Horse Spirit Camp
A Healing Spirit For Children
Horse Spirit Camp provides traditional Lakota horse activities to children and adults. While lessons include caretaking and riding, participants also learn about self-respect, responsibility, and self-confidence. The goal of these camps is to teach traditional Lakota culture and language to enhance physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health.
"According to Lakota beliefs, horses are powerful medicine, capable of healing their riders." "...horses have a deep understanding of nature and of their surroundings, far deeper than we humans do."
- Percy White Plume, Founding Director of Horse Spirit Society
Horses have the ability to give healing to the children. We see it all the time.
In partnership with Horse Spirit Society, we work together to bring horse camps to the people of the Pine Ridge Reservation--to help empower the children.
Since 1998, Horse Spirit Society has been putting together Horse Spirit Camps for youth.
While most tourist destinations charge between $125 and $250 for a horseback riding tour lasting one to four hours, Horse Spirit Society keeps its costs low for the children on the reservation. Each camp costs $100 per horse, and the riders can ride all day.
One Spirit builds resiliency in the Lakota youth who live on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Percy White Plume, Founding Director of Horse Spirit Society, says "Our children suffer many hardships. Over time their spirits are no longer with them. They don't act like little children anymore. They're scared. They don't know what’s coming next or where their food is going to come from."
"The horses take away the fear," Percy says. "Their self-esteem goes up. It gives them confidence. There's a change that happens. They're more willing to talk. They were fearful and timid but now they're laughing and talking to everyone."
"It takes fear from them and gives them good energy," he says.
Nowhere is the healing power of horses more evident than with Frankie and her son.
Frankie volunteers at the camp. She's leading horses and their riders around the land.
"I like to help with the horse camp and do something with the children," Frankie says. "Horses--they help heal us. They're good medicine."
Frankie says she also brings her son to the camp because "he's happy when he's riding a horse."
But Frankie's son isn't the only one who is healing from the horses.
"It gives me a happy feeling," Frankie says, "to be with the horses and the kids."
Riding with Your Ancestors
Tom Hollow Horn tells me a lot about the Lakota people and their history. When we're not talking about Lakota culture or language, Tom engages with his nieces and nephews, encouraging them to pose for photographs with their hands in the shape of peace signs. He smiles with pride at each of them as they pass by and tells me their names.
He turns to me and says, "I ask the kids, 'Do you know who you're riding with when you're on that horse?'"
He pauses. I shake my head no.
"You're riding with your ancestors," Tom says. "Our ancestors are here with us on this land."
Today, We Make the Right Choices
Just when I'm about to leave, S. Ramona White Plume calls the kids together and asks them to line up girls on one side, boys on the other, both in age order.
She is preparing to pray.
Sage is burned and carried around to the children who waft it over their face and shoulders. Ramona goes around painting red dots on each child's forehead, a symbol of protection and to ease the children's minds. One of the volunteers sings a prayer. As the singing continues, Ramona walks around again and wipes away the children's fearfulness with feathers.
Finally, Ramona prays for and talks to the children.
"It's not every day that we wake up with choices," Ramona tells the children. "Today, we make the right choices--remember what this signifies."
"Honor yourself," she continues. "When you honor and respect yourself, you can honor and respect others."
How Can You Help?
Donate today to help us arrange another horse camp. Every donation helps, but if you can afford it, $100 will help sponsor a horse for an entire day of healing.
How We Make A Difference
We invite you to learn more about how we make an impact while also maintaining the rich culture of the Oglala Lakota people of Pine Ridge Reservation
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We strive to make life-changing impacts by providing necessary resources and support that will help those in need. Our team is passionate about helping families and making meaningful connections. Join us in our mission and make a difference in someone’s life today.