Mill Swamp Riders do not learn how to win ribbons in the show ring. They do not learn how to sit up straight and demonstrate "classical riding skills." Instead they learn how horses think and how to develop real relationships with horses. They learn to train the horses and themselves for endless hours of riding on the trails. They learn how to safely and humanely control horses. They learn to control their emotions. They learn to demonstrate maturity. Mill Swamp Riders range in age from five to over fifty. They participate in educational seminars and have a first rate library of natural horsemanship at their finger tips. They work to save rare and endangered horses, like the Corolla Spanish mustangs. They understand that they are not just taking "riding lessons", but instead are part of a movement to promote natural horsemanship and natural horse care.
At Mill Swamp Indian Horses, we focus on pasture boarding for all of our horses. Our boarders help us preserve Spanish Mustangs and reinvigorate endangered breeds through their boarding fees. Boarding fees cover food and worming treatment, and there are special discounts for those who acquire a Spanish Mustang from Mill Swamp Indian Horses, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, or from registered Spanish Mustang preservation programs.
Many of our riders own and board their American Indian Horses with us.
On my first day out to the horse lot, I told my Mom that she might not be able to get me to ever leave. And that was before I even got on a horse. For my 11th birthday, I got a month's worth of riding lessons and before that month was out, I had gotten myself a job in order to pay for more lessons. I have now been riding for 9 years. And 5 years ago one of my Christmas gifts was a young mustang colt named Owl Prophet. And it was because of all Steve's investment and generosity. Over the years of riding with him and now boarding my horse there, he has offered me so many opportunities to grow and learn. As a homeschooler, I was able to spend almost every Friday (as well as Saturdays), in Smithfield learning the basics of natural horsemanship while working outside in a community of people. I have grown in confidence and through learning self-control when working with wild and nervous horses. And because of Steve's commitment to finding the strengths of individuals and building his program on those strengths, I was encouraged to learn how to understand and love people more deeply and wholesomely through interacting and working alongside them. And I was able to learn as much as I wanted. Steve pushed me to overcome my shyness with courage in teaching me how to work with my nervous jumpy long legged colt. And because he was willing to let me learn and teach myself through practice and experience, I was able to train my horse completely by myself. He is now 9 yrs. old and even though I enjoy riding any horse I am offered, I can with confidence, always pick Owl Prophet to ride when I need a guaranteed reliable horse.
--Lydia Barr, Hampton Roads, VA
1. No bare feet or sandals in pastures or around horses.
2. Everyone must wear a helmet when riding and when working an untrained horse in the round pen.
3. Safety vest (rib protectors) are to be used at the direction of the designated ride leader.
4. Do not bring dogs into the horse pasture or around riders.
5. Other than checking stirrup length, do not mount up until ride leader gives the command to do so.
6. Do not canter a horse toward the tack shed.
7. Do not turn your horse loose at the tack shed.
8. While on trail rides, horse and rider are not to pass the horse and riders in front of them, except at the direction of the ride leader.
9. Mill Swamp Indian Horses Program participants shall not ride outside of the property boundaries set by the Executive Director.
10. No violence of any kind toward persons or animals.
11. No possession of firearms or dangerous weapons on MSIH property or during activities without the express permission of the Executive Director.
12. No possession of tobacco products, alcohol or illegal drugs on MSIH property or during activities.
13. No theft of MSIH property or the property of boarders, trail riders, or program participants.