Monday, September 30, 2019

There Are Horses Under Those People

Some of the worlds rarest horses-- three Corollas, a Marsh Tacky, and a high percentage Grand Canyon  in this picture--deep in the woods on a hot fall afternoon--wading into a sea of marsh cane (one of the main sources of arrow shafts for Powhatan Indians)

It has been a long time since I have even used the word, but we are in the early stages of a drought. Hunting season is coming on us so we will be out of the woods for most of the next ninety days.

That time will be spent honing riding skills, turning 17 acres of woods into silva pasture and additional riding areas, running a sanctioned endurance race in two weeks, training donkeys to pull poles from the woods, building fences, and having a good time playing music and getting to know each other better.

In January we will be back in the woods. Looking forward to seeing the winter wildlife and working our land to improve it as wild life habitat.

Will be spending this week at a training on prosecuting crimes against children. When that is what you do for a living it makes it hard to understand why the sight of this one (walking along in the field beside the Little House) would be a scary thing.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Granddaddy, It's Race Day!

In two hours the first group of our riders will set out on a 25 mile Limited Distance Endurance Race. Riders range in age from 11 to 60. Every horse will be pure Colonial Spanish Horses, except for three American Indian Horses who are 1/2 Corolla.

Several of the riders have been riding a fairly short time. They have worked hard conditioning the horses and themselves over the last several months. They have learned to be flexible. I am having to be very flexible. I will be riding Peter Maxwell. Janie got a minor girth rub so she will have the day off. She will be ready to go in next month's official Swamp Stomp race.

Ariyana woke up ready to go. "It's race day", she said. She then made me three bratwursts served with a nice little mound of kimchee.

It is a breakfast of champions.

Today several riders are going to achieve something that a year ago they would have never thought possible. Best of all, a few will achieve something that at this very moment they are not sure is possible.

No one will be competing against other riders. Everyone will be competing against their other selves, the other self that doubts, criticizes, tells us that we can't do it, that we are not good enough, that we are not strong enough...that we are simply not enough.

And today my riders will be winners and their other selves will have just a bit less power over them than before running their first 25 mile run.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Will The Littlest Horse Win Our In House 25 Mile Race?

I think that he might. Wanchese is a formerly wild Shacklford Island stallion. Terry has been putting heavy mileage on him over the summer. He is ready to go.

On Saturday September 21 he will set out at 7:00 am with Holland, another Shackleford, Little Hawk, a Corolla,  Feather, a high percentage Choctaw mare from Texas, and Red Fox, a half Corolla. At 7:30 Joey, a Choctaw, Midnight, a Colonial Spanish horse from Texas, and Manteo, a formerly wild Corolla stallion will leave the tack shed.

And at 8:00 Janie, Grand Canyon and Choctaw lineage, Baton Rouge, a Corolla, Long Knife, a Corolla Ta Sunka Witco, a Karma Farms lineage Colonial Spanish horse, Parahunt, a half Corolla, Trouble, a Colonial Spanish horse from Texas will head out for the first fifteen mile leg of the event.

After fifteen miles the horses come in, have pulses taken, are checked out for any injuries and then rested for forty five minutes before running to complete the last ten miles.

My strong hunch is that little Wanchese will have the quickest time of the bunch.

In October these same horses will run in an official LD race in Ivor.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Our Educational Foundation Is Now Approved By The IRS

You cannot imagine how long I have been looking forward to being able to make this announcement. The Gwaltney Frontier Farm Educational Foundation is now approved as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation. This is a separate entity from the Gwaltney Frontier Farm, Inc, which is a 501 (c) 5 breed conservation non-profit.

Here is what that means. Contributions to the Educational Foundation are now tax deductible. Of much more importance is the fact that we will now be able to apply for grants from charitable foundations to fund our educational programs.

We have never turned anyone away for lack of ability to pay program fees. We have never charged for our veterans program conducted weekly in conjunction with the local Veterans Hospital. We have never had paid staff. Every thing that is done is done by volunteers. Our horses eat 10-14 tonnes of hay a week. For all of these years we have made do with program fees, contributions, fundraisers, and now,  contributions of the money earned by performances of Pasture #3 (our music program).

Each month we wait until we have enough money to pay our bills and then we write the checks. When there is a shortfall, contributions and loans from program participants keep us a float. And it is a formula that has worked. We pay no rent for our pastures and structures on the land. That has saved a fortune over the years.

The Foundation will be able to accept contributions that will allow us to pay program fees for families that cannot afford to pay full fees. We have always simply absorbed those costs. Now we can accept funding to provide scholarships for our programs.

The Foundation will be able to accept contributions and grants to help cover the cost of our educational programs, both for riding and natural horsemanship programming and also for our other programming, such as teaching microbial farming, teaching trauma related topics and using horses to understand PTSD, teaching heritage livestock preservation, teaching soil and water conservation projects----in short helping to actually pay for what we teach.

It will provide funding to obtain filming equipment to film and distribute our educational programs. That is a very high priority for me. It will allow people thousands of miles from the horse lot to benefit from our educational programs.

And, eventually, I hope that it will provide funding for a paid Educational Director to develop and conduct current and new educational programs. Few people really understand why I so often stress that , at our core, we are an educational institution.  We are a place of learning.

Lastly, this move comes at a good time for us. Though it might seem hard to understand, one of the biggest potential threats that our program faced in years past was to be flush with cash. For example, there was a time, many years ago, when the idea was floated  of us having an indoor arena and a show ring. Such additions would have destroyed our program.

Our 501 (c) 3 status will help us expand and enhance our programs. And I have waited along time to be able to announce this .

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Mammoth Donkeys Come to MSIH

Sean and Jerry, Mammoth Donkeys soon to reach their fifth year, arrived here recently. Jenner Thomas has a strong interest in donkeys. It started with Nick, our large standard donkey, born to a BLM jenny that Momma and Daddy adopted years ago.

I will work with Jenner to get these donkeys saddle trained when they are a bit older. We have already begun Sean's training to drive. It is going to be great for he and Jenner to roll our our bales of hay each week as they are delivered to the pastures.

They might be even more affectionate than Choctaw horses. They are smart and learn fast. This is a great addition to our other Heritage breed livestock.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Why Your Child Needs To Learn Natural Horsemanship

The practice of natural horsemanship requires young people to learn empathy on the deepest of levels.

Natural horsemanship is simply the art of communicating with a horse in a manner that the horse instinctively understands. Instead of trying to teach a horse to learn English, natural horsemanship requires the human to learn to speak "horse." But learning those lessons only scratch the surface. Students learn what motivates horses, and why they act as they do.  In short, it teaches one to understand  horses. A child who learns to understand a creature as different from humans as are horses will find it much easier to understand the feelings of the other people around him.

The practice of natural horsemanship requires young people to learn to be leaders and to accept their role as leaders. 

Natural horsemanship teaches the difference between providing security and direction to horses and trying to bully  horses into compliance. It teaches them that it is ok to be the leader--that it is ok to be the boss.

The practice of natural horsemanship requires young people to learn the importance of showing affection and approval to a horse.

Natural horsemanship works best when it is based on 51% control and 49% affection.  Natural horsemanship teaches young people that the horse needs your time, your affection and your leadership more than it needs the treats that you might give him.

The practice of natural horsemanship gives young people greater confidence and a well deserved feeling of accomplishment.  

When a shy, timid or traumatized child learns to control the movement of a 700 pound horse in a round pen using only gestures and visual focus the child changes. I have seen it happen too often  to ever be convinced otherwise. That confidence can be a strong protection against developing anxiety disorders and it can be a tremendous tool in over coming anxiety and depression.

The practice of natural horsemanship will allow children to grow up to be better parents.

The wisdom gained in the round pen carries over into every other relationship the child will have .  We do not practice natural horsemanship merely because it makes better horses. We practice natural horsemanship because it makes better people

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Corollas on Our Endurance Team

Over the summer several of our riders have been working to get themselves and our horses in shape for the development of a Colonial Spanish horse endurance team. We are just beginning and are not trying to break any speed records. We are working to show what can be accomplished by these horses and their riders, whether the riders are 11 years old or 60 years old.

We have been conditioning Colonial Spanish horses of the Banker Strain (Corolla and Shackleford), Choctaw Strain, horses of Choctaw and Grand Canyon lineage, two 1/2 Corollas, Karma Farms lineage, and some whose lineage goes back to the Cayuse Ranch.

Generally trotting and cantering on rides of at least five miles, the horses have been brought along slowly in their conditioning. But each horse began with a step up over most modern horses. Living as naturally as possible, living primarily off of hay, grass and forbs, no shoes, and most importantly, no stables gives them a great baseline of health and fitness before they ever begin conditioning.

For now the kids are leaning to ride distances. If we like it, perhaps next summer we will make it a much more serious part of our program.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Mandy: Songs to Sing and Tales to Tell

Do you have any idea what you are looking at in this picture? Unless you spend time at the horse lot I strongly suspect that you are seeing much more than you realize.

...You are seeing learning, but even more importantly, you are seeing teaching. Mandy has become one of my best teachers. She is a good rider, is rapidly becoming a great horse trainer, and when we are on stage her voice is the anchor that holds the songs together.

Our program is diverse. No one gets paid. Everyone is a volunteer. I hate to single out individuals for recognition because for everyone that I mention there are another 8 or 10 doing vital things to keep our program growing.

But our program could not exist without the hard work of several brilliant and dedicated young people. Were I pressed to name a single aspect of our program that gives me the most pleasure it would be watching young people like Mandy become leaders.

Yesterday I rode behind a bit and I watched three kids, ages 11, 12, and 13 ride ahead of me. A Corolla mare, a Corolla stallion, and a Shackleford gelding moving beautifully in the woods with talented riders in the saddle--loping through the woods, laughing and handling their horses well.

And I get to watch these kids become caring, compassionate, hardworking, and tough as nails.

And it makes it possible for me to imagine this program still growing in thirty years