Meet Jay Begaye, Navajo Traditional Horse Whisperer

Known as the Navajo Horse Whisperer, Begaye rejects modern training strategies that rely on dominance and force, choosing instead to return to traditional practices.

horse whisperer

A lifelong horseman, he learned his gentle ways from his mother, Glenabah Begaye, who herded sheep from horseback.

As a toddler, Begaye sat behind his mother as they rode through Steamboat Canyon, a V-shaped crevice near their home on the Navajo Nation. As they traveled, Glenabah sang softly in Navajo.

“I remember putting my arms around her waist with my ear pressed against her back,” Begaye said. “I could hear her songs, but more than that, I could feel them. It was so lovely.”

Half a century later, Begaye captures the same tenderness as he sings to his horses, coaxing them with traditional Navajo songs. Horses respond to the ancient, soothing sounds and quickly calm down.

“Singing is always the way we did this,” Begaye said. “The songs I sing are the same ones used 200 years ago. Horses are just like babies; they calm down and follow you when you sing.”

“My horse was jumping around and acting crazy,” Lightfoot said. “Then Jay sang to her and she just basically followed him around for the rest of the session.

He sings to them and they listen. It’s like he’s speaking their language, a language I didn’t know existed.”

Read Also: The Legend of the White Horse Plain


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