super rare lineage of Colonial Spanish Horses, the Grand Canyons.

This is Scoundrel Days, a very high percentage Grand Canyon stallion. He will join our Corollas, Choctaws, Shacklefords, Marsh Tacky,Baccas, and Spanish Mustang Registry horses. He will be accompanied by his mare,Queen Jane. He looks like a nice cross for Persa, a short backed Shackleford mare.

Future posts will tell a bit about the history of the Grand Canyon Horses. In fact, I look forward to learning what it is that I will be writing.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Lesson From a Weed: An Old Post Written After the Drought Broke In 2010

We are now in our fourth day of rain. Last night was by far the heaviest. Streams that have been non-existent for months now gurgle and swirl with froth and foam. Remnants of crab grass turn green and weed roots that broke the ground with new growth two days ago now have tender shoots six inches long. Of course, one cannot call it pasture and it barely qualifies as forage, but the horses love to be eating something tender and green. The weeds are still sparse. A horse might have to walk five steps between each nibble, but they are there, reminding that life is resilient.

The weeds are teachers. They teach the importance of simply hanging on. They remind us that though life on this Earth is sometimes characterized by pain and devoid of pleasure, it is not perpetually so characterized. 
Small trees have died on my property during this drought. But the weeds have held on.

Somewhere inside me there is something that knows that one day the grass and clover will return. But for right now the sight of sprouting weeds is enough.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mandatory Focus and Mandatory Lightness

I have not found anything that teaches focus as well as archery does. Archery depends on lightness of release. Riding on very narrow (often less than six feet wide)trails that have turns much over ninety degrees and doing so at a brisk trot teaches a rider to focus on terrain and to be able to guide the horse using the lightest of cues.

Failure to do so will result in bumping one's knee on a tree. It is a great training tool for rider and horse. Our new training trails are going to give us better riders and better horses.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Living A Three Dimensional Life

The deer was stunning as it stood by the edge of the field, the largest pinto colored buck that I had seen in front of my home. The soy beans were golden, the morning sun truck the odd white patterns on his side-- reflected sunlight darted from ivory colored horns--movement a study in power as he carried his heavy head in front of his body.....

....but the picture stunk. Cold, flat, no movement, a side view of an odd colored deer--that's all--a meaningless one dimensional misrepresentation of reality.

Our program succeeds because we work hard to maintain a three dimensional view of life. Learning to ride horses in a circle in a sandy arena is not the goal of our program. That is one dimensional horsemanship--that is one dimensional living.

The practice of natural horsemanship requires one to learn not only a new form of communication, but a world view and a perception of reality that is entirely alien to humans. Humans, as omnivorous predators, have nearly nothing in common with horses. When a person learns to enter the horse's world by truly understanding the horse's mind the person expands his ability to relate to others who come from a different world.

That matters. 

If You Love Me Then Feed My Sheep: The Morality That Underlies Livestock Conservation

Preserving nearly extinct livestock breeds is not just a hobby. It can lessen starvation worldwide. It can feed hungry children.

No animal--- not pigs, not cattle, nor even  chickens, are consumed world wide as much as are goats. Goats can convert low quality vegetation to high quality protein better than any other domestic livestock. Like all livestock, they have limitations as to the environments in which they can thrive..

Goats do not do as well in wet, swampy conditions. They are very susceptible to internal parasites and live best in dry regions of the world.

Except for ones like Sea Biscuit, a Baylis Colonial Spanish goat shown sitting on a hay bale at my horse lot. These goats thrive in swamps, surpass modern commercial goat breeds in ability to produce live kids in non-factory farms, and in their ability to convert poor forage to meat.

And they are going extinct.

Would you not be much prouder to live in a nation that flooded the third world with breeding stock instead of sophisticated weapons?

These goats are weapons of mass survival. And nearly no one has even heard of them or other obscure breeds of livestock that can be a big part of reducing global suffering. That is why the Livestock Conservancy is such an important organization. Go to their web site. See how you can be a part of the vital work that they do.

I recognize that my priorities are out of step with the rest of my culture, but I can't help but feel that this is a more important topic than a naked Kardashian.

Perhaps you all can break the internet by flooding The Livestock Conservancy at .

The Look Of A Winner

Sitting at the office--heavy trial about to happen in Circuit Court--I am getting fired up to prosecute this defendant--clearing my mind--focusing.....

And the case gets continued. Adrenalin crashes--move on to the next task---some news flashes across my computer--Tejas Indian Horse Club announces the winner of their essay contest--first prize is a young Colonial Spanish gelding--

And the winner is a wonderful young rider of mine--Chloe. This is a very lucky horse. His owner will train him with natural horsemanship. He will join our herd and Chloe's family in early December.

Do you understand how exciting this is--for Chloe?--for all of us at the horse lot?

Chloe is a first rate student--she is learning horses and she is applying what she is learning. Every one of my riders who becomes a first rate trainer share two rare traits. Each has an intense ability to focus their attention on the task at hand. And, oddly enough, even when very young all of the first rate young trainers project  a physical image of gravitas.

The other traits that they share are too rare, but not as rare as intense focus and gravitas. Those are the traits of kindness, generosity, and gentleness.

Those kids are winners--Chloe is a winner too.

(The picture above is of Chloe and Samson, one of our Corollas)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pasture, Soil and Water Conservation

I want healthy vegetation for the horses to eat. I want the rain to penetrate the soil. I want less runoff and less standing mud. I want to catch  any sign of erosion in its earliest stages. I want to continue to refuse to use herbicides and keep the use of modern fertilizer to a minimum. I want to achieve these goals with minimum expenditure of funds.

Here is our very ambitious plan to do so:

Problem: Soil Compaction

Reduction of soil compaction  is the key to achieving these goals. We have two distinct types of soil at the horse lot, one very sandy, one a dense, dark soil.  In very wet weather each is dark and muddy. In very dry weather the suface of each is soft and powdery.

Both impressions are deceiving. The top three to four inches of soil is laden with organic matter, primarily a passively created compost of plant fiber and decomposed manure. Just under that is a hard pan of soil compressed by years of supporting the weight of a herd of horses. The compaction is such that water does not freely permeate that level. Instead, it creates a layer of mud when it saturates the top layer which is enriched with organic material that swells when allowed to sit in water. There is also more runoff of precious rainwater than would be optimum because of the lack of penetration.

Our horses eat grass hay and pasture. As a result their wastes are quite low in nitrogen. One would expect the soil to be super fertile from the years of horse manure but the vegetation would actually benefit from an application of more nitrogen. Nitrogen is very expensive and applying it to compacted soil will not solve the problem. Legumes are planted to fix the nitrogen in the soil which allows for better grass growth.

To my surprise, years of grazing pastures with horses has produced a soil base that is not at all acidic. In fact, our soil testing does not recommend the application of any additional lime to the soil. (This certainly would not be the case if the organic wastes had been from a commercial hog or chicken operation).

The compaction, if ignored, would lead to significant erosion. We do not ignore erosion. We currently deal with it relatively passively but have begun a more dynamic approach in areas of the deepest slope. Over the years I have halted erosion in several developing washes by simply dropping tangles of hay baling twine along the route of the wash. The tangled twine creates baffles that slow the rushing water enough to allow it to deposit soil instead of eroding it. Eventually the wash becomes a delta/plain that covers the twine and disburses the water so that it moves slowly and harmlessly across the surface of a broad area instead of cutting a deep ditch.

In a few areas where the erosion was faster paced I put up small board "dams" across the washes. They were much more labor intensive and did not work as well as simply dropping armfuls of old twine in the washes.

We are beginning work on what is called a pasture pond--but that is much too grandiose a term for the depression in the ground that we are developing along one of the more significant drainages from the pasture.  The pasture pond is not intended to hold water year around. It will be roughly the size of a pick up truck and will only be two to three feet deep. The earth removed from the depression is to be piled on the lower end in a crescent shape to hold the water that might seep down hill in heavy rain. The small depression will be fenced off so the horses cannot walk in it and reduce the integrity of the containment. We will plant native wetland plants in and around the enclosure to both reduce erosion and to absorb excess nutrients.

The other major strategy to  to reduce erosion is a modified version of rotational grazing. I would prefer to be able to have a strict schedule of rotational grazing. However, we have six or seven stallions and I am very careful to limit the number of foals we produce for the off site breeding program to the number that we can use or place. The constant movement of the stallions would likely lead to conflict.

Our modified version of rotational grazing calls for the various bands to spend most of their time on a given pasture with round bales in those pastures. During the growing seasons for the various grasses (we have both warm and cool season grasses) the bands are given access to a pasture that is normally unoccupied for a few hours several times per week. This diversifies their diet, allows the pastures to maintain their viability, and gives the bands a change of scenery. Of course, I am very careful to gradually expose the bands to fast growing green vegetation of the spring and fall so as to prevent problems with laminitis.

I also work to get full use of the natural, non grass, plants that grow in abundance. That means allowing the horses access to browse, bark, and vines as they would have in the wild. That requires us to constantly be on the lookout for dangerous vegetation such as broken red maple limbs. Last year I purchased a large, expensive mower. Its use has reduce the weeds in the pasture to nearly nothing. That has allowed the grasses to grow. By next year the increase in edible forage will have paid for the mower.

Erosion is primarily combated by working to keep a cover of vegetation on the overwhelming majority of the pastures year round. That requires us to maintain small "sacrifice" areas that do not support vegetation in order to maintain the large areas that do.

But everything that we do to combat erosion will work better with less soil compaction.  I could use a subsoil plow to turn the soil over at a very deep level. However, that would require every pasture to be reestablished. We must conserve and repair our pasture while keeping them alive. That is a challenge. For that I look to the field of research that has created the concept of a permaculture.

Instead of seeking to remove manure we need to find ways to restore it back to the soil in a manner beneficial to the horses and the environment. I am looking for some help on this job. That is where the bugs and worms have their job at the horse lot. My sandier pastures are chocked full dung beetles. These amazing beetles roll up to 50% of the manure in a pasture into their underground tunnels where it decomposes into the soil instead of providing run off from the soil. They also aerate the soil and greatly reduce soil compaction. I will be looking for ways to increase the number of these beetles. The key right now is to limit the use of ivermectin wormers which kill the beetles that consume horse manure laced with the substance.

Last winter our experiments with wind row composting were a shocking success. Simply using a tractor with a blade to push the manure into long "wind rows" in the sacrifice areas allowed the manure to decompose into compost at lightening fast speed. Sacrifice areas are also rotated. In a few years an area that was a sacrifice area is allowed to become a lush pasture.

I am beginning to experiment with red wiggler worms to both hasten composting and to provide some degree of soil aeration.  Even more significantly, I have been researching the use of  black soldier fly  larvae to consume manure and create compost. These flies have a great deal of promise. They do not bother people or animals as adults, carry no diseases and do not even have mouths when in their adult stage. It is their larvae that do the heavy lifting.

Late next summer I hope to plant a significant number of acres of forage radishes. They may be the best tool to come around to fight soil compaction. They grow a root larger than a carrot and send a tap root deep int the soil. They lift nutrients from the compacted layers and bring them to the surface. When they die the root quickly rots leaving an air pocket and  aerated soil. Rainwater can enter these pockets instead of standing around as mud or rushing away as run off.

They will be expensive. The seed is not cheap. I think that they will radically improve our pastures and I am certain that they will provide a wonderful class room for my riders and our visitors to learn about sustainability.

These practices will fit in perfectly with our practice of natural horse care. Eventually they will reduce our operational expenses.

And they will improve the quality of the soil that has been farmed by my family for many generations.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Just A Quick Sketch Of What Goes On At The Horse Lot

People have a vague idea that our program is different from the traditional learning to ride in a circle in a sandy ring program but most do not understand how different. Many of the things that we do spawn other interests and projects for our riders. I do not claim credit for all of those examples of individual initiatives but they are all the result of teaching learning as a path to a path instead of as a path to a destination.

I am sure that I am going to miss several great examples, but just off of the top of my head, over the last few weeks our program or our program participants have taken been involved in the following: Atilla treated a cut on a horse with hydrotherapy for three weeks and has exercised the horse back into health, Lloyd has hand woven a bosal from the skins of deer, goat, cattle and pig that he cured, Pam has woven mohair cinches, several of my riders performed at an Americana Music program in Poquoson, we have worked together to begin to train a Corolla, Choctaw, Galiceno, Bacca, and Marsh Tacky; Jen became the first person to sit on Picasso, and rode Manny in the round pen, Abigail rode La Primera in the round pen for the horses first ride, Krista successfully rode her young Corolla, Katilina in the round pen for the first time, Ashley helped develop a program on sexual assault in one of her CNU classes and is working with me to develop training programs for law enforcement and social services on investigation of abuse cases, patients at the local VA hospital being treated for PTSD came out for their weekly sessions with the horses, young men from Mid Atlantic Teen Challenge spent half a day with us learning about communication, confidence and emotional control, our composting/vermiculture experiments began, Terry worked on expanding the trails Jacob cut in my woods, Kelly, Barb, and KC delivered their horses to a family of riders that moved to Georgia and returned with a Galiceno from Florida, several kids and adults have been working on deer hide tanning, Jackie has been working on the development of our Colonial Garden program, we had a great Halloween night ride in the woods, Rachel acquired Swimmer to become an offsite breeding satellite of the Corolla off site breeding program, we have begun working together for parade training, Thursday I will participate in a training session for Virginia Victim/Witness coordinators on using horses to help victims in sexual assault cases, in a few hours we will pack up and go to Southampton for a Nottoway tribal event, we have taken on a new rider or two, our mounted archery program has progressed to the point that for the last two sessions every kid hit the target at least once from a moving horse (Yesterday Abigail hit four out of six times), Barb is teaching the kids about acupressure points on horses, Lydia, KC and Jen put together a house for the beagles, winter grasses have been sowed on many of the pastures, we might be getting a step closer to 501 (c) 3 approval and, in general, things have been going right well.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Using Horses To Help Survivors Of Sexual Abuse

That is  the title of a training session that our Victim/Witness staff will be attending this week. They showed me the agenda last week. I am not familiar with the presenter. I look forward to getting to know her.

I am primarily a Juvenile prosecutor, but for over 15 years I have handled the prosecution of nearly every case involving a child victim, a victim with mental retardation, and nearly all sexual assault cases. Our program with the local Veterans Hospital for patients with PTSD has really driven home the point to me that even brief, hands on, exposure to natural horsemanship is a powerful healer.

More powerful than I understand. I see it happen, but I am still surprised every time when I see what a difference it makes.

I think I understand why natural horsemanship can do as much to improve the quality of the lives of survivors of sexual assault as it does. Working with the horse can return the ability to trust to one who has lost all reason to trust anyone. It can restore the confidence of one who has lost the ability to feel confident. Teaching a horse to cooperate and seeing the results of cooperation, affection, and trust can help restore the ability to have a loving, trusting relationship with others. Loving a horse teaches that love still exists in this world regardless of the agony that one has been put through. Being able to make a wild stallion change direction in the round pen by a simple movement of the foot, hands, or even the eye is a powerful thing to one who has come to feel powerless.

Looking back across the ages, as a species we made our greatest leaps and cultural advances only after people began to understand the power of building a relationship with a horse. We will make our greatest leaps in healing the suffering that results from sexual abuse when we harness the power that building a relationship with a horse creates.

Can That Pony Carry Someone My Size?

I should not make assumptions when people ask for my advice on equine issues. For years now when people have asked if a Corolla can carry an adult I have explained that of course they can. I tell them about Tradewind, the wild Corolla stallion shown above. He was captured because he was absolutely crippled with founder. It took a year or two of good natural trimming to make his feet completely comfortable for him. In 2011 he carried me over 200 hours on trails with the vast majority of those hours being spent trotting, gaiting, or cantering. He had no problem and still does not.

I weigh over 200 pounds. In a few hours I will saddle him up for a nice two hour ride that will be at a more leisurely pace. He loves to get out and be ridden in the woods.

So of course, I have always explained that, yes a Corolla can carry adult riders with no problem.

Only this morning did it occur to me to put a very important caveat in that assessment. A Corolla who lives under conditions of natural horse care can carry an adult with no problem.

I am not suggesting that a Corolla who is forced to spend time in a stable, allowed to become overweight, forced to wear shoes, and fed horse feed or grain could do so.

Our horses live outside 24/7, eat hay and forage, never enter a stable and never wear shoes, and as a result they are startlingly healthy. I am not suggesting that a Corolla who was forced to live a life of stables, shoes and sugar would be any healthier than a modern horse who is forced into that lifestyle.

A Galiceno For Our Program

Our newest addition--a five year old Galiceno from Galicenos of Suwannee in Florida. The Galicenos have a slightly different phenotype than my other strains of Colonial Spanish Horses, but this one has the same mind as do the Corollas. Here he is jut a few hours after getting off of the trailer from Florida and having no previous experience with a saddle .

One of the advantages of having the strength come back in my hands post surgery is that I can step back in and be directly in charge of handling and training a young horse. I will use him to help a newer rider learn how the mind of a horse works but except for that I will handle his training myself.

This is the second Galiceno that I have ever seen in person. The first was more than 45 years ago.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Encore:Another Old Post About Lido

Now we play old time and bluegrass music. I play 6 or 7 instruments, though I am not great on any of them. My brother Joseph plays four or five and he is great on all of them. I have about ten little adopted brothers and sisters, all much younger than me. Nearly all of us play--guitars, banjos, mandolins, dulcimers, dobros, auto harps, fiddles, bass fiddles, harmonicas, bodhrun, and guitars. My daughters play mandolins and my wife plays an auto harp.
Lido loved the same music I did, ancient mountain songs of beauty and meaning. I made him a three string banjo and I hoped we could invent a style that he could play considering the limited use that he had of his right arm. We never got successful with that but he found that he could keep time on a bodhrun, an ancient Irish drum that is generally played with a tipper. Lido could not maneuver the tipper, but he could play an older style using only his hand.
There really is only 24 hours in a day and as my girls got older and I spent more time in the horse lot, we performed less and less.
It has been a little over two months since he died and Lido had his last concert on Saturday night. My brother Joseph is not merely good, he is a prodigy and has garned a tremendous following among regional blue grass fans. The day of the funeral he decided that on Feb 28 he was going to put on a big show for Lido. He assembled a number of bands and put on a seven hour show at the Isle of Wight
Academy. It was a huge success. I had been sick all week thinking about going to the show and I really did not think that I could sit through the show and think about Lido that for that long of a time.
But something interesting happened and I hope that it will take hold. As I listened to Joseph singing songs that I taught him the words to when he was five years old, I thought about teaching those same songs to Lido when he was a bit older. When Joseph was talking about playing on the bus with Kenny Baker and Bill Monroe. I thought about Lido following Jeanette Carter, daughter of Sara and A.P.Carter of the Original Carter Family all around the Carter Fold. I remembered how he had to assemble his gear to hunt with me when he was too little to carry a gun. He took his essentials--lots of candy and a stack of Carter family recordings on cassette tape. I remembered him at the right hand of the great old time banjo player Leroy Troy everywhere he went at one festival and from that point on referring to Troy only as "my friend."

And...those memories felt good. Up to that point I had not had a memory that did anything but sear me to the core. Particularly since I think of Lido all the time, it certainly would be better if those thoughts could just stop hurting so much. After Saturday night I think that they might.

One last point, the audience could go in the back and have a fine dining experience put together primarily by my riders and their families. They worked at a grueling pace and did a great job. That meant a lot to Daddy and even more to me.

(Lido was about 10 in this picture and Stardust was a yearling)

This Is An Old Post That I am Putting Up So You Can Understand The Lido Fund

From Lido's Point of View

You do ride pretty, but not as good as me.
My riding is a little bouncy cause only part of my body works.
Keep on riding. You'll get better.
But not as good as me.

You run fast with two strong legs, but not as good as me.
I run far and fast on bare feet.
Keep on running. You'll get better.
But not as good as me.

You get on a wild horse that Steve holds tight.
I busted five, in one day, that had never been ridden.
You keep on being tough. You'll get better.
But not as good as me.

You learn to judge people, and horses for what they can become.
I learned to judge people for the good that they have done.
You go try to learn to not judge people at all. You'll get better.
But not as good as me.

You will ride through the woods all round the horse lot.
After a while you will get sore but I will not.
Now my body doesn't tire, my ankle doesn't hurt.
Here in Heaven everybody talks just like me,
Well, actually not quite as good as me.

My youngest brother Lido, who died yesterday at age 17, is shown above riding a mustang in a clinic that we put on. He was about 14 then and had been working Sand Creek for about a week. During the week he taught this barely started colt to come to a stop with his sole cue being to exhale deeply. I will never forget the look of relief on his young owner's face when she came to realize that her young mustang really could be trained. Lido was born with cerebral palsy. He still had it when he died in a hunting accident yesterday, but between the time he was born and when he died he kicked cerebral palsy's ass.

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Lido Fund

This old post is eve more urgent now --Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: The Lido Fund: Stop reading for a moment and go to the home page of the Horse of the Americas Registry where you can read about the Lido Fund. Now tha...

Testing Not Guessing

Not many people have ever seen a three string wooden banjo such as the one shown above. It might not look loud enough to hear over other instruments. If one wanted to know how much sound it could put out one would not look up an old formula based on measuring its size in order to give its potential for volume. One would not ask one who has never seen or heard the banjo to opine on its volume, even if that person had even playing a bass fiddle all of their lives. One would not simply guess as to the quality of its tone.

No, a rational person would either listen to, or even better, play, the banjo in order to hear for one's self.

The same is true for determining the weight carrying ability of a small Colonial Spanish horse like a Corolla. These little horses on many occasions have carried me over forty miles in a day without the slightest problem. Don't guess that they would be too small for adults. Don't seek the opinion of a horse person who has never even seen, much less ridden one of these horses. Don't apply some baseless formula as if quantification is reality.

Ride the horse. Or speak with those who have ridden them in mud, at night, on frozen ground, on parched ground, through water, in cut overs and through the woods if you want to learn what they can do.

I did not know what they could do. I was shocked. I learned. Ten years ago I was as ignorant as are those today who think a horse must be at least fifteen hands and well over 1000 pounds for an adult to ride him.

The very unfortunate reality is that I have probably ridden Corollas more miles than any human alive on this planet. I do not have to guess.

I know how much volume my little banjo can put out. I do not have to guess on that either.

Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views: What Factory Farming Costs Us

 Found this one from nearly a year ago-hit this link--its worth theeffortMill Swamp Indian Horse Views: What Factory Farming Costs Us: It produces unhealthy meat with no flavor. It teaches us to accept incredibly inhumane practices as long as they are kept out of our s...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Question Of Vocabulary

Words matter and confusing words matter even more. My terminology has been confusing regarding the wild horses of the Outer Banks. Now to try to explain:

These horses have always been called Bankers. There are now two herds in the wild of these horses. One located at Shackleford and one at Corolla. I have generally called the horses Corollas or Shacklefords so that they cannot be confused with the horses in confinement at Ocracoke. Those horses are mixtures of Bankers and modern breeds.

The picture above clarifies eloquently. This is Huskinaw when still quite young. Her mother, Persa is from Shackleford, and her father, Manteo is from Corolla.

All three are properly called Bankers.

Just please do not confuse them with Chincoteagues or those from Ocracoke. Both of those horses have Spanish lineage but a great deal of modern horse breeding in them.

Liberty Training?

A person who completely immerses himself in natural horsemanship takes huge steps towards freedom. A person who does so while embracing the world of the wild horse achieves freedom.

That freedom comes with a price.

Those enslaved by conformity resent nothing more than one who has become free. I once thought I was free because I resisted conventional rules. One who does so is merely a rebel and a rebel is not free. I now realize that I only became free when I was finally able to stop recognizing the legitimacy of conventional rules. Freedom only comes to those who never reach the point of deciding whether to comply, because they never reach the point of even considering the validity of conventional thinking.

Freedom is not the same as anarchy. In fact, freedom requires integrity and integrity only exists when one fiercely adheres to rules. But rules of my own choosing, rooted only in my own belief system and in my own priorities. Those priorities are all based on honesty, kindness, compassion and resilience. 

In order to fit seamlessly into society one must be comfortable living with lies, lying, and pretending that lies are true. In order to fit seamlessly into the world of the wild horse one must recognize that the horse cannot lie.

The horse knows, without having to be taught, that what matters is whether the grass tastes good, not whether it looks good. In terms of conformation, he knows that what matters is whether the horse can comfortably carry a rider fifty miles, not whether he looks like he can comfortably carry a rider fifty miles. The horse values a herd mate only in terms of how that herd mate treats him in complete disregard of  that herd mate's sales price or the number of ribbons he has won. The horse knows that when he is trying to outrun another horse the only thing that matters is how fast that horse can run, not whether that horse has a pedigree full of fast runners in his lineage. The horse cares for his herd and is without care for the greatest corrupter of people, dreams, religion and good intentions---money.

It is not just the horses that have freed me. I have learned freedom from an array of horse people who are also walking daily towards freedom. I have no doubt that if I told Ashley that I had a come across some new technology that could alter her voice  to make it appear perfect she would have no interest in it if it created a sound that was no longer authentic. Lydia would not consider using a "beauty cream" that made her appear to be anything but herself. Jen would never trim a hoof to make it look good at the expense of the horse's comfort.

I generally have little regard for Plato's philosophy. However, his story of the prisoners in the cave who think that the reflections and shadows that they see on the lake are real because their chains prevent them from ever being able to distinguish reality from appearances is one of the most important insights into the human quest for truth that has ever been presented.

I do not believe that it is possible to truly become immersed in the world of a wild horse and still fit into society. If your horsemanship is not giving you the freedom to see the absurdity of what this world values then you are not at one with your horse.

But you do not have to remain chained in the cave. Unlike Plato's prisoners you have access to reality. But you will not find that reality in a shopping mall, a fashion magazine or a home decorating catalog.

The truth can be found in the round pen.

The instrument in my hands above is called a bouzouki. I do not know how it is supposed to be played. I have never had a bouzouki lesson. I have never even seen one played in person. In fact, my bouzouki is the only one that I have ever seen.

But I once heard a recording of Ralph Stanley playing a mandolin. It sounded as if he was using a technique very much like his banjo style. I play my bouzouki in imitation of how Ralph Stanley sounded to me when he was playing a mandolin in a manner like a banjo.

I am sure that that is not how a bouzouki is supposed to be played. It breaks all the rules to do this.

But how does it sound? It sounds the way that I want it to.

And that is freedom.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

To Teach: An Educational Institution

Each day spent without learning something is a wasted day. One of the most compelling attractions of the Colonial Spanish horse is his role in our history. A key to efforts to preserve these horses is to present them in their historic context.

That is where the settler's home in our horse lot fits in. That is where the Colonial Spanish goats in our horse lot fit in. That is where the heirloom seeds that Jackie will be putting down in our garden fit in. That is where dramatic presentations about Betsy Dowdy will fit in. That is where presentations on stone age technology and Indian artifacts fit in. That is where our library at the Little House, which contains books not only on horse training but on American history, fits in. That is where riding at night fits in. That is where learning ancient songs and playing and singing them around a big fire last night fit in.

One of the other compelling attractions of the Colonial Spanish horse is that he can be the horse of our future. He is the ideal family horse for the hobby farmer, the homeschooling family and those interested in sustainability. That is where rotational grazing fits in. That is where experiments with worm production in compost will fit in. That is where resource utilization including allowing the horses to eat browse fits in. That is where soil conservation planning fits in. That is where free range chickens fit in. That is where constant education on plants and wildlife fit in.

So how do learning to tan hides fit into the preservation of Colonial Spanish horses? Look at these pictures of Kyle and Krista doing their first day of work tanning hides. Their mother helped them with defleshing and stretching the hides. It was her first effort at ever doing so. We were working these hides at the tack shed, about three hundred yards east of Archaic era Indian sites that are found in pasture Number 1.

A mother and two of her children in 2014 working deer hides together just up the hill from where mothers and children worked hides together nearly 2000 years ago.

That is teaching. That is learning. That is enriching lives.

And it is also preserving Corollas.