A blog for those who desire a more creative relationship with the natural world.


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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Horse & Human: The Mysterious Link

Horses have been studying humans from across the safety of a river, or from the overlook of a high ridge, or from across an expanse of grassland, for thousands of years. The oldest archealogical evidence links horses and humans as far back as 400,000 to 600,000 years ago, not as companions, but as prey and predator. When horse and human first touched because of a far more benevolent mutual curiosity, we may never know. But horses have been a part of the human heart, and of our history, for time immemorial.

We incorporate their beings into every aspect of our lives. We celebrate their presence in our art, our stories, our lives. You can view Chinese painter Xu Beihongat's beautiful images through January at the Denver Art Museum.  In Washington, DC at the National Museum of the American Indian, the exhibit A Song of the Horse Nation, created by museum scholar Emil Her Many Horses, celebrates native arts and the horse, the impact of the horse, and the decline and revival of the horse.

Yes, horses are everywhere. Even on the covers of books guiding smart women in midlife back to their horse-filled girlhood dreams, like Melinda Folse's new book, The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses. "What about my dreams?" she wants us to ask ourselves. "Is it my turn yet?" But it isn't just women who understand the desire for a relationship with a horse. Back in the 1700s, British Lord Palmerston proclaimed, "The best thing for the inside of a man, is the outside of a horse." And then, of course, there's that well known cowboy poem by Gary McMahan, who asks only that when he dies, they make a saddle out of his hide and give it to a cowgirl so that he "may rest between the two things" that he loves the best!

But sadly, throughout the centuries, humans have not always thought about what was good for the inside of the horse. Horses have been our faithful friends, dying for us in battle, carrying our belongings from horizon to horizon, carrying our children and our dreams -- from the wind-swept steppes of Mongolia, to the alpine meadows of America, from a violent past, into an unknown future.

Photo by Gary Caskey
What is it like to view the world through the eyes of the horse? To understand a horse's relationship with human beings? Why do they allow us to ride on their backs? What ancient cellular memories do they hold inside of their elegant bodies? Why are we fascinated with stories like Black Beauty and The War Horse? How can their sensual and perceptive natures help us to interpret our own stories? How can we better serve horses, rather than just allowing them to serve us? Our debt to them is immeasurable, and universal.

Creating a place and time where we could reinvision our relationship with the horse, and with ourselves, even if only for 5 days, became an important goal of mine. This will be the 5th year I've returned to the beautiful Vee Bar Guest Ranch in Wyoming to lead the Literature & Landscape of the Horse retreat, co-facilitated by my friend Sheri Griffith, who has been leading outdoor adventures for 35 years. We knew that there must be other men and women in the world who shared deep-seated yearnings to connect with horses in a new, more grateful way.

The beautiful gray horse above is a member of the Vee Bar ranch remuda. To watch a short slideshow featuring some of the other Vee Bar horses and fun times from past retreats, click on this link, Click on 2012 June retreat for complete details. And don't worry if you've never ridden a mile, or written a word. All you need to bring to Wyoming is a willingness to open your heart to the landscape of the horse, and to the landscape of your dreams.