Sunday, January 24, 2016

Your Chance To Become Part of What We Do

Mill Swamp Indian horses is a program of the Gwaltney Frontier Farm. Gwaltney Frontier Farm is a 501 (c) 5 breed conservation program. We are a nonprofit organization with no paid staff. Our programs are run entirely by volunteers. Contributions to our program are not tax deductible.

With that said, I want to take a moment to discuss the programs that we run. We are primarily a breed conservation program that focuses on  the prevention of the nearly extinct Corolla Spanish Mustang. These horses are one of only two wild herds of Spanish mustangs left on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. In our off-site breeding program we raise Corolla breeding stock and seek to place them with others who will continue the breeding of these horses.

Originally the Corolla's were the only horses that we sought to preserve. However, as a result of the success of our program, people interested in the preservation of other extremely rare strains of historic Colonial Spanish horses have asked us to take on horses of their particular strains in order to preserve and promote those horses. Such strains include the Choctaw's,  Grand Canyon's,  Shackleford's, and Galicenos.

For over a decade we have taught natural horsemanship and have taught children, teens, and adults to humanely train and ride formerly wild horses. Many of the participants in our program have adopted their own historic horses.

 We have never turned a family or person away for inability to pay program fees.

In the last decade our educational programs have expanded to include training programs and demonstrations in three states, countless on site training programs, the development of a significant library of educational material on natural horsemanship, natural hoof care, and natural horse care. We even present  living history programs depicting life in early colonial Virginia  performed in a replica of 1650's era colonial farm site where we also have other rare colonial livestock such as Spanish goats.

Our program is unique. Although we are not a therapeutic riding center, early on one we recognized the extraordinary healing power of horses. Many of the participants in our program have overcome significant challenges. We provide, at no cost, equine programming for patients residing at the local veterans hospital. The results are striking. Seeing the impact that this programming has on the patients is one of the most rewarding ways to spend time at our horse lot.

It is  not remotely an exaggeration to say that what we do changes lives. In fact, on many occasions I have had program participants bluntly tell me that our horses saved their lives.

Ashley Edwards, of the Road to Repair LLC, conducts two vitally important programs using our facility. Ashley is a survivor of horrific abuse. One of her programs is designed to use the horses to teach law enforcement, prosecutors, social workers, and all of those who are involved with communicating with people who have been through intense trauma, how to effectively use body language to facilitate that communication. The other aspect of her program bring survivors of trauma and abuse into direct contact with the horses in order to facilitate their healing.

Our horses are extraordinarily healthy and happy because they are able to live in herds, on as natural of the diet as possible, and to remain free of stables, sugary feeds, and shoes. We have over 17 acres of open pastures that are currently divided into 13 paddocks along with approximately 20 acres of  fenced in woods environment.

And here is where we need your help. The most significant improvement that we can make to the property is to develop a system of automatic waterers and an irrigation system for the drought times. This will require us to dig a deep (artisean) well.

During times of extremely dry weather we have to bring water in a large tank and distributed daily. It is not unusual that to take more than three man hours each day. It is quite labor-intensive. But we have always managed to get that done.

It is the irrigation that the system will provide that will be the most beneficial to our horses. With sufficient water and prudent use of organic fertilizers, subsoiling, and other permaculture practices we will be able to maintain pastures even during the driest months of the year. Doing so will reduce runoff, provide the horses with first rate forage, reduce our hay costs (our monthly hay bill is around $5,000.00 ) and enhance the beauty of our facility.

We anticipate this project costing between $13,000 and $15,000. We fund our program on monthly program fees. I pay for anything that we do not have sufficient fees to cover. In order to get this watering and irrigation system in place fundraising is necessary. Our Mill Swamp Indian Horses group Facebook page has 580 members at the moment. Our blog received over 6000 views last month. Those who regularly read the blog or a group Facebook page know that I have only touched on a fraction of the programs and activities that we provide for those who need it.

You can become part of what we do by mailing a check made payable to Gwaltney Frontier Farm, 16 Dashiell Drive, Smithfield VA 23430.

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