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Riding on Horses’ Wings

Reimagining Today’s Horse for Tomorrow’s World

Janet Bubar Rich

The bond between humans and horses is deep. For humans, horses provide freedom. Riding on horses and horse-drawn chariots or carts has allowed humans to go farther and faster than they could on their own. Horses (now high-horsepower cars) are our wings. As a result, their images show up in our dreams and our personal and cultural stories as symbols not only of freedom, but of power, swiftness, nobility, and beauty. Equine images empower us to ride on inner journeys, explore the mysteries of the soul, and carry the human spirit forward. In bringing to life the horse tales of many cultures throughout the ages, Riding on Horses’ Wings is as whimsical and magical as it is inspiring. From the white-winged Pegasus and part-human Centaurs in ancient Greek myths, Epona in ancient Celtic lore, the eight-legged Sleipnir in Nordic tales, and Kanthaka in Buddhist lore, to the many horses in Native American mythologies and today’s literary and fine arts, movies, YouTube videos, and beyond, horses touch our hearts and elevate our imaginations. In this book, Janet Bubar Rich taps into our love of horses and horse tales, inspiring us all to take life by the reins, make the changes needed to improve our lives, and create sustainable futures for horses, humans, and other species on earth, our home.


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7. Native American Horse Tales


Chapter 7 Native American Horse Tales Horse Myths Horses have special meaning for Native Americans who love to tell stories about the days when their horses were plentiful (Sherman 9). In these stories, horses speak, dance, fly, or dash faster than the wind, often in the service of taking their riders to accomplish great deeds. This chapter presents the deep relationships Native Americans have with their horses and the tales that emerge as a result. Affection, friendship, and the deep bonds between people and their horses come into focus. Native Americans possess immense knowledge about horses. To learn the best ways to approach the steeds, they watch horses relate to each other, for they believe that each species has its own language and mental and emotional life. Traditionally, they believe that ani- mals are not simply peoples, “but families within that peoplehood. It [is] therefore possible to establish intimate relationships with specif- ic…animals and gain the precise knowledge that they [possess] about the world.”1 Imitating horses and other animals is not an option for Native Americans, but is an imperative as it speaks of the intimacy of organic life (60). 58 riding on horses’ wings Native Americans have always marveled at the behaviors of na- ture. For them, stories about horses and other animals can only be told in particular places and seasons out of their respect for the species. The key to understanding Native American knowledge of the world is to appreciate their emphasis on the particular...

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