The beautiful and haunting artwork on the cover of Many Ponies is by my friend, Cecilia Henle.
It captivated me. It was the inspiration for the title song and, in a way, you could even say it inspired the whole album. The style is “primitive” and conjures up feelings that are equally primal. It recalled to my mind the close relationship between the Lakota Nation and the Horse Nation.
Before the horse, the Lakota traveled on foot, enlisting their dogs to help carry their meager gear on litters. Nomads don’t accumulate a lot of stuff. If you’ve ever gone backpacking, you know that every pound — every ounce —counts when you have to carry it. So the plains Indians weren’t big on a lot of possessions. They also hunted on foot, which makes for a very crafty hunter, but sure limits your range.
When the horse came to the Lakota they called it “t’shunka wakan” which means something like “the sacred (holy, odd, mysterious, or strange) dog.” Horse took over some of the heavy lifting from the dogs, which maybe explains why dogs and horses get along so well. But it also changed the way the People hunted. From horseback, they could follow a buffalo herd and make a lot more meat than they ever could before. So for those folks the horse is not only a symbol of strength, endurance, and courage, it also represents a new way of doing things, innovation, creativity, a radical paradigm shift.
Horses brought a radical paradigm shift to my way of thinking, acting, and being, too.
For the New to be born, the Old has to die.
To become the New person you’re going to become, you have to let go of the Old person you’ve always been.
It’s that simple.
But it ain’t easy.
Trust me on that one.
Horses saved my life.
I’d be a much different man if not for them, and I’m not sure you’d like him.
I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t.
Horses taught me things that profoundly changed me.
Taught me by the nature of their being.
Made me a better man and a better human.
You see, a whole lot of what you learn from horses is applicable to any relationship with anyone, anytime, anyplace.
Like the importance of honesty.
And about being strong enough to be gentle — how gentleness is a virtue of the strong.
If you know and love horses, too, if you’ve been touched by them, been inspired by their courage and nobility, if you’ve delighted in their company, felt a deep peace and “at home” in their presence, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
If not, for now, just take my word for it.
Talk to you soon. Take care.
If you haven’t already gotten your copy of Many Ponies, you can get it here.
Be sure to check out more of Cecilia Henle’s artwork HERE.
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