How a horse whisperer used social media to bring home her father’s beloved animals

Posted on May 3, 2021

“My father had said to me, ‘You’re a horse whisperer,’ and I’m going, ‘Seriously?’” she says. “I thought ‘Well, anybody can do this.’ Anybody can sit on the side of a hill and even speak to a horse in English. They would understand… And my father said no, not everybody can do that. Not everybody can talk to a horse and build that relationship, build that trust… I can approach all of our horses, even in an open field, without herding them into a corral, and actually touch them, and scratch them, and talk to them, and put a halter on them. Not a lot of people can do that.”

That relationship, built on trust, is why the Powderfaces don’t believe in branding their horses. To brand a horse is to hurt a horse, and to hurt a horse is to violate their trust. But unfortunately for Corleigh and her father, brands are how authorities identify horses and determine their ownership, and when three of Syke Powderface’s horses — mare Bonnie’s Pride, colt Uncle Sawdust and stallion Mr. Meanie — were stolen from his ranch on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation in the spring of 2020, it meant that police and brand inspectors were of no use.

This wasn’t the first time Corleigh and her father had been the victims of a horse theft. Roughly 10 years earlier, they had a very friendly filly, “so friendly, she even wanted to come into my house,” she says. And friendly enough that, when a crook backed a truck with a horse trailer onto their property while the Powderfaces were away, the filly got in, seemingly without a struggle.

“You could see the trailer tracks as well, that backed up to my corral, and they loaded her on no problem,” says Powderface.

That theft was heartbreaking for Corleigh and her father. When this most recent theft happened, she said she saw “ the devastation on my father’s face and the sadness I could feel in his heart.”

The next day, when she went to check on him, she said that he told her he’d had a vision in the night. A vision of Bonnie’s Pride, crying.

“In this vision he could see that she was in some other land, or some other space,” she says. “And she was crying, with tears coming from her eyes and saying, ‘I’m not happy, I want to come home.’ And when he told me that, that’s when I thought, ‘Damnit, I’m going to find this horse.’”

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