Painting Ponies, Making Memories

In an overly superficial world it is refreshing to meet someone who lives with deep conviction.

Such a man is Philip who rode across the Namib Desert with us - but not before painting his horse Baladine in the tradition of the Indians of the America’s. While the challenge of riding a horse across a desert is epic enough, Philip says that the connection derived from performing this ancient ceremony just adds a greater dimension to the experience. Bet it does!

Quite apart from the sheer fun of the actual painting, there is something inexplicably magical about this ritual originally performed by the Indian braves in preparation for battle or hunting. It was their traditional way of connecting to their horses – and that connection, especially among the Comanche tribes, is legendry. To them horses were immensely important to the quality of their lives and spending this quiet time helped them bond with the horses’ inherent essence. They understood that deeply.

The hand prints on the right hind-quarter is the connection to the horses’ power – the area that drives the horse forward. This helps align with his power, often described as force - as in the expression ‘horsepower’. One horsepower is the force of an engine expressed as 745,7 watts per second – by way of example the huge V10 engines of Formula One cars have a force of 1000 horsepower or 750 kW - that’s a lot of horses!

The lightning bolt down the right foreleg is honouring of the war-like nature the braves needed to stir within their horses. By contrast the left hindquarter has intuitive dream-like symbols which are feminine and often painted by women holding a secret prayer only revealed once the rider returned home safely. These symbols depict the way they communicated with their horse, often through their spirit guides. Clearly seen in the images is the thunderbird/eagle – symbolising freedom or a flight to safety - or perhaps in success in crossing the Namib.

The simple hand print on the left shoulder is a plea to the horse to be allowed to align with how it guides itself, asking for mutual support in the coming endeavour. How seldom our arrogance humbles itself to ask permission!

The face has very personal markings depicting an inexplicable bond with the animal fused by mindfully performing the ceremony of painting. New research is showing that the healthiest people in the world are those we live with a deep connection to the earth and what it means for them. They operate from a place of guidance and of faith which adds richness to their lives, but more importantly, to the lives of those around them.

Thank you, Philip, for the little bit of fairy dust you brought into our Namib Desert…

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