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  • Writer's pictureDawn Oakley-Smith

The Sacred Art of the Horse Dance

“When I am in movement with my Horse in the Dance, primarily what I am doing is celebrating my relationship with the Divine, the sacred spirit that unites us all and measures the beat of our lives. When I am in the Horse Dance, I am at times seeking to move my Horse, but ultimately noticing where I am moved. The Horse and I are performing a radical act”. ─ Dawn Oakley-Smith

The sacred Art of the Horse Dance is a unique expression of our wild nature, witnessed and held by Great Mystery. Through long ages we have recognised horses as medicine animals of power and wisdom and the horse dance can bring an individual to a very real experience of this.

Dawn Morgan (Shapeshift Dance) has a deep love of horses, and a knowing of the transformational capacity of movement, ritual and dance, and how this brings us into right relationship with our body and Nature.

Dawn Oakley-Smith has a long relationship with horses which has been through many incarnations. She currently holds a Herd of 17 and is devoted to facilitating individuals on journeys of self-discovery through the medium of the horse.

Seven years ago the two Dawns manifested their many musings and conversations about bringing their modalities together – and the first Horse Dance was born.


“At a time when the human world is changing, I decided to go and dance with the horses. It was surprising what a beautiful journey these beings can take you on”. Nikki B


The horse-dancer brings a piece of music that moves them and speaks to their soul. Over the course of the 5-day Horse Dance Retreat, we weave together this music, relational horsemanship, dance and movement, shamanic drumming and journeying, sacred preparation and adornment for the Horse Dance ritual.

Often, an individual comes with a particular issue they are working on in their lives which resonates with the theme of the Horse Dance Retreat eg The Alchemy of Grief, or, The Gift in the Wound. Time is given to clarifying each person’s intention and how it resonates with the theme, so that when the horse-dancer is ready to enter sacred space, the reflection can be clearly received.

It must be understood that the Horse Dance begins way before the Retreat, and every moment is a step in the Dance. By day 4 we are ready to enter more deeply into sacred space and the Horse Dance is prepared. Surrounded by her companions, the Dancer decorates her horse with paint, feathers, flowers, and other offerings from Nature; and is herself decorated.

Along the processional way to the Dance Space, flanked by her escorts and the bell and the drum, the Dancer and her horse pause at the 4 stations – fire, earth, air and water – to receive the elemental Blessings.

Whatever occurs between the Dancer and her horse within the sacred circle of the dance space, is perfect and whole. The invitation to the group is to join the Dancer in support of her moment of expanded awareness where the message from Great Mystery can be received.

“I found the horse dance retreat a space of profound beauty, sensitivity, challenge and healing. The horses and the humans supported me on a journey of deep self-encounter and regeneration”. ─ (Gulliver Brodbeck, somatic movement practitioner)


In her book, The Tao of Equus, Linda Kohanov describes how horses spend a lot of time in rarified states of being – the Horse Dance is such a state and the horses are at home there. The Heartshore Herd is kept in a way that respects their divine right to freedom of movement, the companionship of their own kind, earth beneath their hooves, wind in their manes, and acknowledged for their individual history and qualities.

“I remember the Dance that unfolded between Nik and the horse Kali, where he spoke and offered the gestures of the Japanese Wa Ra Ku prayer whilst she remained in her Centre

quietly grazing. The beauty and grace of this unfolding between man and mare so aptly brought to him the message he had come for – not to look to Another to provide peace and fulfilment”. Dawn Oakley-Smith Facilitator


“I remember a stressed-out and exhausted participant from the corporate world who did not know how to stop. When it came to his time, he stepped into the sacred space with his horse and, when the music began, she simply lay down. He wept. I have never seen a horse lie down in a Horse Dance before or since, and the significance was irrefutable”. Dawn Morgan Facilitator


“For me when I dance with a horse I drop back into the innocence of my wild maiden. I meet and connect with this awesome being called ‘horse’, listening to him moving in this co creative expression of our souls”. ─ Anna Saqqara Price Facilitator


In this year, 2021, when the world is emerging from interesting times into the unknown, the Heartshore Horses invite you to come and dance your prayers.

There are two Horse Dance Retreats offered this year :

The Alchemy of Grief (9th-13th June); The Gift in the Wound (11th-15th August)

If you feel Called to join us it is essential that you first attend an Introductory one or two days : (9th May; 22nd/23rd May)

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Sharon Mccrindle
May 13, 2021

Beautiful, I am booked for the 22nd and the 23rd May, I hope to follow up from the horserdance to further workshops, if I don't manage another this year, then next year!! 1 feel I have an illustrated story of Horse to 📝 💚🐎Blessed BE...

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