HORSES, Heroes and Archetypes

The Taming of Bucephalus



I don’t know about you, but I grew up with larger than life, silver screen horseback heroes. It was the horses that were my heroes.  More than that, it was the relationship between the man and his horse, true partners of mutual respect and understanding, which inspired my admiration.  In almost every origin story, the horse of untameable spirit is rescued by the hero. With tenderness and compassion, the hero wins the power of the horse spirit.  The horse is still wild but has given, without coercion, his loyalty to the hero, thus transforming the two into one for the highest good.  WOW! Truly a relationship to aspire toward.

It can be said that this horse/human relationship is Hollywood fiction, but if you asked any person that relies on a horse for their life or livelihood, the answer would be that this is real.  It is the archetype of the hero, the hero’s journey, and the horse as guide, strength, power conductor, and partner.  It is about transforming the limited-body reality of being human to having all of the assets of an apex earth- energy animal, in body and in spirit.

The legend of Alexander the Great and his taming of the magnificent Bucephalus is well known among the Tribe of Horse.  The stallion was brought before the King, Alexander’s father, by a horse trader offering to sell the horse for a large sum of money.  The giant black horse, though beautiful, was unrideable, and so the King was not interested.  Alexander, then only 12 or 13, said he would ride the stallion and if he was thrown, would pay the money himself.  On approaching Bucephalus Alexander saw that the horse was shying from his own shadow.  Talking softly and turning the black into the sun, he removed his flapping cape and stood quietly and soothingly in presence with the horse.  The horse quieted and Alexander vaulted upon his broad back, and together they galloped towards the sun. The rest is history.

The Black Stallion poster

            Recently (a relative term) this story has been retold in Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion.  The myth was beautifully recreated for the silver screen by Francis Ford Coppola.   This is a harrowing adventure of life and death, resurrection, and transformation, the bigger-than-real-life hero’s journey.  Those of us who grew up on The Black Stallion series couldn’t help but be enthralled with this masterful, artistic reenactment of everything that is challenging, beautiful, and rewarding in this magical archetype of the Horse/Human relationship.

The awesome reality is that this relationship is not magic.  Each of us, if we take the time to understand Horse nature and behavior, to honor it and practice the tools of communication that are offered everywhere we look these days, at clinics, instructional DVDs, and books, can have this beautiful bond with our horses.  Like anything worthwhile, it is time consuming, arduous, and needs to be practiced with patience and love.  A passion to share in the presence of these wonderful animals is a prerequisite.  In order to harness the archetypal energy of horse, we must come with humility, understanding, timelessness, honesty, and willingness to relate from the place that is the being of the Horse.

Take a minute or five to view the YouTube video of the Taming of Bucephalus

And a clip from the movie The Black Stallion