The Horse-Human Relationship Program

Vogelherd horse. Length less than 2 inches. About 30,000 years old.

Horses and Indigenous people have been interacting with each other for millennia. For people of European descent, the ancient nature of this relationship is visible in art such as the 30,000 year old Vogelherd horse statue from a Paleolithic site in a German cave. Horses have been an integral part of our lives for a very long time. Somewhere along the way, several thousand years ago, the dominant culture changed that relationship. Instead of recognizing the horse as a partner, friend, family member, even Elder, humans began to see horses as “other,” as tools to use instead of fellow creatures to relate to. Tapestry’s Horse-Human Relationship Program explores this ancient relationship, one still practiced today by Indigenous people but lost to the dominant culture, and teaches people how to reclaim this way of relating with horses.

The most gifted leaders in many of our programs have been Mustangs and Indian Ponies who have come to us to do this work. Part of the reason our programs are so powerful is due to the way we at Tapestry view and treat horses. To begin with, horses are proud members of their own Nation. They are not human beings, and they are not mimics or imitators or mirrors of human beings. That is to say horses are not human side-kicks or tools. They are our peers, in every sense of that word. Horses have their own wisdom, their own gifts of healing and teaching, and they share these with humans as much as we permit them to do so.

We have been able to study the impact of trail riding on the group meeting process, conduct a research survey within the horse community about the horse-human relationship, explore how working with horses within Indigenous worldview using mindfulness benefits sexual assault survivors, and provide an experience with gentled and wild Mustangs during women’s empowerment workshops.

Tapestry is establishing a home in Northwestern Nebraska, and the Mustangs will be a part of that. They will interact with people remotely via the latest in live webcam and 360 photography technology. Whenever you’re especially stressed or feeling anxious (and in 2020 so far, who isn’t feeling anxious?), you’ll be able to unwind with free-roaming Mustangs, wide skies, and powerful land.

Even more exciting news is that the Horse-Human Relationship Program has a whole herd of new learning opportunities coming to horse lovers everywhere. Because of that, it’s getting its own “all horse, all the time” website this summer to keep things simple in your browser bookmarks. And it’s got its own social media accounts as of now, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  These will allow you to explore the growing selection of webinars, workshops, mentoring, coaching, podcasts, and videos we’ll be preparing and producing, and sign up for ones that specifically interest you. And because the Horse-Human Relationship is still a Tapestry program, all these opportunities will help you start learning how to connect with horses from within Indigenous worldview. Here’s the secret you may not have known: that doing this is how a rider develops feel. Because feel isn’t elusive; it’s Indigenous.

— Photo of Vogelherd horse sculpture is from MUT: Museum der Universität Tübingen, licensed through Wikimedia Commons. Second photo © Tapestry Institute, 2015, All Rights Reserved. —