For International Women’s Day I am highly recommending the book Warrior Women, An Archaeologist’s Search for History’s Hidden Heroines, written by Jeannine Davis-Kimball, Ph.D. Ms. Davis-Kimball is an archaeologist who helped excavate burial mounds called kurgans in Southern Russia. In her discoveries she began to understand that many of the mummified bodies preserved in the permafrost were women and those women were buried with weapons, jewelry, pots, food, and horses with elaborate headdresses. Many archaeologists at the time wanted to assume these women were married to men of high status, hence their attire and well decorated kurgans yet Ms. Davis-Kimball stood firm and said these women were warriors and priestesses in their own right. Needless to say, she did cause a stir in the archaeological world with her theories but soon others began to agree with her on the status of women. Her book is filled with adventures on her excursions to Pokrovka in Southern Russia as she takes us on a journey of discovery of our ancient roots as warrior women, where our love and bond with horses began, and how our ancestral women warriors lived and died riding alongside the men of their tribes.
The Scythians and Sarmatians (circa 2500 BC) are considered some of the first peoples of the Russian steppes in the Altai mountains to use horses as a mode of transportation giving them freedom to travel further distances on swift four feet instead of two slow feet. Their nomadic culture was egalitarian because women, men, and children all rode horses allowing them to expand their range of territory for hunting, grazing, and raiding cultures who were foot bound to the earth. Not relying on the strength of hand-to-hand combat equality in war and hunting was equalized through the power, swiftness, and strength of the horse. Men and women were adept at riding and using weaponry at high speeds from the back of the horse.
What a marvelous thing that humans have a 5000+ year herstory/history using horses for transport, sport, hunting, war, and survival. Our ancient horse culture continues to influence us through the ages to these modern times. For example, the width of car wheels is the same as the width of Chariot wheels. We wear pants today because Chinese women warriors invented them to make riding easier. Stirrups are considered one of the most important inventions of human kind making riding stable for the human and easier on the horse. Humans and horses have evolved over the millenniums together and our bond is ancient, enduring, and ever changing to meet the challenges of the times. It is a tightly bonded companionship that we have carried with us through times of peace, war, famine, droughts, and floods.
This modern day as we question gender roles and how we might come to a more equitable understanding of its disfunction, we might ask, “What levels the playing field of equality where men and women can compete in the same sport and the winner is not necessarily the one with the greatest strength but the one with the most finesse? … It is our equestrian sports. So here we are in a world where it does not matter one bit to the sport and certainly not for the horse what your gender is but what your skill level is with your horse. What other modern-day sport allows for that kind of equality? I think that makes our equestrian sports special in that regard.
Sometimes I just sit and imagine what it must have been like then with no fences just wide-open spaces where wild birds flew, game was plentiful, and the days were spent on horseback. It was a different time of freedoms and going to a job was not even a concept. While the environment of that time is gone to us forever, what lives on in all of us is the love of the horse. This gives me great hope and inspiration actually … to know that there will always be horses, there will always be people who love them, and there will always be ways to live a life full of the joy horses bring to the hearts of all equestrians.
So hail, to the Warrior Women, our ancient sisters of long ago who left their stories written in artistic refinements on their mummified selves dressed in beautifully tailored Chinese woven silks, their arms and legs tattooed with spirit animals made with piercing tools and fire ash, and the remains of intricate hand tooled boots, saddles, weapons. And the most stunning discovery were the bones of their horses in elaborate headdresses laid to rest beside them. A tribute to their bond with horses so tightly woven into the tapestry of their lives, they rode them on their journey into the next world. They, too, have endured time and teach us about our ancestral world of long ago.
Hail to the modern Warrior Women who spends her life on horseback. Perhaps we all feel that ancient connection that has remained hidden from view but feeds that long ago feeling of freedom in the world before so many fences. We don’t own horses; we live the life of horses. Our roots run deep.
The most famous and controversial mummified woman has an interesting modern life and is named The Siberian Ice Princess who was recently shipped back to the people to which she belonged. You can read all about her if you google her name. I highly recommend you know her and her story because women always have had and will always have an unbreakable bond with the horse contrary to the fact that history has hidden this heritage from us and from the modern world.
Happy International Women’s Day.
Sara Stenson Lead Mare Equine Align Academy P.O. Box 985 Sparr, Florida 32192 970 481 5857