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Indigenous Horse-Based Healing (IHBH)
Healing with the More-Than-Human World
Indigenous Horse-Based Healing (IHBH) is a culturally-adapted approach to equine-assisted psychotherapy that is grounded in an Indigenous worldview. It is an approach that positions horses as healers, rather than "tools" to be used in the therapeutic process. According to McGinnis and Kincaid (Forthcoming), "healing is further exemplified when Indigenous horses are involved, providing the space for their Indigenous origin stories, histories of colonial violence, and testaments of resilience to be told (Snowshoe & Starblanket, 2016)."
Horses are our more-than-human relatives.
The Four Blankets Model
The "four blankets" of Indigenous Horse-Based Healing (IHBH) was developed by Dr. Angela McGinnis (Snowshoe & Starblanket, 2016; metaphor adapted from Gray Smith, 2012).
Gifts of the Horse
from an Indigenous worldview
Many Indigenous peoples refer to "horse medicine" as the capacity for horses to heal people from various mental and physical illnesses or conditions. Scientific support is emerging for equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) as an appropriate therapy to treat trauma and increase holistic wellness for Indigenous peoples (Bennett & Woodman, 2019). However, Indigenous horse-based healing (IHBH) goes a step further in being culturally responsive by integrating sacred understandings of the spiritual "gifts of the horse" from a traditional Indigenous worldview.
© Dr. Angela McGinnis
Why Indigenous Horses?
Lac La Croix Indigenous (Ojibwe) Ponies
Lac La Croix Indigenous Ponies are extremely intelligent thinkers and surprisingly tolerant of human ineptitude, making them particularly suitable for beginning handers and equine-assisted therapy programs.
They are extremely forgiving of human mistakes, willing to give a second (and third) chance without hesitation, and are generally agreeable to anything asked of them. Their desire to please and notable friendliness makes them easy to handle and a pleasure to keep.
Because these ponies lived amongst their original caretakers up until 1977, Lac La Croix Ponies are well-socialized, emotionally intelligent, and desire human interaction, often being the first to greet visitors.
Lac La Croix Indigenous Ponies have a long-standing relationship with Indigenous peoples of Canada, particularly the First Nations communities of Treaty 3 territory, as well as their Northern Minnesota neighbouring communities.
The ponies have the spiritual gift of healing physical and mental conditions & restoring holistic wellness.
Lac La Croix Indigenous Ponies are listed as Critically Endangered & have cultural and historical importance for Indigenous peoples of Canada.
“[A] baby’s spirit is carried by the horse spirit. They say we come from the Star people… And in English, it’s called the Big Dipper. At that time, the Creator paints them, their spirit paint… And so a child is brought through that Big Dipper… And that spirit is with us as a child; our own spirit and also our horse spirit is with us. So when we connect with the horse, and we are around a horse, our spirit horse and the actual horse are communicating. They can tell on us or it can say certain things about us. And so that is why they say a horse can really look through us. That is why the horse’s eyes are made up of a star: to understand that where we come from is from the Star Nation.”
Indigenous Knowledge Keeper (from McGinnis & Kincaid, Forthcoming)