Program 105: Health and Healing

The Horse as Healer

Judy Bluehorse Skelton

Judy Bluehorse Skelton

with Judy Bluehorse Skelton

Arlie Neskahi:
The horse has a special place in many native cultures – as messengers, as healers, and as teachers. In today’s health and healing segment, Judy Bluehorse Skelton explains.

Judy Bluehorse Skelton: There are many creation stories that speak of a time long ago when the plant people, the entire plant world, and the animal world, consisting of the four nations of animals: the winged ones that fly, the finned ones that swam in the waters, the creepy crawling, and the four leggeds, and the humans, the two leggeds could all communicate with one another. This was a beautiful time. Everything was in good relationship.

However, the humans began to get greedy. They began to forget the ceremonies. They began gathering too much. They began taking the lives of too many animals, over fishing, over hunting. They forgot to sing the songs. They forgot to be respectful. And things began to fall out of balance.

Music:
Burning Sky
Marilyn’s Waltz
Blood Of The Land
Capitol Records

So one of the consequences was that the plant world and the animal world and the humans could no longer communicate with one other. And that was lost.

We learn a lot from animals by just observing their habits, observing what plants they go to for medicine, observing how they raise their own, observing how they move through the land, through the forest or through the desert. Watching fish, how they move through the ocean, how they move through the streams, and watching how birds fly.

Animals, like plants, are teachers. Today, in our society, mainstream society, we forget how to observe, how to tune in, how to quiet down the other busy noises of modern life, and reflect, and invite in the natural world.

Animals’ role in healing goes back thousands of years. All cultures around the planet have honored and have acknowledged the role that animals play in healing. Today, there are even studies that show when pets, cats and dogs are brought in to visit elderly in a nursing home, or brought in to visit children in a hospital, that all sorts of levels, like the immune level, goes up. Pain decreases. Positive hormones are released. Laughter, a feeling of joy, warmth, love is all registered on the patient or the elderly’s face and also reflected in the monitors that they hook them up to just to do these sorts of clinical tests on the effects that animals have on healing.

Music:
Burning Sky
Marilyn’s Waltz
Blood Of The Land
Capitol Records

Each animal has special significance. We can pay attention to animals that have played a prominent role, that have gathered our attention. Maybe as a child, there was a particular animal we were fond of. Maybe through dreams, a particular animal visits. We want to pay attention to dreams. We want to pay attention to the animals that surround us in our lives, because they are there for a reason. Animals many times can be carriers of information, messengers.

In some of the tribes’ cultures, the horse, which was believed to have been brought by the Spaniards – and the modern day horse was brought by the Spaniards, however, we also have stories of a smaller horse, the little brother to the horse we know of today, who traveled and was here on north America. And there are stories of the little horse who goes away, tells the people “remember me. I’ll be coming back. And when I return, I will be bigger, but watch for me.” and so when the Spanish brought the horse that we’re used to today, he was recognized as the big brother of the little horse that used to be here. And was very welcome.

Some scientists and archeologists have thought that there was no horse here, but they have uncovered ceremonial writing, crops and other carvings depicting the horse and they date before the arrival of the Spaniards by hundreds of years. And so we know that the stories the elders have passed down are true and that the little horse that was here has come back to us.

Music:
Burning Sky
Marilyn’s Waltz
Blood Of The Land
Capitol Records

The horse came to many tribes, particularly in the plateau and the plains region. The Nez Perce people of the Idaho area, the plateau region, took the horse and began to breed it into the beautiful appaloosa. Appaloosa is noted for the distinctive spots on the hind quarters. A very strong horse, beautiful horse. However, during the turn of the century, when the tribes were being moved onto reservations, many were given to soldiers or to white settlers. And for a period of time, the Nez Perce lost the Appaloosa.

However, part of the renaissance going on in Indian country today, all over the country is the restoring of some of our native animals to our native lands. In Idaho, Nez Perce in Idaho, we have the wolf restoration program and the center that can
Be visited by others.

Just recently, since the 1990’s, the Nez Perce have also begun breeding the appaloosa again. The oldest appaloosa now is six years old in this new breed.

One of the healing aspects that the Appaloosa breeding program is offering to young people is an opportunity to connect once more with this traditional horse. They learn how to ride. They learn how to care for, even doing horse shoeing. But the young people are getting an opportunity to work with horses, building their own self-esteem, while at the same time connecting with this important animal to our culture.

Horseback riding and horse programs are being used today to help offer healing to young people, to children with disabilities, to children who do not get outside of the city, who have an urban experience only, and to reconnect them with the animal world and the larger natural world around them.

Music:
Burning Sky
Marilyn’s Waltz
Blood Of The Land
Capitol Records

With each breath, with each step, in each moment, may we all create beauty. Osa Dadu.

Neskahi:
Judy Bluehorse Skelton teaches herbal medicine at conferences and workshops in Portland, Oregon. To learn more about the wolf recovery program and the Appaloosa breeding program. You can visit the Nez Perce web site at www dot nezperce.org. That’s www dot n-e-z-p-e-r-c-e dot org.

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