First Nations people have long regarded the human/horse partnership as “two spirits becoming one.” We can choose to believe there is a spiritual connection between human and horse or we can choose not to. Many successful rider and horse teams believe solely in training and control, with no emphasis on connection. But, when you see certain horseman work with a horse and change the horses behaviour and reaction in less than an hour, it is easy to believe that some humans can connect with a horse in a way that defies explanation. We are reminded of the explanation “two spirits becoming one”.
As we look at the spiritual connection with horses that some humans have, we can look at the program “Wild Horse Inmate Program” in Florence, Colorado. This program was started over two decades ago, and was originally a plan to use cheap prison labour to manage wild horses and prepare the horses for adoption. An unintended result was the practical rehabilitation of hardened criminals. One inmate, named Morris, explained how he recognized in the wild horse his own fear. The horse’s fear, and reaction to fear, mirrored his own. The horse was just trying to survive and lashed out by being aggressive and mean. Morris saw himself in that horse (an epiphany) and began to feel compassion and understanding, not only for the wild horse, but also for his fellow inmates, and for himself. Not only did this program save and put up for adoption the wild horses, but in many cases the inmates were emotionally rescued by the horses.
When living in the wilderness horses listen and trust their herd leader. As flight animals this leader guidance saves them from predators. That same trust, if earned by us, allows the same trust and guidance of movement under saddle – and reminds us of the ancient bond between horse and human. A horses gift to us is “two spirits becoming one” and our gift to them, is guiding their feet safely through a trust partnership and free from fear.
Janice Ecclestone, Inukshuk Farm, 1940 Birch Island Road, Selwyn, ON
New Website www.inukshukfarm.ca