Sunday, August 28, 2016

You Cannot Count The Miles Until You Feel Them

....("Snowing on Raton", Townes Van Zandt.

Yesterday was one of the most significant days that we have had at the horse lot. More on those events to come in a later post.

Ashley Edwards of Road To Repair gave a very different program than she has given before. In fact, it was not exactly a program. It was an explanation of a program. In better words than I could have ever put together she explained how learning to communicate with horses can open doors to healing that cannot be understood without experiencing it.

And she will open doors for countless people as she continues her work teaching horses and hope.

What Is There At The End Of the Day

To play music with those close to you and to ride with your family makes up for much of the pain of existence. Makes it seems worthwhile

My granddaughter and my grandson on their first rides on Lucy's mule Belle.

They will be playing music on stage with me in a couple of years.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Big Performance Friday Night For the Mill Swamp Indian Horse Musical Program

Thirty years ago Daddy (Nelson Edwards) and some of my brothers and sisters were the first show at the Smithfield Times Summer Concert. This Friday, the 30th anniversary year, he will return to the stage on Main street in Smithfield at 8:00 pm. He will be joined by participants in the Mill Swamp Indian horse music program. For the past several years he has helped teach riders ancient songs on ancient instruments, showing them how many of these songs were performed in the 20's and 30's. It will be best to not miss this show.

He will not be able to perform at the 60th anniversary show. He is already booked for that night.

 Here are a few of us together on the tack shed porch last week

On Monday nights several of our riders and their families get together in the Little House to learn old time, bluegrass, gospel, folk and Americana music. Only a handful have played the instrument that they learn to play for the group before. They also learn complicated parts of performing like how to relate to a microphone and maintaining solid stage presence even when mistakes are made. There are a lot of us--so many that it can be a challenge for everyone to be within microphone range.

The kids have worked hard to learn the ancient songs that Daddy and I have shown them. They have learned how these songs fit into the culture from which they arose. They are the songs of life--both its heights and depths. Today one could never imagine a genre of songs built around orphans, the death of young children, rage and inexplicable crimes, and at the same time songs of the assurance of a better life to come, the warmth of a close, loving family, and ballads intended to actually preserve and convey information about significant events, such as The Sinking of The Titanic. For those who performed these songs 50-100 years ago those themes were at the core of their existence

All of this fits tightly into understanding natural horsemanship. The core of natural horsemanship is to develop the ability to communicate with the horse in a manner that the horse understands. The core of successfully performing these songs is to communicate emotions to the audience in a manner that the audience understands--be that emotion fear, grief, love, loneliness, pride, or hopefulness.

Come on out Friday August 26 for the 8:00 pm show on main street in Smithfield--bring a lawn chair, relax and have a great time.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Galicenos of Suwannee Coming To Smithfield

On Saturday, August 27 at 3:00 pm, Dr. Richard M. Blaney and Heidi Reinhardt, of "Galicenos of Suwannee" in Live Oak, Florida will demonstrate and discuss one of the rarest horse breeds in the nation at Mill Swamp Indian Horses on Moonlight Road near Smithfield,VA. Galicenos are a small Colonial Spanish horse of Mexican origin. There are likely less than 200 of these horses in the world. Mill Swamp Indian Horses is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of nearly extinct strains of Colonial Spanish horse and has the largest and most diverse herd of such horses on the east coast.

A demonstration on the gentle, humane techniques used to train wild horses at Mill Swamp Indian Horses will follow the presentation and the days events will conclude with a living history program in the replica 1650's era settlers farm.

The afternoon's events are free and open to the public. To register contact

(Rick Blaney pictured above with two young Galicenos.)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Valley Forge?

Realism for preservationists is a must but pessimism is not. We will always be a very small minority of horse owners. We are not fighting a conventional war. We are guerillas--under the radar-one person at a time, one horse at a time.

Yesterday a little girl trotted for the first time without fear. A young lady demonstrated Doma India to a small group of horse people who were in awe of how deeply and quickly the jumpy horse relaxed. Two Corolla stallions bred two Choctaw mares. A couple in Carolina were able to look in their pasture and see their beautiful yearling filly who will carry on the effort to prevent the extinction of the Corollas. A retired gentleman and first time horse owner showed his gentle and sweet natured young Corolla stallion to small groups of visitors. A young teenager took his first ride in the woods and he was riding a formerly wild Corolla. A little four year old girl from New York gently petted a young Colonial Spanish stallion. A first time horse owner, who has been riding less than a year, calmly saddled and mounted the previously untrained Marsh Tacky stallion that he purchased about six weeks ago. The horse and rider moved gently and confidently around the round pen.

And as I type this a young family is asleep here in our house. They came from about four hours away yesterday to meet Valor, a Corolla mare bred to Wanchese, a Shackleford stallion. In a few weeks my big girls will be delivering Valor to their home where they will begin their own satellite off site breeding program.

As long as we keep the spigot dripping the water will not freeze and the pipes will not burst.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Taking A Vacation

Yesterday some of my big girls  told me to take a vacation. I once enjoyed a vacation-a trip to Boston--ate either sushi or lox multiple times every day--went to JFK library and walked where the Minute Men assembled at Concord--best of all, nothing bad happened at home while I was gone.

As best I can recall that is the only vacation that I have ever had that was a net plus.

They want me to take a vacation because they think that I need a rest. I appreciate the sentiment, (I really do, no sarcasm here), but I do not find any peace through rest. Working to the point of exhaustion and beyond is my friend--it makes sleep possible.

I do enjoy the occasional bit of sleep.

I find a bit of peace when riding deep in the woods to the point of complete exhaustion. I find significant peace when gentling scared horses. The only thing that brings complete peace at this point in my life is music--playing music the way I hear it in my head--when I play it that way I actually  feel it (like a physical sensation) strongly under my left ribs. That sensation  spreads first to the left side of my body, then the lower right and eventually up to the right side of my head.  When I feel that I am truly on vacation.

To a lessor extent I can find some peace sitting here and listening to music that drives truth home--The Carter Family, Gram Parsons, Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, Blaze Foley, Ralph Stanley,Levon Helm, The Band, Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris--they make a nice vacation for me.

My computer tells me that it is now 8:56 am. Been sitting here writing and listening to music since just before 3:00 am and I have enjoyed this vacation.

Now it is time to go feed up, sow some fertilizer, train a horse a bit and then put two little girls on formerly wild horses for their first ride in the woods.

September Introduction To Natural Horsemanship Classes

There is no charge to attend but space is limited. Preregistration is required.
To register by email contact

"Introduction to Natural Horsemanship" classes--for three consecutive weeks, Saturday, September 10, 17, 24, from 4-6 pm at Mill Swamp Indian Horses in Smithfield Virginia. Learn the techniques that we use to tame and train wild horses--open to everyone from novices to competition riders. Come out and see some of the rarest, historic horses strains in America--Corollas, Choctaws, Shacklefords, Grand Canyons, Marsh Tackys and Galicenos. (There is no riding in these classes). This is a rare opportunity to meet these horses and to understand natural horsemanship.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

On the Trail of Solid Training

Just a list of the horses that we have trained well enough to ridden in the woods over the last year. Horses in bold print had been ridden at least once before they came to us. The remainder on this list had, to my knowledge, never been ridden and many were not even halter trained when they came to us.

Zee--Choctaw mare
Mozelle--Choctaw mare
Monique--Choctaw mare
Little Hawk--Corolla gelding
Black Elk--Corolla mare
Nemo--Galiceno Gelding
Corn Stalk--Corolla stallion
Scoundrell Days--Grand Canyon stallion
Niachi--Chincoteague gelding
Trouble--HOA  foundation

And we have introduced many new riders to training horses.

People do not really grasp what it means to be told that we teach novices and children how to tame and train, both born in the wild and born domestically. Some people assume that it means that kids learn to watch me train their horses.

As I look over this list three very important things come to mind:
1. I have never ridden a single one of these horses.
2. It is highly likely that I have forgotten to list a horse or two from the past twelve months who can now be ridden in the woods on trails.
3. No horses or kids were injured during this training. (Injured meaning requiring medical attention).