Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Conserving Banker Horses One Foal At A Time

Our primary goal is to prevent the extinction of the Banker horses, particularly those from Corolla. Immediately before the Great Depression there were over five thousand wild Banker horses on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Today only two small bands exists,the Corollas and the Shackelfords. Located at opposite ends of the Outer Banks, each of these bands consists of less than 120 horses, likely very much less.

There are four lines of maternal DNA at Shackleford and only one at Corolla. The Corolla band is starting to experience genetic collapse with fewer live foals being born to Corolla/Corolla breedings. The Shackelford band is one of the groupings that we use to bring in sufficient genetic diversity to prevent the extinction of these horses. This spring and summer we hope to have enough foals born here to increase the number of existing Corollas by from 2-5%.

This foal to be's father has such a gentle and kind nature that he took a saddle two days after coming to our program and took a rider on the third day. The foal should be extraordinary. This mare has a daughter from another Corolla stallion in the band of horses that we donated to Boy's Home in Covington Virginia.

We have a special responsibility to preserve and promote these horses. The very unfortunate reality is that it is  likely that I have ridden these horses more miles than anyone left on this planet. I know their incredible endurance. I know how closely they bond with people. I know how gentle and easy to train they are. I know that they can easily carry adults all day long.

And I know that we do not have the right to allow them to go exinct.

We are a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program. We have no paid staff. Everyone that works in our program is a volunteer. Our program is unique and multifaceted. 

See our web site and learn about the breadth of our program. 

Our horses consume over 10,000 pounds of hay each week. This is our first month long social media fundraising effort.

After you take a look at the website it would be great if you would share this post around to everyone that you know who cares about horses or people.

You can make a contribution directly on the web site.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Making Colonial Spanish Horse Preservation Work

The brunt of the work of breed conservation that we have done over the years is embodied in the Corolla offsite breeding program that we began. This effort, which seeks to place Corollas in the hands of families that will agree to breed a small number of foals and seek to place them in the hands of other breeders who will do the same, has been successful on a small scale.

Of course, we are a 501 (c) 5 non profit breed conservation program so strategic decisions may be made with a focus on effectiveness instead of profit. At the same time, funds are limited so strategies for preventing the extinction of the Corollas cannot be made without considering our long term viability as an organization.

In looking at the future of our  program I have several factors to consider. I have to look at our assets:

The diversity of our Colonial Spanish horse strains that we seek to preserve and promote. Although our primary emphasis is on the Corollas, we also work to preserve and promote Choctaws, Grand Canyons, Marsh Tacky's, and Galicenos, 

Our unique physical environment.  We demonstrate the effectiveness of natural horse care. We demonstrate proper use of the round pen. Our obstacle course that we use to build horse and rider confidence, the Amusement Park, is a tremendous asset. The colonial livestock that wander around the horse lot put our horses in their proper historical setting. All of this  sits alongside our replica 1650's era settler's farm.

Our capacity to provide entertaining educational programs. Our round pen demos are first rate and often have large segments of them presented by people who not only are too young to drive, but only recently became too old to order off of the children's menu. We have done living history programs and have had many speakers come in and present extraordinary programs for our riders. As we get more into use of permaculture techniques we have an interesting environmental story to tell. Lastly, our unique music program that teaches ancient songs being played on ancient, and often homemade, instruments allows us to do programs that not only are tremendous fun, but provide significant cultural education.

Our capacity to produce foals for Corolla preservation is unique in the nation. We have assembled a sufficient foundation herd of Corollas along with closely related strains for strain crossing which will provide genetic diversity to breed for many generations to come.  The result will be larger Corollas--not tall and without type--but taller than they are in the wild. Doing so will reduce a significant part of the resistance to these horses--the belief that they are too small to be ridden by adult.

 Go to our website and make a contribution today. We are a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program and as such contributions are not tax deductible. We are in our ninth  day of our month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Croatoan: My First Ride On A Corolla In The Woods

Croatoan had to be removed from the wild because he was consistently leaving the safer areas of Corova and heading out into the paved road area of Corolla where he stood a great chance of getting killed by an automobile. He was an older horse when he came to us, likely well over ten years old. When captured he was a bit thin and his prominent pin bones made him look even thinner.

Although he was an older stallion, he gentled quickly. He came to us when the weather was cold and by fall he was being ridden by intermediate riders. He was 13.2 (tall for a wild Corolla)and peaked out around 800 pounds.

He was gaited.

I had been around horses all of my life, but I do not believe that I had ever been on a gaited horse. I had watched Tennessee Walkers glide and I had watched Paso Finos smoothly tap dance their way across arenas. The gaitedness of the Corollas and Shacklefords is not as obvious to the eye as are the gaits of modern gaited horses. Instead of trotting with a motion that keeps two feet on the ground at all times, the Corollas will delay, often only by a fraction of a second, the lifting of a hind leg. This "single footing" means that one hoof is on the ground at all times. Being Colonial Spanish horses, they have tremendous reach with the back legs, often over striding the front.

After he was completely responsive to his bosal and strong and healthy I took him out for his first long ride in the woods. I planned to keep it very slow to give him a chance to learn to balance a rider while being distracted, and stimulated by all the sights and sounds around him.

Of course, he was an older horse, and while he was in good shape he had not been conditioned by the many miles of being ridden in the woods that the other horses along on the ride had enjoyed. In addition, he was carrying a significant load on his back as I eased into the saddle.

We set out on a sunny Saturday morning. I had about ten riders behind me, all but one riding horses that we had trained here ourselves. We walked for about the first mile and three quarters. Then I asked him to trot.

I was not prepared for what I felt. He moved out from under me with such power and grace that I seemed to be floating through the woods. The faster he moved, the smoother he became.  As I settled in and relaxed I realized that we were not cantering. Nor were we trotting. We were like a sail boat on still waters with a good breeze.

I had never felt like that in a saddle. I felt like I could do this for a hundred miles. More importantly, he seemed like he could do this for a hundred miles. Further and faster--never asking him to speed up after the initial request to trot--he chose the speed. And the speed he chose was quite fast.

And then the biggest shock occurred. I looked behind me to see all of the other horses cantering to keep up.

And they were failing to do so. We were pulling away from the younger, well trained and often ridden horses that followed us.

How could I hope for anything more in a horse? How could I possibly let these horses go extinct? Their future in the wild seems quite bleak--little more than a hundred left with only one line of matrimonial dna and signs of genetic collapse already appearing.

And we bred him to Baton Rouge a formerly wild Corolla mare. Mokete, their foal, was the first foal produced in what became our offsite breeding program.  He lived a long and happy life with us and passed on a few years ago. Today his lines still run through our program. His last daughter, Bloody Knife, is nearly two years old and loving her life in North Carolina.

I believe that today is his grandson, Ponchos, second birthday.

He lives on in Kay Kerr's award winning children's book, "Corolla's Sand Horse Beach: Croatoan's Memoirs."

And every day that I go out to the horse lot I am reminded of that feeling that first came to me as I sailed along on Croaotan--a sense of responsibility--I can't let these horses go extinct.

And neither can you.

Go to our website and make a contribution today. We are a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program and as such contributions are not tax deductible. We are in our eighth day of our month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Off Site Corolla Breeding Program: Keeping Hope Alive

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.

Last spring and fall we made the following crosses:
1. Two Corolla/Choctaw crosses with two different Corolla stallions
2. Two Grand Canyon/Corolla crosses.
3. One Shackeleford/Corolla cross.

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.

And you can be part of this effort. Go to our website and make a contribution today. We are a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program and as such contributions are not tax deductible. We are in our seventh day of our month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

Monday, March 20, 2017

What Difference Do These Horses Make?

This came from one of our newer program participants.

"I feel moved to give my testimony, and trust me, as an empath, when I feel, I feel deeply! I reached out to Steve after reading an article about him and Ashley that also moved me in a very emotional way. I intended to thank him for what he did for her, explain how it touched my heart and why, and ask if there were any volunteer opportunities. I ended up writing him a lengthy email painting a picture of my own abuse from my stepfather beginning at age 3, after my father died, and how it had led to my own struggle with Depression, Anxiety and Complex PTSD. I also told him of my very traumatic experience 20 years ago, working with horses as a barn manager, and trainer apprentice for a man I trusted, who later sexually assaulted me. Because of my great love of the horses and the fact that I then was only there alone on weekends, I stayed on, until I got thrown on labor day 1998, and broke my ankle. I wanted to let him know, short of pleading, how very much it would mean to me to have a new opportunity to be around these beautiful creatures and get a fresh start.

I have only been out 3 times, but there are no words to express the life-sustaining hope, strength, and inner peace it has given me. I have been inundated with more stressful situations than I can effectively handle since October, and it rendered me incapacitated and struggling to get out of bed.

I brought my 14 yr old daughter with me the first day, who also battles Anxiety. We watched as the veterans worked with the horses, and then the troubled boys. We listened as he taught. We helped gather logs to build the fence. The next time I brought my boyfriend, and along with a group of home-schooled children, we learned so much about the animals, their origins, the farm, what he's doing and why. It was the way he spoke with such passion that captivated our attention, and it made me sad to think of how much my daughter is being robbed of the things that really matter in public school. Before we left he talked about horse behavior and why they act the way they do. I almost cried when I heard him say that horses don't care about anything besides security, and are looking to be lead. I had a revelation about my own relationship with my daughter...  I had spent most of my life giving my power away, and have done so with her Dad, I had no confidence in myself or in leading her. She is just like the horses; fearful because she does not feel secure, sensing I am an incompetent leader, and it makes her angry. It has been an astonishing revelation! I knew then that I was going to forget everything I had been taught about horses and start over, and would apply what I learned to make me the strong leader my daughter needs me to be.

As I made the hour long drive on my 3rd trip, I thought about how coming here was the best therapy I'd ever had, and how it had given me new life; something I very much looked forward to every Friday. I never imagined I would be so lucky to go on my first trail ride! I felt like a giddy little child on a carousel, so intense and heartfelt my joy! It almost felt too wonderful for me. I haven't yet been able to express what I learned that day. Somehow, without words, I know it transformed me. It was truly one of the greatest gifts I'd ever been given.

Steve's generosity of spirit is huge, and I am delighted to have this opportunity to volunteer at this amazing place. Even more astounding is how deeply he touches everyone's lives who have the good fortune to be lead here. The benefits reaped cannot be measured in monetary value. My heart is full enough to burst."

 And you can be part of this effort. Go to our website and make a contribution today. We are a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program and as such contributions are not tax deductible. We are in our sixth day of our month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Education and Entertainment To Preserve Nearly Extinct Horses

In this special series of posts we are taking the time to explain our complex approach to conserving Colonial Spanish horse strains, primarily the Corollas from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but also the Choctaws, Marsh Tackys, Grand Canyons and Shacklefords. So far we have talked about the off site breeding program, our PTSD program with the Hampton Veterans Hospital and our programming with Rivermont School.

And that is just the beginning of this discussion. The conventional prescription to try to save rare historic horses is to have them compete against modern breeds in horse shows and other competitive events. Regardless of the success of the Colonial Spanish Horses in these endeavors, that strategy by itself has produced limited results.

We believe that the best way to preserve these horses is to teach people to ride them. They can't ride them if they have never seen them and we work hard to attract people who are new to the horse world out to see these horses. We build a picture frame around the horses to put them in their proper historical context. We not only have the horses of early colonial Virginia, we have the goats, pigs, and even some chickens from that era.

And....we replicated a 1650's era farm site, complete with home, smokehouse, heirloom seed garden, tobacco barn, and a corn crib.

We use this setting to do occasional living history programs to show what life was like here in the early years and to help visitors understand how these Spanish horses fit into early colonial English America.

We want our visitors to understand that if their ancestors lived in the Southeast during the early to mid-Colonial era these were the horses they rode. These were the horses that pulled in their fish nets. These were the horses that pulled their wagons and plows. These were the horses that were ridden hard through the night to get a doctor for a sick child. And when it was all over, these were the horses that brought their simple caskets to the little church cemeteries.

These horses have been here for nearly five hundred years. We do not have the right to cause their extinction.

That is what everything else here revolves around--preserving these horses while working to improve the lives of those around us..

And you can be part of this effort. Go to our website and make a contribution today. We are a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program and as such contributions are not tax deductible. We are in our fifth day of our month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Teaching Young People With Complicated Lives

By allowing horses to be perceived as toys for little rich white girls, the established horse world done a lot to hurt our culture, both horse and human.  No one enjoys a cold glass of water as much as does a very thirsty man. No one enjoys learning natural horsemanship as does one who lives a life without connection, without trust and without leadership.

That is true whether one is speaking of our PTSD program for patients at the local Veterans Hospital or teenagers whose lives have been filled with what are often debilitating complications.

We work very hard to deal with those complications in the simplest of ways--teaching young people to make meaningful connections with horses. Natural horsemanship produces good horses, but it makes even better people.

And the students learn to work. They help feed up the livestock  and have worked hard clearing land and building pole and post fencing. They have learned to work together and have learned that their bodies are capable of doing much harder work than they ever imagined possible.

We do not have many things that go on at our horse lot that pleases me more than our program for students at Rivermont School. I recently took a large group of students for their first lengthy trail ride in the woods. The heavy rain made footing much wetter than I expected. One trail that is nearly half a mile long was entirely submerged at depths that often reached the horse's stomachs. During that ride the students went from fear, to fun, and most of all to pride and self respect. They were proud of their horses and they felt a real pride in making the long, wet trek though the woods. I asked the teacher send me a note with her perspective on the program. I will share that with you below:

"My name is Hannah Yasemsky and I am a Special Education teacher at Rivermont School in Hampton. Rivermont serves the population of students with emotional disabilities and/or behavior problems. Recently, Rivermont has linked up with Mill Swamp Indian Horse Farm to learn about natural horsemanship and began the process of healing through connecting with horses.

 Mr. Steve Edwards has been willing to mentor and teach young troubled teens about the basics of natural horsemanship and how working with horses teaches them lessons that they can apply to their lives as well. Rivermont students visit the farm on a weekly basis and have worked on the farm building fence ports and also participated in trail rides.

Since students have met Mr. Steve and his Mustangs, they are highly motivated to demonstrate positive behaviors in the classroom so they can earn time out on the farm.  I have seen so much confidence begin to develop in their young lives as they experience small successes on the farm. Most of my students have never experienced open fields, trails and sharing space with a diverse range of farm animals from goats, pigs, dogs and horses. Students have experienced a taste of freedom on the farm that I believe is so good for their soul! It has been such a blessing to be a part of their journey to self-discovery!"

And you can be part of this effort. Go to our website and make a contribution today. We are a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program and as such contributions are not tax deductible. We are in our second day of our month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Steve, Your Horses Saved My Life

Kay Kerr has been involved in art and recreational therapy for most of her adult life. She has been riding with me for many years and is employed at the Hampton Veterans Hospital.A few years ago she began to develop a program that allowed patients in the PTSD program to come out and work with our horses.

The program could not be more simple. We bring out  three horses and participants spend about 10 minutes simply brushing the horses and detangling their manes. After they have relaxed and become accustomed to the horses I take one of the horses into the round pen and do a round pen demonstration that focuses simply on moving  the horse in different directions.

Eventually the horse works its way in towards me and stays closely attached to me as I proceed around the ring. I explain to the participants that the horses are  prey animals and as such are constantly seeking security. I explained that, unlike predators, the desire for security greatly outweighs any desire for autonomy or excitement. I explained how the horses communicate with each other using the body language of prey animals. After pointing out that humans instinctively use the body language of predators I illustrate how much that body language disturbs horses.

I then  casually mention that people who have been severely traumatized are often deeply disturbed when confronted with the body language of predators. I further explain that those who have been severely traumatized often relax and respond much better to the body language of prey animals.

I do not have to dwell on this point. In fact, I find it much easier to explain the importance of prey animal body language to participants with PTSD than it is to explain that same body language to people who have been active with horses all of their lives but have not been exposed to natural horsemanship.

Participants are then given the opportunity to come into the ring, move the horse around the round pen, often changing directions, and then inviting the horse to come in and latch on to them because of the leadership that they have shown.

It is that simple.

The results are often dramatic. Of course, the horse serves as a wonderful diagnostic tool. The horse will not respond to a person who does not demonstrate leadership. The horse will not respond to a person who is overly aggressive. The horse does not respond well to anyone filled with anxiety.

I am not a psychologist. However, it is obvious to me that for any form of counseling treatment to be effective it is necessary for the patient to be able to trust someone, or something, in that patient's life. Many of the participants have lost trust in every human they know. With just a short amount of time in the round pen many of the same patients begin to develop a degree of trust with the horse. Even if they have never touched a horse before in their life.

Many of the participants have lost the ability to view themselves as leaders. When they see an 800 pound horse, especially one that was once a wild horse, not only following their direction, but developing trust and exhibiting affection towards them their self image is altered.

I do not believe that these programs are a miraculous cure-all. However, I am absolutely convinced that for many of the participants the program opens the door for them to more effectively participate in the other treatments and counseling programs that they are receiving.

Participants generally get out of the van during their first trip to the horse lot looking quite unsure of themselves. Some of those same people, within an hour, open up and tell me of extremely personal and painful experiences they have had. Many of them make it quite clear that they are feeling hope and peace when working with our horses to a degree that they have never felt before.

And it is all this simple. We do not charge the participants any fee for this program. We do not charge the veterans hospital any fee for this program. This program could be replicated all across the country.

This program should be replicated all across the country.

Those who have never seen the program in action might have a hard time understanding what is going on. This is not recreation. The participants do not simply come out to have fun and relax. Working with the horses can be a life altering experience for anyone. Working with the horses is highly likely to be a life altering experience for anyone who has suffered profound trauma.

It is exciting and inspiring to simply sit back and watch this program happen. But if in addition to that one could also hear the things that the participants whisper to me about the impact that they are seeing in themselves from spending such a short time with the horses, one would understand why we enjoy providing this program so much.

In a later post I'll go into detail about a great program that Ashley Edwards, of Road To Repair, has developed called "The Other Side" that involves a more intensive program of healing with horses that focuses on participants who have survived sexual assault.

Our program began as an effort to save endangered horses. That is still a focus of everything we do, but over the years we have learned that our horses can save endangered people.

That is the most rewarding part of what we do.

 And you can be part of this effort. Go to our website and make a contribution today. We are a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program and as such contributions are not tax deductible.  We are in our second day of our month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

 Here is a link to a recent newspaper story about the PTSD program

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Saving the Corollas: How It All Began

The kids were rolling out of the van/station wagon as soon as it came to a halt. They were among the first kids in my riding program. It was over a decade ago. They were excited to a degree that one rarely reaches after about age eleven. They were yelling and racing to be the first one to tell me of the urgent matter at hand.

"Mister Edwards there are horses on an island that need our help. They need someone to adopt them. You have to go help them now."

I assumed that they were referring to Chincoteague.

"No they are in Carolina and they need our help now.!!!!"

The regional paper had run a story on the Corollas. I had not seen it but the kids had and the ride from Portsmouth had given them plenty of time to get whipped into a frenzy. They remembered the key words "wild horses", "Spanish mustangs", "injured" and "adoption."

They were yelling these words as they ran across the pasture to me. One of them had the article which was about the herd management program at Corolla.  I promised them that I would call.

The Corollas may very well be the oldest and rarest distinct genetic grouping of American horses. A small wild herd exists just north of Corolla, N.C and south of the Virginia line on the Outer Banks. They teeter on the brink of extinction, threatened by encroaching real estate developments, entrenched bureaucrats and powerful Washington lobbies that view these historic horses as trivial impediments to progress.

A handful of horses remain at Ocracoke, near the middle of the Outer Banks, who have traces of Banker lineage but have been infused with the blood of modern horses. (The beautiful horses of Chincoteague (Assateague) on the Virginia/Maryland border have also been infused with a range of modern horse breeds). Near the southern tip of the Outer Banks is the island of Shackleford where the only other herd of Spanish mustangs, undiluted with modern breeding, can be found.

These horses came to the southeast with the Spanish exploration in the 1500's. For about the next 200 years the Spanish horses were the only horses found in the southern colonies in any significant numbers. Small, sturdy, intelligent, easy to train and surefooted in water, sand, mud, and rock--they were the perfect frontier horse. In an era before the existence of roads these horses were superior to large northern European horses in every way. But with the roads came wagons. Larger horses than the Spanish steeds were better at pulling heavy wagons. As northern Europeans began to dominate the southeast they shunned the little horses that were associated with the Spanish and Indians, and to a lesser extent, former slaves of African and Caribbean origin.

Once the horses of kings, the Spanish Colonial horse fell out of style. He became the rusty old pickup truck of his time--a symbol of backwardness whose only purpose was to give way to progress. Though now the Coastal islands of the south are prime vacation sites, until relatively recently they carried more of an an undeserved  stigma of poverty, ignorance, and backwardness than did the hollows of Appalachia for those who deemed themselves the official arbiters of all things proper in the South.

Even the word, "Banker", which applied to all things of the Outer Banks, not just the horses, was term with a derisive tinge in the minds of those who used the word as if the mere use of the term left a foul taste in their mouth. Their close cousins to the south, the Marsh Tacky of South Carolina, suffered a similar fate. The term "Tacky", indeed, means plain, ordinary, and commonplace.

As the horse moved from being the partner of the working man to being the toy of rich man the Banker horse seemed destined for oblivion.

Perhaps they would be gone, but for their champions like Dale Burrus, Karen McCalpin and Carolyn Mason. It is much more convenient for those who seek to destroy these horses to be able to call them simply back yard ponies with no historical significance. They can only do that if people are allowed to ignore the spectacular report written by Vickie Ives of the inspection tour of the wild herds of Corolla and Shackleford which nailed shut any question about the lineage of these horses. (That report can be found on our website

Future posts will explain more about precisely how the off site breeding program works and how you can become a breeder. The yearlings shown above were born of our breed conservation program.

But as you read these future posts keep one thing in mind, not a single one of us in this effort stands to make a penny from it.

 I am too old to play a bit part in an infomercial. We are doing this because we believe in it.

And you can be part of this effort. Go to our website and make a contribution today. We are a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program and as such contributions are not tax deductible.  We are in our second day of our month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What We Do, Why It Matters, and How You Can Be Part Of It All

It happens all too often. I will get to the horse lot as the sun rises, feed up, train horses, lead rides, work on the pasture development, host a few programs,and give a tour or two to guests from out of town, only to wrap up the day by having a family who is interested in our program stop by to learn more about what we do.

Invariably, I forget to mention several aspects of our unique non-profit 501(c) 5 breed conservation program. We do much more than could be imagined, all with volunteers and no paid staff.

But what we do is expensive. Our monthly hay bill runs from $4,500.00 to over $6,000.00. And we are growing by leaps and bounds. Beth and I purchased nearly twenty acres adjacent to the horse lot for the use of the program. We are working hard to convert it into pasture with a riding trail around it. We recently obtained super rare colonial Ossabaw hogs and heritage breed Red Bourbon Turkeys. Our new weekly home school programing has increased the number of winter participants who are out on Friday's five fold. Our environmental educational programs that revolve around soil and water conservation are attracting heightened interest. We installed a deep well which gives up the capability not only of watering all of the horses, but also irrigating our pastures, which will make for happier horses, reduced hay bills and less run off and erosion.  

Beginning today we are launching our first Thirty Day, Day of Giving fundraising effort. And for each of the next twenty nine days I will post details about everything that we do in our horse lot--rare breed conservation and promotion of nearly extinct strains of Colonial Spanish horses such as Corollas, Shacklefords, Marsh Tackys, Choctaws, Grand Canyons, and Galicenos , riding programs, a special daylong session for home schoolers, natural horsemanship, application of permaculture principles for soil and water conservation, the PTSD program for patients at the local Veterans Hospital, programs offered for those who have survived sexual assault, performing living history, teaching natural horse care and promoting natural hoof care, raising and displaying heritage breed hogs, goats, chickens and turkeys,.....and a music program in which participants learn early American songs and play and perform on a host of ancient or folk instruments, including banjo, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, autoharp, harmonica, bouzouki, boudhran, cajon, fiddle, and wash tub bass.

And best of all----I am certain that I have forgotten to mention some of the things that we do.

Many of these programs are provided at no cost to participants and even for those with program fees we have never turned anyone away for inability to pay those fees.

Here is how you can help over the next month. First of all, go to our brand new web page at and make a contribution directly on that page.

Secondly, and equally important, please share each of the posts on this blog for the next twenty nine days with all of your friends and most especially, with groups that have an interest in any of the things that we do in our program. (That is quite a broad swath of interests as you can see when you let sink in the range of activities set out above.)

We work very hard on this program because we get to see the difference it makes in the lives of the people in our program. We work very hard on this program because we understand how important it is to prevent the extinction of these horses.

Contributions to 501 (c) 5 organizations are not tax deductible.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Paying of The Pipers

It is good that we have volunteers with the range of talents that we do. I am not a good fundraiser. I am a bad fundraiser. I am a very bad fundraiser.

We are a 501(c)5 non profit breed conservation program. We have never turned any participant away for lack of ability to pay program fees. We are all volunteers with no paid staff. Our hay bill runs from over four thousand to six thousand dollars a month.

So we are about to launch a significant fundraising effort. Keep your eyes open for how you can help out. I cannot tell you yet what wee are going to do in this effort, but I am authorized to tell you what we are not going to do.

I was asked to come up with some incentives for donors to encourage the largest donations possible. I worked diligently in coming up with a list of incentives/rewards. The committee rejected each of them.

These are incentives that will not be part of our fundraising drive:

1. For a gift of $500.00 your name will be placed on a plaque on a tree in our new land.
2. For a gift of $750.00 we will spell your name correctly.
3. For a gift of $200.00 we will feature a picture of you posing with your grandchildren in our
quarterly newsletter.
4. For a gift of $300.00 we will feature a picture of you posing with my grandchildren in our quarterly newsletter. (The difference in the attractiveness of my grand children over your grand children is worth at least the extra hundred dollars)
5. For a gift of $1,000.00 my wife and daughters will spend a week observing you as you go about your day to day living and will explain to you each and everything you are doing wrong.
6. For a gift of $2,500.00 they will only observe you for one day.

After carefully considering this incentive program the committee chose to go another route.

Keep your eyes open as this program is announced. Out program is unique. We preserve nearly extinct strains of Colonial Spanish horses and we turn lives around. And we teach. And we learn. And we train. And we play music. And we heal. And we work. And we grow. 

And in a few more days I am going to get serious and let you know how you can be a part of everything that we do.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Teach Your Children Well

Today my granddaughter, who is four years old joined in on a slow ride in the woods. She was perched on her white mule on a chilly, blustery afternoon. Before we went though any heavy water we had to go though a small mud hole, about a truck length and a half long. Under the muddy water was a hole that the mule stepped. The mule is an athlete so she remained on her feet as she navigated the mire--a scary time for a four year old.

But also a time to build self confidence and independence. She did great. So often I hear people tell such stories and then throw in "And she was not a bit afraid."

Lucy was more than "a bit afraid." She was scared to death, but recovered, rode on and had a great time. One is never to young to begin to learn to control one's emotions. One is never too young to learn to feel proud of one's self for taking on a challenge.

On a similar note, the picture above is of my young Ossabaw boar. He is learning to walk on a leash. He is overcoming his fear of the lead line and is starting to enjoy his visits out into the world.

If I had waited until he was grown the learning experience would have been much harder...on both of us.

"And When You Get Big... can be one of my best helpers, like the Big Girls and Chris."

That is the best offer that I can make to any child participating in our program. One of the most important things that our program has to offer to young people is the opportunity to work closely with the other young people who make things happen at the horse lot.

Each of these four embody what I consider to be four of the principle virtues that humans should seek--courage, generosity, honesty, and resilience. They give lectures on maturity and ethical behavior that last hours long, weekend after weekend, without ever opening their mouths.

They lecture with their actions.

When parents come out for the first time to see how we do things I always explain that one of the best things is that little kids get to spend time with my main riders and helpers. Parents never have the remotest understanding of how important that is.

After their child has been in the program a few months every single one of them understands how important that is

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

If you are interested in preserving nearly extinct strains of Colonial Spanish horses, or any other heritage livestock, the first thing you should do is recognize that your time and energy are limited.

Don't waste either.

And especially do not waste them on activities that are counter productive to those efforts. One of the most counterproductive and time wasting activities one can do is to engage in divisive bickering on the internet about squabbles concerning names, titles, and definitions. If you want to do so you can find people who will happily engage you in endless squabbles about how many angels can dance on the head of a needle.

Or you can take that time to accomplish something meaningful.

Build up, don't tear down.

Encourage, don't discourage.

Unify, don't divide.

Work, don't just talk.

Work closely with those who share your goals and completely ignore those who do not.

(This is a picture of Secotan----a Corolla mare with a job to do.)