Thursday, March 17, 2022

The First Step: The Connection

Or maybe not. Perhaps the first step is to understand the mind and motivations of the horse. Perhaps the first step is to truly understand that the horse is not a person and that treating it as if it were human does the horse a tremendous disservice.

Tam understands. Tam builds real connections with horses.

You can too.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Quite Simply The Most Important Program That I Have Ever Developed

Beginning Friday March 18, from 6-7 pm, at the round pen at Mill Swamp Indian Horses, located at 9299 Moonlight Road, Smithfield Va 23430 we will begin another set of our sessions, targeting young people, on how to apply the lessons learned from the horses to life in this world. Psychiatric hospitalizations for young people have skyrocketed in recent years. Anxiety and depression are at higher rates for young people than have ever been measured. Metabolic disorder, diabetes, and a range of other lifestyle related health problems are at all time highs for young people in our nation. 

Young people deserve better. We can do better for them. 

For over twenty years I have prosecuted crimes against children, child molestation and sexual assault crimes. For nearly the same length of time I have been teaching young people to ride, tame and train wild horses and young domestic horses. I have studied the effects of trauma, adverse child hood experiences, and the crippling effect of avoidance behaviors in formal setting and on my own for two decades. For seven years (before the virus) I worked on a weekly basis, (weather permitting) with those who were in the in patient PTSD program at the Hampton VA. 

To put it in its simplest terms, we will learn to become better people. The weekly sessions will focus on increasing confidence, building communication skills, dealing with anxiety, becoming more generous and caring, learning to build a sense of community, and perhaps most importantly, learning to understand ourselves. Eventually we will learn to apply lessons of healthy nutrition and exercise to ourselves as we seek to do with the horses.

 Of course, there is no charge to participate in this program. I hope to see it grow into quite a large group. As we have stressed for years, we practice natural horsemanship not only to make better horses, but to make better people. Everyone in the program from age eight on into young adult is invited to join us.

And those outside of our program are urges to join us. Again, there is no charge to participate. To register please send an email to

Come Out And Learn Natural Horsemanship From Our Training Team

Beginning this Wednesday, March 16, 2022 at 6:00 pm Chris Cavin, Animal Welfare Coordinator for Mill Swamp Indian Horses, will begin our first session of the spring program "Our Training Team: Applying Natural Horsemanship to Make Better Horses and Better People." Sessions will continue at this time on Wednesdays, weather permitting though the spring.

The sessions are free and open to the public. Chris and some helpers will be working with different horses in  different stages of their training with an eye toward training using safe, humane methods of communication. Whether one is new to natural horsemanship or has years of experience under one's belt, these sessions will provide a chance to network with other practitioners of natural horsemanship and will even have opportunities for hands on participation in training at times.

Chris has been riding with us and training since he was a young child . His patience and calm, confident demeanor are at the core of his training style. Chris embodies the Mill Swamp Indian Horse philosophy of respect for the horse as a horse.

This is a spectacular opportunity for those who want to learn to understand the mind of the horse.  

...and its free.

Mill Swamp Indian Horses is located at 9299 Moonlight Road, Smithfield, Va 23430. In order to register please send an email to

Thursday, March 3, 2022

A Deep And Meaningful History

 We have many enthusiastic participants in our program, but there are only a handful that have been around this program as long as Chris has.  Chris is taking a bigger roll in our program every day. Chris sent me what is set out for the blog. It is a great look at what the social isolation of the virus has cost us and a great prescription on how to get back in high gear.

It is currently the final day of February as I sit here and type this up.  We've had a few brief glances of a happy spring weather followed by days of below freezing temperatures in the past weeks. The light shines longer in the day. Some horses have begun to shed their heavy winter coat, and there are a few spring grasses and shrubs beginning to force their way through the  soil.  

I'm not exactly sure what gave me the inspiration to decide to try and write something for the blog. I made a lot of changes to myself and my lifestyle in the past 6 to 9 months so why not try it. It is something I have been asked to do before but have always made excuses or shrugged it off as not important.  I decided yesterday or the day before to give it a shot regardless of whether it's post worthy or not.  

 The other day I was looking back at the blog as a reference as to when something happened out at the horse lot. I noticed that the blog had a search bar on it. I had probably seen it before but never thought much of it because I thought you could only look up titles with it and sometimes Steve's titles are pretty wacky and have nothing to do with the subject matter.  I found out that it really pulls up any article that really even has the word or words in it. I got curious and just started searching things.  Eventually I started searching people who I know have or had a big impact on the program throughout its history--- Abigail,  Audrey,  Mandy, Tam,  Lydia, Jen, Emily, Curie, and I'm sure many others who I forget to name here. 

What I came to find I found extremely refreshing. There is so much history of the program in the blog.  The history that I found the most refreshing was the history of the hospitality,  happiness,  and sense of community that this program has shown to me and many others throughout its history.   

    In a time when a virus has affected everyone In some way or another, many without them even knowing . People constantly looking over their shoulder or in constant protection mode like a horse in a new environment . Always ready to snap at any moment , whether it be verbally or taking it out in some other ways such as cutting themselves off from others or never helping others.  It was so refreshing to just see posts about every participating family coming together to work together as one big family for lack of a better word. Regardless of different views or opinions.  Everyone came together for one cause. 

It wasn't a one time occurrence there's many different posts about different events or major program days.  

    I wasn't able to sit down and write this all at once but I believe that to maybe be a good thing because I really had time to work my brain and collect my thoughts on this matter.  I strongly encourage every rider and program participant and their families to take time and truly dive through the educational archive that is this blog.  You'll be surprised at just how much you find that can be applied to your involvement in the program or your life itself 
    It is now another one of those happy warm spring days and that will soon come to be a normal occurrence again as it has every year before.