Monday, February 29, 2016

Become A Corolla Preservation Breeder

It takes a lot of work for both horse and rider to become part of a team that can cover significant ground. Little over year ago Jen and KC rode a string of horses on stretches of 10-15 miles until they reached their 80th mile for the day around 2:00 am. Most of the mileage was cantering. Until one has cantered 50 or 60 miles in a day one cannot understand the physical strain it puts on the body. Until one has ridden many hours in total darkness one cannot understand the importance of having a relationship of absolute trust in one's horse.

In this picture Jen is riding Tradewind, a formerly wild Corolla stallion who was the HOA National Pleasure Trail Horse of The Year for 2011. KC is on Manteo, another formerly wild Corolla stallion. Both of these stallions have produced beautiful offspring that are now at Boy's Home in Covington Virginia where they will be part of insuring the survival of this nearly extinct breed.

If you want to be part of the breeding program that is working to save this incredible strain of Colonial Spanish horse let us know. We will be breeding several mares this summer.

Riding For Your Life

The month is wrapping up--lot of bad weather that kept me out of the woods more than I want to-January and February are usually our worst two months for weather related program cancellations. However, in the last 60 days I have now ridden 365.94 miles. Time consuming but seems to be doing good things for my health. This weekend was the only really rough time that I have had with it--rest of the riding has just been no real problem-this weekend had heavy back spasms not related to riding and spent 12 of 36 hours in the saddle. Expected to be in pain this morning--but feeling pretty good.I want to keep this intense regimen up for a year and look at raw numbers on its affect on my health. I think that it is going to bear out that intense riding is as transformational as intense aerobics--with the added benefit of the emotional connection with a horse

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Though I have No Formal Education In Such Matters... seems to me that if a young lady wants to look her very, very best she should forget about makeup, clothes and hairstyle and simply mount up on a stunning Colonial Spanish horse.

And it turns out that Midnight is just the perfect shade for Chloe

And Chris Rode Zee in The Woods

Zee is a cremello Choctaw mare named for the wife of Jesse James. She came to us as a beautiful athlete with a foundered hoof.

Chris is a kid who is the size of a man. He came to us shy and quiet.

Zee was halter trained, gentle, but pushy with no idea where she fit in this world.

Chris was a kid who did not recognize his own talents and had no idea where he fit in this world.

Zee had a veneer of not caring but in truth she feared everything new.

Chris had a veneer of not caring but in truth he feared failure more than he feared anything else.

Zee did not think she could do it but Chris taught her to wear a saddle.

Chris did not think he could do it but he taught himself to play the wash tub bass and perform on stage.

And Chris took on the training of Zee as the first horse that he lead into the world of riding. He worked patiently with sound principles of groundwork and taught her confidence through despooking. He gave her confidence by teaching her that he could control the situation. He gave her confidence by showing her warmth and affection.

And she put him on the ground. And he got up. And she put him on the ground again, this time harder. And he got up. And Hugh built on the training that Chris gave her and took her for a short ride.

And yesterday Chris rode her deep in the woods,off the trail, into the swamp where there is no trail. And she trusted him. She went into the mud because he asked. And she went into the deep water because he asked. 

And now she is a new creature.

And so is Chris. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Horse Does Not Care About What You Have Done. He Only Cares About What You Do.

How do horses heal human suffering? The question has plagued me. Tim Hayes has a great book out, "Riding Home", that deals with the question. One must first of all understand how different the result is between working with other animals and working with horses. Canine therapy provides recreation and a sense of calm. Horses provide the opportunity to completely open up one's being to allow one to trust something. 

The horse seeks security. So do those who suffer. The horse needs to able to trust someone in order to feel secure. So do those who suffer. The horse needs to let out his emotions, both positive and negative. So do those who suffer. The horse speaks a language that few humans understand or care to learn. So do those who suffer. The horse responds only to honest, sincere communication.  So do those who suffer. 

The horse lives in a just world. The horse understands that it can control its environment with its behavior. (e.g. If I turn my head he will release the pressure on the rein. If I do not he will increase the pressure.) The horse has no regrets. He does not worry. Instead he responds to threats by seeking the security of moving away at top speed. He is a prey animal yet exerts a tremendous amount of influence on what happens to him. He feels no guilt. He has never spent a moment of shame in his life. He is not helpless. He is powerful.

And he could use that power to kill the human who interacts with him every bit as easily as a lion could. But he does not. 

Not because he fears the human, but because he trusts him. And when those who suffer learn to trust a horse and when a horse gives them their trust an entirely new world opens for them--a world with some sense of justice, predictability, characterized by being able to trust other people and to be trustworthy one self.

Is that the end of the healing? No, it is the beginning. But it is a beginning made possible by something as simple has working a horse in a round pen. It opens doors where those who suffer not only saw locked doors--thy simply saw walls.

We see it work with our riders. We see it work with patients at our local Veterans hospital. We see it work through the tremendous programs that Ashley Edwards runs in our horse lot. I saw it work when JK and Rebecca drove me out to see Ghost Dance the day Lido died. 

It is hard to understand without seeing it happen scores of times, but remember modern humans  descend primarily from those who were drawn to domesticate and use horses. Through out history horse cultures flourished. It is not a leap at all to say that we are likely genetically conditioned to connect with horses.

The horse cannot judge you, but he can help heal you. And best of all no horse is better at making that connection than the Colonial Spanish horse.

 He is looking for something too. He is looking for a herd, be that herd human or equine.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Precious Cargo

Bloody Knife, the last daughter that our wonderful old Corolla stallion, Croatoan, sired is shown here enroute to her new home in North Carolina. She is the first foal produced in the offsite breeding program that has an infusion of Choctaw genetics.

Along with the other handful of Corollas being raised domestically she is the best hope out there to stave off the extinction of these historic horses.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Reaping What One Sows

Are you satisfied with the values of this world? Then why are you teaching your children to conform to those values?

A child who learns and practices natural horsemanship will become more courageous, more generous, more  honest, and more compassionate.

Natural horsemanship makes good horses but it makes much better people. Take the step to make your child a better person.

In our program kids learn responsibility, sharing, empathy and emotional control. They learn to communicate with a creature whose instincts could not be more different than those of a human.

They learn what their limits are and they learn to push those limits. Today's computer game oriented kids often have never pushed themselves physically as far as they can go. They actually do not know how far they can run, how fast they can run, or how much they can lift. One cannot have real self esteem without having achieved more than a high score on a computer game.

They learn that not only is it alright to show affection, it is a prerequisite for developing a solid relationship with a horse. They learn that not only is it alright to to demonstrate leadership, it is a prerequisite for developing a solid relationship with a horse.

And the key point is that a program like ours can be created anywhere by anyone who cares about kids and horses and is willing to work hard to understand how to improve the lives of both.

What we do is not magic. The results that we get are.

Take the step and build a program like ours.  We are here to give free advice, support, and consulting on what you need to do.

Begin today.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Blood of Red Feather

The small horse above is my Red Feather, the son of the famous wild Corolla stallion also known as Red Feather. He was the greatest athlete with whom I have ever shared a round pen. The other Corolla is another son of the famous Red Feather. Stitch is a pure Corolla stallion who is on loan to the Corolla Wild Horse Fund where he will serve as an ambassador horse for the CWHF.

This colt is the son of Stitch and the grandson of Croatoan. He is available for placement now through the offsite breeding program. He will turn a year old this summer. He must be maintained as a stallion and always be available for breeding to mares that are in the offsite breeding program. He is as gentle as a kitten and training him to saddle in a few more years should be a very simple step.

We will soon pick up a daughter of the famous Red Feather for use in the breeding program. All of these closely related Corollas will be bred to Shacklefords and Choctaws to prevent genetic collapse and bring back lost genetics that have drifted from the Corollas over the years.

If you want to be part of preserving what might be America's oldest and rarest distinct genetic grouping of horses, Poncho, the little colt shown above could be the perfect beginning of your own satellite offsite breeding program. There is no catch here. We are a non profit. We are all volunteers with no paid staff. We aren't trying to franchise what we do.

We are simply seeking out people who care about history, horses and preservation of these nearly extinct horses to join us in developing more breeding programs.

Monday, February 15, 2016

You Need To Know What It Is That You Don't Know

When she was five, Sarah Lin and I were riding down the drive at a slow walk.

"Your horses' ancestors came from Spain and my ancestors came from China. They are very far apart, on different continents," she told me as we ambled along.

"That's right Sarah Lin. Now let's make a right turn with our right rein and our right leg," I responded.

"oh no. I can't do that. I only know my continents. I do not know my rights and lefts," she quickly explained

The Response So Far Has Been Underwhelming




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.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Why Are The Corollas and Shacklefords So Gentle?




Survival of the Chillest

Why are wild Corollas so gentle and easy to train? Without thinking, the instant answer that comes to mind is that they have been exposed to people all of their lives. That cannot be the answer. A modern domestic horse that has seen people every day of its life but has lived in an open pasture until it is 10 years old, without any training, is likely to be much more difficult to train than a wild ten year old Corolla stallion.

The Corollas are not just the easiest wild horses to train that I have encountered, they are easiest horses of any kind to train that I have encountered. On the other hand, western mustangs tend to have a much more reactive, nervous personalities. Those traits served them well. The horses with the greatest flight instinct were the ones that survived in a world filled with predators of various ilk.

The Spanish mustangs of the the Outer Banks of North Carolina have lived for several hundred years in a world devoid of predators. However, they evolved in an ecosystem that has little if any thing in it that we would consider normal horse forage. A horse's body is as strong as steel, but his digestive system is as fragile as crystal.

In the modern world high strung, high performance horses constantly battle digestive problems, from ulcers to colic. Colic remains the leading cause of death of adult horses. Could it be that the high strung, nervous members of the early Spanish mustang herds on the Outer Banks were more susceptible to digestive threats? If so, could that mean that the calm, relaxed Spanish horses that would have been cougar feed in the west would have been the survivors had they lived on the Outer Banks?

Croatoan was a mature, wild stallion when he was captured outside of Corolla. Yet he was as calm as a Basset Hound. If you find a horse more relaxed than Croatoan check that horse's vital signs right away. (It may already be too late to save him!)

As your doctor will tell you, stress kills. Perhaps the Corollas survived because they became genetically programmed to avoid over reacting to stress.

Knowing Shakespeare Is Of Little Value If One Does Not Know Townes Van Zandt




Living on The Road My Friend Was Going to Make You Free And Clean

A rare photo of Lefty enroute to Ohio on the precise day that they laid Poncho low.

Saddle Training

Minimal writing done lately on every level--even emails. Try to answer everything same day but last week I was behind 44 emails. A lot going on, net negative but....

I have been in the saddle although the weather has been difficult. Cancelled the entire weekend of riding because the ground is rock hard frozen and jagged in many places--bad stone bruises waiting to happen. In the last 44 days I have ridden over 250 miles.

That's right far if you are fifty six years old, over weight and are your county's deputy prosecutor. Everything must be done as time efficiently as possible--ride from 7-8 each morning to be able to get into the office on time, use intense Tabata protocol instead of time consuming cardio work--eat fast while standing up and/or moving, get up very early--drink 1/2 pot of cooled coffee (can drink it much faster if it is not hot)--remember microwave ovens are great for thawing frozen food until it is soft enough to be chewed and time spent folding and unfolding clothes is time not spent in the saddle--do not spend time brushing all of your teeth-just touch up the ones that you really use. Do not waste time on the phone saying "hello", "goodbye" or "I love you." Over the course of a lifetime one saves months by simply deleting this time wasting practice. Do not iron wrinkled shirts if the humidity is high. Instead put the shirt on, wait until you begin to sweat a bit and then inhale deeply and flex all muscles of the upper body--hold that pose until the wrinkles are eliminated.

Reduce amount of time spent washing hands by washing one hand every other day. Waste no time buying batteries for a three thousand dollar hearing aid that allows you to better hear words that are not worth ten cents.

These time saving tips can change you life. Not only will you have more time to ride, but you will have more time to fume while waiting for other people to be on time.