When a Horse Becomes a Canvas

Question:   What do you get when you place 13 teenage girls, six horses and various art supplies in a round pen with no cell phone access?


    1. An amazing creative expression of nature, art, and trusting relationship building with one another and the horses.
    2. Young ladies that are excited and energized by their mastery.
    3. Horses that are loved and content.
    4. All of the above.

St Joseph’s Indian School high school girls were given an opportunity to work with their four legged ancestors, the šúŋkawakȟáŋ horse, through a collaboration of St. Joseph’s Equine Therapy and Daughters of Tradition  programs.

Family Service Counselors, Amanda and Darcy, collaborated with Equine Specialist, Patty, to challenge the girls to a contest in which they paired up and worked with an assigned horse to groom and decorate. They were given 45 minutes, paint, ribbons, feathers, hair ties and other art supplies to create a theme of their choosing.

The six horses used as their canvases were Sox, Cochee, Pony Boy, Blue, Violet and Grandma. Their coats — once black, brown and white — morphed into colorful works of art, displaying the sky, water, stars, feathers, flowers, tipis and more.

Once the time was up, a panel of judges toured the round pen to ask the girls about their horse, the theme, why they chose that theme and what it meant to them. Public speaking and creative expression were part of the judging criteria.

The girls viewed one another’s horses and creations to gain full value from the activity. Once pictures were over and prizes announced, the girls offered their thanks and gratitude to the horses by feeding them apples, grass and hay.

Philámayayethank you — for supporting  programs at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

4 thoughts on “When a Horse Becomes a Canvas”

  1. Wow! What amazing talent. It is so nice that you let those students use their artistic talents.

  2. What fun they must have had; and it didn’t seem to bother the horses either.
    The first one was painted beautifully.

  3. Jan Murree

    So much talent – so much love!
    Just the expressions on the faces (girls & horses) tell all.

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