Monday, June 27, 2016

Krista Wins Carol Stone Award

The Horse of the Americas Registry (HOA) has awarded the prestigious Carol Stone Ambassador Award to Krysta Rutherford, for the second year in a row. The Award is presented each year to a registered HOA member who has accumulated the most points in the Promotion category for the Colonial Spanish breed of horse. The award is given in loving memory of Carol Stone a longtime friend and lover of the Colonial Spanish Horses and their owners. The HOA honors, preserves and promotes North America's First True Horse, the Colonial Spanish Horse of which there are less than 5,000. Rutherford adopted her HOA registered horse, Katalina, a Corolla Colonial Spanish Mustang, in February of 2013.

Krysta Rutherford, only 14 years old, is the daughter of Bob and Karen Rutherford of Smithfield, VA, has continued to work hard to secure this national award again. She is the youngest member and the only teenager to ever receive this award. Krysta was inspired by Steve Edwards of Gwaltney Frontier Farm to bring the attention of this endangered strain of horse to a larger audience. The Corolla wild horses teeter on the brink of extinction, with only about 100 left in the wild on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Krysta has worked hard to educate the public as to the plight of these horses Her efforts included, producing a video, professional pamphlet, training demonstrations, speeches, and news articles. She even went to Washington to lobby for the Corolla Wild Horse Protection Act. Rutherford’s efforts have also earned her the 2014 President’s Volunteer Service Gold Award, Girl Scouts Silver Award, Prudential Spirit of Community Award Local Honoree, and now will focus her Girl Scout Gold Award on a documentary about the various strains of Mustangs.

The Corollas are likely the rarest and oldest distinct genetic strain of horses that exist in America today. Mill Swamp Indian Horses, in Smithfield, heads up the effort to breed these horses domestically. Those efforts are supported by the Horse of the Americas Registry,, and The American Indian Horse Registry,

Krysta knows how impressive these little horses can be. She has ridden domestic Corollas hours on end and with the help of other participants in the Mill Swamp Indian Horses program gentled and trained her own formerly wild Corolla filly.

Mill Swamp Indian Horses is a program of Gwaltney Frontier Farm, Inc a local 501 (c) 5 corporation dedicated to preserving and protecting endangered strains of historic horses.

For more information on Gwaltney Frontier Farm programs or to learn how you can support its programs, check out the website at or send an email to

                                           Krista with then Senator Hagan of North Carolina

(This is a re-print of a recent Smithfield Times article. The Smithfield Times is a local newspaper that has provided spectacular coverage of our program and our efforts to preserve these horses. Few local papers in the nation have provided the kind of consistent, high quality journalism over that years that is typical of this newspaper.)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

And When I Am Old And Tired I Will Ride A Wild Colonial Spanish Horse

Objective criteria--not puffery, not  hyperbole--These are needed to show what these horses are capable of--not to convince the established horse world, but to show those with open minds what is possible.

"They are not super horses!"

That is what a person who had never ridden a Corolla or any of the nearly extinct southeastern strains Colonial Spanish horses told me while demanding that the horses be treated to the horrors of the unnatural lifestyle that most modern horses are forced to endure--stables, sugar and shoes.

The refrain constantly rings out from the commercial horse world --"And big, big, they must be big!--twenty percent maximum weight carrying capacity! No one over 200 pounds should ride horses!

"Smooth gaited?, they say.  What does that mean?", "Lot of endurance? Prove it!" "Good temperaments? Ha,they are wild horses"

It takes objective criteria to answer those who believe that they understand horses and who can prove the accuracy of their beliefs by showing that they walk in lock step with the edicts of the established horse world and the big agribusiness combines that fund that world.

The only thing thatleaves me with are facts and actual experience. The unfortunate reality is that I have likely ridden more miles on Corollas than anyone alive on this planet.

I find these horses to be smooth gaited. I base that on the fact that I am fifty six years old, overweight, and arthritic and have ridden Colonial Spanish horses of Corolla, Shackleford, or Choctaw lineage 871.42 miles in the past six months. And I am not broken down from the experience. In fact, I hope to go knock off another twenty miles of riding in the woods today.

Every single horse that I ride carries much more than 20% of its body weight.

And they do not break down. They do not go lame.

Yet I will still hear, "Well, maybe not right away, but in a few years they will!"

All know is that for the past decade they have not.

The only thing that I know about their temperaments is that in order to train these horses to saddle one does not have to be a bronc rider.

Look at the kids in the picture above. The summer this picture was taken those kids got seven horses under saddle without generating a single buck.

Do I think that these nearly extinct horses are "superhorses"?

Of course they are.

 I would have to be blind to believe otherwise. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Choctaw Horses on Screen: The Video Says It All

This is a powerful, simple, honest, hype free video about why the Choctaws are worth dedicating one's life to preserving. Much of what is said here is true for every strain that we work to preserve.

Everyone who participates in, or supports, our program should view this short film over and over. It says more in 19 minutes than I have been able to say in a decade.

On July 2 I will be in SC where the man who has been to the Marsh Tackys what Bryant Rickman has been for the Choctaw is auctioning off about 85 Marsh Tackys. Perhaps to be scattered to the winds--perhaps to fall into the hands of those who will keep the effort going.There are a dedicated group of breeders that work hard to preserve those horses. They will keep the effort alive.

Kids don't like to hear or think about it, but life has its limits. I am not going to live forever. Nothing would be worse for me than to come to believe that our program would die with me.

Parents, please look at this video with your kids and talk to them about what preservation means and why it matters.

Ralph Stanley died yesterday. He left behind him several generations of banjo players that carry on his unique style. He left behind a library of recordings of ancient songs that would be lost to the ages but for his work.

In fact, he left so much behind that he has not truly left us.

I want to leave enough satellite breeding programs so that the Corollas, Choctaws, Shacklefords, and Marsh Tacky's will be here for 500 more years. I want to leave knowing that all across the nation there are programs like ours that save people and horses. I want to leave knowing that others are following the very simple model of our program.

Especially for those of you who are new to the program--watch this video.

(The picture above is of Joey, one of our Choctaws and one of the greatest horses that I have ever met.)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Expanding the Corolla Offsite Breeding Program

In recent weeks we have had a great deal of interest from those wishing to participate in the off site breeding program. This effort to prevent the extinction of the Corolla Colonial Spanish mustang uses formerly wild Corolla horses who are selectively cross strain bred to other strains of Colonial Spanish horses in order to restore the genetic diversity that has drifted from the small wild herd over the years.

This is Valor, a Corolla mare. In short order I plan to breed her to Wanchese, our Shackleford stallion. She will then move on to the care of a new participant in the off site breeding program for the birth of the foal in 2017.

We have also had very strong interest from breeders as far away as Illinois and New York. The best hope that these horses have for survival is for this program to continue to expand until we have at least twenty breeding bands across the nation.

The horses are self promoting. When people see how gentle, loyal, athletic, smooth gaited, and healthy these historic horses are they understand why we put so much work into preserving them for future generations.

                     A picture of Wanchese, our Shackleford stallion who will be bred to Valor.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Opening The Box: Education At Mill Swamp Indian Horses

Riding is only a part of the experience at Mill Swamp Indian Horses. We ride, we train, we breed, we perform, we teach, we learn, we heal, and we grow. We are a non profit 501 (c) 5 organization dedicated to preventing the extinction of the Corolla Colonial Spanish mustang and the promotion and preservation of other rare strains of Colonial Spanish Horses.

We are all volunteers with no paid staff.

I am especially pleased with our role as an educational facility--everything from the field trips for youth groups, to training demonstrations, to living history portrayals, to our replica 1650's era farm site, to our early colonial livestock, to our music program--and perhaps most of all to our informal lectures and discussions. This week we had a program on the different strains of Colonial Spanish Horses and Lloyd gave a great presentation on permaculture and his recent trip to Polyface Farm.

In a few weeks Gene Gwaltney will coming out to present a sample of the historic artifacts that he has found over a life time of closely hunting the fields and woods near our horse lot. He has the largest collection of local Indian artifacts of which I am aware. Gene's presentations are great. He will be doing another demonstration in a few weeks. Keep your eyes open for the date and time.

You are all invited to come and join us.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Weeks Are Getting Very Full

Our program started small and now the schedule has grown into Monday night music,Tuesday night horse training, Wednesday night-Night Ride, Thursday night horse training, Friday programming all day including the Veterans program, Saturday Riding and lessons from 9-3:30, Sunday afternoon,two big rides--a hard ride and a slow ride at the same.

And this is just our regular activities and does not include any of the near constant special things that go on. And, we are a non-profit breed conservation 501(c)5 with no paid staff. Everything is done with volunteers as we work to conserve the nearly extinct Corolla Colonial Spanish mustang and other rare strains of these historic horses.

A lot can grow from something little.

Look at these two pictures. Of course the top one is of Ta Sunka Witco in the James River. But the other is of an awkward looking little adolescent horse----also Ta Sunka Witco.

Looking at where he started out it is hard to envision what he grew into.

The same thing is true of our program.