Saturday, April 9, 2022

So What Is A Week Like At Mill Swamp Indian Horses?

Mill Swamp Indian Horses, located in Smithfield, Virginia, is a non-profit breed conservation program where nearly extinct strains of Colonial Spanish horses and other breeds of heritage livestock, including Narragansett turkeys, Spanish Goats, Hog Island sheep, Scottish Highland cattle and Ossabaw hogs are preserved and promoted. We teach riding, natural horsemanship, natural horse care, hoof care and trimming, roots and Americana music, wildlife habitat creation, soil and water conservation, and host a wide range of trauma informed programs using natural horsemanship as a springboard to understanding trauma, anxiety, and depression.

And all of this is accomplished with no paid staff. All of the work is done by volunteers and program participants.

I can't say that this week has been a typical week. Every week brings its own special flavor to the year. Here is a quick rundown of what happened this week.

Those whose schedules allow get in a quick ride through the woods Tuesday-Thursday at 7:00 am before heading into work. We are building additional paddocks for our Choctaw colts and our smaller livestock so some of us worked on building fences in the morning instead of riding.

 This was a big week for Tim. Although he only began riding a year ago, the completed his 1000th mile in the saddle for that first year this week. 

Tuesday's are our normal nights for our music program to get together to play guitars, fiddles, banjos, dulcimers, dobros autoharps, wash boards, mandolins, a bouzouki, and recently even  a didgeridoo, but we held off of music for a week so that we could put that time into building fence before the poison ivy grew in.

Wednesday night at 6:00 we held our free sessions on natural horsemanship in which trainers and students had a chance to observe, and put into practice, safe, humane horse training techniques. 

Our homeschool program, which focuses on learning to work together, along with a wide range of educational opportunities, began the morning by repairing heavy rain damage to our path, followed up by planting the spring garden, and ended the day with a short field trip to observe a local farm that practices cultivation of native grasses for wildlife habitat and does controlled burning to create even better habitat for small game. We followed up with  a visit to a beaver dam that just went into construction and we ended the day with a trip out to see an enormous eagle's nest.

Rain lead to the cancellation of one of the most important programs that we have. Our Friday night sessions at the round pen for young people teach the application of the lessons of natural horsemanship  to human life. These trauma informed sessions deal with issues of communication, stress management, anxiety, depression, and exercise and nutrition.

And we will end this week with our first in house endurance ride of the year. This ride will be an introduction to endurance riding and participants will learn more about vet checks, being part of pit crews, riding in the events, and the necessary conditioning, both for horse and rider, to make these events a great experience for both.

And that is what this week will have encompassed. And all of these programs are currently provided for only $160.00 per family per month. See our web site at If you would like to learn more simply send an email to after April 15. I am about to head out of town for training and I won't be looking at emails until then. 

And no, I don't carry a smart phone. 

That is one of the reasons that I have time to keep all of these programs cranking.

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