Conversations with Kim Walnes: On Talking with Horses

(© Kim Walnes 2018. Photographs are captured from the documentary film Riding for America: The Olympic Equestrian Team, directed by David Hoffman. NOTE FROM KIP MISTRAL: Please see details about the proposed new documentary film project about Kim’s remarkable career “The Mother Goose Project” on its Kickstarter campaign page. Only 15 days to go to successfully fund the campaign by Monday February 12, 2018!

Whenever I sit down to watch David Hoffman’s brilliant and still applicable documentary Riding for America: The Olympic Equestrian Team with other folks, I always have them pause the DVD at the point where we are beginning Phase A. In the YouTube clip ( ), it is the opening scene. I feel it’s essential for people watching to understand what is taking place when The Gray Goose dances during the countdown and I begin to talk to him as we cross the Start Line upon the word “Go!”.

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The Pleasure of His Company: On the Rider’s Journey

(© 2108 Kip Mistral. All Rights Reserved.)

One soft spring morning long ago, air perfumed with the fragrant blossoms of our home’s citrus orchard, I stood with my back to the living room screen door I had left open as I concentrated on a phone conversation with my mother. Yes, I assured her; I had finished vacuuming the house and was now shaking rugs on the back porch. Suddenly, I felt warm breath on the back of my neck. I froze in fear—I knew I was alone in our house! Dropping the phone, I shrieked as I whipped around to face the intruder.

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The War God’s Horse Song: I Stand For My Horse

(The Rainbow Trail by Woody Crumbo, 1912-1989)

I am the Turquoise Woman’s son.
On top of Belted Mountain,
Beautiful horse–slim like a weasel.
My horse has a hoof like striped agate;
His fetlock is like a fine eagle plume;
His legs are like quick lightning.
My horse’s body is like an eagle-plumed arrow;
My horse has a tail like a trailing black cloud.
I put flexible goods on my horse’s back;
The Little Holy Wind blows through his hair.
His mane is made of short rainbows.
My horse’s ears are made of round corn.
My horse’s eyes are made of big stars.
My horse’s head is made of mixed waters–
From the holy waters–he never knows thirst.
My horse’s teeth are made of white shell.
The long rainbow is in his mouth for a bridle,
and with it I guide him.
When my horse neighs, different-colored horses follow.
When my horse neighs, different-colored sheep follow.
I am wealthy, because of him.
Before me peaceful,
Behind me peaceful,
Under me peaceful,
Over me peaceful,
All around me peaceful–
Peaceful voice when he neighs.
I am Everlasting and Peaceful.
I stand for my horse.

The War God’s Horse Song (Navajo)


“WHEN THE EARTH HAS had enough to drink, you must race across the heavens carrying the rainbow in your mane and tail, and spread it over the sky so that departed souls may cross upon it into the next world. . .  . All souls will travel across the rainbow trail.”1

These were the instructions given to the horse by the Indians when it was selected as the favorite of all the animal kingdom. The legend of The Rainbow Horse, was a story frequently recounted by the Potawatomie artist, performer, and dancer Woody Crumbo throughout his prolific career, and served as an inspiration for many of his paintings, including The Rainbow Trail installed in the Nowata, Oklahoma post office in 1943. See more at: