By CAROLINE MURRAY
Recorder News Staff
TOWN OF FLORIDA -- Not many folks can say they have witnessed a traditional Navajo Healing Ceremony for horses -- especially in upstate New York.
Recently, two practitioners of Navajo ceremonies have pledged to travel the Northeast, blessing therapy and rescue horses to cleanse them of their negative energy.
The spiritual duo, Harrison Jim Sr. and Gino Antonio, are members of the Navajo Nation and are making a stop at Easy Street Horse Rescue in the town of Florida Saturday, to bless four rescue horses owner Nina Bellinger describes as either mentally or physically ill.
"I don't discount these people can have connections with the horses. I have not been through one of these, but I don't discount they can work," Bellinger said.
Easy Street is the first facility out of six on the East Coast to undergo the traditional ceremony.
Bellinger said the event is open to the public, but guests are encouraged to provide a donation of will. All contributions are split between the medicine men and the horse rescue operation.
According to a press release, the ceremony begins with Jim and Antonio telling a Navajo creation story explaining why equines are sacred in their culture.
Those in attendance may be invited to gather greens from the environment to mix with medicinal herbs collected by the medicine men and hot coals are added to create a moist, fragrant smoke.
This is referred to as "smudge" and is the medicine offered to the horses. During the affair, Jim and Antonio will sing sacred songs as the smudge is taken to the horses.
Audience members may witness negative and unhealthy energy leaving the horses' bodies, as they sigh, yawn and even roll on the ground. According to a press release, these are classic signs of negative energy leaving the horses and is followed by inner peace.
Bellinger said a representative of the healing ceremony approached her about hosting the affair at Easy Street.
The spiritual duo asked her to pick four horses she felt would benefit from their mission.
Bellinger said she chose King, a standard-bred, Chief, a thoroughbred, Celsy, an Anglo-Arabian, and Blacky, a quarterhorse, to receive the blessing.
She said Chief is mentally ill, because he fractured his neck as a young horse and was never able to get over the tragedy. And Celsy was a part of the horse seizure Easy Street took part in two years ago.
The horse rescue took in 15 malnourished, parasite-infested, untrained horses seized from a farm in Sprakers. She said her operation managed to foster out nine stallions and seven currently remain at Easy Street.
She said Celsy nearly died, and is still recovering from the devastation.
"So they each have their reason why we picked them," Bellinger said.
The practitioners of the ceremony met while working in the adolescence care unit at Fort Defiance Indian Hospital.
Jim grew up around horses and was involved in the rodeo as a saddle bronc rider. According to the release, after an elder medicine man introduced him to the spiritual side of horses, he wanted to change the way he interacted with horses during his rodeo days. He has since dedicated himself to learning and conducting the traditional Navajo horse blessing ceremony.
Antonio is a practitioner's assistant of traditional Navajo ceremonies. He is also a member of the Navajo Nation, residing on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. Gino gained his interest in horses after his elders conveyed stories of his grandfather's horsemanship skills.
Although Bellinger has never seen their work personally, she believes this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and another way to help her horses.
"I think you can get a spiritual bond with horses," she said.