Thursday, August 26, 2021

Taking the Show On The Road: Our First Clinic In Pennsylvania is Just Around The Corner

I am really looking forward to this session. It is going to be great fun and we will be discussing the most important aspect of the horse/human relationship. One could have spent a lifetime watching natural horsemanship demos and still walk away from this session with an entirely new perspective

If life works out as hoped for, I would love to travel one weekend a month to do these sessions everywhere I am invited. . 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Your Granddaddy Would Have Really Enjoyed Seeing all These Kids Back Here: Saving the Family Farm

That's what my uncle said once. He was right. Granddaddy Horace would be very happy seeing what is going on on his farm, the farm that was his Granddaddy's farm, the farm that has been in my family for over 100 years. And Momma would enjoy it too. She would be very pleased to know that we have never turned any one away for inability to pay program fees. Lido would be very happy to see so many kids learning to work as hard as he did, with so many different breeds of Heritage Livestock and he would love our music program.

Across this nation  small farmers are getting ready to bring in the crops and many of them are wondering if they will be able to hold on long enough to plant and harvest another year. They can't help but wonder if all of the work is worth it.

If you fall in that category, consider this. You can fence in a few acres of your land and build a riding and horse training program that will, bring life and bring it more abundantly, to young people all over the area. If you don't have the skill and experience to teach kids and horses, you can certainly find someone who does to administer the program. 

Also consider becoming a natural horse care boarding facility. This can be done with minimum investment. Read the great book, "Pasture Paradise" and learn everything that you can about natural horse care.  Get insurance to protect you in the event of an injury. 

You can become the person that gives a lot of kids a reason to get up in the morning. You can do something that will give your life meaning and purpose. You can actually have a positive impact on the lives of people who will be born after you are gone.

And think about this--you are getting older every day. The days that are gone are beyond your influence , but you can influence the days to come. A person that runs a natural horsemanship program will never die alone. You will always have young people that care around you.

You know how good it feels to watch corn that has been stunted from dry weather take off and grow beautiful when it gets enough rain. It feels much better to watch a kid who has been stunted from living in an emotional drought take off and grow that kid gets the attention and support that the kid deserves.

And we can help. You can come out and see how we do things and you can take what we do and apply the same ideas to a profit making enterprise. Yes, if you set out to do so you can make money from this model. 

Nothing would please us more than to be able to help others develop a program, for profit or not. No, we would never think of charging a consulting fee. Want to see more about what we do, see our web site and if you want more information send me an email at

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Keeping Your Horse Healthy While Protecting Your Sanity

There are very few opportunities for self analysis better than owning or working with horses. If you will pay attention to what you are doing, the horse can tell you a lot about what you are doing to yourself.

But you have to be willing to listen to the horse and you have to be willing to constantly examine yourself and ask, as Marcus Aurelius, "is this necessary?" Is what you are doing to protect your horse's health achieving that purpose or does it merely give you a little hit of dopamine from believing that you just did something "nice" for your horse?

Look closely at all of the things that you "worry" about with your horse. Unless you can demonstrate an ability to improve your horse's health through "worry" ask yourself  what good all that worry does. Responsible horse owners work hard to stay current on research that actually affects the horse's well being. Such horse owners make up a very small proportion of horse owners. Very small indeed. 

Most horse owners are happy to be able to recite rules about how old a horse should be before it takes a rider, or how much weight a horse can carry, or whether "turn out" is worth the risk of injury. One can do nothing but pity the plight of horses whose owners are perfectly happy remaining ignorant, as long as their ignorance conforms to the ignorance of all of  other proud members of the established horse world. 

Of all the people in the established horse world there are none more pitiful than the horsepochondriacs. They are obsessed with a fear of a health problem that must be determined, examined, treated, and medicated.  These treatments and medications often involve removing the horse from his band, isolating him, medicating him, keeping him from grass, and if stabled keeping him from sunlight.

Such people often view every behavioral and training problem as a medical problem. It is bizarre indeed to see so many answers on social media to those who are writing in with problems with their horses , only to be flooded with answers that first one needs to get the vet our to make sure that the horse does not have problem with ...blah ..blah ..blah

The irony could not be richer. A healthy horse remains healthy when living in his band, eating grasses, hay and forbs, taking in sunshine and most of all, being able to move. 

Does veterinary care have its place? Of course it does. We regularly have the vets out. Our horses get shots and receive very regular hoof care. But in between those visits we do not spend our time with the horses wringing our hands about what medicine, supplement, or thing that you heard about on social media we should give your horses. 

Instead we give them what they need--a forage based diet, intense physical affection, an opportunity to live in small bands with other horses, and heavy exercise. They spend no time in stables. They have positive human experiences. That means that they are exposed to people who have learned, or are learning, to understand the horse's mind. Most of all, it means that they are not exposed to human bullies or cowards. both ae devastating to the horse's ability to become secure and confident. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Communicating Confidence: Handling the Terrified Wild Horse For The First Time

This wild BLM mustang arrived at the horse lot around nine am and here he is taking a saddle about eight hours later. He has been with us for five days and loves to be handled and brushed and has had his first rider set on the saddle.

Many people would think it better to "let him get used to his surroundings" and ignore him for a significant period of time before handling him. With some horses one must do that because they are simply too dangerous to handle. But that should not be the general practice.

He arrived terrified. If I had left him alone for a week or two there would be absolutely no reason for his fear of people to reduce. In fact, he would only have had a period of extended fear. 

Instead, we nearly immediately began giving him the most important thing that one can give a horse in training--positive human experiences. The experiences must be positive from the horse's point of view.

That means that he needs to be given the kind of emotional security that he would have in a wild band with a lead horse in charge of movement, speed and direction of  band members. He also needs the warmth of physical contact that he would receive in a band of horses.

When we say that we train with 51% control and 49% affection, this  is what we mean. One cannot beat a horse into feeling secure, but one also cannot simply hug a horse into feeling secure. 

And that one word is the key to making progress with a horse --"security". As a prey animal  a horse wants nothing more than to simply be safe and secure. 

And without feeling secure there is no way a horse can ever feel confident. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Earning the Trust of a Wild BLM Mustang

One cannot teach what one does not know. One can not give away what one does not have. One who is without trust cannot teach a wild mustang to trust. And way too often one does not know what it is is that does  not know. 

For over seven years I have worked with those who are in the in patient PTSD program at our local Veterans Hospital.  The weekly programming that we did with the horses and our guests from the Veterans Hospital was deceptively simple--we brush horses and then we work them in the round pen. We explain how prey animals respond to various cues and situations and how that is precisely the same way that people who have been traumatized tend to respond. 

Participants learn self understanding, build self confidence, and work toward building trust in the animal with whom they are working. Like those who have been sufficiently traumatized, a horse seeks security as its primary emotional drive. 

And then we deal with the difficult issue of learning how to trust. 

This horse arrived at our horse lot from a BLM auction last Saturday. He was terrified and as wild as a deer. This picture was taken about thirty one hours later. Just before the picture was taken the horse stood peacefully as Curie mounted up on him. 

He had spent much of the day being patiently handled using techniques of natural horsemanship for much of the day. He is learning to trust people.

It is not an exaggeration to say that most of what I understand about myself I learned in the round pen. When one looks down at a silted in, undisturbed, mud puddle one cannot see anything that is under that silt. But when the water is whipped into a furious mix, leaves, twigs, and bark come up out of the silt and reveal themselves. For years I have looked into the silted puddle that was my core and could see nothing beneath the surface. But lately a storm has flooded that puddle and I see much that had sat silently under the mud. 

I realized that as well as I worked with terrified horses, I could do better if I could learn to trust. I came to realize that, though I defined the term very differently than do most people, I do not fully trust those of whom I care the most. I trust them to be honest with me, to care for me, to be reliable--to be everything that people normally think of as "trust worthy". 

It is just that  I do not trust them to live

Those who have been the closest to me all too often have died or moved on. On a certain level, since Lido died I have not really expected those in my life to be around over the long haul. In the big picture this chronic instability impacts most aspects of my life. In the smaller picture it radically impacts my effectiveness in training horses and teaching kids. 

Now that I I can see what is in the mud hole I am in a better position to filter out the parts of it that hurt. And that is what I shall work on doing. I expect that if I do find a solution I will find it in the round pen.

That is usually how such things work out. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Here's What A Long Term Participant In our Home School Educational Program Has To Say About It

I get a lot of questions about the homeschool program so I asked one of my long time participants and helpers to write up her experiences with the home school program. She went from attending the home school program to becoming a solid rider, to becoming a very reliable horse trainer, all by the age of 14. Here is what she wrote about the program. 

 " Four years ago I came to the horse lot for the Friday program, expecting something quite boring and had no interest in horses
I quickly learned how to build a hugelkultur mound, run a horse in the round pen, put up a fence, run hot wire, shear a sheep, butcher a hog, how a worm farm made out of a hot tub works and to clear l acres of land without using heavy equipment. 

All things I thought I couldn’t do

Audrey and Matoaka, a horse born wild at Corolla that she trained. 

After a while a started riding and soon went on my first hard ride, then my first 50 mile ride and a 30 mile endurance race I doubted that I could do any of that but Friday’s taught me not to tell myself I couldn’t. 

 Audrey and some of the others  during a winter hog killing and processing of meat.

Audrey and a young Banker horse, one of the nearly extinct strains of  Colonial Spanish horses that we work to preserve and promote.

If you would like for your family to have the opportunities for growth and learning that Audrey has had send me an email at The cost of the program is $160.00 per family.

Mill Swamp Indian Horses is the program name of Gwaltney Frontier Farm. Inc, a 501 (c) 5 non-profit breed conservation program. We have no paid staff. Everything that we do gets done by volunteers.

So, while riding a horse for miles through the woods is great, I encourage anyone that gets the opportunity to drive out to the horse lot on a Friday morning to take that chance. Do everything you thought you couldn’t do and become a better rider and a better person.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

This Fall Could Have Been a Dangerous Train Wreck

'Lot of jumpiness going on--a few unusual circumstances and then BAM! my horse blew up on me. I stayed on for quite awhile. I would have been able to bring her down with a one rein stop but doing so would have put us in some heavy brush. I came off and rolled when I landed. 

I got up bloody from some scratches but no broken bones and minimal bruising. Being able to roll as I landed kept the contact injuries to a bare minimum. 

Please do not misunderstand the purpose of this post. It is not to boast. It is to show adults what is possible. Had this happened a year ago my chances of a serious injury would have been much higher. Very much higher.

But I am not the same person that I was a year ago. Ketogenic and intermittent fasting have allowed me to loose over forty pounds.  We purchased a small sauna. It cost about $2,000.00. I researched sauna use and muscular endurance for weeks before we made the purchase. We purchased a 110 gallon horse trough and use it for daily ice baths. I made that move after learning about Wym Hof's work in temperature extremes.  It has been years since I regularly rode a bicycle and I have come to love each morning's ride.

The best exercise for riders is to ride and ride, and ride. However, pounding the heavy bag with well padded gloves does great things for one's core strength. Walking while pumping heavy hand held weights does the same. Rucking (my version is to walk with a book bag filled with weight plates) is doing more for my abdominal strength than anything that I have done in years. Throwing in a bit  of fast walking caps off the rotating series of exercises that I do during the week.

Might sound like a lot but it is only about two hours a day, including the sauna and ice bath. During the 1/2 hour in the sauna one can read or get other work done.

But none of this would be possible had I not gotten a cpap machine several years ago to make it possible to sleep all night. It would not be possible had I not gone to the Good Foot Store and gotten arch supports that took the agony out of walking. 

And this will be the hardest part of people to understand. It would not have been possible had I not bumped into the serious study of Stoicism. It has given me an ability to focus on real priorities--not socially imposed priorities--real priorities that are actually life and death issues. 

Now let's cut through the subtly---what is real is that I am 61 years old, still twenty pounds over weight,  was never a great rider or great athlete (my only real athletic ability is that, like many of my family members, I have always been significantly stronger than most of my peers) By all rights I should be typing this from a hospital. Instead I am sitting here with a bit of discomfort from a bee sting but no discomfort whatsoever from the fall from my horse.

And my point is... you can make huge changes in your life that will result in huge changes in your health. I cannot lift as much as I could forty years ago but I genuinely believe that I am healthier than I was when I was in my twenties. 

Check with your doctor and get approval first then...Get a sauna. Get an ice bath. Get some tennis shoes. Get a bicycle. get some hand held weights. Eventually get you a heavy bag. 

And your life, and especially your life with horses, can radically improve 

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Learning Through The Ages: The Practice of Natural Horsemanship

In my twenties I sought information, power, and peace. 
I found information and power.

In my thirties I sought knowledge and peace.
I found knowledge.

In my forties I sought opportunities to serve and peace.
I found opportunities to serve.

In my fifties I sought opportunities to teach and peace.
I found opportunities to teach.

In my sixties I sought wisdom, good health,  and peace. 
I found wisdom, good health  and peace.

I got my first pony when I was two and he was one. The following year I rode him in the Christmas parade. Like many of us, during my adult years I was away from horses for a while but in coming back to them I found my world expanding. Over the years I have seen so many people begin to practice natural horsemanship and watch them as they expanded their musical and  artistic skills. I have seen so many young teens grow emotionally way beyond their years as they practice natural horsemanship. 

The practice of natural horsemanship  opens the door to a range of life enhancing experiences. Once  again we will offer our fall series "Introduction to Natural Horsemanship" from 4-6 pm on each Saturday in August. Come on out to Mill Swamp Indian Horses, 9299 Moonlight Road, Smithfield Va 23430 this Saturday and begin to expand your world. 

Monday, August 2, 2021

On Goals For A Perfect Colonial Spanish Horse Breeding Program

People have a lot of different ideas about how to breed the perfect horse. For my purposes I have often thought that if I could match the mind of a Corolla with the athleticism of an Arabian I would have the perfect horse. I now realize that if I could match the mind of a Corolla with the athleticism of an Arabian I would have average Choctaw. 

 The various Colonial Spanish horse strains of the Southeast are known to but a few riders. These horses are nearly extinct. But the perfect family horse is to be found there.

 Bankers, Choctaws, Crackers, and Marsh Tackys have it all. A skeptic once asked me if I really thought these were Super Horses. I am as certain of it as I am that ice is cold and fire is hot. 

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Still Time to Sign Up For Special Late Summer Programs and Events

We are expanding programming as we approach the Fall. Check out what will be going on at Mill Swamp Indian Horses 9299 Moonlight Road, Smithfield, Virginia.

 Introduction To Natural Horsemanship: 
Four Sessions, From 4-6 pm, weather permitting, Aug 7, 14, 221 and 28--Come on out and learn how we gently tame and train wild horses and colts. Learn how a horse thinks and what motivates his every action. Learn how human body language can be repellant to horses and learn how to couch your communication in body language that a horse naturally understands. The cost for the entire series is only $25.00 per family. This program will not be back again until the spring. To register send email to

What Natural Horsemanship Teaches Us About Life:
Perhaps the most important program that we have ever offered. Directed towards teens and adults, the sessions focus on what we can learn from natural horsemanship to become better, happier people. Sessions cover how the lessons from the round pen can be used to reduce anxiety and combat depression and deal with trauma. There is no charge to attend. We have sessions each Friday (weather permitting) Sessions last from 6-7 pm. Don't be late. To register send an email to

Homeschool Program:
Lasting from 9-2 on Fridays, weather permitting, Focus is on Learning soil and water conservation, microbial pasture development, caring for Heritage Breed Livestock, horse training, learning to work together on projects ranging from expanding fencing to clearing land to expanding vermicomposting projects. Cost is $160.00 per month per family. However, we have never turned anyone away for inability to pay fees.

The Horse Is Out Of The Barn: 
Vicarious Trauma and PTSD discussion- free session for those that are community first response, essential workers and those who provide care to others in the community. These important sessions show how we can use horses to understand and deal with trauma. The next session is August 20, 2021 at 5:00. To register send email to

The Other Equine: Life With Donkeys: 
Three sessions Sept 11, 18, and 25 from 2-4 pm. Learn about how to understand, and train what might be the safest riding mounts that an older person could ever have. Our donkeys include a half Poitou, two Mammoth jennies, and a BLM stock standard donkey. Fee is $25.00 per family for the entire series. To register send an email to

Riding Lessons:

Of course our riding lesson programs are on going. Come out and learn to ride on some of the rarest, historic American horses. Beginner classes are at 10:00 am and 1:30 pm each Saturday (weather permitting) The fee is $160.00 per family, per month. We do not turn people away for inability to pay program fees. To register for riding lessons send an email to

Mill Swamp Indian Horses is the program name of Gwaltney Frontier Farm, a 501 (c) 5 breed conservation program. No one in our program gets paid. All of the work is done by volunteers. Check out our group facebook page and our website at