Wednesday, December 30, 2015

American Indian Horse Registry Member of the Year

And she sure earned it. She has driven to New England, Texas (several times)and Florida to help preserve the rare strains of Colonial Spanish horses and to make some little girls' horse dreams come true. She has very courageously leapt into Bacca preservation and is continuing to bring natural horsemanship to people who whose lives will be transformed by the experience.

She has been an important part of our program for years and now she is doing exactly what I hope to see scores of others do--throwing herself into breed conservation. She is working to develop a Bacca strain conservation program.

If you want to understand a bit about Kelly Crockett look at that picture above. El Rosio came to us as a 15 year old stallion who was kind and good hearted but untrained. Kelly had never taken a horse from scratch and trained him.

A fifteen year old stallion--and there he is, returning from his first ride in the woods.

And she trained that horse.

I am often asked if I really believe that we are going to be able to stave off the extinction of  these strains of historic horses.

The answer to that question is in this picture.

Congratulations, Kelly Crockett, AIHR Member of The Year.

Horse Of The Americas Winter News Letter--Check it Out Now  

That is the link above. In fact, treat yourself to an entertaining and informative hour or two and read the entire HOA web site. It is filled With great information and pictures.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Because Lido Did It

"It is simply too dangerous to have little children work with wild horses! What makes you think that you can teach that?"

Because my little brother Lido was the first person to get on every wild horse we trained in the years before I developed a riding program.And he was ten years old when he started doing that. And he had cerebral palsy. And he had the good use of only one arm. And his right leg dragged a bit when he walked. And he worked hard to read horses. And he learned to handle rough ones before he was twelve years old. And he learned to trim hooves. And he taught kids and adults with patience and constant encouragement.

And in about half an hour it will be seven years since he died at age 17 in a hunting accident. And he lives on in everything that we do in our program.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Most Hit Post That Has Ever Been On This Blog (2010 Post)

Sulphur Mustangs


How different my life would have been if I knew more about horse's when I went to my first BLM mustang auction. They were advertising rare and historic mustangs called Sulphurs that were eligible for adoption. When I saw the Sulphurs that were there I considered them too small, (13 hands maybe) and too old (7 years old) for me to possibly have any use for.

How wrong I was!

Sulphurs are also among the rarest and oldest strains of Spanish Colonial Horses left around. They share much history with the horses of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, though they come from the west. I understand that they are not gaited but have particularly smooth gaits. They are beautiful and they are nearly gone.

Those interested in preserving the Corollas can learn from what is happening with the Sulphurs. But for the work of a handful of owners of these horses adopted from the BLM, they would all be lost to history in a few short years. These owners and the network that they have developed are all that staves off the extinction of this strain. The strain will survive only as long as these owners can continue to work together.

These horse's have a special place in the history of California just as the Bankers do for those of us in the coastal southeast. But for this stallion's color, he has much in common with a Corolla's appearance. Note his rafter hips and high spine. That is what a Spanish mustang should look like. Those attributes, coupled with narrow chests, short backs, heavy bone, and round cannon bones are a big part of the package that produces a horse with unparalleled endurance.

Whether one lives on the Pacific coast or Atlantic City, one must recognize that these nearly extinct strains of Colonial Spanish horses are part of all of our history. Those who care about Corollas should support the work of the handful of people who are striving to preserve the Sulphurs. Corolla protection should be vitally important to Sulphur owners. We all have to support the efforts to preserve the Choctaw strains. We are all in this together.

The only thing worse for the future of these horses than having their proponents divided against each other is.....well, actually, nothing is worse.
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Sunday, December 27, 2015

I Was Young On This Mountain and Now I Am Old

And I am enjoying old much better than the young was. Today JK and her husband, Joe brought their little boy out to the horse lot.  I had not met him before--highly impressive--great stage presence, incredible charisma.

 Jk was just out of law school when she came to Franklin to be a public defender. She was in juvenile court representing the people that I prosecuted.No matter how sharp one is, or how prestigious the law school one attends, the reality is that when one graduates from law school one knows nothing about how to try a case. I taught her to be a first rate trial lawyer and she became one of the closest friends that I have ever had.

And the day Lido died she and Rebecca carried me to the horse lot to see Ghost Dance after things settled down.

This picture is her with Samson years ago. She is one of the few people to have ever ridden Red Feather and she completed our program's first long ride--46 miles, more than I had ever done at that time in one day.

She works and lives a couple of hours away but I think that that little boy will be making the trip down right often.

The Wild Horses Of Corolla Need You To Step Back

Keep Your Hands off The Wild Horses

It takes no skill to touch many of the wild horses of Corolla. Touching one of these horses no more demonstrates one's horsemanship than a fan catching a home run ball from a seat deep in the stadium demonstrates his ability to play center field for the Mets.

It is even worse if the person making the contact has solid horse skills and goes on to relax the horse into allowing a person to rub across his back or even feed him. The horse whisperer that achieves this tremendous feat can go home with pictures to prove his prowess, even with wild horses. But the horse stays there on the beach, less wary of humans and much more likely to allow a truly malevolent person to get close. Equally bad the horse will now allow the person who knows nothing about horses but that they like lumps of sugar to feed entire five pound bags of sugar to the horses.

Sugar Daddy tourist goes home with cute pictures. The horse stays on the beach, crippled with founder or maybe dead from colic.

Sugar Daddy had no idea. Mr. Horse Whisperer never thought it through that far.

The buzzards appreciate their efforts and enjoy the fruits of all their good intentions.

For Some This Is My Most Offensive Belief

No, your horse will not pretend. He will not act as if he feels secure in your presence when you fail to exercise leadership.

A horse is not human. A horse is not a dog. A horse is a prey animal whose most important objective in life  is to achieve a feeling of security. The herd nature of a horse makes it impossible for a horse to feel truly secure when he is outside the presence of a leader.

Too many people feel that not only are they not fit to be a leader, they do not deserve to be a leader. Their self-esteem is such that their interaction with the horse is guided by one principle-"don't upset the horse."

Such people often consider themselves to be particularly sensitive and humane. While these are laudable traits, they are of little use to the horse if one does not exercise leadership.

The horse is seeking security not autonomy.

Do you find yourself feeling tremendously rejected and hurt if your horse is difficult to catch? Do you find yourself constantly making frustrating tugs on the lead rope because you don't "want to pull him too hard"? Are you horrified at the thought of picking up a whip in the round pen? Are you consumed with the idea that you horse needs to approach you in the pasture before a ride? Do you constantly fret over whether or not you have pulled the girth too tight? Do you feel justified in giving up on a particular task because your horse "just did not want to do that today"? Are you unable to control your horse under saddle because of a nagging feeling that he resents you trying to tell him where to go? Do you feel that being  hugged, rubbed and brushed by you is not an adequate reward for your horse? Do you think that in order for the horse to approve of you you must provide him with the constant array of treats?

Take a moment to examine your life. Who convinced you that you simply were not worthy of leadership? What did they say or do to you at such a young age that made you so insecure in all of your relationships that you cannot really enjoy your horse because you spend every moment with that horse worrying about whether or not you are offending him? At what point in your life did you first conclude that he really did not deserve respect? What caused you to first fear that honestly expressing yourself would cost you the affection of those in your family?

Why do you consider yourself, at your very core, to be a failure?

And most of all, why do you feel that you do not deserve to be loved?

You don't have to stay that way. There are many kinds of healing that horses provide and this is one of the most important.

Your horse can teach you to stop hating yourself.  Read that sentence again.

 It's real.

It matters.

Your horse needs a leader. Being a leader is not the same thing as being a bully, even if every human relationship that you have had in your life caused you to make that equation. No, being a leader means that you can be relied on one in a crisis. Being a leader means that you work to ensure that no crisis occur. Being a leader means that if a crisis does occur you immediately work to put it back together the pieces and restore a sense of security to those around you.

The very unfortunate truth is that, no matter how much you may wish to, you cannot provide for your horse's emotional needs while continuing to loath yourself. I work very hard to train my horses using 51% control and 49% affection. I am not remotely embarrassed to hug, rub, and even kiss a horse that I'm working with.

Equally important, I am not remotely embarrassed to punch a horse in the neck as hard as I can if that horse tries to bite me. If you are too embarrassed to do both of these things you are letting your horse down, and you are letting yourself down.

Cleanliness Is Next To......

… Neglect?  Well, maybe.

We are just beginning to understand the importance of various microbes in the strengthening and development of our immune system. It is only in recent years that one has been able to purchase probiotics at mainstream grocery stores.

I have found that daily ingestion of sauerkraut and/or kimchi for at least 45 days in a row has drastically reduced the incidences of earaches and sinus infections that I have. Microbes found in these fermented foods fire up the immune system. Of course, it should be obvious to any observer of horses that horses instinctively  fight efforts to keep them artificially clean. It is disappointing to see so many people complain that after they get their horse shiny and pretty the horse simply goes and wallows in the dust.

Of course the horse does! Shampooing horses removes the beneficial microbes that cover their skin and blows a hole in their immune system wide enough for a bus to drive  through. The horse that rolls in the dust replenishes a portion of the microbes that have been forcibly removed from his wall of protection.

Similarly, after a long ride that produces a lot of salty sweat, a horse will also roll. The microbes that perish in the salt are replenished with each new injection of beneficial microbes.

Researchers are only beginning to understand the tremendous impact that maintenance of various beneficial microbes has on the immune system of mammals. I am not aware of any study that deals specifically with beneficial microbes that are picked up through drinking water. However, I believe that there is a strong possibility that we may one day find that horses need water that is in some degree biologically active  in order to reach optimum health.

The concept of beneficial microbes, "germs", is very difficult for most people to accept. Unfortunately, we find ourselves espousing the belief analogous to Gen. Sherman's statement that "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." We find ourselves believing that the only safe environment is a sanitized environment.

Of course horses, like all mammals, are susceptible to a wide range of water born  pathogens. I am not suggesting that horses benefit from your drinking water that is infested with pathogens but I strongly suspect that in our efforts to prevent that from occurring we are denying horses the opportunity to obtain needed microbes from their drinking water.

This is only a hunch-a hypothesis-and should not be placed on the same level as other principles of natural horse care which simply are beyond dispute. Such principles include the knowledge that horses were require movement, a wide range of forages, and a non-sugar and grain-based diet in order for their health to flourish.

But there is a chance, that 100 years from now people will look back and be shocked to learn that for the last 150 years in America most horses have been provided drinking water that had been "treated" to make it fit to drink.

( The picture above of a wild horse of Shackleford is on the cover of Bonnie Gruenberg's ground breaking work on the wild horses of the Atlantic. It is not meant to imply that Bonnie endorses the hypothesis set out above but is meant to imply that if you buy this book you will be glad that you did. I doubt that a better book will ever be written on the topic)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Breed Preservation Is Very Different From Breed Creation

The Most Insidious Threat

As we work to save the wild horses of Corolla both in the wild and domestically one guiding principle must prevail. We must work diligently to stave off the natural human drive to take the wildness out of wild things. We can domesticate these horses but we should never try to improve them.

We are not capable of doing so and the history of modern horse breeding bears that out. Modern horse breeding has been but the pursuit of the latest fad in conformation, over specialization, and worst of all, creation of a whole class of horses that fail to meet the ideal breeding standard.

One should cringe at hearing that horses should only be bred that will "improve the breed." Such arrogance is difficult for me to fathom. What is the peculiar hubris of man that alone among the species he seeks to fix whatever mistakes that he believes God made at creation? Indeed, where were you Job when I created the seas?

Perfectionism is the most insidious threat that rare breeds face. Efforts by breeders to struggle to improve, develop, and perfect the breed have never worked. Sure, we can produce race horses that run faster than the natural horse, but the downside is that that race horse runs very slow indeed on its broken legs which resulted from our efforts to breed the perfectly fast horse. It is a shame that we could not breed a body that could take the stress of being perfectly fast,but we are perfectly incapable of doing so.

We must never seek to breed the best of the Corollas to the best of the Corollas. We simply are incapable of seeing what is the best. Someone once asked me did I not agree that a horse as violent as Red Feather should not be kept out of our breeding pool. Unfortunately Red Feather has now been gelded. Before being gelded he produced several little ones, all of which that I know of are as gentle as kittens.

The wild strains of Colonial Spanish horse have survived for hundreds of years  in an environment and on forage that modern horses could not last a season on. That is his pedigree. That is, by itself, the reason that his bloodline is worth preserving. Instead of trying to breed the perfect horse we should only seek to breed the persevering horse.

I have ridden mustangs over forty miles in a day but I have never been able to find a saddle that fit a pedigree.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Amongst the Zillion Things That Young People Will Never Understand... how delighted I am to see Ethan and Ghost Dance working together. I have let this horse down over the years and never gave her the training that she deserved. Ethan is doing a great job of learning how to think like a horse and it is working wonderful for the two of them.

She has produced three foals over the years, among them Lydia's horse, Owl Prophet and Bear Coat, who now wears an English Saddle and jumps over tall poles.

Actually I am not as big of a fan of blood lines as many horse breeders are, but all things considered, my strong hunch is that over the next decade or so Ethan will end up producing me a  first rate grand child or two.

Merry Christmas to everyone--especially Ashley and Ethan.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

An Easy Order To Fill

Not much with numbers--ages change annually and weight changes daily
--yesterday always remains a long time ago--today is easy to remember--
Christmas Eve--my birthday and five days before Lido died, dies, will die--
same way each year

Day is getting longer now--
four times today I have ridden past where he died on December 29, 2008
--mud hole isn't deep there now--it was then--very warm just like today--
hit the brakes hard on the truck-jumped out to get a shot a a deer
-only one arm worked the other one was of little use from cerebral palsy-
gun went off as he pulled it from the truck--
he was seventeen

Was five years old when he came to the house along with his two sisters, Shelly and Stephanie and his brother John-
the last family that Momma and Daddy adopted--
I was in my thirties--
spent every moment that he could with me, riding, hunting, working horses--
and that was all it ever took to make him happy--
"we going to snack store? you got you check book?"

"What we goin' do today?"
"What we goin' do today?"

And A Happy New Year

Christmas is upon us and I'm looking forward to the new year more than I have in many years. Our program is growing by leaps and bounds. New horses, new people, new programs, and, most of all, a renewed sense of mission.

New horses--over the past year we have acquired three Choctaw mares that will be used in our riding program, in our Corolla off-site breeding program, in  our Choctaw preservation program, and perhaps even in a  endurance racing program. We will have several foals born in 2016. I hope that we will have a Grand Canyon foal, a Corolla foal, and Bacca/Brislawn foal. I am especially looking forward to the birth of a foal from my marsh tacky mare who is bread to Scoundrel Days our Grand Canyon stallion.

This summer I expect our living history reenactments to expand substantially to the point that they become weekly events. Our agricultural program will be expanding both with a larger colonial garden and perhaps with a small colonial style tobacco patch. We are launching a new program that allows families to spend a long weekend actively participating in our horse training and riding programs. We are keeping the cost very low in order to make it an affordable vacation experience for people all across the country. As spring comes upon us, we will be obtaining more colonial heritage chickens and this might even be the year for us to obtain a pair of weanling Colonial Spanish heritage steers who will eventually be trained to pull as oxen. We have the possibility of acquiring substantially more land for our program. If this comes into being we will have an even better setting for our breed conservation efforts.

We are about to launch a fund raising effort to fund the digging of a deep well and watering and irrigation system.  We are looking to raise about $13,000.00. We have raised nearly one thousand dollars without asking so I have no doubt that we will be able to reach that goal.

We will be slowly moving into endurance racing..our horses excel in this sport and the only judge is a stopwatch. Stopwatches do not share the prejudices of the established horse world. They are one of the few forms of the equine competition in which a Mustang gets a fair chance.

Ashley Edwards, of the Road to Repair, is expanding her programming to include even more than training for law enforcement and others who deal with severely traumatized people,. She has begun to develop a direct services program called The Other Side that gives victims of severe trauma an opportunity to enhance their healing with our horses. Kay Kerr's PTSD program that we conduct for the local veterans hospital continues to do to be one of the most important things that we do.

Our music program is moving into a new level with the kids learning to take a stronger role in the vocals and in 2016 I plan to have the kids on stage in a variety of venues. Kay Kerr will be heading down to South Carolina for another event for the Equus film Festival where she will sign copies of her great children's book on Croatoan. Pam continues to expand the computer sales program which brings in much needed funding for us. We are a 501 (c) 5 non profit breed conservation program.

I plan for our program to assist the Currituck County Department of tourism as it develops a promotional program that will include a reenactment of young Betsy Dowdy's all night ride to warn the North Carolina militia that Gov. Dunmore, colonial governor of Virginia, was amassing forces at Great Bridge in order to launch an invasion of Carolina. Her little-known ride was much longer and much more difficult than Paul Revere's short ride from Boston toward  Concord.

And… I plan to write a sequel to my first book, "And a Little Child Shall Lead Them" that will focus on the workings of our program and my experiences in building that program over the last decade.

This morning I turned 56 years old. When I turned 57 years old I intend to look back over the past year and be very pleased with what we have accomplished.

Cause tough old billy goats  never give up.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Lost Genetics Among The Bankers Of the Outer Banks of North Carolina

In the Corolla off-site breeding program we do not seek to introduce any new genetics to the Banker horse. Instead by carefully bringing back a few lines of closely related Colonial Spanish horses we hope to restore lost genetics to that string of horse. Tom Norush once told me that Dale Burruss told him that the flashier colored banker horses were rounded up and sent to the mainland because solid colored horses were preferred by the few hardy souls lived on the Outer Banks in the 19th and early 20th century. As a result pintos have been removed from the genetic pool with only three small exceptions of which I am aware. Two Corolla stallions with a bit of white above then the have been spotted during the past decade. I understand that the last gray Corolla disappeared in the early 1980s.

The horse shown below lives on an island close to Shackelford. Her parents were pure Shackelford horses. She represents a remnant of a color that existed among those horses during an earlier time.

I am not aware of any photographs of loudly colored Corollas or Shackelford's that are pure in origin. I will continue to use Shackelford and Corolla bloodlines for the overwhelming majority of the breeding stock in the off-site breeding program. In two months a filly that we produced last spring will be moving to Gates County North Carolina in order to become part of a new off-site breeding program. Her mother is 34% Choctaw and 100% colonial Spanish course. Her father is Croatoan, a pure Corolla.

Her mother is very light-colored with flashings of what I would call roan. She will be just she will be part of restoring some of the lost color to the bankers.

We also so have a beautiful black colt who is the grandson of Croatoan and is available for placement in the off-site reading program. If you would like to own such a colt and if you would like to be part of the effort to prevent the extinction of these historic horses  please contact us soon.

Monday, December 21, 2015

One Of the Most Read Posts of All Time--It's All True--Read the Comments Too

The Last Ride

I am not Aesop. This is not a fable. I am bone cold deadly serious in what I am about to write. There is no artistic license taken here. I will tell you what happened. You can decide what you think it means.

When Hunter Liebold was five years old he told me in the most serious of tones that he had decided to marry my daughter Amanda, who was about six years his senior. (His prediction was wrong on that point). I had known his father since we were both children. Hunter was raised three miles from the horse lot. His family had been around the area about as long as had mine so I was related to Hunter in many different ways through the families of both of my parents.

With all of that said, up until two years ago I did not really know him. I stopped hunting when he was about 10 years old so we never hunted together. However, we shared a mutual friend. Wayne Farmer, our Commonwealth Attorney, is a youth leader at the church in which Hunter grew up. Hunter idolized Wayne. He wanted to be a prosecutor just like Wayne, though I suspect that had Wayne been a house painter that would have been Hunter's dream job. For the past two summers Hunter was an intern in our office.

Ten days ago the phone rang and Wayne told me that he was at Hunter's home and that Hunter had unexpectedly died in his sleep several hours earlier. He was twenty years old.

As a high school athlete Hunter had received some debilitating injuries that required extensive surgery and treatment for his spine. One weekend lst year we were riding through the woods and we ran up with Hunter, who was taking a walk with his father through the cut over. I had not seen him in a while and he hustled over to catch up on what had been going on at the office. At the conclusion of our conversation he put his hand on Holland and made the off hand comment that he wishes that he could ride with us but that that would never be possible.

Visitation at the funeral home was packed. I was a pall bearer and I was crushed to be around so many people that were in so much pain. I had been to very few funerals since Lido died. I was not looking forward to the funeral the next day. I could only imagine that it would be much more painful than the visitation.

The next morning I set out for a ride. I rode Tradewind and Terry joined me on the ride. I am in the habit of timing rides and constantly refer to my watch. We set out on the ride with little said between us. Terry is my paralegal and she also knew Hunter. She was at the visitation and would be out for the funeral in the afternoon.

As we made the turn around the first corner of the field three does stood in front of us. One got on her hind legs to reach for a leaf. Terry was not raised in the woods. She does not understand how terrifying the sound of a human voice is to wild animals. As soon as she saw the deer she began asking me questions.

We were about forty yards from them and I expected them to bolt at the sound of her voice. Instead they allowed us to ride to within fifteen yards of them. Terry kept talking about how unusual it was to be so close to them. I looked to my watch and wondered how much longer the deer would put up with our intrusion. These were not city park deer. They were not suburban deer. They were wild deer that had been hunted all of their lives.

They turned and walked along ahead of us. When they stopped we did also. At one point they jumped into a thick hedge row. I turned to ride away. They immediately jumped back out and began to follow us. I turned and once again they took the lead.

They went along in front of us, sometimes in the edge of the cotton, sometimes in the path around the field, never more than 15 or 20 steps from me. They went around the corner by some rusted old farm equipment down the path to the swamp. When they reached the stream bed they turned and walked into a small piece of timber that had not been cut in over 100 years. I had never walked into it before. I turned Tradewind in behind them and we all proceeded up the dry swamp bed. Tradewind stumbled and made a great deal of noise as we crossed a particularly soft section of muck. I looked up expecting the deer to run as if they were on fire at the sound of such commotion. Instead they stood and waited for us to ride closer before they continued their slow, deliberate pace.

I knew that this was not normal behavior. The time had long since passed since I could attribute a natural cause for this behavior. I have never known deer to stand still for more than 10 seconds when approached by riders. My breathing had slowed to the degree that it was not noticeable. I do not recall ever feeling so peaceful. I looked at my watch. For 33 minutes the deer had joined us on this ride--33 minutes of never being further from me than a pitcher is from home plate--33 minutes of deer demonstrating perfectly calm behavior, licking, chewing, putting their heads down, lifting them up, over and over, looking directly into my eyes---33 minutes of peace.

They followed the stream bed up to the edge of the cut over. The paused and looked back before hopping into the thicket. I knew that they were going into a place that I could not go. Our ride together ended, in perfect peace.

Terry and I did not speak on the way back. I simply rode on knowing that I had experienced something that I would never experience again. When we got back I told Daddy what had happened. Like me, he has always been around horses and deer and he immediately realized that what had just happened--for 33 minutes-- was something that does not happen--at all.

Terry went over to her car. She asked me if I had picked up a bulletin from the visitation. She handed me the one that she had on her car seat. The outside cover was a print of two deer at the edge of a field with a piece of rusted farm equipment in the background.

Nothing else was said. Nothing of meaning could be said. I felt a feeling of peace that replaced all of the pain at the visitation. That peace remained through the funeral and falls back on me when I think of Hunter.

I am old enough to realize that I cannot even understand that which is natural, much less that which is most certainly not natural.

But I am very glad that Hunter was able to ride with me. For 33 minutes I went along with him for his last ride.


Anonymous said...
That was beautiful Steve. Thank you so much for sharing that experience so that we have another validation that Hunter has only passed on from our physical presence but is still with us in heart and spirit.
Sheri Crocker
Anonymous said...
This is Kim Liebold, Hunter's mom. When Steve told me his story several days after Hunter's service, I felt an overwhelming feeling of peace and joy to know that Hunter (with God's help) was finding a way to be with us and provide us comfort by saying goodbye to those important people in his earthly life and letting us know that he was at peace and not in pain by engaging in an activity he longed to do but couldn't in his injured body. Several days later I read Steve's blogg as you are now for the first time. I was writing thank-you notes at the time and realized Hunter was again communicating to us. For the thank-you notes, coming from the same stationary as his program, had three deer now and not two. The third deer was laying down to the far left in the grass by the old farm equipment. So the two deer were there before Steve's ride on the day before Hunter's service but the third deer appeared on the thank-you notes I used after his Last Ride on the day of Hunter's funeral. God has blessed us and we call these blessing "The Hunter Effect". We are looking for many more great things to come from Hunter in heaven as God's plan comes to light for us.
Marge said...
What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul.
Bonnie Gruenberg said...
Beautiful story. I have tears in my eyes.
Deb from Rancho Californio said...
Your description is 100% credible to me. I too have witnessed "unexplainable" events, and felt in those experiences the blessing hand of God/Creator/Light/Nature at work.

You are fortunate to have had the awareness to appreciate the experience while it was happening, and by listening to your heart, you allowed your brain to acknowledge and accept the reality of the experience. There is so much more to this world than what can be perceived by our conscious senses.

This piece brings to mind the words of Kahlil Gibran: "In the depths of your hopes and desires likes your silent knowledge of the beyond, and like seeds dreaming beneath the snow, your heart dreams of spring. Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity."

Mitakuye oyasin
Anonymous said...
Truly an amazing soul-thank you for sharing such a heartfelt story.
Anonymous said...

Sunday, December 20, 2015

This is a test. I hope that it will grow into something useful.

My big girls are doing a great job training horses. This is Jan riding Ta Sunka in the woods last spring. Another crop offirst rate trainers is coming along behind. Emily W. Is really doing a first rate job training Belle, our little gaited mule. Emily H. Is doing amazing work with Mozelle. Chris is working hard with Zee, but she is a tougher nut to crack. Hughis doing really solid work with Monique. And Lloyd has our little Grand Canyon stallion, Scoundrel Days, ready to go into the woods.

This is my first night of dictating blog posts. So far it is tedious and I realize that there is not a profound thought posted here.

But one must learn somewhere.

I hope I become efficient using this thing. I have an outline for new book in my head the details how our program works. It's very important to me that other operations across the country see how easy it is to do what we do. The main purpose of this book will be to show exactly that.

Eventually I will be able to talk and this thing just as I do anytime that I step up to a podium. I'm not there yet. But I think it does show great potential in helping  to make composition more efficient.

My first book was dictated. But it was dictated in a very unusual manner. I recorded my thoughts and then turn the tapes over to a court reporter. The court reporter sent the text back to me and I edited them. This technology will knock out the middleman for me.

Another factor that is coming into play in the general in insipid nature of this post is that it is nearing my bedtime and I rarely have a profound thought after 6:30 in the morning.

So perhaps we shall see how this works when I wake up in the morning.

If Not To Own at The Moment, Then Lessons Now For Christmas

Most certainly we have never had a president as wracked with depression as was Abraham Lincoln. From the death of his mother, to the death of his child, to the near death of his nation, he stumbled through life in a world of pain. As a young man the tall, gangling Lincoln had been quite an athlete. He was a lifelong horseman, and rode his horse ,Old Bob, through Washington, often unaccompanied, through out the War.

As miserable as most of his life had been, he was giddy with happiness from the date of Lee's surrender to his death. He discussed plans for future travel with his wife and looked forward to a quite retirement.

He assured his youngest son that life would be turning better soon. He promised to do one thing for the child as soon as he got back to Springfield that he knew would bring pure delight to the child.

"And I shall buy you a pony", he told the little boy.

A kid cannot ride out of gloom on an x-box. He cannot gallop into the sunshine on an iPod. He cannot trot through the woods on a cell phone.

But his life can find meaning in a saddle. More kids need to find that meaning.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Profound and Deeply Complex Importance of Simplicity in Horsemanship

I was a religion major at William and Mary. I studied Neibur, Moses Maimonides, Luther,Calvin, and my young mind pondered the mystery of it all--trying to understand, searching---probably was a good exercise for a young intellect.

But now I am much older and I do not understand and I am no longer searching. I realize that if ever could find the answer I would not understand it anyway.

My theology is simple, rooted in the Letter of James and the stories of Jesus--real Jesus, walking around on the ground Jesus, fish eating Jesus, laughing Jesus, loving Jesus, healing Jesus, caring Jesus and doing what was right regardless of the consequences Jesus.

I can't figure out how to live from reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but when the Carter Family sang "The Orphan Child" it seems very clear to me how I should live.

The quest for truth through simplicity applies to most aspects of one's life.

It certainly applies to horsemanship. Most of the disinformation out there has two things in common--it makes money for someone and it frustrates efforts to build a meaningful relationship with one's horse.

Here is everything that one needs to do to create that meaningful relationship:

1. Understand what your horse needs and why he needs it.
2. Give him those things
3. Ride your horse.

Repeat steps 1 and 2 daily and repeat step 3 every time one possibly can.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Breaking the Chains That Hold You and Your Horse Back

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.

How Much Healing Is There In a Horse?

More than I ever realized.

Ashley Edwards of Road to Repair is bringing that healing to more people every month. I am so very pleased with her work at the horse lot. She is doing great things both as part of her program to train law enforcement and other professionals on how to better communicate with victims of severe trauma and her program , The Other Side, which deals directly with survivors of sexual assault and other brutal trauma.

Ashley is changing lives and will change many, many more over the next fifty years.

Historic Horses: The Colonial Spanish Horse of The Southeast

Initially it was a matter of convenience. It simply was much easier to purchase horses in the Caribbean to bring to early colonial America than it was to ship them from Europe. Then it was a matter of preference. In every regard, and for every use that a settler in the Southeastern part of our nation in the earliest years of settlement would have for a horse, the little horses of Spain were vastly superior to the plodding stock of northern Europe. More endurance, smoother gaits, better hooves, more resilient, more self reliant--the perfect horse to carry one through miles of single rut paths or no path at all.

Some became wild. Others were bred by English and Spanish settlers. They produced the Bankers, Marsh Tackys, and Cracker horses. Indian tribes of the southeast produced great strains of Colonial Spanish horses like the Choctaw horse, Cherokee pony, and Seminole pony.

But with expanded colonization came roads and roads lead to a loss of popularity for the Colonial Spanish horses. They were superior to the northern European horse in every regard but one--they were not the best horses to haul wagons on the new roads of the new world.

Eventually they became the horse of poor people. Horses have always been accorded the same status as their owners. The little horse of Spain with his flashy gaits and flashy colors simply went out of style. The English did not invent racism but they pretty much perfected it. The fact that the little horse was the horse of the Spanish, freed slaves and Indians was all the proof of their inferiority that the planter class of the Southeast needed.

The irony is that these same horses became part of the root stock of the breeds that replaced them--every gaited breed developed in America and the Quarter Horse, the most common breed of horse today. There are many strains of Colonial Spanish horse still around but they are so rare that, all told, there are likely less than four thousand of these horses in the entire nation. A large proportion of those horses are not trained to saddle

The end result is that only a handful of horse people have ever seen one of these horses, much less had the privilege of riding one. Without having any idea of the historical root of their ignorance, most horse people write off the idea of 13 hand horse being able to carry an adult fifty miles in a day without the slightest difficulty as easily as they write off the idea that a Spanish mustang can be easier to train and a safer mount for children than most modern horses.

Ignorance, bigotry, and elitism nearly blotted out all of these horses in the 20th century. We can't change history but we can learn from it. There are a handful of breeders out there who work tirelessly to prevent the extinction of the remnant of Americas most historic horses.

We need more of these breeders.

You can be a great part of the horse worlds future by saving the greatest part of its past. Contact us if you want to become a preservation breeder.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Understanding Pressure and Release

The horse is programmed to seek security above all. The root of insecurity is unpredictability. The horse must know that he is safe in order to perform at top levels--only then can he relax and enjoy the time that he is spending with other horses or people.

Trust is the fundamental building block for building the relationship with horses that people need.. For the horse that trust can only occur if the horse can feel, with absolute certainty, that their actions will produce predictable reactions by the person.

In short, the horse needs for the human to be perfectly consistent in his actions and reactions. That means that if the human wants a given response it must make precisely the same request every time. And the human must react precisely the same if the horse does not comply each and every time.

For example, I teach my riders to go through the following steps to make a turn--look,lean, leg, lift, and then and only, pull the rein. If this is done with perfect consistency one will develop a horse that will turn simply by having the rider look with focus in the direction that he wants to go.

Look intensely in the direction to which the horse should turn, then lean in that direction, then use the leg to push the horses hips away from the direction to be turned, then lift the rein on the side to which the horse is to be turned, and if the horse still is not turning pull the rein until it does so and instantly release the pressure as soon as the horse begins to consider thinking about the possibility of turning.

When this procedure is followed with perfect consistency the horse learns two vital lessons--if I turn when he looks I will get no further pressure, and equally important, if I do not turn the pressure will escalate and will only be released when I turn.

Consistency means every time--every time--every time.

Ninety percent of the time will not teach the horse--even ninety five percent will not. Your horse deserves for you to be consistent in how he is handled--every time.

Anything less than that is dishonest. The horse cannot rely on your actions if you are not consistent.

Relationships built on dishonesty are not worth much whether human/human or human/horse.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dog Soldiers: The Importance of Security to the Horse

Took Persa, a Shackleford mare born wild, into the woods for a hard ride this morning. She has had limited training and nearly no riding for the past two years.

She behaved better than most people would have expected. Two dogs went along with us--as long as they ran out in front she relaxed and followed at good speed. However, when the dogs went in the woods she slowed down and balked.

The bottom line was that she lacked the confidence to take the lead on a run through the woods. The dogs out in front provided that confidence. Without them she felt lost.

There are two responses that this behavior might elicit from different trainers. One is to say that the horse must learn to ride up front without relying on dogs and the way to do that is to leave the dogs at home and put the miles on her until experience teaches her to rely on you rather than the dogs to give her confidence.

I prefer the other route. I will continue to ride her with the dogs and will be perfectly consistent in my cues and ride with intense focus. Eventually the confidence will come.

And it will come gradually and naturally.

Her problem is not "needs to follow dogs" per se. Her problem is a feeling of lack of security and steady positive, predictable experiences in the woods will give her that vital sense of security.

Its not about dogs--it is about feeling safe and secure.

Monday, December 14, 2015

And Now You Are invited To Come and Particpate In Our Program for a Great Weekend

Spend a long weekend with the nearly extinct Spanish mustangs at Mill Swamp Indian Horses. Bring the family out for a total immersion in Mill Swamp's unique program to preserve and promote such rare strains of historic Colonial Spanish horses as the Corollas, Shacklefords, Choctaws, Marsh Tackys, Grand Canyons, and Galicenos. Participants will take a hands on approach in caring for and training these horses--what an introduction to humane natural horse care and natural horsemanship!

Unlike other "trail ride" tourist excursions this is an opportunity to participate in the nuts and bolts of the various facets of our program. If you have always wanted your family to experience what it is like to develop a real relationship with a horse this could be the best chance that you will ever have.

We want as many families as possible to participate and for that reason the cost is only $580.00 for a family of four and only $400.00 for an individual. Meals and lodging are not included, but here is a link to historic Smithfield Virginia's attractions.

Programming runs from Friday morning at 9:00 am until Sunday afternoon at 4:00. This unique opportunity will run only from the first Friday in May until the end of October. We intend to book no more than one family and one individual per weekend so that everyone gets individual attention.

For further information contact us by email at See our web site at and check out our Mill Swamp Indian Horses group facebook page; and while you are at it take a look over our blog Mill Swamp Indian Horse Views

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Well Anchored: Strong Horses, Stronger Girls

When young people are given the opportunity to test themselves with horses, physically and emotionally they generally find that they are stronger than they think. They are nearly always stronger than our culture gives them credit for.

Most importantly, they learn that when they need to be strong they can be.

Horses and Human Health: Time For an Overhaul

In writing this blog it is my strong preference to focus on objective truths and to keep subjectivity to a minimum. But sometimes subjective posts and topics are of tremendous value for others out there who might share the same subjective condition.

That is why I am going to be adding some personal updates over the next year as to what is going on with my health and what I am doing about it.

Nothing dramatic here--no cancer--nothing directly terminal--but like so many Americans my health is the biggest threat to being able to accomplish the things that need to be done before the game is over.

Twenty two years of insufficient sleep, forty years of heavy duty stress, and thirty years of being over weight are beginning to wreak havoc on my body. Bottom line--I need more muscle, less fat, more peace and, somehow, more sleep if I am going to live the number of years that I figure I will need to get the horse lot and the program where I would like to have it. Our program has reached a break out point. Big things are happening. It would be very disappointing  to wake up dead one morning before I ever carried the ball across the finish line.

I began riding hard a few weeks ago. We are having an in house endurance race this March. Having a goal to train for makes training easier. Most importantly, with Elise and Jen at the Little House doing the several hours of care for the horses and other animals that I was doing every day, I will have time to dedicate to intense riding and exercise.

Of course, there will be tremendous changes in what I eat but the key lifestyle changes will be on playing more music, writing more, exercising steadily, but most importantly riding very much more and at a higher level. If by late spring I am cantering, trotting or gaiting seventy five miles each week my health will radically improve.

Just over the last few weeks of harder riding I have lost a few pounds but have dropped a notch or two in my belt. Throw in some cross training with weight lifting, heavy bag punching, and kettle bell sessions and things will start falling together.

As the need arises I will post updates on how all of this is working out--I hope that it ends up spreading some health information that could help a lot of people out there.

And now off to pummel a heavy bag.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Vickie Ives: The 2009 E Interview


Vickie Ives, Of Karma Farms in Marshal Texas, is the Vice President of the Horse of the America's Registry.  Though Texas is a long way from our horse lot many of our horses come from horses that were bred at Karma Farms. I met Vickie and Tom and Doug Norush when we conducted the HOA inspection of the wild horses of Shackleford and Corolla (see the HOA Web site for Vickie's report of that study). She has long been a hero of mine and much of what I know about the history of the Colonial Spanish horse comes from her. This e-interview was conducted in 2009


What drew you to mustangs?

My first was a BLM that we rescued from a horrible starvation case in Pittsburg, TX. I was the first trained large animal investigator on the scene and called in the Feds when I saw their BLM brand. 33 horses were dead on the ground. We moved another 100+ to Black Beauty Ranch in Brownsboro, TX to rehab. Titus Unlearning came to me from that group, given to me by the BLM for my work in helping to rescue that herd. “Ty” is still alive today at coming 29 years old and is still sound to ride! He was our first NATRC National Champion and was ridden by my oldest daughter Victoria when she was just starting her career with horses at junior high age.
Ty made me want “the real thing” so my second was Choctaw Sun Dance—he went on to become the most decorated CS Horse in his day. With starters like Ty and Dance, I was quickly hooked!

What do you look for in a Colonial Spanish Horse?

Correct CS conformation (I usually prefer the light or Southwestern type personally) with good Spanish type motion and plenty of extension, superior hooves, then temperament. I look for large intelligent eyes, a curious nature, desire to be with people—then color is fun, too! But I try to match the horse with the job and the rider. What I’d look for as an endurance prospect for a seasoned competitor sure might not be the same horse I’d pick for a first-time CS buyer who wanted a pony hunter and pleasure trail mount.

What about the criticism that most Spanish Colonial Horses are too small for adult rides? (How big is Rowdy Yates?)

Rowdy is 13’ 3” and weighs about 820 in distance riding condition. Most of the standard suggested height measurements and weights for horse size compared to rider size are just so much “hogwash” when Colonial Spanish Horses are the subject. Rowdy carried me nearly 1000 miles in Open division competitions in NATRC. With my weight plus my tack and other stuff, he usually carried 220 pounds or so--or over 25% of his own body weight.

Talk a little about NATRC. How many miles have you put into competitive trail riding?

I have something over 3,000 miles in NATRC competitions. Would have to check with NATRC to be perfectly accurate. Still competing and have a new stallion to start this year. What fun! NATRC is a great way to begin distance riding—and at the end of every ride, you get a scorecard for both rider and horse so you can see what the judges marked you down for at each judging point. NATRC is a great way to learn this sport and also just to learn good horsemanship and safe horse camping. Our horses excel at it. See for more info on competitive trail.

With so many strains of Colonial Spanish Horses recognized by the HOA, which ones are your favorite and why?

Wow—such a hard question as I have loved horses from several strains and have some new strains (new to me, anyway) now that I have only had for a short while. I am especially fond of the little Grand Canyons for our younger riders and my new Corollas will be great kid horses, too, I firmly believe. Anyone who saw Steve Edward’s young riders perform at the HOA meeting in VA saw dramatic proof of how wonderful the Banker Ponies are. But the Gilbert Jones horses have long been a favorite of mine, esp. the Choctaw and Huasteca strains carried by Choctaw Sun Dance. His offspring continue to make my living for me—none are more trainable, and their striking colors make them favorites for so many Mustangers.

Let me say that as much as I love all our strains, I believe that the best horses are created when the best are bred to the best, regardless of strain. I like to put Brislawn on Jones, for example—many of Rowdy’s best known sons and daughters are out of Choctaw Sun Dance mares. At Karma Farms we breed superior CS Horses, and if we add new bloodlines, we use the best horses of the type we needed to fill a particular niche. CS Horses are rare enough in my book. I respect and admire the breeders of pure strains, but I am not one of them. For example, when we bred a good Cap Yates to a good Northern Rancher as we did when we bred Buck’s Girl to Rowdy Yates, we got Meet Virginia, Tomlyn’s champion mare who is as nice a horse as I’ve ever seen.

Both for herd inspections and individual inspections what does the HOA look for in determining whether to accept a horse or a herd into the registry?

See conformation info on the HOA website. Yet the answer to this question should include not only conformation, but also history and DNA studies of herds. We prefer to use ALBC list of approved CS horse strains but have added some before ALBC and others later at ALBC’s suggestion.

Tell us about Choctaw Sundance. What traits made him special and how well did he stamp those traits on his offspring? Tell us the same about Rowdy Yates.

Dance was a sheer genius, and after all these years of working with this breed, I have met some very wise and wonderful horses, but none that were his equal in sheer understanding of what was needed in a given situation. He was my best friend and soul mate. His sons and daughters, and now grandsons and granddaughters, carry on his legacy of brains, ability and a rainbow of color. His extended trot was once clocked by a car on the road beside as we trotted beside it on the road shoulder—17 mph! He could jump anything he could put his head over. He could stand on his hind feet and walk along the bottom board on his pen with his front feet hooked over the top board—amazing! He knew about 30 different verbal commands and a number of hand and body cues when he was doing his trick routine. He is still the backbone of the Karma Farms breeding program.
Rowdy is quite another cat—our friendship took a while to develop as he was nervous of handling, a stout bucker and very unsure that life under saddle was worthwhile. But once we were bonded and on the trail, no horse I ever rode was tougher, smoother or more determined to give his all. Where Dance was lazy, Rowdy was a fireball. Mr. Yates has the best hooves I ever saw on a horse and did many of his rides barefooted with ease. His natural P&R’s needed little conditioning. He could run a hole in the wind. Anyone could ride Dance, but Rowdy never cared for anyone on his back except me and a very few others. Someone at our first trip to Breyerfest said that it was a shame that Rowdy didn’t become a Breyer model earlier in his life. I laughingly responded that it was a good thing that he hadn’t because when he was young, he’d have never put up with hundreds of kids wanting to pet him. Rowdy is a horse that is all business, very serious most of the time, but Dance had a sense of humor a mile wide, and pretty much loved everyone he ever met.

100 years from now do you think the Spanish Colonial Horse will still be around and if so do you expect the numbers to increase or are we destined to remain on the edge of extinction?

This is the question that has kept me from getting the back to you sooner, Steve. It is intuitive and reaches pretty deeply into whom I am and what my life has been about.

If in 100 years these horses AREN’T still here proving the heart and soul of the Colonial Spanish Horse as well as their historical forbearers, it will be our fault. That is, it will be the fault of the breeders. We have to do more than preserve these horses; we have to promote them, ride them, get them in front of the public and SHOW the world what a real horse looks like. If we let petty b. s.--politics, egos, prejudice, past grievances, past mistakes, even arguments over things as irrelevant as color—if we let any of this kind of stuff stand in the way of our learning to work together to promote all the strains, all the breeders, then maybe our ponies won’t be here.

I can’t believe that can happen even though I see the continued partitioning of the gene pool into more registry Stud Books when we should be working to build one correct and precise one for the entire breed. We have to wake up, shake hands and quit the bickering and in-fighting.

We need to go to work together to create meaningful competitions, exhibitions, award programs and whatever else it takes to catch the eye of new people. To sell more CS horses so that breeders dare produce more, we have to seriously expand our market. We have to do things that intrigue people with a breed that carries some of the oldest equine mtDNA lines in the world and yet still can thrill the heart of a modern rider. If we can do that job, we can sell our horses, and if we have a good market, there will be new breeders interested in preserving America’s First Horse.

Being sure that these horses are around for generations yet unborn is what I am about. Getting us all to work together to do that is what HOA is about. Can I get an “Amen”?

Of your long rides, which have been the most memorable and why?

Well, of course the ride across South Australia and Texas is the most famous, and my book Saltbush and Sagebrush sums it up pretty well. It was called the Jubilee Overlanders Ride in honor of the 150th birthday of South Australia and Texas. We rode about 1200 miles on two widely disconnected continents, from Port Augusta, South Australia to Birdsville, New South Wales, then flew to Texas and rode from San Antonio to Presidio. We rode horses from the Mungarani Station in Australia and my own horses in Texas. In those days I only had a few Colonial Spanish Horses and none old enough to use long distance except Dance. We couldn’t see how it would be a good idea to camp out on the roadside with a stallion and 10 or 12 other horses so Dance had to stay home. In Texas, I mostly rode Rhiannon Everwin, my modern Indian Horse mare; Titus Unlearning, my first Mustang, the hero of my book Little Big Horse; and SF Numero Dos, my little Spanish mule bred by Nanci Falley, AIHR President and owner of Rancho San Francisco.

You have developed a program to teach natural horsemanship to kids. Tell us about your program and whether you think such programs can be successfully copied across the country.

You bet they can—in fact, I have copied a lot of what Steve does with the really little ones since I’ve seen him work with them at Mill Swamp and read his book. So from Virginia to Texas, we are copying your programs already. *grin* Listen, I’ve been teaching “natural horsemanship” to kids for years with great success, although I usually refer to it as “unnatural horsemanship”. Our Tejas Indian Horse Club has a number of young riders who I’ve coached to train their own horses this year including Noah Halupa who won his girl Sombera in the HOA essay contest—and rode her to two national Championships at the 2009 AIHR/HOA National Show. Jason and Noah have proven that kids taught by folks who love and respect our horses can do wonders.

Our horses are superior animals for bonding with kids and taking remarkable care of them, too. Young riders just need careful, clear (and sometimes entertaining) instruction and lots of desire to do it-- plus the right horse. Not every CS Horse is a candidate for this kind of training. Not every kid has the patience and fortitude for CS horse training either. But there is nothing like the look on the face of a young rider sitting on a horse he or she has trained themselves. That makes it all worthwhile.

                                                        Vickie Ives and Rowdy Yates

Do Your Horses Have Vices?

Well..there was that one time that I caught Comet playing cards on Sunday.

Behaviors such as weaving and cribbing are perfectly natural results from forcing horses to live in perfectly unnatural environments. Horses who are never locked up in stables, allowed to live in herds and live off a a forage diet do not develop these emotional problems that are so common in horses who are not given the opportunity to live in the manner that they evolved to do.

Friday, December 11, 2015

For The Long Haul: Riding for Life

This picture is from about fifty years ago. That is me on my first pony, Tanka, when I was four or five years old--I started riding when I was two. Daddy trained Tanka to lay down beside the well so I could get on his back. This is the well behind the Little House

I am getting ready to head back out to the Little House this morning. I will be working with Persa, a mare born wild on Shackleford. My youngest rider training with me today will be about 7 years old.

In two weeks I turn 56. Right now I am riding 75-100 miles each week.

If working horses and playing music matter to you, you can have at least two things to do throughout your entire life.

Don't look at your calendar--look at your watch--its time for you to mount up