Saturday, October 28, 2017

"So They Won't Have To Lie At Your Funeral"

Nearly thirty years ago was the first time that I was ever asked to speak at a high school graduation. I was young then and, at times, prepared my remarks ahead of time, a practice long since abandoned. Quite frankly, if I cannot just stand up and speak off of the top of my head coherently for half an hour or so on a topic then it is likely a topic that I do not know enough about to be speaking on in the first place.

The theme of that commencement address was that one should seek to live one's life in a manner that does not require one's eulogist to lie at the funeral. Simply put, I urged the students to seek to live a life that will leave a tremendous void at one's death--to live a life with meaning.

Our program provides that opportunity. It is natural for one to think of what we do in terms of preserving horses and other livestock. For those on the out side it might not be as easy to see something more important that our program provides--the opportunity to make the lives of other people better.

The opportunity to purchase a brush buster and work tirelessly for hours on end to clear land and create riding trails--the opportunity for an adolescent boy to provide support and encouragement to an older child who has a degree of disability--the opportunity for first rate young women to be role models for little girls--the opportunity to learn from those who know and to teach those who want,and need, to learn...

the opportunity to light a candle.

Monday, October 23, 2017

There Is Something Very Special About Choctaws

We work hard to preserve and promote the Banker strain of Colonial Spanish Horses and they are, without a doubt,spectacular horses, but there is something very special about the Choctaw strain of these horses.

One could begin with their athleticism and were I thirty years younger that would be where my inquiry would. Simply put,they can run forever and that is all many young people need to have in a horse. Were I thirty years younger perhaps I would be taken by their simple natural beauty. The beauty of their pinto patterns are only rivaled in the horse world by the Chincoteagues. Were I thirty years younger, with small children learning to ride, I would be taken by their sweet natures and near perfect temperament.

But I am not thirty years younger. I am becoming old and speed and beauty are of much less significance than they once were. It is the beauty that cannot be seen that draws me to a particular horse.

Joey exemplifies that beauty more than any horse that I have ever had. He shows that beauty to those who need to see it most. I have never seen a horse that reaches out to people who are suffering the way that he does. No horse makes the connection with veterans in the PTSD program the way that he does. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

Seeing Joey in the ring with a child who has suffered severe abuse and trauma is something that I cannot describe, nor will I even try.

He soothes. Imagine seeing that term in a horse advertisement--"Healing prospect--beautiful soother!"

And if you don't know us do not read this with the false idea that I am some kind of touchy-feely, anthropomorphizing sissy. Take a look at Joey below. He has way too much dignity to be hauling someone like that through the mud, water, briars, and heavy, heavy mileage.

On Not Being Alone: Ties That Bind Our Program Together

A place to learn to ride---that description fits our program about as well as describing a Baptismal Font as being a place to hold water. Learning to build relationships with horses strengthens our ability to create relationships with people.

It is not the horses that make our program so powerful. It is the people that do so. By and large our horse lot is not a place where a lot of spectacular people chose to come together. It is a place where a lot of people come together and then become spectacular. It is a place where pain lessens, knowledge grows, strength increases...and loneliness begins to come to an end.

The Harvard study on human happiness looked at many variables. Its findings have been clear and consistent. If you want to understand why so many lives are changed with a herd of shaggy horses, a bumpy path, a flock of free ranging goats, a collection of old songs and young musicians, a confused turkey, an old hot tub filled with compost and red wigglers, where children play in the dirt, where young adults play in the dirt, and where old men get tremendous satisfaction from creating new dirt, new soil and new life--then you should look at this study.

Here is a link to a great informal summary of its meaning:

Thursday, October 5, 2017

October Intro To Natural Horsemanship Sessions

At Mill Swamp Indian Horses, 9299 Moonlight Road, Smithfield, Va 23430, on three successive Saturday afternoons, Oct 14,21 and 28, from three to five pm we will once again host our fall series of Intro to Natural Horsemanship classes. The sessions teach participants how to understand the horse's mind and how to humanely build close relationships with your horse. The sessions demonstrate how we gently and humanely tame and train wild horses and how we start colts.

Participants will have an opportunity to meet some of the rarest strains of historic American horses still in existence along with examples of heritage breed goats,hogs, and poultry Whether you are a complete novice or a life long horseperson, these sessions the sessions will improve your confidence with horses and take your horsemanship to a new level.

There is no charge for the sessions. However, participation is limited. Participants will need to bring a lawn chair. To register contact me at .

See our website at to learn about our unique program