'Horse yoga' tames more than animals

Story highlights

  • Doma India is a school in Argentina that practices ancient horse taming methods
  • A video of a wrangler at the school performing atop a horse went viral on the internet
  • Spectacular poses have been passed down through generations of local tribes
You may have heard of yoga's "downward-facing dog" pose, but what about "upward-staring horse"?
Well, that's sort of the idea at one animal school in Argentina.
A video of a wrangler performing yoga-esque poses atop a strapping steed went viral on the internet earlier this year, bringing predictable headlines like "You'll neigh-ver believe it" and "Horse yoga is actually a thing!"
But the practice turns out to be not quite the same ancient Indus Valley art that such reports have suggested.
Instead, it owes its formation to the indigenous communities of rural Argentina, in which horses have played an integral, almost mystical role for centuries.
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According to Cristabal Scarpati, co-founder of the Doma India school in the town of San Luis, these impressive skills have been honed and passed down through tribes, towns and settlements in the region for generations.
"The philosophy of our school is the philosophy that my father learned from an old Indian named Don Cristobal Luna," Scarpati told CNN."He taught us how to recreate these exercises practiced by the Indian aborigines.
"These people were endowed with extraordinary abilities and very often the survival of their tribes depended on them. It was also a way for cawelche (tribal horse experts) to display their union with the animals and show off their skills."
He then maneuvers the horse onto its side, soothing it into a trance like state of relaxation.
It's an oddly enchanting sight, displaying the controlled movement and calmness that many who have dabbled in the practice of yoga or meditation will recognize.
"For many years I traveled the world bringing this message and what we can say is that horses -- regardless of race or color or origin -- are all susceptible to the same stimuli ... like affection, empathy, respect and solidarity," Scarpati said.
"I've never done yoga but now people tell me a little about it I actually think there are many points of connection," he added on the similarities of the concepts. "The pursuit of harmony, peace of mind and body health are closely intertwined in both activities. I think the suggestion is quite correct."
Doma India primarily exists to teach owners about the mental state of horses and to help tame horses that are troublesome, untrusting or insecure.
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However, the school also aims to help people meditate or seek an inner calm through the experiences and interactions they can have with horses.
"The horse can actually produce a calming effect on people," Scarpati said.
"I sincerely believe that we can enjoy something very similar to yoga if we encourage people to play with horses and if we dare to truly connect with them on their frequency in the frequency of nature."
With that in mind, maybe the upward-staring horse pose isn't so far fetched after all.