Feed on

pathofthehorseIn the past few months Vicki and I have embarked on yet another path to the horse, one that has led me to contemplate all the other paths that we have followed, and which have ultimately brought us full circle to the human whom we aspire to be. Before devoting a post to this, I would like to look back to where it all began for us in Australia when we discovered Alexander Nevzorov and soon after Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling. What really captured my imagination at the time was not only the apparent prowess of these ‘masters’ – after all, it is what one expects of them – but also the story of just another ordinary human persecuting horses in the way that many of us learned to do who experienced an epiphany of awareness. The result was, is and has been dramatically liberating … for that human, her horses, me, and other horses and humans around the world. Now, some five years on, I would like to revisit this ongoing story with you.


From answers to questions

A childhood passion for horses

Stormy May: a childhood passion for horses

If America is the country where dreams meet success, she was just another epitome of this stereotype.As a child she developed a passion for horses. She dreamt of filling her life with horses and she succeeded. She decided to become a horse trainer and she succeeded, if the number of trained horses that left her stable was anything to go by. She decided to become a riding instructor and she succeeded, if the number of reasonably accomplished riders who left her training centre was anything to go by. Indeed, so successful was she, that she was admitted into the ranks of the equestrian establishment as a competition judge.

This young woman had all the answers about horses for those humans who sought her assistance. Yet something was missing. Somewhere along the way the paths of the human and her horse had separated. True, she had her horse and he did what his human demanded of him. But where was the horse of her dreams, the noble creature with whom she had once aspired to dance? She looked back at pictures of her childhood with horses and asked herself, ‘Where had the beauty, majesty and freedom of horses gone?’ And what had happened to the human who had found beauty in those childhood dreams?

‘I used to be a horse trainer. I used to be a riding instructor … until the day I realised that somewhere I had gone off course.’


In search of answers

So the young woman looked around her for answers. Her search brought her into contact with the films and writings of people who seemed to have discovered the elusive horse-human relationship of her dreams. They have since become household names to a growing number of humans who are actively searching for a new way of being with horses: Mark Rashid, Linda Kohanov, Carolyn Resnick, Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling and Alexander Nevzorov. ‘These people broke with tradition and focused more on what we can learn from horses than what we can teach them.’ And so the young woman decided to go and speak to these people.

Nevzorov: an excerpt from the video that started my journey on the path of the horse


The Path of the Horse

The young woman’s name was Stormy May. She used her video camera to produce a documentary of her search for answers, which she called The Path of the Horse. Vicki and I saw it soon after it was released and arranged a screening of it for ‘horsey’ friends in our home outside Byron Bay. We subsequently learned that we were but a small number of the humans who have been so profoundly challenged by that film to follow the path of the horse.

 ‘I made a choice to leave behind the life I knew. I sold my ranch to fund this search, bought a video camera and plane tickets and set out to find a different way of doing things.’

Five years on, Stormy May has decided to release The Path of the Horse for all of us to view free of charge. If you have never seen this documentary before, it comes highly recommended. Those of us who have seen it may wish to view it again, if only to dip into some of the energy that inspired us to travel the path we are on.

The Path of the Horse: the full documentary

If you would like to order a DVD featuring a superior quality version of The Path of the Horse, please use the link at the end of this post.


The path to Our Horses

Since embarking on her path to the horse and ultimately to the human within her, Stormy May has found a home for herself and her horses in northern California, one where horse and human can live side-by-side without either making demands on the other. Here they can help each other discover what it means to be fully horse and fully human.

The Path of the Horse continued: the path to Our Horses


As an extension of this Stormy May has linked up with like-minded humans around the world to establish an international community called Our Horses. Its mission statement is disarmingly unpretentious:

‘We are an international community of friends working together to create a better world starting with providing sanctuary for horses and humans. We are dedicated to spreading peace through heart and feeling-based education with horses at our sanctuaries and by working together on service projects that uplift humanity.’


Horse and human sanctuaries

At the time of writing Our Horses lists seven horse and human sanctuaries on its website. There are four in the United States of America: two in California, one in Wisconsin and one in Texas. The latter is headed by Brandy and Ren, a gifted photographer and dedicated barefoot trimmer whom Vicki and I were privileged to meet at the Nevzorov Haute Ecole seminar hosted by Michael Bevilacqua and Chloe Lacroix in Canada in September last year (see my post entitled At the Interface of Horse-Human Interaction).

Europe is also represented. There is an Our Horses sanctuary in Poland, another in Denmark and a third in north-eastern Spain (or Catalonia depending on your point of view). Perhaps more will come, not only in Europe but also in other parts of the world.


Online community

Our Horses includes an online community which is open to anyone who shares the commitment expressed in the Our Horses mission statement. Here members from around the world can network with each other, sharing ideas and helping each other.

The online community has spawned a number of groups with a specific focus. One of these is the ‘hontonto relationships’ group. The information provided about this group mentions that ‘hontonto’ is ‘a Maidu Indian word meaning together in heart and spirit, used to designate a way of being with horses and others that is characterized by freedom from force, restriction, and pain and focused on healing and leading healthy lives in community’.


Uplifting commitment

The hontonto relationships group represents an uplifting commitment to improving the lives of horses and humans. The members of this group make the following pledge:

OurHorses pledge

I pledge to create peaceful, healthy, hontonto relationships with the horses in my life. While I cannot know for certain how a horse experiences being ridden, scientific studies have shown that riding can cause pain and damage to a horse’s back, head, mouth, and other parts of their bodies. I will not ride, nor will I support equestrian sport, which places human gratification over the well-being of horses.

I pledge to not breed horses or condone the breeding of captive horses while there are not enough homes for all the horses alive today to live lives where they are protected and cared for.

I pledge to use the time that would be spent riding or in other self-serving pursuits to heal myself, so I can help care for others and the planet we share. I will spend less time in ways that gratify primarily myself or my immediate family, (e.g. television watching, gaming, sports, travel, shopping, hobbies, etc.) and devote the resources that would have been spent on these to help create and support sanctuaries for horses and humans where everyone is cared for.

I pledge to use my gifts and talents to share what I have in excess with my neighbours and my family from all parts of the world in the best ways I know how according to my heart stirrings.


Uplifting challenge

The hontonto relationship group’s OurHorses Pledge is the most radically uplifting challenge – that I am aware of anyway – issued to those of us humans who have chosen to spend a large part of our lives with horses. As such, not everyone will feel called upon to subscribe to it. Where its strength lies though is in the direction towards which it points. It is a path to the horse as the horse seeks to exist in its own right. And ultimately, by acknowledging the horse for what it is and helping it to be a horse rather than an accessory to the human ego, it is a path to the human waiting to be released within each one of us. Amen!


All quotes from the documentary, The Path of the Horse, and the website, www.ourhorses.org.


The Path of the Horse: the trailer for the book





2 Responses to “A Path … to the Horse … to the Human”

  1. Yes, Andrew, this one goes as far as possible in terms of unweaving the tapestry of modern life as we know it. For this isn’t just about a horse trainer: you can apply the same logic to just about any profession – and the frightening, yet challenging, question it raises is how you make a living after you ‘throw in the towel’, after you acknowledge that you, and just about any profession, need to be reinvented. It is a ground breaking but very relevant question. How do we work together to make the world we so desire a reality?

    Thank you for setting up the dialogue that concerns us all.


    P.S. My adorable pathfinder, Cassius, passed away; long live Cassius! Yes, I look forward to meeting him and his friends again on the other side of the rainbow bridge.

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Ian

      It is indeed a very frightening yet challenging question: how do you reinvent yourself after you turn your back on your safe, known and trusted means of living to find a meaningful, liberating way of keeping body and soul together, one which goes beyond the self and also seeks to help others who are close to embarking or have embarked on a similar journey to do the same?

      There was a time when I used to think in terms of changing the world or building a new one. Now I tend to think more in terms of my world, not in the individualistic sense of mine to the exclusion of others but rather my experience of who and what inhabits the bit of world through which I move. The question then becomes simpler and more manageable: how can I make my world a better place for those who inhabit it and keep body and soul together while doing so? If all of us just focused on this, it would be enough to change the world, methinks.

      Go well, Cassius!

      May you and yours be well!