Monday, May 30, 2016

Our Foundation Herd For The Corolla Off Site Breeding Program

This post is less to inform or entertain than it is simply to document the core members of the foundation herd for our Corolla off site breeding program. Other posts give information about how one can participate in the program. Simply search "off site breeding program" on this blog for details. Pictures of the horses listed below can often be found by searching their names in a similar fashion. Briefly put, the wild herd of Colonial Spanish mustangs of the Banker strain that is found north of Corolla on the Outer Banks of North Carolina faces genetic collapse and teeters on the brink of extinction. Horses are listed according to strain and sex. A few horses fit in more than one category. Those who share a common letter after their name are "closely related" (meaning that they share at least a known grand parent). Please note this list does not include horses that we have produced and placed with others over the years through the off site breeding program and are available for  use for breeding.

Corolla stallions

Manteo A
Edward Teach
Corn Stalk
Poncho B (1)
Stitch B

Corolla mares
Baton Rouge A
Polished Steel B (1)
Black Hawk B

Choctaw and high percentage Choctaw Mares

Monique C
Mozelle   C
La Primera D

Shackleford Stallion

Shackleford Mare

Marsh Tacky Mare
Hickory Wind ? (she may be sterile)

Grand Canyon Stallion
Scoundrel Days D

High percentage Grand Canyon Mares
Janie D
La Primera D

This is a large and varied foundation herd. To over simplify a bit, Corolla stallions and mares are bred to those listed in other strains for the first generation of breeding. The offspring of those pairings are to then be bred to other Corollas to whom they are not closely related.  A future generation of that line could then be bred to a strain listed above not in its lineage to bring further diversity to the program. That offspring will then be bred to a Corolla not closely related.

As can be imagined this is a long term project. If enough other breeders join in and maintain even very small conservation bands of these horses they will be preserved.

So far this summer I have bred Corn Stalk (see above) to Zee and Persa. Over the summer and fall I plan to breed four or five more mares.

Contact us now to reserve your 2017 foal and to become part of the effort to preserve these historic horses for future generations.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

There Is Nothing That My Big Girls Can't Do

I imagine that there are many contexts in which young ladies would be offended by being referred to simply as "big girls." The horse lot is not one of those places. Everyone has a role at the horse lot and every participant matters--but there would be no horse lot with out my big girls.

Most, but not all, of my big girls began riding with me when they were kids. They were the earliest ones to understand what we are doing here. From Katie who about eight years ago looked over our weeds and dusts and wild horses and said, "some day this place is going to be famous", to Rebecca who insisted that I continue to spend money and think bigger in terms of infrastructure development and increasing herd size, to Lydia who reminds everyone that the "people matter more than the horses" to Jen, a professional farrier who turns trimming job into works of art, to Abigail, who though only fourteen, takes on every task with the calm competence of a thirty year old, to Chloe,who provides helpful instruction to the newer riders without even a tinge of haughtiness or condescension, to two wonderful Ashleys whose quick insight in to what I can do and what I should do often have taken me off of the horns of a dilemma with crisp, clear instantaneous analysis.

All first rate horse trainers and first rate people, who coupled with a handful of older adults. make coming to the horse lot worth the trip.

And to Elise whose near constant refrain of, "oh, we can take care of that" keeps things looking positive. She understands the need that I have to unwind and she understands that playing music is about the only thing that really does that.

Yesterday I asked her to take on a huge task--to assist me in gathering and classifying my writings over the past decade as background research for the book that I am currently writing. This is a big job. She readily agreed.

Can't think of anyone that I would rather have doing it.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Preserving the Banker Horses Through The Off site Breeding Program

In early Colonial years Colonial Spanish horses were the only horses in the southeast. They eventually were bred into different strains--- all from the same root-Banker, Marsh Tacky, Seminole, Choctaw, Cherokee, and Florida Cracker to name a few of those strains--all even tempered, all with extraordinary endurance, small, compact and powerful with a strong need to bond--with other herd members or with people.

In the 1920's over 5,000 Banker horses ran wild on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Today only two herds remain in the wild--the Corollas and the Shacklefords.

The Corollas number less than 125.

Before Martin Luther King had a dream, before John Kennedy promised to put a man on the moon, before December 7 became a day that lived in infamy, before Lincoln took the podium at Gettysburg, before Jefferson wrote of the self evident equality of men, before Patrick Henry called for liberty or death and, yes, even before the English landed at Jamestown America's history resonated through the sound of the hooves of these little horses, pounding the beaches and pushing through the swamps and marshes.

And now they are nearly gone.

At Mill Swamp Indian Horses we are working hard to prevent their extinction. So few Corollas are left that they face genetic collapse because of so much in breeding. Our breeding program seeks to turn back the pages of time to reintroduce genetics that were once a part of the heritage of these horses but that have drifted away from them over the years. We have a foundation herd of Choctaw, Shackleford,Marsh Tacky, and Brislawn Spanish mustang strains to breed back into our Corollas. We have five Corolla mares and a Shackleford mare on site. We have five Corolla stallions and a Shackleford stallion on site, and two other Corolla stallions with whom we have access for breeding.

By selectively using cross strain breeding instead of cross-breeding we will maintain the integrity of the Corolla strain. ( All of the horses in our program are of the same Colonial Spanish breed but are of different strains within that breed. No modern breed horses are used in the off site breeding program.)

Gwaltney Frontier Farm, Inc., of which Mill Swamp Indian Horses is a program, is a 501 (c) 5 non profit breed conservation corporation. We have no paid staff. We are all volunteers. We seek to place the offspring produced in this program with others who will seek to raise a few Corollas and thus keep these historic horses with us for four hundred more years. In recent years we have been very successful in doing so.

This summer we are breeding more mares than we ever have. Contact us now at to reserve one of these 2017 foals.

As a side note, I doubt if anyone living today has ridden Corolla horses as many miles as have I. I find them to be easier to train, not just than any other wild horses I have trained, but easier than any horses of any breed. Tough, strong, super healthy--they thrive best with natural horse care--no sugary feed, no shoes, no stables-grass, hay, barefoot and outside 24/7. They are economical to raise, easy to train, comfortable to ride, and are warm and affectionate.

They are the perfect family horse for novices, small acreage farmers, and families with children.

Come and be part of the effort to preserve these horses for the future.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Livestock Conservancy: Know Who Your Friends Are

By saving the nation's agricultural past The Livestock Conservancy might very well save the future of American agriculture. Factory farming is cruel and degrading to both animals and people.

And it is risky.

America's factory poultry and pork production are one epidemic away from collapse because of the conditions in which the animals are raised and, equally important, because of the limited genetic variability of these animals which weakens their immune system.

The Livestock Conservancy has its finger in the dyke. Give them your hand.

Learn about the Conservancy, join, urge your friends to do the same thing.

Turning Pro: Lydia Barr Horse Training

Over ten years ago, Lydia Barr started riding with me.  She quickly learned to ride and she has learned to train horses as it should be done---slowly. She has mastered natural horsemanship and is a first rate trainer both of the horse who has never been handled and the horse that has not been ridden f in years. She handles the aggressive horse and the terrified horse with the same patient hand.

And now she is being paid for her work. Lydia has taken on several clients over the past few months and is doing first rate work with the horses. In this picture she is working a 12 year old stallion who had never been saddled.

This was nothing new for her. She has been working and riding stallions for years.

And she has a great supporter documenting her sessions. Wendell Whitehead took this, and many other, beautiful pictures of her work. Whether it is starting a horse or helping a problem horse, if your horse is in Tidewater Lydia Barr is a great resource to make your horse happier and easier to handle.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Horses Of The Western Frontier

It is easy to forget that there was a time in our history when the western frontier was near the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Here are decendents of the first horses to come to the New World in the 1500's.

From Top to Bottom:

Red Feather--Corolla
Hickory Wind--Marsh Tacky

Preserve The Corolla Colonial Spanish Mustang: Reserve Your 2017 Foal Now

The Banker strain of Colonial Spanish Horse is nearly extinct. These historic horses descend from those brought to the southeast by the earliest Spanish explorers in the 1500's. Life on the Outer Banks of North Carolina isolated them from the influence of other breeds. In the 18th century "Chickasaw Horses",(a term for Spanish horses who were bred by the Indians of the southeast) were introduced to the area along with a smaller version of the Banker,called the "Seminole Pony".

In the early 20th Century over five thousand wild Bankers ran free on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Today only two herds remain, the Corollas and the Shacklefords, totaling less than three hundred wild horses in all.

Mill Swamp Indian Horses  is a program of Gwaltney Frontier Farm, Inc, a 501 (c) 5 breed conservation nonprofit organization in Smithfield Virginia. We are all volunteers with no paid staff. See our website at and take a look at our Mill Swamp Indian Horses group face book page for more information on our program.

One of our most important goals is to promote the development of additional off site breeding facilities for these historic horses. The development program is simple. If one acquires a colt from our program one agrees that he is never to be gelded and will be made available for breeding at no cost to other mares in the offsite breeding program. If one obtains a filly from our program one agrees to seek, over the lifetime of the horse, to produce at least four foals from a stallion in the program and to seek to place any foals that they do not keep with another breeder who will agree to the same terms for that foal.

Under the appropriate circumstances we might even be able to donate adult horses to someone interested in setting up an offsite breeding program. All off spring produced by the program are to be registered with the Horse of The Americas Registry.

The Corollas have been reduced in number to the degree that they face genetic collapse and sterility. For that reason we are bringing genetics back into these horses that have been lost over the years. No modern breeds of horses are used in the program.  To build our breeding foundation we breed Corollas to other Bankers from the Island of Shackleford. We are also beginning to breed Choctaws to the Corollas. Eventually I want to bring in some Marsh Tacky lines. Stepping outside the box a bit, we are also bringing in a line of Grand Canyon Colonial Spanish Horses that descend from Barbed Wire who is shown in the top picture. He is phenotypically more similar to Bankers than any other  Colonial Spanish Horse strain that I have seen.

The off spring of these horses provide the foundation stock who are then bred to pure Corollas. Out crosses are kept to a minimum as the program develops.

Over the years we have placed horses in the breeding program in a handful of other sites. We now have sufficient diversity in our breeding foundation to work to aggressively expand the program. Last summer we produced a beautiful colt and a flashy filly. Both are now owned by pople who will use them to preserve the strain for years to come.

This spring and fall we are making the following crosses:
1. Three Corolla/Choctaw crosses with three different Corolla stallions
2. Two Grand Canyon/Corolla crosses.
3. Two Shackeleford/Corolla crosses.

So in 2017 we will likely have at least five foals produced for the program. Don't make this a last minute, hasty decision. Begin to consider no whether you would like to reserve one of these foals and begin to develop a small scale, affordable program to help prevent the extinction of the Corollas.

You will not get rich doing this. You likely will not break even. But you will be part of the effort to save a line of extraordinary horses.

Contact us at for more information.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Of Course He is Going To Live

Last fall Daddy began to experience pain that was new to him. It worsened and after months of testing he had spinal surgery.

He is recovering nicely and I expect him to be back at the horse lot soon.

Breeding To Our Stallions:Saving Yesterday's Horses For Tomorrow's Rider's

There is a very easy way to get a first rate horse and to increase awareness of several nearly extinct strains of historic Colonial Spanish Horses. Crossing our stallions with modern breed mares has produced several first rate horses. These crosses are not used in the Corolla offsite breeding program because we do not allow any modern horse blood in that conservation effort.

However, breeding to modern mares has produced a string of beautiful, athletic, gentle natured horses perfect for the trail and as family horses. Nearly all offspring from our stallions can be registered with the American Indian Horse Registry.

We do not emphasize breeding to outside mares but this can be a great way to go with the right mare. Here are pictures of a horses from these crosses.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Teaching the Horse To Cross Water

Recently I got an inquiry concerning how to teach a horse to go through water. There are many ways that this can be done. Different techniques work with different horses, but the same teaching principles apply to every horse.

Too often our quest for "how" causes us to forget the essential "why's." My first exposure to natural horsemanship confused me because I wanted a list of directions instead of being told to learn to see things as the horse sees them. My answer might frustrate the person who asked how to teach horses to cross water but it is the best answer that I can give.

1. Turn the noise down. If frustration causes you to view the experience as failure on the part of either you or your horse you will send out body language signals that teach the horse that water is a place of stress and tension. Let your body relax as you approach not only the water but the entire training session.Shoulders down, no eye contact---breath in synchronicity with the horse. When the horse fails to go in the water remain absolutely calm.

2. Apply pressure and release with 100% consistency. A horse that is lead to water, pulled towards it with a rope halter who then balks or rears, only to find that the pressure is released when he does so is quickly being taught that when one approaches water one is to balk and rear. Start out away from the water. Lead the horse with gentle pressure and release the pressure the millisecond the horse begins to consider thinking about the possibility of going forward. Escalate pressure until he does so. The amount of pressure used is not nearly as important as how quickly that pressure is released when compliance begins.
     Reward the horse with instant affection for his effort to comply. Give him five or six black oil sunflower seeds along with that affection. In short, teach the horse which behavior is sought. Sounds simple but this is where most people fail in training. When pressure is released for bad behavior one teaches bad behavior. When pressure is not released for desired behavior one teaches the horse that he is helpless to control the pressure put on him and compliance is irrelevant because regardless of his actions the pressure remains.

3.  Set aside an entire day to teach without any interruptions. I would lead the horse to the water and encourage him to follow me into it using only a rope halter and some sunflower seeds. Pressure and release. Approach the water as closely as possible. Encourage him to go 2 inches closer than he did on the last try--release and reward when he does.

4. We often use the horse's desire to be part of the herd to teach him to be comfortable in water by riding the balking horse in a line with ten or fifteen horses who enter the water without pause.

5.  We have one huge advantage over others with water issues. We have a section of trail about .3 miles that is submerged most of the year. Water depth ranges from less than an inch to about 30 inches.  When a horse begins to cross water, albeit reluctantly we ride through that trail with several other calm horses.

No gimmicks or tricks--simple 100% consistency with pressure and release and an understanding of herd dynamics, joined with absolute self control of emotions and a willingness to stand in a swamp for hours if that is what it takes to make your horse relax.

As I read over this I strongly suspect that others will think that this is too hard and that if one tried this technique or that technique the horse would hop right in. Maybe most horses would. That is not how we teach. I am not critical of others who have found success using other methods but if a technique does not lead me to better understand the mind of the horse than I have no use for it.

Here is the most difficult thing for most people to accept. When I teach a horse having the horse achieve the goal is only half of the mission. If the experience has not made me a better person--more kind, more gentle, more of a leader,  more patient and more in control of my emotions than I have little use for the technique.