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.
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We got Evie as a rescue. She was 350lbs underweight when we first met her. The second owner who had her found out the hard way that a horse isn’t a dog and eats way more. That the cost of feeding her was much more than they allowed for and her care was way more than they allowed for.
Now for Evie! She immediately came to me when we walked up to her paddock, reaching over the fence she tucked her head into my chest and arm to rub her head on me! When I entered her space she immediately showed an awareness of where I was and where she was. Respecting my space and carefully watching where her feet were. She walked with me down the fence line on a lead and when she figured out I have some trouble walking she did the most amazing thing. She very gently offered her shoulder against me to help! She carefully walked with me, again gently offering her shoulder as support. When we reached the end of the walk back at the gate and I began to open it she came up to me again and gently pressed her head to me as if to say “please don’t go!” When I saddled her up and moved to mount she showed no issues at all. Accepting me without restraint or any sign of issue. We had a great ride and she also let me inspect her feet without any hint of hesitation. We have now had her for about 10 months and she is back up to weight (1500lbs) and doing great! She continues to surprise us with her lack of bad habits and exceptional intelligence. We have discovered that she is very skittish with longer leads anywhere near her feet and suspect a bad experience with being tied out or a lunging incident. However she readily allows handling without anything but a very real sense from her of appreciation!
Maybe a bit long winded here but, attitude is everything! This is my first horse and the fulfillment of a life-long wish to have one as a companion and workmate. She seems to not only sense this but reciprocates my mental and emotional state in spades! She knows when I am upset (usually pulling a prank on me to get me to laugh. She hides on of my boots or sneaks up on me and gives me a big horse smack!) She definitely is in tune with my state of mind! I keep that in mind daily! The true joy and incredible sensitivity she shows is a gift! Her true desire to just be with me/us is undeniable! Great article and great advice! You truly will reap what you sow in a partnership with a horse!
I make it a point to ground myself before I go to get Echo every time I visit him. I also stand and send him love and tell him how beautiful he is before I begin to reach for him in the pasture. Most of the time now he comes to me:). It is not hard for me to remember just a few short years ago this was only a dream, and now Echo is my dream come true!!
Sounds like you’ve got some great habits Cindy. I’m sure Echo appreciates the considerate, mindful approach.