Sunday, April 30, 2017

Unique Training Clinic-May 13, 9--?


Over the past decade we have hosted many training clinics but this one might be our most important session to date. Sunshine, the Corolla mare shown above, was removed from the wild because she was suffering from the enormous abscess shown in the bottom picture. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund saved her. After healing she was adopted and lives in Lexington, Va. She has been well handled by her owner and the young trainer who has opened the door to trust for this stunning mare.

On Saturday May 13, beginning at 9:00 Sunshine will enter the round pen at Mill Swamp Indian Horses, 9299 Moonlight Road, Smithfield Va 23430. After a bit of conventional round pen work Lydia Barr, who works as a professional trainer with horses who have complications, will come into the ring and work the mare through a series of training techniques based on a gentle and humane training regimen rooted in the practices of South American India tribes.

Oscar and Christobal Scarpati brought these techniques to America in a training program that they named Doma India. Though in no way affiliated with the Scarpati's, Lydia has begun to incorporate some of the relationship building fundamentals of their work into her training repertoire.

We will begin at 9:00 am and will continue until the horse gains as much from the day as is possible. That could mean that we will wrap up at noon, or we could still be going at 4:00.

Don't count on that--come on out at 9:00.

Bring a lawn chair. The charge for non-program participants is only $10.00. There is no charge for those who participate in either the Mill Samp riding progrm or the Friday home school program. Also included in the day's events will be a tour of the sight and an introduction to the many strains of nearly extinct Colonial Spanish horses, heritage breed livestock, and replicated 1650's era farm. Take a look at our Website for more information on our programs.

We are a 501 (c) 5 breed conservation program with no paid staff. We are all volunteers.

To register for this clinic send an email to

Share this invitation with anyone that you know who cares about horses.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Got To Run To Keep From Hiding

It is a cost of success. Our program is growing in leaps and bounds. My time and talents are not growing an iota. During the first six months of 2016 I rode 1002 miles. I have not kept track this year but since January 1 of 2017 I cannot imagine that I have ridden a total of 100 miles. I have been very busy clearing land, writing and working on new programs like our Home School program. A complex murder and a string of abuse cases have kept things hopping at the office.

( I try to stay away from too much negativity and heightened aggressiveness so fill in this missing paragraph with whatever phrases you would use to describe that special feeling that one gets just before biting a chunk out of a laptop.)

For much of the past two weeks I had hoped to complete the electric fencing around the new 20 acres that we have been  clearing as soon as I got in from the office. Day after day I have been too worn out to get that done. The delay in utilizing that land has cost us about $1,500.00 in hay.

Yesterday I rode in the rain for about 45 minutes. This morning I was to start getting back into heavy riding. I was quite excited to pull up to the tack shed, grab a saddle and go and lope on Ta Sunka Witco for about an hour.

Instead I found about an hour and a half of things that needed to be taken care of. I did not saddle up.

I am beginning to realize that I can get everything done that needs to be done and ride heavy and play music or I can sleep all night, but both cannot happen.

On the bright side, I have been very conscious of the fact that over the past year or two my memory seems to be significantly fading. So it is quite likely that by tomorrow I will have forgotten about it all.

Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone? A Life With Meaning

He seems like such a humble old guy. He works around the clock for little, if any, financial reward. His life is dedicated to saving something precious for people that he will never meet--for people yet to be born. Odds are you have never heard of him.

Even better odds that you have never seen the horses that he preserves.

But Bryant Rickman matters. Look at this incredible little film about saving the Choctaws--  

Feel the past when  you look at the film. Feel the present when you look at the film and feel what the future will be if we simply let these horses disappear.

Take a look at the picture above. That is Lydia on Manny, a pure Choctaw and the fruit of the work of Bryant Rickman and a handful of others who keep the candle from being blown out.

On May 6 Lydia and Manny will be down at Biltmore in North Carolina for Manny's second official endurance race. His first race was up in New Jersey. it was the first endurance race that we had ever seen.

We carried five horses to the event, three Choctaws, a Shackleford, and a very high percentage Choctaw/BLM cross.

We won four of the top ten spots in the thirty mile race--in the first race that we had ever seen. Other racers went from sniffing at our unshorn ponies and our western saddles and boots, and our "pit crew" composed of only one person for all five horses to asking, at the end of the race, "What are these little ponies, they look as if they are related to one another?" And my favorite question, "Where does one acquire one of these ponies?"

I rode, Joey, also a Choctaw with a touch of Cherokee lineage. As I recall the weight of our tack and his rider was 256 pounds. Needless to say that was much more than any other horse there carried.

Joey came in ninth. (I forget how many contestants there were but there were between 35 and 55, I think.)

Super athletes, beautiful, rich history, incredibly smooth to ride--but those are not my favorite things about the Choctaws. I have reached an age where I am no longer impressed with a horse's speed. Long ago I realized that it is easier to get where you are going first by simply starting before everyone else does instead of trying to break the sound barrier.

What draws me to the Choctaws the most is a bit of unhorseness in their temperament. They need to be with people. They want contact. They want to follow you around.

In some ways they act more like milk goats than like horses. Horses generally are asking scores of questions every time a person approaches. My Choctaws only seem to have one question--"So, where are we going today?"

Of course, the Banker horses, such as those of Corolla and Shackleford, have strong historic and genetic ties to the Choctaws.

And I would not be privileged to know all of this first hand were it not for Bryant Rickman's  decision to find meaning by dedicating his life to preserving these horses.

Make sure that you take time to look at this video--especially if you have not yet figured out how to give your own life meaning.

It's not too late.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

So Much Left To Learn

And we are working hard to learn...and teach it. The world of permaculture stands in strict opposition to the edicts of big agribusiness every bit as much as natural horsemanship, natural hoof care, and natural horse care stand in strict opposition to the edicts of the established horse world.

Our application of permaculture techniques to conserve soil and water and to produce more healthy living forage for our horses is still in its beginning stages. The changes have been remarkable. Where there was only mud or dust a few years ago we now have lush vegetation. Our soil is alive and we are working to strengthen it every day.

We just had forty high school agriculture students come out on a field trip to see what we are doing. They loved it, even if it meant standing in misty rain for an hour while learning about fungi and bacteria that are more important to plant growth than modern chemicals.

Education is a fundamental aspect of our program. Although I have not been riding or exercising enough in the past six months, I am averaging at least an hour every single day reading and learning about how to make dead dirt live. is a great site worth checking out right away. I look forward to going out to her operation and learning everything that she is doing that we can apply.

I have always found learning to be tremendously exciting and what I am learning here is making me giddy.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Not Just For The Kids

One of the keys to the success of our unique program is our multi generational cross section of participants and volunteers. The adults in our program both give and receive.

The more they give, the more that they receive.

I don't think that we have had a participant/volunteer that has shaped and changed our program as much as Wendell has. He began riding with us when he was 63 years old. From the beginning he was a fixture at the horse lot and when he retired he put even more of himself into what we do. A widely read man with a first rate mind, Wendell was the first person that showed me how we could use soil and water conservation techniques to radically improve the quality of our program. He sent me a lengthy memo a few years ago with a simple message, "You have a mud problem."

Wendell used his considerable expertise in organic gardening to point our program in the right direction. I constantly refer to to the Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening that he gave me for ideas and information. The mud is gone, the run off is radically reduced and the grass is green. That is a huge change.

And now we use our soil and water conservation and permaculture projects as part of our educational program. We went from having a mud problem to being able to teach solutions for future generations in just a few years.

But it was his idea that we raise funds for a deep well and irrigation system that will have the greatest long term impact on our program. Rolling a component of artificial watering into a program of modified rotational grazing will do more to bring quality natural forage to our horses than anything that I ever planned.

And...Wendell is taking a very important roll in Corolla preservation. He is shown above with his young Corolla stallion, Pancho. This fall or next spring Pancho will become part of the foundation stallions in the Corolla offsite breeding program. Wendell has spent countless hours handling and teaching the young horse. I have not mentioned this to Wendell yet but there is a rare breeds Expo coming up in Lexington this fall and I think that the two of them will make a fine representation for this strain of Colonial Spanish horse.

As we entered this fundraising effort I asked Wendell to send me  information for use in a blog post about the roll of adult participants in our program.

What he sent me was powerful--intensely personal and filled with meaning......and the entire thrust of the post was about what the program meant to him and how more families need to participate along side their children. I will use that post at another time. It was typical of Wendell that the post was not a laundry list of things that he has done for the program.

And it becomes typical of all of those who throw their heart into the horse lot. No one looks for an award or even recognition. The distinction between what is given and what is received blurs. The thing given becomes the thing received.

 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 first month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people

Friday, April 14, 2017

And We Work Hard To Preserve The Choctaws Too

It all started with our efforts to prevent the extinction of the Corolla Colonial Spanish mustang and our efforts have now extended into the preservation and promotion of several strands of Colonial Spanish horses. Everyone has their own favorites, but it is the Choctaws that I find myself drawn to.

The native tribes of the southeast were among the best horse breeders the world has seen. They began with the same Colonial Spanish horse that was found across the region and bred horses with extraordinary endurance, smooth gaits, and a fierce need to bond with people.

When Andrew Jackson tried to purge the southeast of all native people it was these horses that carried them to Oklahoma. They are but a remnant now, only a few hundred left in the world. For years they roamed free on Black Jack mountain. They were threatened with slaughter when the ownership of the mountain transferred hands. they were saved and disbursed into what were hoped to become breeding bands across the country.

Bryant Rickman has dedicated his life to saving these horses. He is to Colonial Spanish horse preservation what A.P. Carter was to American folk songs and ballads. Monique Henry introduced me to these historic horses and gave us our first three of them.

We have since obtained three more.

They are a vital part of our program. In less than a month Lydia will be racing Manny in a 30 mile endurance race at Biltmore in North Carolina. She will turn some heads when the other competitors watch this colorful pinto trot by them.

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 first month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

We Preserved His Life and His Corolla Bloodline

This summer we will have several foals born. One of the best is likely to be the offspring of Edward Teach, shown above, and Monique, a Choctaw mare and granddaughter of Rooster, a stunning wild stallion from Black Jack mountain.

Bonnie Gruenberg's spectacular research uncovered written references to American Indian tribal horses, specifically the Chickasaws, being bred into the the Banker horses such as those remaining in Corolla in the 17th Century. By using straight Choctaw mares in the Corolla Off site breeding program we are not crossing modern blood into these horses. We are restoring what has been lost. While at the same time producing the perfect family horse--gentle, sweet natured, extraordinary endurance, and smooth , easy gaits.

Edward had already been in a veterinary hospital for two weeks when he arrived at Mill Swamp Indian Horses. As the picture shows, even after two weeks of treatment, the wound that he received in the wild, (likely from a wild hog)was horrific.

Treating his injury was difficult. We treated him twice every day for many weeks. He was a wild stallion and he was in pain. Weeks of hydrotherapy, topicals, and antibiotics pulled him through.

 He healed wonderfully. He belongs to two of my adult riders. We healed him, tamed him and trained him. He is a beautiful stallion. You may have seen a segment on Wild About Animals in which he was prominently featured.

Edward has produced one foal, Ashley Edwards' great horse, Peter Maxwell, who is often used in Road To Repair programs. Peter has Edward's sharp mind and gentle spirit.

 Often in order to prevent the extinction of these horse we have to first prevent the death of  some very sick or injured horses from the wild. It is hard work but it matters.

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 first month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Race To Survive--Saving Sunshine

Yes it is graphic, but suffering often is graphic. Sunshine was a wild mare of the Corolla herd. She was sighted absolutely emaciated with the largest abscess that I have ever seen. The picture above shows what that wound looked like. That is not a joint --That is the lower quarter of the hip.  The cause of the wound and resulting abscess are unknown.

The picture below is her moving effortlessly at her new home in Lexington Virginia. She is one of the few remaining  Colonial Spanish Banker horses of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. That band is among the rarest, and perhaps oldest, distinct genetic grouping of American horses.

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund rescued her and she received first rate medical care from Dominion Equine and was adopted by Becki Wells. Becky had the foresight to understand that Sunshine deserves more than to be put out in a pasture. She needs physical contact and the security that only comes from being part of a band of horses or developing a close relationship with a person.

Becki is working to give her both. When she arrived in Lexington Alexis Cash began the process of gaining the mare's trust. A by product of gaining trust is to reduce levels of stress--something very important for continued physical and emotional healing.

We have three wonderful Corolla stallions that were rescued from the wild that we rehabilitated, trained and use in our breeding program. They ranged from being crippled with founder, one  in need of stifle surgery, and Edward even had a gaping hole in his neck, likely put there by a wild hog.  All fully rehabilitated and happy and producing Corolla foals for the off site breeding program.

And now we will move on to the next step--and you are all invited to come and watch. On Saturday, May 13, beginning at 9:00 am. at Mill Swamp Indian Horses, 9299 Moonlight Road, Smithfield Va 23430. Sunshine will move into her next level of gentle humane training. I will begin with a bit of conventional round pen work and then will quickly turn the horse over to Lydia Barr.

Lydia is a professional horse trainer who began riding with me when she was eleven years old. She is a first rate practitioner of natural horsemanship. Her focus with this horse will be using a technique of gentle handling known as  "Doma India."  I have little exposure to the technique but I have never seen anything that relaxes a horse as fast as these unusual exercises.

And, to make for an even happier ending, Sunshine will be staying with us for a while to breed to one of our Corolla stallions. Our Corolla off site breeding program might one day be these horse's last chance to stave of extinction.

Save a spot by emailing me at Bring a lawn chair and pack a lunch. There is no fee charged but we strongly urge all participants to make a contribution to Gwaltney Frontier Farm, Inc to allow us to continue to wok to save these horses.

Speaking of Contributions:   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 first month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Volunteers Who Put Their Hearts Into Our Program

People often wonder how we can run all of the programs that we do, for all of the people that we do and care for as many horses as we do---all with no paid staff. It is because we have many volunteers who are as enthusiastic about this program as the participants are. Lydia was eleven years old when she learned to ride in our program. That was over a decade ago. Now she is an integral part of everything we do

"My name is Lydia Barr. I ride,volunteer, and train horses, as well as keep my horse out at Mill Swamp Indian Horses.

I started riding and working with horses out there when I was 11yrs old. I was home schooled and my parents were looking for a way to include outdoor work and activities into my schooling as well as an outlet for my delight and curiosity about animals. The freedom to have a whole day of being challenged in an outdoor class room is a rare opportunity and Mill Swamp Indian Horses was the perfect match for me. I am the 5th out of 7 children so it was always a tricky thing for my Mom to work out the schedule for all of us each year. But Mill Swamp was the perfect fit. I was able to count my involvement as extra credits in physical education, community service, and leadership skills. While also gaining confidence, self control and emotional awareness that comes from learning to communicate with horses, other animals, and all the other people who ride and work out there. 

I am now 22 yrs old and my job is professionally training horses several days a week. Because of the rare and incredible opportunity to learn and gain experience training wild horses with Steve, I was able to push myself and develop my natural talent with animals. But through all the different programs at the horselot that focus on using horses for healing and better relationships with people, I have learned and grown up with a deep desire to use my skills and strengths to meet and build up everyone I come in contact with. 

The power of the horse lot comes from it's simplicity and honesty. It doesn't have straight fences and rolling green pastures. There is mud and baling twine fixes. But there is no pretense. We offer what we have to anyone who can come. People from all different backgrounds and stories are able to come and find community because the horses offer comfort and peace.Through the horses I have learned patience, gentleness, courage, compassion, and how to reach out and connect with other people. But it has also been through the people who have opened themselves up to the revealing vulnerability of working with the horses that have taught me some of the most important things about what I want to be, who I want to look like, and where I want to go. 

Steve Edwards, Mill Swamp Indian Horses, and the Gwaltney Frontier Farm have changed my life. Not from something damaged into something healed, or from darkness into light, but simply a deeper understanding, a wider perspective, a more gracious standard, and solid self awareness."

 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 first month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Our Homeschool Program: Bringing Kids To The Horses

We recently began a formal program that is bringing a lot of families out to the horse lot. There they learn about our nearly extinct Corollas, Shacklefords, Choctaws, Galiceno, and Marsh Tackys. We are a breed conservation program and for years our focus in conservation has been simple--The best way to save Colonial Spanish Horses is to teach a kid to ride one.

In order to place our horses in their proper historical perspective we also raise types of goats, hogs, and chickens that would have been found herein 1650. (Our turkeys are warm and friendly, and are a big hit with visotrs but they were developed in the 19th century.)

Permaculture,, soil and water conservation, history, and even music are used both to fulfill our mission as an educational and cultural facility and to draw families to the horse lot in order to promote and preserve these horses.

Here is what one mother had to say about our weekly program for home schoolers:

"At the farm, we learn so much and Steve Edwards takes us on a rabbit trail of learning. His volunteer staff has been groomed by him throughout the years and they bring special talents and personalities to the mix, making them extraordinary mentors and examples to the children. Our kids learn about the logistics of a farm, anything from agriculture, to soil health, colonial era animal breeds, breeding, history, feedings, how to train a wild horse, to horse whispering, cultivating the land, to building a horse fence and participating in everything and anything the land offers. There are many projects on the land that families can do together to create a sense of ownership on the farm. Oh! and you learn to tack, ride a horse, bond with a horse, care for a horse and converse with a horse. The horses provide therapy to anyone that steps foot on Moonlight Dr. They are the friendliest horses on earth. A life changing experience for all skill levels, to include ground zero. Come on out and get a farm education, the experience will last forever. A horse is waiting to change your life."  --Kelly Lindquist

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 first month long social media fundraising effort. Feel free to share this with everyone that you know who cares about horses and people.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Another Great Corolla Foal Coming This Summer

Tradewind, a formerly wild Corolla Stallion and 2011 Horse of the America's Registry National Pleasure Trail Horse of the Year, shown at the top, is bred to Baton Rouge, a formerly wild Corolla mare whose father was Cyclops, the famed, one-eyed lead stallion at Corolla.

It is difficult to imagine the foal being anything but spectacular. This cross has has been made once before, resulting in The Black Drink, a stunning young stallion who is at Boy's Home in Covington, Virginia.

Like all of the foals produced in the offsite breeding program this one will be available for purchase to someone who agrees to use the foal to produce more of these nearly extinct, historic horses.

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.