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Indigenous Horse-Based Healing (iHBH)

Indigenous Horse-Based Healing (iHBH) is a culturally-adapted approach to equine-assisted psychotherapy that is grounded in an Indigenous worldview. Developed by Dr. Angela McGinnis, Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, iHBH incorporates the Four Blankets of horse-based healing, which prioritizes strengthened relationships with more-than-human beings (four-leggeds, swimmers, crawlers, winged ones).

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The Pillars of Indigenous Horse-Based-Healing (iHBH)

Healing with the More-Than-Human World

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Why Indigenous Horses?

Image by Annie Spratt
Lac La Croix Indigenous (Ojibwe) Ponies
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Unparalled Intelligence

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. 

Gentle Natured

They are extremely forgiving of human mistakes, willing to give a second (and third) chance without hesitation. They 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.

Social Beings

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Cultural Connections

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Healing Agency

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Critically Endangered

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The Four Blankets Model

The "four blankets" of horse-based healing was developed by Dr. Angela McGinnis (Snowshoe & Starblanket, 2016), 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 (Bennette & Woodman, 2019). However, Indigenous horse therapy (IHP) goes a step further in being culturally responsive by integrating sacred understandings of the spiritual "gifts of the horse" from a traditional Indigenous worldview.

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© Dr. Angela McGinnis
"Horses were not introduced, necessarily, by the Spaniards; these are Indigenous horses that originated here. And I know the Spaniards introduced horses to the Plains Indians are so forth, but we had Indigenous ponies that were here, and the Lac La Croix Ponies, that are Indigenous to this land."

Larry Aiken, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Historian


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