Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Seven Horses, Shiprock & Canyon de Chelly Concert

In October of 2003, I gave two performances at Canyon De Chelly, Arizona. One on a Friday and another on a Sunday. Between them I spent some time exploring the area with my good friends Marvin and Jonette Yazzie, of Yazzie flutes, their grandson Tristan and their friend Jacque. Late on Saturday afternoon while Jonette, Jacque and I were returning to Lukachukai from New Mexico, we decided to pull off the highway onto a dirt road that led toward the base of Shiprock, a huge rock formation that rises out of the earth hundreds of feet high. It is sacred to the Navajos.

After driving a few miles towards it, our path was blocked by huge pools of water from the thunderstorm the night before. The road was washed out and since the light was fading an we decided to stop and take some pictures. I took the opportunity to get out a few flutes to play while we were parked there, in what was becoming a beautiful sunset.

After about fifteen minutes Jacque spotted some wild horses high on a ridge that leads up to Shiprock. They seemed interested in the sound of the flutes and I decided to play a very simple tune to see if they would come closer. While I was playing every one stayed very quiet.

Slowly, very slowly the horses started to come down toward us. As they got closer we could see there were seven of them. Six adults and a colt. I kept playing and they came closer and closer, getting to within twenty feet of me. They stopped and listened for a while, their ears moving to catch the music, standing very still and quiet.

Then slowly, they started to walk around me, staying close to me as I continued to play, all the while watching me and listening to the sound of the flute.

They circled around to the pool that had flooded the road and began to drink. It would have been shorter for them to go straight to the pool but instead they circled around me, seeming entranced by the sound of the flute. It was incredibly beautiful and magical. Seven wild horses, the haunting sound of the flute and the sun setting behind Shiprock

while the moon rose on the other side of the sky.

A fragile moment, that was broken when the sound of a camera spooked them and they bolted away toward Shiprock.

By then darkness was all around us, and we headed home. The next evening, during my concert I played the piece I was playing to get the horse to come toward us. Appropriately I've named it SEVEN HORSES, and I’ve posted a sample of it. The entire piece is available as a mp3 free download to members of my E-mailing list. To learn more and sign up visit my E-mailing List Page.




  1. Been visiting your blog for some time now and just wanted to thank you for posting. I enjoy your stories and photos, which make me long for AZ, where I once lived, and the Badlands, where I first heard a Native American flute. Again, thank you.

  2. Just redirected over here - and lo and behold, my true home is on the screen! I lived as a nurse working for IHS in Tsaile, right next to Lukachukai. I was just back there in November. I have stood right where your pictures were taken! It was breathtaking for me to see. What a delightful surprise! Have seen the Nakai's perform out there - nothing better than the flute in the Canyon!

  3. So glad I came here. What a magical moment... Thanks for sharing.
    One of my most memorable moments was sitting on the rim of the Grand Canyon and hearing a NA Flute being played, following the sound and discovering a NA sitting on a flat rock, playing to the canyon, with the ravens soaring and circling overhead.
    Thank you again for sharing a perfect moment in time...

  4. That is a beautiful story, and the pictures and music sample are breathtaking. Thank you for sharing.