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The Empowered  Herd

Eagle Poem by Joy Harjo  |  The Empowered Herd by Dawn Oakley-Smith  |  Read by Dawn Oakley-Smith

"A herd is an organism, a living breathing autonomous organism with a heart, senses, intention, movement, beauty, grace, and a soul. Only stand and breath deeply amongst a group of horses. Only open yourself to know this. Linda Kohanov, the author of The Tao of Equus and founder of The Epona approach to Equine-facilitated Learning says that horses spend a lot of time in rarefied states of being. This I know to be true. Into a herd of horses is where I go to pray, to open myself to the all, to experience at-one-ment, the rarefied state I believe Kohanov refers to. Here I stand, and breath, and listen, and hear, and am heard.

─ Dawn Oakley-Smith, The Empowered Herd

Throughout this website, Dawn emphasizes the importance of empowerment for horses, for all other animals and for people. Horses are often kept in ways that suit us and not them. They are creatures of wide-open spaces, she says. Yet under traditional horsemanship methods, we stable, shoe, tether, shut-in, separate, dominate - the list goes on. 

For Dawn, and for the work she does in partnership with her horses, it is vital that these horses live as naturally as possible within the parameters she is able to provide for them. They live within a herd, and they are allowed the freedom to form a natural hierarchy, providing security, allowing confidence and the freedom to choose whether or not they wish to participate in the work Dawn does with people. 

Over the coming weeks and months, through her blog, Dawn will share her experience and knowledge on the subject of Natural Horsemanship, empowerment and horse behaviour. 

She will talk about the role of the Alpha Horse and why this is hugely important within the structure, and for the safety and wellbeing of a herd of horses.

Dawn's first blog is an extended version of the reading in the film above, taken from her book, The Empowered Herd, which will be continued in the next blog post. Read the full excerpt here.