"I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the education of the rider's mind and attitude. The life of an equestrian involves one's personal inner life and values, and one's ethics and character traits. There is no question that horsemanship is a science of many branches."
-Charles de Kunffy
The Ethics and Passions of Dressage
If you think back to some of your best memories either on horseback or around horses, I would bet that the most memorable are moments that you were incredibly present - not worrying about the past or the future but simply living in the moment and connecting to your horse on an emotional and spiritual level. One of my best memories was when my mare, Jypsy Rose, was four years old. At that age she was a pretty free spirited youngster, prone to tension, nerves and spookiness. One day when it was time to ride her, the sky opened up and a torrential downpour ensued. On the roof of the covered arena, the sound was deafening. You could not even hear yourself think! (Which turned out to be a beautiful thing!) I nervously hopped on her and proceeded to have the most harmonious and beautiful ride I had ever had on her. We were so connected. At that time I had to have the white noise of the rain shower to drown out the sometimes obnoxious voices in my head telling me that I wasn't doing something right, or that I was no doubt ruining my horse. Negative self talk and never feeling like enough were always challenging obstacles for me but in that moment it all disappeared and my horse and I connected in a beautiful and intimate way.
By being in the present moment, we allow ourselves to truly experience the beauty (or sometimes the pain) in each moment. When we stay present in the saddle, we can open our minds and bodies in a way that we can connect to our equine partners. We can feel their bodies, their crookedness or tension and be open and calm enough to make corrections from moment to moment. When we align the horse, feel them moving forward and over the back, we can feel that openness in our own bodies as well. Much of riding is based on feel...what do you feel in your own body that your horse is communicating to you through his?
By entering into a meditation practice, you begin to come aware of thoughts, feelings, emotions and physical sensations that arise in the body. As a rider, we must remain present in order to be able to best communicate with our horse. Otherwise, the ego can take over and it's imperative that we do not allow the ego to control ourselves when we work around horses. When the ego takes over, harmony and empathy is lost.
This week I encourage you all to check in with yourself throughout your rides and make sure that you are staying present. Notice the thoughts and feelings that arise in your body and acknowledge them. Getting to know yourself in this deep way, focusing on your inner values, will open the doors for you to become the rider and human being that you've always wanted to be.
I send you love and light! Until next time,