Revered Lakota horses offer tranquility in treatment program | State & Regional

VERMILLION, SD (AP) — The Healing with Horses program under the Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board Opioid Response Program offers equine-assisted healing events for Native American youth, adults and families in the Rapid City area.

Leadership of the Tribal Opioid Response Program were looking into evidence-based practices in healing from trauma. They started working with Red Horse Healing because the group already had a background in Lakota equine therapy.

Staci Eagle Elk is the Tribal Opioid Response Program manager. She said the first event proved to be very popular.

“We know that the history, and the Lakota, and the ties to the horses is, there’s a strong tie there, right?” Eagle Elk said. “And so that’s part of history, it’s part of culture, and Lakota horse culture.”

One of the first events is titled Horses and Connection, South Dakota Public Broadcasting reported.

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“Two weeks ago we did healing our hearts,” said Eagle Elk, “and the way it was explained to me is that whenever we’re born, we have that natural rhythm, and it’s calm. And then when trauma comes along or something happens, it’ll really throw your rhythm off, right? And so to get back into your rhythm. And it’s like balancing, balancing your heart, your mind, your internal being. Your spirit, balancing your spirit.”

Mental health is a topic that has become stigmatized over the years especially during the pandemic. Eagle Elks says there is a strong connection that is formed between horses and people — a connection that can help navigate trauma.

“There was a parent here last weekend, she was talking about her granddaughter and her granddaughter had been exposed to some pretty severe trauma, and she quit talking,” said Eagle Elk. “And they went, at Christmas we had an event, it was a Christmas, and it was more like a fun thing where they could go out. And the horses were dressed up as elves, or Santa, or whatever. And take pictures and drink hot cocoa and stuff.

“So it was kind of a fun event. But that little girl, when she went to that here, she started talking. So they wanted to get her back into that, get her every opportunity to be around the horses. And one person, if we help one person, one child to make that connection and to start healing themselves, then I think that’s what it’s all about, right?”

The Great Plains Tribal Opioid Response Program’s Healing with Horses is offering events until late September. Some of the categories include Horses and Healing, Horses and Culture, Horses Helping Humans and even Horses and Yoga. Registration is required.

For copyright information, check with the distributor of this item, South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

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