Home is where the soul resides

Connecting species through mutual healing

By Karen Howieson, The Nelson ARK

Since I could walk and talk my passion has always been horses.

I always looked after other people’s horses until I finally got my first horse at 30 years old, fulfilling a promise my father made to me when I was 10 years old.

Patience. Yes, I’ve had many teachers in the form of four legs, mostly rescue horses, who in some way rescued me as well, even if I didn’t realise it at the time. Always searching for my soul path which as a snake-water-horse was to honour, help, and revere our equine friends.

My background is in counseling, teaching, and animal welfare. Setting up services helping people both in Scotland (for female drug users in Easterhouse Glasgow) and in New Zealand. Here in New Zealand that led me from alcohol and other drug counseling to health promotion to setting up the Nelson ARK in 2002, marrying my passion for people and animals. The ARK’S vision is about making a difference for all involved the dogs, young people, and volunteers.

I’ve had many teachers in the form of four legs, mostly rescue horses, who in some way rescued me as well.

Healing Species

The Nelson Ark course incorporates two components. The first is training rescue dogs, which teaches young people responsibility, respect, and problem solving while giving the rescue dogs the basics needed to get their forever home. The second is "Healing Species" which teaches compassion, empathy, and holding on to your own power through the dogs' stories.

As part of that course we do one horse session which touches on my work with the Kaimanawa rescue horses and other initiatives in which I have been involved. I co-ordinated SAFE for seven years, where I rescued everything from chickens to horses. I completed a Reiki course, and am currently doing ConTact C.A.R.E training, a Martial Arts-based discipline which recognises that the skeleton defends itself automatically and independently when impacted by surprise and aims to release tension in the bone. 

In my session at the Spirit Horse Festival, I’m going to cover the journey of six years for the Nelson ARK to become a reality. I will talk about how horses are the bridge for me between the physical and the spiritual, as well as my sanity! I truly value their role in helping me become the best version of myself, creating space to write their teachings for me and others.

I’m excited to share what has brought me here and my next step in training to use these gifts to create a new programme to help both horses and humans.

A Friend's Light Guides Us Home

In the darkness of the void,
Which we chose as life,
The flicker of a friend's light guides us home,
Home to the soul
To the resting peace
To the joy of oneness in all things
To the realization that every step was illuminated,
If we chose only to see
The guidance is there deeply embedded in our very soul.
Conveyed in our night vision ,
Through the touch, dance, and expanse of being
Clearly and importantly through clarity,
Of mind, body, soul, and spirit
Does the true soul's journey unfold.

- Morgaine V McDonald, 2017

Karen is a co-founding Trustee of the Nelson ARK, which helps to rehabilitate animals and people through connecting the two. Her professional background is in counseling, particularly in the field of alcohol and drug abuse; service development, tutoring, and youth work. Check out Karen's inspiring video

At the Spirit Horse Festival, Karen will be hosting the session From Vision to Reality: The Nelson ARK, about her journey rescuing horses and dogs, and how they have then helped humans to find their way.

Find out more about our presenters and what's in store for the 2018 festival program

  • December 18, 2017