Do you want a partner that is joyful, attentive, and considerate?
Yup, so does your horse
So how exactly does one become mindful at the barn?
The trick here is to start bringing feelings of joy and gratitude with you to your horse. So often people go to spend time with their horse with the intention of getting joy from them or getting satisfaction from the tasks they accomplish with their horse. Unfortunately, starting your ride from a place of “getfulness” rather than mindfulness is flawed thinking. Don’t get me wrong having goals is not a bad thing, nor is looking forward to the happy feelings that you have after having a good ride but the pitfall occurs when we get stuck focused ahead so much so that we lose our presence for the moment we are in right now. Being present is a requirement of mindfulness, you simply cannot be mindful while focusing on what you are going to be getting.
There is no need to be a Zen master, here is one simple practice to get you started:
Step one make a list of what you are most grateful for about your horse and your relationship with him. As you are creating this list think of all the feelings associated with each item on it, the more vividly you tap into the emotions your feeling the greater your sense of joy and gratitude will be.
Step two when you walk through the doorway or gate to the space that your horse is in, pause to intentionally recall two or three of the things from your list. By choosing a specific trigger like a doorway or gate opening it is easier to remember to practice this step every time, especially when your busy brain is wrapped up in rehashing the past or worry about the future.
Step three as you make these recollections bring the energy of these feelings of joy and gratitude into the present moment that you are having with your horse.
Step four stop to actually enjoy your mindful present moments with your horse, observing their response to you and your connection to them. As they feel this immense amount of joy and gratitude radiating off of you I bet they will respond to it with a reflection of joy and gratitude. After all when was the last time you were around a genuinely joyful person and not felt the contagiousness of their energy?
I would love to hear how you horse responded to your positive vibes, feel free to share your experience in the comments.