Monday, August 24, 2015

Making History Come Alive

As the sun sets each Saturday in September the curtain will rise on a unique equine experience at Mill Swamp Indian Horses on Moonlight road out side of Smithfield. The Gwaltney Frontier Farm is a replica of what a small farm might have looked like here in Tidewater in the 1650's. Located only a few miles from where the first members of the Gwaltney family owned land at that time, the site has become a favorite of participants in the annual Gwaltney National Homecoming.

At the forefront of the different programs administered by the Gwaltney Frontier Farm is the effort to preserve and promote the nearly extinct Corolla Spanish mustang and other strains of early Colonial horses and livestock. The program's conservation efforts have received national recognition from the American Indian Horse Registry and the Horse of the Americas Registry.

Beginning at 6:30 pm guests will be invited to observe the gentle training techniques that have been used for over a decade here to tame and train wild horses. The formerly wild Corolla horses have been removed from the wild by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, primarily as a result of a need for medical treatment. Once removed from the wild and potentially exposed to modern equine diseases for which the isolated wild herd at Corolla has no resistance they cannot be returned to the wild. Several of those horses have ended up here in Smithfield where they are trained and bred in an effort to stave off the extinction of these historic horses. The effort to breed these horses domestically through the development of the Corolla Off Site Breeding Program is spearheaded here at Mill Swamp Indian Horses.

As darkness falls guests are invited to come over to the replica farm site to meet see the kinds of livestock, and horses that were here in the seventeenth century. As they walk among the settler's home, his corn crib, smokehouse and his tobacco barn still under construction they will meet a historical re-enactor from the time period who will present life as it was here over 350 years ago.

" If your family traces its roots to anywhere in the southeast before 1700 these are the horses they rode. The little Colonial Spanish horses were the only horses in the region during the early Colonial period, " according to Steve Edwards, Executive Director of the Gwaltney Frontier Farm, Inc.

"Livestock was often purchased in the Caribbean by ship's captains making the trip to America. Even the early English settlers were surrounded by Spanish goats, pigs, chickens, and horses," Edwards said. "These animals are among the earliest to help build this nation and now they are nearly gone. I don't know of anywhere else in America that gives the opportunity to see and learn about these historic horses as they can be seen here."

Seating is limited for the four performances in September. There is no charge to attend. the Gwaltney Frontier Farm, Inc is a 501 (c) 5 non profit breed conservation program that is administered completely by volunteers.

For further information contact Steve Edwards at

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