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Finding Balance

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Finding balance is great, but how do we do it?

  • What’s the key to finding a balance with your horse?
  • How do you find balance when you are doing different activities with your horse such as riding, hanging out, and training?

The answer to all of these questions is Mindfulness.

Definition of Mindfulness:

  1. The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
  2. A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Mindfulness to me is being intentional and present in the moment. It’s being calm and aware at the same time, no matter what I’m doing with my horse.

I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it really isn’t. They both can be done together to bring out an amazing technique when working with your horse. It does take practice.

You can practice being mindful with your horse when relaxing and then work that same feeling and action into riding.

Once you can do this, you can then use this technique when training or doing any other activities with your horse. It helps make everything go much smoother and easier.

Here’s a video showing what I mean:

You can see how I’m both calm and aware of what’s going on around me. You can see how Oso is also calm and aware. We are tapped into each other and he reacts when I react – both being aware and being relaxed together.

When you can stay present in the moment, it’s a lot easier to know what moves to make next. I use this mindfulness to feel which areas are out of balance with my horse, in order to restore balance.

Not only am I calmer and more relaxed after using this technique, but when I feel something out of balance while riding or training, I instantly know to pause, becoming aware and relaxed at the same time.

This quick pause helps show me what is out of balance. By doing this even for a few seconds, I can quickly see what to fix and how to fix it. Then once it’s back in balance, everything goes smooth as silk again.

When you take things one step at a time and fine-tune this mindfulness skill, you can save yourself energy, time, and frustration, and make whatever you are doing with your horse more effective.

Mindfulness does more for us than just relaxing and helping us focus our efforts. Mindfulness also helps us better understand ourselves and how we fit into our horse’s world. It shows your horse that you’re beginning to understand him and his way of being better and this, in turn, allows him to feel more secure and confident with you.

When we are present with our horse and our surroundings at any given moment, we can better understand ourselves and our horse in that specific moment. It helps us listen and hear our horse. We can also see better those things that are essential to our happiness and that of our horse.

Everything starts to make sense and fall into place easily, in a new way.

This sort of mindfulness gives us perspective on what our next choice should be and what is best at that moment.

For example:

While riding, if my horse picks up his head quickly and is about to spook I will take that moment to be mindful and observe what’s going on with my horse and around us.

My reaction is to take a breath and pause, looking at the whole picture in an instant. Then reacting by talking soothingly to my horse to calm him down, tighten up on the reins, and add a cue to move away from whatever he is spooking at, so he feels reassured and safe.

Then I take another breath and pause for an instant to see what is now happening with my horse to determine my next choice. Do we continue down that same path or head in another direction? What is best for myself and my horse?

I then make that decision and we both are again relaxed and confident in where we are going together and happy being out on the trails.

It can be difficult to look ahead without taking a look back but being mindful is taking stock of what is happening right here, right now, and working with that. Work with one change at a time, one moment at a time.

This approach has helped me in many situations which could have all gone in a different direction and not been good. But because I stayed in the present and worked mindfully with my horse we always were able to stay safe and be happy no matter what we did together.

Even the new stuff!

I hope this lesson has helped. Just remember it takes time and practice to attain this skill and be really good at it. Try it and see how it helps you and your horse.

Let me know in the comments how it goes.

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