Thursday, November 30, 2017

And Miles To Go Before I Sleep

When I was 19 the test on my spinal fluid indicated that I had Lou Gehrigs disease. The part that did not make sense was that the numbers were so my body should have already been shrunken to nearly nothing. That was not the case. A few weeks later on expert on the disease said that he had no idea why my test numbers were so high, but the diagnosis was wrong.

I do not consider that a miraculous healing, though I have experienced events in my life that I am not embarrassed at all to describe as miracles. But in the interim between being hospitalized for all of the tests and then being sent out to see the expert I had plenty of time to think about dying. Greatest concern was that I had gotten so little done in 19 years. It put me in a hurry.

It is the silliest of things , but last week I dreamed that I was sixty and would die at age 62. (I am only 57) In the dream my two greatest concerns were that I did not leave enough of the mares in the off site breeding program bred and that the New Land had not been fully converted to lush pasture.

But December comes in tomorrow and inevitably when the December sky becomes the color of lead and gun smoke my mind turn to Dec 29, 2008 when I got the call that Lido had been killed in a hunting accident. Working hard this week clearing brush from about two score yards from where he died--yet I repeatedly found thoughts rushing though the back of my mind such as "If I finish court early tomorrow I'll pick up Lido and he and I can finish clearing these trees out before it gets dark"

That thought runs quickly and very, very softly through my mind. The responding thought, that Lido has been dead now for several years races in, and yells as loud as it can.

December distractions, cold wind, clouds, a packed church, Rebecca doing a song for Lido, the rest of us doing A.P. Carter's "Miss Me When I'm Gone", Joey walking up with the same expression Lido had every morning--neither Joey nor Lido ever come looking for something from me--just that resigned, yet satisfied, look that says "what we gonna get done today."

Now I neither consume alcohol nor smoke. People in my family who do not smoke and drink tend to live to be incredibly old. I have a pretty good shot at living forty more years, but I can't count on that. Things got to get done now--New Land Cleared,Stitch trained, videos made, field trips from schools--more foals, more breeding sites set up--need to write another book-scary just thinking about all of it-Hell I better live at least thirty more years at this rate

And the one thing that I want for myself--not commercial--just a few disks for friends and family--I want to make a cd of Carter songs with Ashley, Aryianna, and Lucy doing the singing and me playing five or six different instruments on each song--get that done and I will die a happy old man with a big grin on my face--and my circle won't be broken

Our First Pure San Clemente Island Goat Born

I love their look and I love their history of living wild for so long. W started out with a gift of two beautiful Baylis wethers. We obtained Spicer, the San Clemente buck shown above, and for years we have been breeding a line of San Clemente/Syfan crosses that have produced a lot of fast growing, easy handling, brush busters. We have found a ready market for those offspring.

Our San Clemente breeding will focus on marketing to other breeders. Of course, we need to maintain a significant herd here to keep browse in check on the New land and off of our fences.

And all of it goes back to our central focus of the conservation of the Banker strain of the Colonial Spanish Horse. The colonial goats, ossabaw hogs, southeastern strains of Colonial Spanish horses, and a replicated 1650's era farm make up a picture frame to put around the historic horses that we work to preserve and promote.

Another Off Site Corolla Breeding Program Established

And established the way that I like best. Breeding programs to conserve nearly extinct strains of horses should never be established on a whim. This new site is a about an hour and a half from us. The lady who has acquired these two horses has spent many hours at our horse lot learning how we handle these horses and seeing first hand the temperament, athletic ability, and beauty of the Corollas.

On Monday Jen and Elise delivered Swimmer, a Corolla mare, to her new home. Swimmer is bred to Tradewind, a formerly wild Corolla stallion and Horse of the Americas National Pleasure Trail Horse of the Year for 2011.

Matchcoor is a weanling. His mother is a formerly wild horse from Shackleford and his father is Cornstalk, a beautiful bay formerly wild stallion from Corolla. He will be a great future cross to Swimmer and if her upcoming foal is a filly she would be a great cross to Matchcoor also.

And best of all they are close enough so that future breedings could be to any of our stallions. I am really looking forward to breeding Matchcoor to some of our mares in future years. It is through this kind of careful breeding that we can preserve the incredible genetics of these historic horses.

This was a big day for the future of the Corollas. If we can establish a small breeding program like this one each year for the next decade The Banker strain of Colonial Spanish horses will not vanish from this earth.

Tradewind who is bred to Swimmer

Cornstalk, father of Match Coor

Persa, Matchcoor's mother

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

You Are Not Too Young To Matter

Whether you hope one day to save a horse or even an entire breed of horses you are not too young to begin to get to work on it. Young people have energy and ideas. Older people have experience and resources. And when it comes to saving horses it takes energy, ideas, experience and resources.

The best way to put all of those things togehter is to begin to work with others who share your love of horses. It is great fun to participate in forums and face book groups, but networking allows you to do more than just have fun. It allows you to join with others to work to save horses for the future.

The Livestock Breeds Conservancy is celebrating its fortieth year of working to prevent the extinction of a wide range of of breeds of historic farm animals, including horses. In November Mill Swamp Indian Horses in Smithfield, Virginia hosted a day of demonstrations and clinics for members of the Breed Conservancy. These sessions featured young people using their talents to help preserve nearly extinct strain of American horses including the Corollas and the Choctaws. Michelle is shown above riding Corn Stalk, a formerly wild Corolla stallion. She gave a first person living history performance depicting Betsy Dowdy, a young teenager who alerted the North Carolina militia that the British were about to invade their state.

Betsy Dowdy rode alone, over fifty miles on a cold December night to give the warning because she heard that the Red Coats were killing horses on the farms in their path. Her ride was much longer, and much more dangerous, than Paul Revere's ride, but she would not stand by and let horses be shot down by an invading army. She cared. She worked with others. She used her energy and ideas to get the word to North Carolina patriots who had the experience and the resources to fight the British.

Chris gave a great demonstration on how he trained Zee, a cream colored Choctaw mare, to be ridden. Chris began to learn natural horsemanship and horse training when he was about 12 years old. Now he teaches other young people how to train horses and ride. He did a great job explaining his techniques to members of the Breeds Conservancy. It turns out that Zee comes from very rare Cherokee lineage in addition to her Choctaw lineage. Dr. Phil Sponenberg, a leading expert both on preservation of nearly extinct livestock and Colonial Spanish Horses, was particularly impressed with Zee and contacts were made to have her bred to a very rare Cherokee influenced stallion in 2018.

Chris' demonstration made this contact possible.

And joining the Breeds Conservancy can expand your horizons even beyond horses. These turkeys are a very rare strain known as Bourbon Reds. They became part of the program at Mill Swamp Indian Horses after program participants learned about these turkeys through the Breeds Conservancy.

There is no need to wait to begin to help horses. You can start on that path regardless of how young you are.

To learn more about breed conservation visit

To learn more about Mill Swamp Indian Horses visit

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Very Special Volunteer Opportunity

Yesterday our crack team of mechanics and assemblers finished putting together a wood chipper. Goats, horses, guineas, turkeys, earthworms and microbes, kids to roll out hay bales, Wendell's brush buster, my chain saw and bladed weedeater, new wood chipper, and hopefully some community volunteers will finish the clearing of the new land this winter.

                                                                 Our old Chickee.

We still have several educational structures to assemble including a Powhatan scare crow hut, a chickee, a large wooden Corral/round pen--Even if horses are not your thing you can still be a very important part of our program by being a regular volunteer on these projects--you can do a lot of good for a lot of people by putting in 8-10 hours of volunteer work--if you like being out doors, care about the environment, enjoy history, see the need for preservation of heritage livestock, or just want to spend some time with people committed to making a difference send me an email at

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Living History at Mill Swamp Indian Horses: Here is Your Chance To Help Out

Education and entertainment can and should happen at the same time. All the way through college and law school I worked at Jamestown. I was "in costume" for those teaching performances. Perhaps that is why I am so drawn to the power of living history presentations. The other reason is that all of my life history has been living all around me. I walk and ride where John Smith walked in 1608, near where Benedict Arnold and Bannister Tarleton rode during the Revolution, and in the county beside where Nat Turner killed and died, in what I believe to be one of the most important events leading up to the Civil War.

Every year on November 22 around lunch time I get a general feeling of unease as my mind wonders back to what I watched on television at the Little House in 1963. Last Sunday I visited Malvern Hill. On July 1, 1862 in a period of only four hours over 8,000 men were casualties in a wide open field of only a few hundred acres. Hard to describe how that made me feel. I was glad to leave that field but I could not help but keep thinking of the thousands of men who wanted to lave that field much more than I did, but never had that chance.

Our 1650's era replicated farm, our colonial livestock, and the sense of history that permeates the air of Tidewater Virginia create the perfect stage for Living history presentations. I would love to add a drama component to our program. We could do sessions on research to develop a historical character, costuming, acting, and writing along with hosting regular performances.

Herein lies both the opportunity and the problem. We have no paid staff. We are all volunteers. Everything that we do,from our riding program, our breeding program, our livestock husbandry, our music program, our PTSD program, our natural horsemanship program and our permaculture program is conducted by skilled and dedicate volunteers.

I need an additional set of skilled and dedicated volunteers in the Tidewater area to develop a living history program that will be able to host regular performances during the summer and fall and to teach the skills set out above to participants, particularly young participants.

So, Contact me now, at , if you would like to help develop this program. Don't put off contacting me until after the holidays. Things that get put off often never come to fruition. Are you active in Little Theater, children's drama, historic reenactment? Contact me now to help us develop one more incredible program.

I want to have a solid program plan in place by February 1, 2018


There is a serious problem with way to many equine discussion pages. The saddest part about it is that horses and the established horse world attract many people who want the power of being arbiters and rule makers/rule enforcers. The ultimate irony is that dedicated practice of natural horsemanship and, specifically, spending many hours in the round pen with wild horses, or unstarted colts, absolutely erase the desire to control the behavior and thoughts of other people.

Building a meaningful relationship with a horse is a liberating experience. It can never be based on accepting a mindless set of rules and the edicts of the loudest, shrillest voices.

Listen to the softer voices of Brannamen, Dorrence, Rashid, and the few other writers like them who understand horses, people and pain. People often speak of the spiritual aspect of horsemanship. I have always had difficulty with that discussion because the term "spiritual" is used so broadly that it is hard to give it any meaningful definition. With that said, I believe that a solid relationship with a horse leads to a deeper understanding of what the author of the Letter of James referred to as a pure religion.

It requires one to give the horse unconditional love. It teaches the concept of service to the horse and to others. It teaches the respect of each horse without regard to its price or lineage. It teaches one to be humble. It teaches that the purpose of acquiring power is to allow one to serve more people, not to control more people.

It teaches one to shut up and listen.

For one who wants to be a better horse person, and a better person--stay away from the negativism of the establishd horse world--read Brannaman, Dorrrence, Rashid--and the Letter of James.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Microbes, Vermiculture, and Old Hay Experiment

We are doing an experiment in our Homeschool program to test some applications for natural pasture enhancement. We use no commercial fertilizer or herbicides. I am learning more every day about compost, permaculture, and regenerative agriculture. I am particularly pleased with what I have learned through online classes with Simple Soil Solutions.

I was always puzzled at the waste layers that built up under round bales. They stayed very moist, were composed of layers of old hay and horse manure. To my very uneducated mind they appeared to be the perfect self creating compost pile. Except that it took forever for them to break down and often after they did they left beautiful, rich looking black soil upon which nothing grew for a couple of years and when it did grow the resulting vegetation looked no stronger than grass grown several feet away from the old piles.

I now understand the effects of compaction and lack of oxygen in those piles. We have a rather large vermiculture operation in which we add only coffee grounds, weed stems, horse manure and the occasional bit of old hay. We keep it in an old hot tub that we buried to ground level. It rarely has any problem with freezing. A year ago I set out 1000 red wigglers in the container. They have been fruitful and multiplied.

About four times a year we add around 500 pounds of manure from the pasture to the container.

I began to experiment with spreading the old layers of hay waste out in the pasture. As soon as some air could get to old hay that I was spreading it broke down super fast and grass took off. However, it is very hard work to rake and pitch fork these areas out. On the new land we had a build up of waste hay that was only a few months old. We used a post hole digger and laid out of grid of twelve postholes about a foot deep. We added compost from the vermicompost system. It was loaded with beneficial microbes. To my surprise the muddy area began to dry up rather quickly and the waste hay began to disappear.

In the pictures above we are doing an experiment. Audrey's pictures show two of these compacted waste hay areas. In one we use post hole diggers and covered the vermicompost in the holes that we set out in the waste area. (The waste areas had broken down so little in their extreme compaction that we found layers of horse manure that were still completely intact even though it had been buried for at least several months.) In the other we used an equal amount of Vermicompost and simply applied to to the surface of that waste pile.

Of course we hope that simply top dressing with our active vermicompost is going to provide results as good as injecting it under ground does. Would have been better to have done this experiment in the summer but we shoud still get results.

It would be a nice benefit to the horse owner with few horses and small acreage to simply drop a few ounces of active vermicompost on dry manure piles and have them break down in place

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Pastures, Trails, and Replicated Farm Site Of Milll Swamp Indian Horses

The farm belonged to my grand father's grand father. It is a Virginia Century Farm, meaning that it has been in our family for over 100 years. Our first white ancestors owned land about seven miles from here around 1650. Since that time I have had family living within a ten mile radius of the horse lot.

The Little House is on Moonlight Road. It is the house that my mother was born in. Beth and I purchased it about ten years ago. The land that it stands on was then added to the long strip of land that ran from the highway to just across an old abandoned railroad bed. The addition of the app. four acres of land that went with the Little House was then added to the app, 38 acres of open land and woods that my mother gave to me before she died.

A year ago Beth and I purchased the nearly 20 acres adjacent to these two strips of land. We purchased it for the use of our program. That is the part of the picture above that bulges out on the left side of the picture.

Around 2001 Daddy and I fenced in eight acres and built a shelter to conform to the standards required by the Bureau of Land Management in order to adopt a pair of mustangs. We built our first round pen. The other half of the open land was planted in oats and we grew oat hay which was bound in small square bales. The farmer who baled the hay got half of the bales, leaving me with over three hundred bales. I could not imagine how long it would take for the horses to eat such a vast amount of hay. (Now that supply would last us less than a month!)

As we got more horses and I started having riding students we fenced in more land and stopped growing our own hay. Soon the pastures were divided into several big pens. using about 1.2 miles of wire. All of the post holes were dug by hand primarily by Daddy and I with occasional help from my brothers. It would take Lido too long to describe which pen he was referring to so he numbered the pens 1-5 and designated each with a number.

While sitting in my wife's family's home and thinking about replica historical farm sites across the nation it occurred to me that our Colonial Spanish Horses of the Southeast could best be understood in their historical perspective if placed in a setting that served as a picture frame around them. I began thinking about building a replicated farm to symbolize the time frame that the Corollas and Shacklefords represented. It was expensive but Beth and I had such a farm site built. First the Smokehouse, then the settlers one room home, Corn Crib and Tobacco barn. We added in Colonial livestock over the years--Spanish goats, Dominique chickens, and now Ossabaw hogs. We developed a limited living history program.

All the while our riding program was growing by leaps and bounds. Other programs were added. For a few years Kay Kerr ran a wonderful art program teaching little riders to paint.Their paintings were sold at the Corolla Wild Horse Fund's museum to benefit the Fund. Linda Hurst wrote two children's books about one of our horses, "Red Feather." Kay Kerr's great book "Sand Horse Beach:Croatoan's Memoirs" was named bet "Illustrated Children's Book" at the Equus Film Festival and tomorrow her film based on the book will have its debut at the Equus Film Festival in New York. At the annual meeting of the Livestock Breeds Conservancy I saw the debut of Krista Rutherford's great documentary "America's Forgotten Horses", which focused on efforts to preserve the Colonial Spanish Horse.

Kay has impacted our program in other ways. She developed our veteran's program. Every week those who are in the in patient treatment program for PTSD at the Hampton VA hospital come out and work horses in the round pen. Ashley Edwards turned my mind more to using these nearly extinct horses to help nearly destroyed humans than it had been before. (There is a search feature to this blog--if you do not know all about Ashley search her name in that little search box and read the posts about her. You will be glad that you did)Our website has a great list of links to tv and newspaper stories about our program--

Richard Blaney donated Nimo, a Galiceno, to our program. Vickie Ives of Karma Farms sent some of the Grand Canyon line here through Scoundrel and Queen Jane along with our colonial Spanish goats of the Syfan strain. Monique Henry asked us to accept our first two Choctaws, Manny and Joey, who are mainstays of our program. And my very special little mare, Janie, came all the way up from Texas from Lothlarien Farms. We purchased several Marsh Tackys. Pam Yahn gave us our first ossabaw hogs. Wendy Dean gave us two Baylis Spanish Goats.

I am quite certain that I have failed to mention the accomplishments of many of our riders, the awards that they have won, the honors that our program has received, and the tremendous amount of work that volunteers have put into our program. I did so on purpose. Were I to list the physical and financial contributions that volunteers and supporters have put into this program the post wold go on for many pages.

And we have no paid staff. And we have never turned anyone away for lack of ability to pay program fees.

The most important contribution that I have made to our program is that I have constantly stuck to one principle --one two word goal--More and Better. We do not get the hate mail that we once did. Early on we did and much of it was vicious. I understood that More and Better would require us to utterly ignore the pronouncements of the established horse world, to do absolutely nothing to compromise our program's values and our horse's health by moving away from natural horse care, natural hoof care and natural horsemanship. I understood that More and Better would require us to push on past well meaning advisors who said that we should just focus on riding and not spread ourselves too thin. I understood that More and Better meant that we would best serve the horses and people by working to become a cultural and educational institution instead of becoming a riding barn. Most importantly, I understood that More and Better required us to absolutely ignore appearances and put 100% of our focus on reality. I understood that we could attract Ellie Mae or Mrs. Drysdale, but not both of them. In a note urging me to "quit breeding worthless crap with no market value" I was further informed that the "entire horse world" was laughing at what we were doing. The note went on to suggest some steps that I could take to learn the error of my ways and how to conform to the expectations of that horse world.

I declined to do so.

The major contribution that I have made to the development of our program is not what I have done. It is what I have refused to do. For nearly two decades we have rejected the siren song that bid us to become just another place for little rich white girls to play with ponies.

Which brings us to where we are today.

That red line is a trial that rims the land that Beth and I own. It is 1.82 miles. It is not completed. I have several more links to cut into this trail. Though I always am leery of citing the contributions of any adults in our program for fear of creating the appearance of slighting the contributions of others, this trail would not be possible but for the hard work that Wendell put into developing it, using the brush buster that he purchased himself for this purpose.

And last Friday members of the Livestock Breed Conservancy got a chance to see how we do things. I think it fair to say that they all left feeling better for the experience.

The sun will be up in an hour. I am going to go fire up my chain saw and work on clearing more of the new land. Kids in the home school program will be arriving in about three hours. We need to separate Matchcoor from his mother so that he and Swimmer can be taken to a farm a few hours north of here to create yet another Corolla offsite breeding program. We have nearly 10,000 pounds of hay in round bales to roll out to help microbe development in our pastures (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that we practice and teach permaculture practices for soil and water conservation)

And I think that Sally will be having an incredibly well bred Colonial Spanish foal in February. And we will be adding a Colonial era heifer to our program in short order.

Tonight some of us will be playing music at a local church.

More and Better

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Conserving Rural America--Antique Animals

The Livestock Breeds Conservancy's annual meeting in Williamsburg is wrapping up today. Yesterday I had a great time learning about poultry health,  black soldier flies and seeing the debut of Krista Rutherford's informative film on mustang conservation, "America's Forgotten Horse."

Friday we hosted a day long series of clinics and demos that featured our non traditional efforts to expose more people to nearly extinct strains of Colonial
Spanish Horses.  "Education, Entertainment, and Public Service to Promote Heritage Livestock"  focused on our programs progression from being a place to learn to ride to being an educational, cultural institution that teaches natural horsemanship, history,  livestock breed conservation, regenerative agriculture, biological farming, equine based therapeutic and personal growth programs, music, and animal husbandry.

We raise yesterday's horse's for tomorrow's riders. And we use yesterday's horses to shape tomorrow's teachers, tomorrow's healer's, tomorrow's parents, tomorrow's community leaders,

We do not live in the past. We do not worship inflated ideas of  uniformly heroic and virtuous ancestors. We recognize their horrible flaws for what they were.

And without missing a beat we work hard to take everything that was good and beautiful from our past and apply it to today's world.

And one of the best and most beautiful things from our past are the nearly extinct Colonial Spanish Horses, particularly the Bankers, Marsh Tackys and Choctaws. And our horse lot is a  living museum. And our pastures are laboratories. And our trails are classrooms. And our tack shed porch is a music conservatory. And our round pen is a place of healing.

....and our animals are antiques.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Carbon, Compost, and Very Clean Hands

Only those of you who have raised hogs are going to understand the incredible significance of what I am about to write. However, the simple fact is my hands do not stink.

As I put the finishing touches on the horse lot for today's day of clinics and demonstrations for the Livestock Breed Conservancy I spent a great deal of time in the pens of our Ossabaw hogs. I moved some of the hogs from one pen to another and moved several pieces of heavy wood inside the pens. It has been raining for the last several days. I found myself smeared with mud and wet hog manure.

When got home I washed my hands and thought about how futile it was to do so. I come from many generations of hog farmers. As a child and as a teenager I raised hogs of my own. I know how hog manure seems to seep deeply into the pores of your hands leaving an aroma that last a day or two even when hand washing with soap is followed up with a rinse in rubbing alcohol.

And I did not even scrub my hands particularly well. In fact, I am typing with some finger nails that are visibly dirty.

And my hands do not stink.

We tear up cardboard into fairly small pieces and add it to the pens every week. We put moldy round bales not fit for horse consumption into the pens. We also put a lot of scraps of untreated umber in the pens. Makes for a very messy looking pen until we have a few days of rain. When the pens get muddy the cardboard starts to break down fast and the wood chunks work their way down into the soil.

The infusion of carbon into the mixture eradicates the otherwise strong odors of hog production. It also creates super compost that becomes ever more useful after spending a few months in our large vermiculture container.

The end result is a more diverse microbe collection than would be found in vermicompost using only horse manure....

And, my hands stay very clean.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Perhaps The Most Important Day Yet For Our Program

Below you will find parts of a flyer concerning tomorrow's (Nov 10) day of programming for the annual meeting of the Livestock Breeds Conservancy. We have a very different model both for attracting novices to riding a horse ownership and for exposing rare, heritage breeds of livestock to the public. We do not seek to convince the established horse world to accept Colonial Spanish horses as being worth preserving. We do not seek their approval. That approach as been tried for many years with limited success. They were invited to the banquet but did not come. We have piped but they did not dance.

Our focus is on attracting those who have never owned horses and may have never even ridden a horse. We do so by administering a wide range of programs to draw people out to see the horses. The day will focus exactly how we do that.

(Registration for tomorrow's event is now closed)

friday Full-Day Pre-Conference Clinic - Friday Nov 10

Using Entertainment, Education,
and Public Service to Promote Heritage Horses
Steve Edwards at Mill Swamp Indian Horses

Come join Steve Edwards and learn all about Colonial Spanish horses! (and Ossabaw hogs, and San Clemente goats)

No experience needed. Steve feels that hands-on training is the best way to learn, so come prepared for a busy day!

Approximate Program Schedule:

9:00 am: Tour of the farm with information on Ossabaw hogs, San Clemente goats, strains of Colonial Spanish horses

10:00 am: Introduction to Colonial Spanish horses, types, and their conservation

11:00 am: Information and demonstrations on

Use of permaculture in farming
How to draw young people onto the farm
Infrastructure requirements (like liability insurance)
Working with veterans, schoolteachers, and police officers

12:00 pm: lunch (included)

1:00 pm: How to use your farm for entertainment
(living history, kids and music - performance included!)

3:00 pm Questions, discussion time

Speaker: Steve Edwards
Steve Edwards is executive director of Gwaltney Frontier Farm, Inc , a non profit breed conservation program that raises mustangs, including the rare and endangered Corolla Spanish Mustangs. Steve teaches natural horsemanship, has written several articles on natural horsemanship and published his first book, “And A Little Child Shall Lead Them: Learning From Wild Horses and Little Children.” He has received the Keeper of the Flame Award from the American Indian Horse Association, the Carol Stone Ambassador Award from the Horse of the Americas Registry and the Currituck Star Award for his Corolla horse conservation efforts.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Round Pen's Most Important Lesson

We practice natural horsemanship not merely because it creates better horses, but because it creates better people. In order to become a better person one must recognize the most important change that the round pen can make in a person.

Properly conducted natural horsemanship will lead one to absolutely loose all desire to control the behavior of other people. Natural horsemanship allows one to understand that lasting power comes from leadership that does not seek that power. One learns that control is not power.

The older I get the more I pity those who love policy, procedure, rules, order, and straight lines. I recognize each of those things for what they are--tools of coercive control that assure the unhappiness both of those who are controlled and those who seek to control others.

"Just as I would be not a slave, neither would I be a slave owner."--Abraham Lincoln

That does not mean that we teach anarchy. The round pen teaches one that leadership is best demonstrated from the front, not the rear. There is a reason that it is not called "pushership." The round pen teaches one to encourage, support, and inspire others.

The round pen gives one the confidence to teach others to be confident.

And it does so in the simplest of ways. Force does not work in the round pen. The simple reality is that the 200 pound man can only "control" 800 pound horse by letting the horse know that it is safe in his presence.

When it is all said and done the only control that truly creates power is self control. The only confidence that is contagious is self confidence.

Selfishness creates the illusion of power. Selflessness shatters that illusion.

The round pen can a place of spiritual awakening. The round pen, and all of natural horsemanship,is nothing but a teaching ground for unconditional love.

Ad if you are not taking advantage o everything that the round pen has to offer, you are letting your horse down. You are letting yourself down.

And you are letting every person in our life down.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

To Raise Emotionaly Healthy Horses

It is easy to understand that a horse does not have he same nutritional needs as a person. It is equally important to understand that a horse does not have the same emotional needs as a person. As a prey animal a horse's emotional needs are all focused on one goal--a strong sense of security.

To have that sense of security a herd animal requires several things that are not obvious to humans. For example, they evolved to need movement. Safety and security only exists for a horse who knows that he can escape potential danger. That is why being shut up in a stable creates, at best, constant low level stress and, at worst, the development of stereotypical behaviors that are often labeled as "vices"--e.g. weaving, pacing, cribbing, etc.

They evolved to be able to closely read and interpret the behaviors and emotions other herd members. They are always on the look out for signals, no matter how subtle, from other herd members, that tell them if they are safe or in a potentially dangerous spot.

A horse's ability to detect sound and scent dwarf those of humans. A horse's ability to detect stress in those around them also dwarf those of humans.

One of the worst things that some otherwise well meaning horse owners do to their horses is to project their own hypochondria onto the horse. The obsession with the belief that the horse is constantly in need of medical attention and, therefore, is in a state of constant suffering can fill an emotional void for the person. It can fill in their need to be needed. For some owners it papers over their fear of riding by giving them an excuse to avoid mounting up. They can always cite some health problem that the horse has as being the reason that he needs to be rested. Just as alcoholics often find themselves sitting around drinking with other alcoholics and readily agreeing with each other that neither has a problem, these horse owners can find support from other such horse owners who also feel that they alone are the only ones giving proper care for their horses. Instead of recognizing the problem they reinforce it in others.

But the horse does not receive the care that it needs. It does not get the feeling of security that it feels in the presence of a confident,secure leader. Instead, it finds itself constantly exposed to a nervous, fretting human who exudes insecurity and stress. The horse reads and internalizes those signals.

The horrible irony is that there are few relationships that can create more feelings of peace, security, and confidence for a person than to have an emotionally healthy relationship with a horse. That relationship does not develop when one views one's relationship with a horse as a constant effort to heal nonexistent health problems and to keep it safe from nonexistent threats.

The good news is that the horse can serve as a great diagnostician. If your relationship with an otherwise healthy horse is as set out above, you need healing.

Work hard to build a relationship with our horse that is based on the horse's actual needs, instead of the hypochondria that you project on to the horse and you will quickly see how much healthier you and your horse have become.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Heart Under All Of That Hair

He is beautiful, but I climbed out of Plato's cave way too long ago to care about appearances. Can he go forever? Will he go where I ask him to? Will he get me there with with minimal pain on my part and none at all on his?

Will he be glad to see me when I walk by?

Scoundrel is a very high percentage Grand Canyon stallion and is the son of Rowdy Yates.

What am I looking for in a breeding stallion? See paragraphs 1 and 2 above.

I cannot stand to do anything what so ever for the sake of appearances. I read his week about a man who spent $800,00.00 buying clothes. I bet that he thought appearances were of vital importance.

The man who wears a $5,000.00 tailored suit will still be the same man if he is wearing an orange jumpsuit.

But I do not hold beauty against a horse any more than I hold a horse, or a person, in misplaced esteem because of appearance.

So what color horse is my favorite? So which strain of Colonial Spanish horse is my favorite? So what bloodlines are my favorite?

See paragraphs one and two above.

If one finds it too hard to look at a horse's merits the established horse world will happily explain to you what is wrong with your horse and how to best ignore reality and stick with what really matters--owning horse that other adherents to the edicts of the established horse world
have determined to be appropriately beautiful.

And like the prisoners who are chained the cave of Plato's great parable, maybe every now and then you will get to see the reflection of a rider on a horse that can go forever,that goes where his rider asked him to,that will get that rider there with minimal pain to the rider and none at all too the horse.

Might even get to see a horse who is glad to see his owner approach.