AN INTERVIEW WITH TARA COYOTE
How Comanche the wild mustang lead a journey of healing and education.
Tara Coyote with her mustang, Comanche
The Wild Beauty Foundation recently sat down with author and founder of Wind Horse Sanctuary, Tara Coyote to talk about her new children’s book, Comanche the Wild Mustang, and the healing benefits she has seen from connecting with a wild horse.
Tara is a passionate advocate for wild horses and through Wind Horse Sanctuary, teaches others the transformational healing work of equine therapy. Read our interview to learn more about Tara’s road to becoming an Equine Facilitated Learning Instructor and adopting her heart horse, Comanche, who even helped save her life during her journey with stage four breast cancer.
When did you first hear about the plight of America’s wild horses?
I had my first magical encounter with a mustang about 10 years ago. I immediately recognized that this particular horse I met was a special one. Meeting the mustang piqued my curiosity about the wild horses in general.
What about a mustang in particular makes them a great therapy horse?
Mustangs are such amazing beings. There is something about the fact that they were birthed and raised in the wild that has kept their spirit innately pure, compared to domesticated horses. It’s hard to explain the difference between a domesticated horse and one taken out of the wild, but the mustangs have a characteristic that many people can relate to during challenging times. I believe that all horses are special, but mustangs are particularly authentic to the undomesticated world of nature.
This way of being makes mustang horses able to tap into the human psyche, which is free from the patterning that a domesticated horse might have. A mustang horse is like a clear mirror for a human who is yearning for healing.
What made you want to bring Comanche’s story to the pages of a children’s book?
Comanche has an inspirational story about being taken out of the wild at one year of age from the Reno, Nevada area, being gentled by a wonderful woman, working as a therapy horse at my horse retreat center in Northern California called Wind Horse Sanctuary, then traveling 2,500 miles across the ocean to Kaua’i, Hawaii. Throughout the time I have been fortunate to be with him, he has consistently been a force of strength and healing for me, as well as a beloved horse for hundreds of people at my horse retreat center.
It was through my love of him that I realized how special wild horses are. Sadly, due to the mismanagement of wild horses in North America, future generations of children might not know what a wild mustang is. This caused me to want to speak up and inspire others to know how valuable these creatures are. It seemed like Comanche’s story would help educate people around the world that wild horses exist and that their future is in danger.
What do you hope kids (and adults!) take away from “Comanche the Wild Mustang”?
I hope both kids and adults gain an understanding that wild horses are a vitally important asset for the ecological balance of nature, a curiosity to know more about them and the motivation to take action to insure the future preservation of the mustangs!
Tara Coyote, her dog Xaria, and her horses Comanche and Blue
Tell us a little bit about Wind Horse Sanctuary.
I was trained with Linda Kohanov as an Equine Facilitated Learning teacher. Linda is the best-selling author of ‘The Tao of Equus’ and owner of Eponaquest. After my training with her, I got my first horse, Comanche and started Wind Horse Sanctuary.
WHS used to be a large retreat center in Nevada City, California where groups of up to individuals and up to ten people would come to attend private sessions, workshops, ‘Grief Rituals with Horses’ and stay on the beautiful property. When my health started going downhill, I realized I needed to move back to Kaua’i, Hawaii to heal.
Now that my health has thankfully stabilized, I still offer the Equine Facilitated Learning work, but on a much smaller scale than I did when I lived in California. Here on Kaua’i, I offer private and small group sessions for people interested in doing transformational healing work with horses.
How have horses played a part in your life during your cancer journey?
Horses have been an important part of my healing cancer journey. From the moment of my diagnosis six years ago, all of my horses have shown up in a strong healing and consistent capacity for me.
Throughout my healing journey, except when I was so ill that I was not strong enough to walk out to see them, I have taken care of two to four horses on a daily basis. This simple act of caring and tending for them is remarkably grounding, centering and profound for me.
They are mirrors of clarity to help me discern what is needed to truly take excellent care of myself. Their unconditional love, humorous antics, consistent presence and friendship has been a balm of healing for me in the hardest moments.
In a few words, how would you describe the healing powers of being in the presence of a horse?
Spending time with horses is like having a loving mirror of your soul reflected back at you. It is a peaceful, empowering and sense of returning back home to one’s true authentic self.
Do you have a personal favorite page / part of “Comanche the Wild Mustang”?
Yes! My favorite part of ‘Comanche the Wild Mustang’ kid’s book is when both horses are approaching the Hawaiian Islands for the first time, after being in a Matson shipping container for days, without any exposure to the sun or the earth. It is a colorful scene of seeing the vast tropical glory of the ancient Hawaiian volcanos, smelling the fragrance of the flowers and being thrilled to see land again!
Tara Coyote with her mustang, Comanche
How did you get connected with Comanche?
As I mentioned before, I met my first mustang horse and then realized what remarkable creatures they were. I was determined to find a similar mustang and found him through an online horse listing in the area where I lived. As soon as I went to see him, I knew he was the perfect horse for me. It was love at first sight!
Getting to know Comanche helped me realize what unique beings they are. When I started researching his background of being taken out of the wild as a yearling from Reno, Nevada, I learned about the dire reality of wild horses in North America.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing wild horses right now?
Due to the over-grazing of the cattle and sheep industry and mining of our natural lands, wild horses are aggressively rounded up by helicopters, placed in holding pens and sold as horse meat or tragically, left to live in horrible living conditions. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was given the responsibility to care and protect them, but unfortunately are choosing profit over proper management of the wild horses.
It greatly saddens me to see family herd members split up, horses dying and living in horse prison camps. These majestic creatures deserve to be honored for the sacred beings that they are.
As wild horses are a symbol of wild and free America, you would think there would be more regard for this iconic image of our country. After all our country was founded on the back of a horse!
How educated are those living in Hawaii about the wild horse cause?
As there really are no wild horses in Hawaii, there is not that much knowledge about the issue that is happening on the mainland of North America. I also find that many people on the mainland do not know about the wild horse issue. This is one of the big reasons why I was driven to write the book about Comanche. There must be awareness about an issue for change to be made!
How can we purchase “Comanche the Wild Mustang?
‘Comanche the Wild Mustang’ is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Wild Beauty Foundation.
Please help me spread the valuable message about the wild horses and my book by visiting your community bookstore and/or library and request for them to order a copy to have in their bookstore and/or library!
Also, be sure to check out the lovely, official Comanche the Wild Mustang apparel line!
Portions of the sale of each shirt goes to Love Wild Horses, to help support the wild mustangs. All items are made by the environmentally conscious, sustainable fashionable and comfortable clothing company Bella+Canvas and are screen-printed by a local family business right here in Kaua’i, Hawaii!
We thank Tara Coyote for being a wonderful creative force in the wild horse community and for sharing Comanche’s story with the world. Her work at Wind Horse Sanctuary is truly inspiring, and we appreciate Tara for sharing her journey with us and being a cherished friend of WBF.
You can find more about Tara Coyote and Wind Horse Sanctuary on her website.