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Corroboree Equus

corroboree-equus_logoIf you have absolutely no idea of where you will be towards the end of September or the beginning of October, you will definitely have a pretty good idea of where you could and might even want to be by the time you have read this post. ‘Corroboree Equus?’ you might mutter while scratching your head quizzically. You can probably place the ‘equus’ – it must have something to do with horses – but that ‘corroboree’ business. What on earth is that? Well, go on down under, mate, and find out.


The word, ‘corroboree’, was coined by early European settlers in imitation of ‘caribberie’, a term used by an Aboriginal tribe on the east coast of Australia to describe a gathering of people in which everyone participates in a sharing of ideas and emotions by decorating their bodies and interacting with each other through song and dance. Although individual input and spontaneity may be key elements of such a gathering, they occur within the framework of a shared context and values. Such gatherings were and are still common throughout the numerous Aboriginal tribes of Australia.

An example of a modern day corroboree

In The Tao of Equus (p. 289) Linda Kohanov mentions that the philosopher and author, Jean Houston, once asked an Australian Aboriginal woman what truly defines humans in relation to all other creatures. The woman’s immediate response was: ‘Why, we are ones who could tell the stories about all the others!’ And it is just such stories which yield the source and inspiration of the ideas and emotions shared in a corroboree. Resembling what Kohanov refers to as a collective memory, they make up what the Aboriginals call the dreaming: a shared experience of a group passed on from one generation to the next through corroborees, ceremonies and rituals.


Corroboree equus

Although the terms, ‘equus’ and ‘equine’, are commonly used to refer to horses, they actually extend well beyond that and also cover zebras and donkeys. To locate the domestic horse in the classification tree, we need to drill down through the genus (equus) to arrive at the wild horse (equus ferus), which it follows: equus ferus caballus. Of course, this is a bit of a mouthful, so we will just follow common usage and refer to ‘equus’ when we talk about the horse, a practice which received a boost with the release of Peter Shaffer’s challenging play of the same name in 1973.

The trailer for the original film adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s Equus

Joining the terms, ‘corroboree’ and ‘equus’ should therefore lead us to expect a gathering of humans with a shared set of values and outlooks in relation to horses, in which everyone is at liberty to play a role within that context. These humans come together on their own terms to share ideas and emotions, celebrating their shared approach to the horse through activities which are designed to help them teach and learn from each other in a creative, non-stressful environment.


Corroboree equus Australia

Kelly and Glenn, a couple of readers of this blog, have got together with like-minded people to organise an inaugural Corroboree Equus in the town of Tallangata in northern Victoria, Australia, from Friday, 27 September 2013 to Sunday, 6 October 2013. Participants are invited to attend all or part of this corroboree with or without their horses. The idea is for this to be ‘an informal week of SKITTEing – Sharing Knowledge, Ideas, Thoughts, Tips and Experiences. A trip to the Australian alps to encounter brumbies in the wild may be one of the highlights.

High country brumbies

High country brumbies

So who is invited? Well, if you can answer all of the following questions in the affirmative, you are: ‘Are you a horse person who respects the dignity of the horse?  Who has the horse’s welfare – emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing – at the forefront of their thoughts? Who sees the horse as a companion and friend, not a piece of sporting equipment?’ If you are interested in attending the inaugural Corroboree Equus in Australia, you can find additional information in the form of a PDF invitation here and a practical guide here.


Another ‘equus’ gathering in Canada

Nevzorov Haute Ecole has just announced another seminar to be held in the attractive resort of St Sauveur, Quebec, Canada, from 20 to 22 September 2013. Hosted by dean of the NHE online school and NHE Canadian representative, Cloé Lacroix, this will also be the last public presentation to be given by Michael Bevilacqua. For those of you who do not know him, Michael Bevilacqua was the international face of Nevzorov Haute Ecole for many years. A highly sensitive guide to horse-human interaction, Michael has also written a must-read book entitled Beyond the Dream Horse, which is recommended by the likes of Robert Cook, the inventor of the first bitless bridle, Randi Peters of Natural Horse Magazine and Stormy May. A German edition has since been published with the title, Freunde Fürs Leben: Ehrliche Partnerschaft Mit Deinem Pferd.

Michael Bevilacqua and Commanche at the 2012 NHE seminar in Canada

Michael Bevilacqua and Commanche at the 2012 NHE seminar in Canada

Vicki and I attended the 2012 NHE seminar as guests of Michael Bevilacqua and Cloé Lacroix. It was a truly moving experience. The absolute highlight of that seminar was the time that we got to spend with the horses. This was truly a corroboree equus, in which horses and humans came together and spontaneously interacted with each other within the context of a shared cross-species ethos of mutual appreciation. Nothing rushed, nothing forced, just creatures creatively being together. You can read about our experience in my post entitled At the Interface of Horse-Human Interaction. If you are interested in attending the 2013 NHE seminar in Canada, you can obtain more information about it here.


Being there

Attending such a horse-human corroboree can be an expensive business, not so much because of the cost of the event itself but more as a result of the attendant expenses of travel, accommodation and living expenses. What also makes it difficult to decide to pump money into such an endeavour is the fact that it does not represent a tangible investment. The outlay of funds does not yield a material return. This somehow seems to make it more difficult to justify the expense.

Ultimately though, if you do have some funds gathering dust for a rainy day, you may want to ask yourself what value you place on the development of a close, caring relationship between you and your horse, and ultimately your own evolution as a grounded presence in communion with the earth and those creatures who inhabit it. The breakthrough which the attendance of such a corroboree with likeminded humans can bring about, could be profound. Being there and experiencing that: what price do you put on it? So where would you like to be towards the end of September or early in October? In the maple-red autumn fire of Canada or the dew-laden spring dawn of Australia? Both perhaps?

Horses and humans at a corroboree equus in Canada


3 Responses to “Corroboree Equus”

  1. Dear Andrew – this is amazing – the CORROBOREE EQUUS ……..

    Have you and Vicky been brainstorming about this ‘activity’???
    You must have developed/acquired quite a network by now to be in a position to find out people’s feelings about this – and then, of course, especially Dutch people with or without horses – in order to phantasize or perhaps even better still consciously visualize even further into/towards a similar ‘event’ in Europe ……..

    I think it certainly is possible – why then do I not organize such an event – well, I am not the organizing type – my talents lie elsewhere ……….

    Wishing you lots of inspiration!!!! 🙂
    Take care and be well

    • Andrew says:

      Dear Geerteke

      Yes, the concept of Corroboree Equus is indeed quite amazing and Kelly, Glenn and associates are to be commended for taking the trouble to organise something like this.

      I must confess that I had not even contemplated the prospect of organising anything remotely similar in Europe. It is an idea that may be worth exploring. I have no doubt that all will become clearer if it is meant to be.

      Be well!

      • Kelly Bick says:

        Hello Geerteke and Andrew,

        Of course one or both of you, or anyone, could organise something like this in Europe!

        All we did was:
        1. have the idea
        2. thought about, brainstormed and discussed the details and possibilities with a couple of likeminded horse people
        2. found a venue that seemed suitable
        3. made up an invite flyer and practical details guide
        4. put it out there to anyone we could think of that might be interested
        5. (current) waiting to see what transpires and materialises!
        6. get excited!

        Kelly (and Glenn)