Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Help us review, edit and translate the Path of the Horse book

We are are excited to offer a one-time opportunity for readers of this blog to join us in editing, reviewing and translating the new Path of the Horse book.  We think it will prove to be an innovative way of spreading the message while also being a project to bring us together.  Together we can make the book and message strong through our shared experiences and opinions from everyone here who is interested in exploring the leading edge of relationships with horses and humans.

The foreword and author's note are posted below.  Take some time to read through and offer your comments, edits, suggestions, and critiques.  Add your voice in the comments section of this blog post.  Everyone who contributes here will be sent the first chapter to review.  For every chapter you review, edit or translate, we will send you the next chapter.

If English is not your native language, consider helping to translate the book into your language.  We will put together teams of people who speak the same language to work on the translation and check each other on this project.  You might find some new friends!

Marketing and publishing ideas are also welcome.  We want to offer this as a collaborative effort in all areas. 

Thank you,
The OurHorses team

The Path of the Horse: from competition to compassion


Anyone who has considered the oppression of women around the world or has delved into the ugly truths behind industrial animal agriculture should immediately understand the spotlight Stormy May brings to equine industries and equestrian practices. Questions such as ownership of another person’s body and what rights such ownership entails are central to Stormy May’s critique of how humans maintain horses in states of physical and emotional captivity. If you have ever had the slightest inkling that common practices in the equestrian world might involve grave injustice to the extraordinarily sensitive, intelligent, and forgiving being that is a horse, this book will offer a new way to understand the dance of love.

Stormy May’s vision moves beyond the impasse where debates about animal rights typically end. Specifically, she offers an alternative to the window dressing of “improving” conditions of confinement and enslavement. Instead, the OurHorses project draws readers to the wisdom of community with its potential to unite humans and horses in working toward a greater good for all. Within community, both equine and human, we will find the validation, solidarity, and support to do what needs to be done and say what needs to be said, unlearning as much as we have learned about horses and relearning as much and more, about horses, ourselves, and the lives we share. The vision presented here is of a present and a future for human-horse relationships that rejects the imposition of human will on horses, offering instead a more dynamic model of communication that honors equine subjectivity and autonomy.

Most critically, Stormy May points to the ways that horses can help us become better, less destructive creatures in our own right, toward all beings in the world, including ourselves. Recognizing and validating the role that horses can play in helping humans move toward greater enlightenment through compassion and non-doing, the OurHorses project offers concrete alternatives to those of us who feel incomplete without horses in our lives, who have rejected traditional pathways, and who have yearned to find ways to be a horse-person that do not entail suffering for our most cherished equine companions. Offering alternatively incisive critique, compelling concrete evidence, and poetic imagination, Stormy May helps readers feel into a new world by reconsidering human- horse co-existence.

Natalie Hansen, PhD
Santa Monica, CA
24 April 2011

April 2012

I loved hanging out with horses. I loved feeding them grass and oats and carrots and apples. I loved smelling their warm breath and touching their tender noses. I loved hearing them run in a field. I loved watching them moving together fast and slow. I loved watching them drink and play and rest in the sun. I loved the challenge of learning how to connect with even the most skittish by enticing them with food or engaging their innate curiosity and leading them into to a good scratching and grooming session involving my fingers and their lips.

I loved horseback riding. I loved the balance, the harmony, the grace of human and horse bodies merging in time and space. I loved the feeling of moving together while participating in dressage, trail riding, gymkhana, show jumping, eventing, polo, and foxhunting - the modern day equivalents of the ancient practices of training for battle, transportation, farm work, and recreation for high society.

I loved the physical feeling of galloping, jumping, prancing, and walking along countless trails on horseback. I loved the mental challenge of teaching children and adults how to navigate on their mounts. I loved showing horses how to relax and be okay with what humans were doing to them. I thought I was making the world a better place, one horse and rider at a time.

There were some parts I didn’t like. I didn’t like that I needed corrals and halters and bridles to control the horses. I didn’t like that I had to continue pushing a horse and myself physically in order to be competitive or to simply work through the hundreds of tiny disobediences that occurred in everyday riding. I didn’t like the way the relationship between the horses and myself felt after I showed them, through physical means, who was in charge.

As a horse trainer I became aware enough to recognize that there was something about the way I had been taught to handle horses that needed to change if I wanted to feel that I was giving my best to my horse friends. I took a trip around the world to meet and film 6 people working on the leading edge of understanding horses. The Path of the Horse documentary, released in 2008, was the result that has sparked a new level of understanding and compassion throughout the horse world.

For the most part, the audience up to this point has been horse owners looking for better ways to relate to their equine companions. They are grateful that someone from within the industry has taken the time to show and question practices that seem harmful and hurtful to horses today. From many of these people I hear that viewing the movie causes a sense of relief that somebody else is seeing the same things they are seeing.

The movie creates a new space in the minds of many viewers to be able to take a closer look at what we are really doing
with horses and other areas of our life through a perspective rarely seen before in movies and never in a documentary made by a horse trainer.

We get to follow the point of view of someone who was willing to give up what she thought was most dear about horses, riding, in the name of exploring what might lie beyond. Along the way I uncovered keys to unlock the symbolism of horses and the horse human relationship throughout time.

With the release of the documentary, I saw that my journey wasn’t over. After learning from each of these people, I felt that I needed to step back out of the horse world for a period of time in order to get a different perspective. The horses and I spent hours together in a field. No halters, no bridles, no riding, nobody telling us how to be together. We found our own games and pleasures.

I found in the end, just as we can never truly know the mind or body of another, we may never truly know if riding hurts horses. However, we can likely all agree that horseback riding, and all uses of horses for human sport, recreation, entertainment or monetary gain are an indulgence that at this time we can abstain from for a while in order to join the exploration of what happens when we turn from practices that may exploit animals or the environment to those that work toward healing us all.

If we want to live in a clean, green world, we are the ones who need to create it. Could we find the time to create this world by curbing our indulgences whether they be horseback riding, television watching, Internet gaming, travel, sports, shopping, family, movies, pets or any number of other ways we spend our time, and using this time to reach out to our community, learning to help fellow humans by following our hearts?

We are calling this experiment OurHorses. We, a growing community of like-minded horse-lovers, are giving up our indulgences of controlling horses and a portion of other pastimes in exchange for time to get to know our neighbors and help care for the planet, including horses and nature in all her manifestations. We recognize that horses are a collective nation that has served humankind for thousands of years. They have helped humans achieve amazing things. Now we are going to treat them as friends and honored guests. We are going to care for them. We are no longer asking them to serve us, to stand under us, to lend us their power, to lend us their wings.

There is already a group of us who want to do this because we see it is needed. Whether or not we have been responsible for making our world the way it is today, we owe it to ourselves and future generations to clean it up.

Now that I’ve grown up some, I’ve found that there is something healing for a human to care for and heal a horse without asking anything in return. Maybe that’s how I got healed. Part of taking care of horses means that we need to spend a lot of time listening in order to create a world where horses and humans are valued simply because they are fellow beings sharing this lifetime on earth with us. In this world they don’t need to be young or pretty or fast or strong or rideable. In this world we can take every last horse and give them all homes where they can lead happy, healthy lives. In this world, we humans can live peaceful lives alongside them and invite our friends to do the same.

With 90,000 to 140,000 horses being sent from the USA to slaughter facilities in Canada and Mexico each year, we know there are a lot of captive born and wild caught horses who need homes where they are cared for and allowed to live out their lives in peaceful, natural surroundings with friends and room to roam.

I hope you find this to be a magical book, a gift from a different perspective. Let it sink in, as any good magic book will do. Only this magic book is about real life, the most dramatic play ever performed.

Open the book whenever it comes to mind and let the images and words guide your moment. I hope you are fortunate enough to own a copy that you can feel in your hands and smell the pages of. These copies will retain a sensory record of your readings, especially if you’re bold enough to take notes and draw pictures in your book.

Take your time with this book. There is no end to get to, only moments to take you to live in the new world in your mind. As you turn a page a picture might appear or a story unfold; watch for the words and images to leap off the pages and dance. That’s when you know you’ve gotten into the new world.

The placement of photographs and paintings as they appear in this book might be likened to a jazz rhythm, or a sequence of several separate stories to visit along this path, or windows into a moment in time in one person’s life. You might ask yourself, What was the photographer experiencing? What about the horses? What about the artist, what had she seen? What is she expressing or commenting on?

I’ll now turn you loose knowing I’ve given you the best instructions I know how to give through a book. I hope to meet you again in the last chapter and tell you more about who we are and just how we plan to save all the horses and humans.

Add your comments below to get the first chapter sent to you.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Passing it on

Passing it on
There is a spirit behind what we're doing.  We'd like those of us who are interested in being part of OurHorses to be able to communicate from that spirit. We can also call it communicating from the heart.  It is that feeling within us that hurts when we see a captive horse, whether confined within ropes or small spaces.  It is the spirit that longs to see that horse out, free, running with friends, eating grasses, drinking from streams.  It is the spirit that feels right when we know we are doing our best to ensure that all horses can live lives as part of nature, no longer servants of humans.

Our ancestors have passed on to us a long legacy of how to control and "enjoy" horses.  Many humans still think these are the best or only ways of being with horses.  We believe that when we see ourselves as truly wealthy we will care for our horses in sanctuary.  Today our hearts are full because some of us are already caring for the brothers and sisters that our kind has stolen land and liberty from. 

We who feel the lives of horses deeply must take what we can learn from being with horses in honest and caring ways and use that to be with humans in honest and caring ways. 

In order to communicate from the heart we must speak to others about what is dear to us.  Often we will be able to do this both with horses and humans at the same time.  We can introduce people to our ways of healing horses and ourselves by doing what we love.

This is what we are working on now in North San Juan, California.  We are introducing people to this subject by bringing it up as a topic of conversation and by inviting people to meet with the horses and letting the horses guide us all to a new understanding of what horses are and how we can be together.  These people tell their friends and put us in contact with others who are interested in helping to care for horses and humans in sanctuary.  It is rare to find somebody who doesn't find the subject of caring for captive horses interesting.

Like a community garden, let horses in sanctuary be the land that we care for in all her animal and plant manifestations. 

In North San Juan and the nearby areas of Grass Valley, Nevada City and Penn Valley we will be holding a free 4 week course for people to get together and explore the future of horse human relations.  We will be meeting at a park and using the Path of the Horse movie and book (soon to be released) as our study materials, our hearts as our guides, and each other as our mirrors.

If you would like to practice speaking from your heart about this with people you meet, let us know how it goes.  Share your stories and spread the word.  If you would like to put together an OurHorses study group in your area please contact us.  There is no need to own horses or land in order to bring together like-minded people to explore the future of horse human relations. 

We hope to take the next steps together.

Email: if you are interested in gathering together a study group in your area.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Is it really love?

Is it really love?
by OurHorses community member 
Berenika Bratny, Poland

This is a love story with a happy ending, although some may say it’s sad.

It started when I was put on an old mare’s back for the first time. I was four years old. Her name was Rosa and she was as black as Black Beauty. She was one of my mother’s horses. I rode her with pride and thought I loved her but also secretly longed for the other, taller, and more “difficult” horses to prove my skills. I did not notice when she was given away. I never asked and never longed for her patient, sad presence. I loved horses - at least this is what I was told - to love them for their performance, movement, looks and obedience.  

Riding was something I never imagined I could quit, like an addiction. I explored different methods, different schools. I believed I had a “connection” with the mounts I rode. What was really important was my pleasure during long trail rides and it was obvious to me they enjoyed it too.

What happened when the horses said “no”, unable to cope with the pain in their old or broken bodies? I thought they were mean, assuming that other riders hadn’t treated them properly.  I hoped they would understand that I am different – that is I had “soft hands” and a “better seat”.  Love meant making horses obey and manipulating them to achieve my goals. It also meant me not listening, not seeing their struggle and their needs.

I moved to the countryside to start the “real” life of a horse trainer.  I imagined I would have a great life.  I met a man and fell in love. The world seemed full of wonder, full of possibilities. We believed we would have the quiet and smooth life we both longed for so much.

It was eight years of struggle. I tried the old patterns I knew so well from riding horses – dominating, manipulating the man I loved but I didn’t see it that way at that time. I still remember the feeling that there is no connection, no communication no matter how much I tried.  Finally he moved out and I was left alone.

This is when the real love story started. I went to horses to heal my broken heart. After some time I realized I was looking for the same answers in my relationship with horses and with my partner  - what went wrong, where was the connection? Was it really love, this strange conglomeration of domination and manipulation? Why, if my horses and I were supposed to be partners, why it’s only me who was allowed say “no”? What if I allow them to choose what they really need? Can I hear them? Will they open up enough to tell me their truth? Will I be able to see their real faces?  Will I lose them if I let them be themselves?

Looking for the answer to those questions I found the documentary The Path of The Horse. During my first viewing I could not see much, as the tears rolled down my face. I felt like somebody took the big burden from my back after so many years. I was free. I got the missing part of the puzzle. I knew what went wrong.

I finally understood that love meant letting horses be who they were and loving them for who they are. I saw they are absolutely perfect, all of them, the young and joyful, the old and damaged.

Freeing them I realized something shifted inside of me too.  I am one of them and can be loved for who I am.  When they come, surround me, sniff my hair or rest with their muzzles over my head I know I am loved unconditionally. This is the most unforgettable gift in the world. It makes me so rich. I saw that the things I was taught as a little girl riding old Rosa were not right. I realize what love is about. The horses now teach me.

My heart breaks to see young children riding their ponies. When I hear a parent say: “We need to exchange the pony for a bigger/better one” and I see the puzzled look in the child’s eyes, I know that this is where their love story is lost. I see their choices, their struggles and wonder how their relations will develop over time. I can only hope that some day they will see themselves reflected in a horse’s eye and be free. Horses have saved me. Maybe they will save others too. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Help us succeed

Consciousness changes, morals change as well.  We no longer condone slavery, we no longer see women as less than men, we no longer find it acceptable that animals suffer.  
Equine researcher Stormy May has spent over 30 years exploring the horse world and the last few years networking with new friends from many countries who all find value in caring for horses in peaceful ways. Today, her path has expanded to our path and our dreams have gotten very big.

We’re taking steps to provide sanctuary to every last captive horse in the world and creating a network of humans to support these horses to live out lives of emotional, mental and physical health and safety. At the same time we offer horses homes, we also create places to give humans sanctuary, alongside the horses. Together we will heal each other and the planet by remembering how to join our hearts and walk together.
We have a video of what this looks like at the end of this post, it will be a treat for your imagination to get a peek at what we are creating.

What we have set-up is an ongoing experiment in compassion. We are finding out what horses are like when we don’t ride or control them by force. We are finding out how humans can connect with horses and other humans when our focus is on caring for each other rather than filling our own desires at the expense of another being’s freedom.
There are a lot of steps to be taken between now and then and we can’t wait to get started!
We already have 6 OurHorses sanctuaries around the world.  Pioneers in Poland, Denmark, Spain, and the USA have already created places where horses and humans live together in harmony.  In order to expand this vision, your dollars are needed as a vote for this way of being with horses to succeed.  Donate in honor of what you would like to give back to the horse nation.  
For this phase of the creation, we want to create jobs for 6 people to work for 6 months doing administrative and land care tasks to help bring this creation to the next level.  To do this, we need to raise $144,000.
This will enable us to take the time to set up more model sanctuaries, network with other organizations,  and find more people who are ready to take on projects to truly care for their larger human families.  We will also work to create educational programs to teach people about caring for horses and humans in peaceful ways.
Click to read the beginning of the book

Stormy has been busy finishing work on the Path of the Horse book. As a reminder of how much money we need for this phase, we will be doing a one-time printing of 144 hardbound copies of the first edition of the book to give to sponsors who are able to donate $1,000 USD or more.  We expect that these will quickly become valuable collectors items, reserve yours today with an easy donation on PayPal by clicking on the button below.  Ebook editions will be available for everyone else interested in our message.

We can also accept donations of art, time, skills, and social network shares.  By sharing our resources we can work together to make places for us to live as we choose in community, caring for nature.

For those with financial resources to give, we’ve created thank you packages at the following levels:

Sponsors donating $10,000 USD or more
will receive one of the 144 limited edition hardcover books signed and numbered and gifted by all of the current leaders of the OurHorses sanctuaries around the world. Please allow some time for us to get the book sent around the world and back to you! You will also receive a beautiful equine print by OurHorses artist Jeanne Rewa and a custom necklace, bracelet and earring set by OurHorses artist Tricia True.

Sponsors donating $1,000-9,999 USD
will receive one of the 144 limited edition hardcover books. Your copy will be signed and numbered by Stormy May. You will also receive a beautiful equine print by OurHorses artist Jeanne Rewa and an OurHorses bracelet made by one of our local artists.
Sponsors donating $100-999 USD
will receive a beautiful equine print by OurHorses artist Jeanne Rewa and an OurHorses bracelet made by one of our local artists.
Sponsors donating $50-99 USD
will receive an OurHorses bracelet made by one of our local artists.

Sponsors donating any other amount
will get the great feeling that they have spent some of their resources today to help make the future for horses a lot brighter!

Sponsors at all levels will be thanked in upcoming news releases.

For all donations other than money, please email us at: to discuss your gift.  Monetary donations by mail can be sent via cashier's check or money order to:
Stormy May Productions
PO Box 264
North San Juan, CA 95960
Here is your video gift from us humans and the horses.  Sit back and enjoy.
Thank you for hearing the call,
The OurHorses team
 Join us on Facebook
Have you heard that the Path of the Horse documentary is available as an instant $5 rental?  Check out for details.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tales of a horse guardian

Upon entering the palatial hunt seat equitation/jumper barn property I was not looking forward to it - I felt as though I was a rescue organization coming in to see who needed homes. 

A friend of mine let me know the farm she works at is now selling shavings from Canada and feed. I don't want to change my feed right now but I said I'd take a look at the shavings as I am in need of some in the near future. 

She also told me the farm owner knew of a few folks needing retirement homes for some older show horses. Great! I thought. That I can stomach. Caring for older show horses - just the ones I want to be with. 

Upon entering the barn it was dark, moist and confining. I felt horrible for the horses standing inside. Of course they were muscled due to the work they are all kept for, but they looked skinny, desperate for more of life and checked out. Some had cribbing straps, and each had "toys" in their stalls to help with boredom.  Like zoo animals. 

Upon entering the tack room area it was an absolute horror - a place my first "real" trainer (like Mark Rashid's old man - she's my old lady) would have told me to run away from - Olympian photos posted on all the walls with ribbons and double twisted wire bits, expensive "get r done" bits and contraptions for that special "fix."

I'm so grateful to have a place to put these thoughts out because I have been hiding them for decades! Some people see these places as havens to stroke egos and give themselves an identity and be with the animals they truly love.  

The man running the farm was shaking - I didn't want to believe he was nervous speaking to little old me - I wrote it off as maybe neurological damage due to a fall or perhaps it was the morning jitters from not enough to drink.  After all, he only breaks even in all the glitz and glamour.  Or maybe it's Parkinson's and he has great self-worth, but has not made the connection about the equine soul yet.  I cannot know unless I spend more time with him.

The poor man I now pray for has a heavy burden on his shoulders - pulling this sport thing off and looking inviting to feed more money into the abuse.  Maybe he seeks self worth for himself through teaching/controlling people, animals and his environment. If so, he's got a very heavy load to carry indeed. 

I left there feeling just as sorry for him as I did the horses. But yet, this is a man I would have worshipped and killed to ride with as an innocent child because he rode with a very excellent Olympian rider. Ignorance is bliss for some I suppose.

I choose to be real. And that is why the path I am on is not for everyone.  Some don't like reality and they like to escape it, or not like to but don't know how to stop. Whether its drugs, alcohol, people, places or things. 

So today, I was so happy to be walking out of there with this new identity cloak I now wear that is real and true to me and that I can be an instrument and tool for these people to gain a little semblance of goodness by sending their horses to me because we are creating places where people know they will be cared for and given the worth, dignity and respect they deserve regardless of how well they may have performed in the heat of their "working careers." 

I am grateful to be living in a country where I get to do this and live out a passion of mine and be there for those that need it most. Not just the horses - but for the people as well. 

ANONYMOUS OurHorses guardian

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Creating sanctuary - no more "unwanted" horses

Creating sanctuary - no more "unwanted" horses
To get top equine athletes of the highest caliber, thousands are bred.  
21 horses will start in the Kentucky Derby.  They will all be 3 years old.  
In order to get these 21 top athletes, there were 31,750  Thoroughbred horses bred and registered with the Jockey Club in the USA in 2009.  Of these 31,750, 21 made it to this top race.  What happens to those 31,729 horses that didn’t make it?  What happens to the 21 that do?
Well, whether they have the temperament, build, and heart to make it to the track or not, they will be done with racing careers by about age 9.  
Horses live about 30 years in captivity when they are well cared for.

Horses bred for the track end up in many other types of homes. 
Concerning horses bred for other sports it’s a similar process of elimination.   We had 75,225 new Quarter Horses registered in the USA in 2011.  We have large numbers of Arabian Horses, Warmbloods, gaited horses, and sport ponies being bred each year as well.
There are some places where horses who are no longer rideable are allowed to live out their lives, either in large pastures or on smaller fenced sections of land.  Wild-caught mustangs, retired show horses, trail mounts and pasture pets also compete for these available spaces.
It’s probably not a coincidence that 90,000-140,000 horses are sent to slaughter each year.
Now, can you see why it looks like cheering for horse sports is also cheering for horse slaughter?  There is still a thriving market for young prospects so people are going to keep breeding these numbers of horses.  Until we start cheering for and providing homes for horses who can't perform and cheering for breeders who stop breeding and switch to rescuing, we are hiding from the actual problem of horse slaughter which simply fills a need to dispose of our unwanted horses.

The American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) position on unwanted horses:
We are extremely concerned about the welfare of unwanted horses and the reports we're seeing and hearing of increasing numbers of horses being abandoned, abused, and neglected. There are more horses than there are homes for them, and we need solutions. To develop short- and long-term solutions that are viable and sustainable, cooperation among a variety of groups will be necessary. We're confident that if breeders, owners, horse rescuers, and other stakeholders can collaborate and cooperate, this welfare problem can be effectively addressed.   

We are preparing to solve this problem at OurHorses.  We are creating a value for all horses whether or not they can perform for humans.  We see our own value as caretakers and guardians of all horses and humans who are alive today.    

It's a big task we've set ahead of ourselves but if not us, who?  We will start this experiment by creating homes for all unwanted horses in our home base, North San Juan, California as well as providing sanctuary for humans who want to rest and join us as caretakers of horses.  We need a lot of help from warriors of the heart.

Join us in the creation of this world.  You can begin by sharing this message with people to raise awareness of the problem.

Join us on Facebook


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The new world for horses and humans

Here's a video we did in 2010, available for the first time online!

Please forward and comment on YouTube.  Every share will let people know that this new world is available.