Whitecroft valley residents Hillary Schneider and artist Zuzy Rocka have collaborated to create a “horse medicine herd wisdom deck” of oracle cards, based on Schneider’s own herd of horses at her retreat centre Epona Rise.
The deck comes with 35 cards and a detailed guide book, which provides a description of what each horse resembles and how to integrate their wisdom and guidance into your life. The most common way to use oracle cards is to pull a single card from the deck for inspiration or insight.
“I thought it would be neat to create something that people could experience the wisdom of the horses in this way and to make it accessible,” said Schneider. “People find when I share about a horse, their message and wisdom, that it’s something that they feel impacted by. So it’s just another way for me to share my herd with people.”
Schnedier currently owns 27 horses, all rescues that were in need of homes. The deck is based upon her current horses, as well as ones that have passed.
“We lost three this year,” said Schneider. “So I think having something that is immortalizing them in some way where their wisdom can still live on is a really cool thing to do.”
Once Schneider decided she wanted to create an oracle deck, she reached out to Zuzy Rocka to design the art for the cards. As an artist and photographer, Rocka has taken pictures for Schneider for a couple of years. Rocka said it helped that she has spent quite a bit of time with the horses and already knew some of their distinct personalities.
“It was kind of easy to see her take on how she views their personalities, and then how I do,” said Rocka. “I was able to kind of match backgrounds to the horses to try to make the artwork for them. So it’s not just a picture of them, but it actually means a little bit more.”
Rocka used photos she had taken of the herd for reference and drew the cards digitally in Photoshop. She said it made more sense to do it digitally than to draw it by hand because of how many cards she was creating, and it also allowed her to add gold overlays and a textured looking background.
Schneider said Rocka did a great job at capturing each horse, while also adding her own intuitive touch.
“I think she really did an amazing job and put a lot of thoughtfulness and care into creating it,” said Schneider. “I think it was also important for somebody to have a connection, you know, understand kind of what I do with the horses.”
Schneider owns the Epona Rise Retreat Centre in the Heffley Louis Creek valley, where people visit to tap into the energy of the horses for therapeutic benefits and self-awareness. Schneider said these interactions with the horses allows participants to understand aspects of themselves and their impact, in a way that is more difficult to achieve in a human-to-human relationship.
“Also the way that I hold the experience becomes healing for the horses because I’m teaching people how to be in relationship with them that is respectful, where there’s mutual choice,” said Schneider. “My horses are never put into any situation that they don’t choose to be in. And so I think there’s a lot of mutual benefit.”
Schneider said learning how to be in a respectful relationship with a horse can also help people see how to be in a respectful relationship with themselves and nature. Her focus is often women, but Schneider said she has also recently been working with Indigenous communities for healing retreats.
“I think horses read energy way better than we do,” she said. “And that’s kind of aligned with the cards too. Like it means something if a certain horse comes to you, so it’s like why is this horse drawn to you? And what is it about that horse and their story, or where you are in your life that this is what’s resonating for you right now?”
The cards can be purchased on her website at hillaryschneider.com. For local community members, Schneider said they can get in touch with her directly and pick them up from her to avoid paying for shipping from the facility where they are manufactured.