Have you noticed how when things aren’t going well some riders get more and more frustrated and stiff, and take it out on the horse who gets more and more confused, while other riders manage to breathe, relax, and give the horse the confidence to help him understand.
I am typically a person, like many horse riders, who is thinking and doing ten things at the one time. In fact, when you see me, my mind is probably already ten steps into the future.
I recently read a lot about two major fields of self-discipline, and I found that as I began to adapt my mind and body to these practices, the results on the horse were amazing!
Now, I used to think that meditation was for people who were bored, or crazy, and I found the practice frustrating and so termed it useless.
Like anything in life meditation takes practice, and while I certainly could not zone out for three hours, I find that even applying the method for 5 or 10 minutes a day, makes a huge difference to my approach to everyday life.
When I began meditation, my mind would rush off into a thousand different things, what I would do, how my horse went, I’m hungry, my back feels stiff etc, etc.
I learnt not to fight against that, or get upset with myself for not being awesome at meditation. Instead, I just tried, when I remembered, to bring my focus back to my breathing, to being in that moment.
Many of you will say you don’t have time, but the ten minutes it takes you to bring your mind into the present, will actually make you that much more productive for the entire day, you will be surprised.
I downloaded the app “A Smiling Mind” onto my phone, and use the programs to help get me through that ten minutes, which started off feeling like 3 hours, but gradually began to feel like 5 seconds.
The second thing that I delved into was Pilates. Again I thought Pilates was dead boring, and my heart rate would flare up when anyone tried to tell me to slow down and breathe.
I started with an instructor, Duda Tranquilo, and I have to say the change in my freedom of movement and comfort on the horse has been incredible!
As riders we can easily identify and thus move different parts of our body, and Pilates not only helps to increase that body awareness, but helps us to uncover all the natural imbalances that we all have, and that our horse has to put up with!
Have you ever thought that your horse leans on the left rein, but never noticed that you yourself lean over to the right?
Being able to find your centre, helps you to more naturally locate it on the horse, and with time you will see the difference.
The Core Training For Equestrians program was my first step in finding my point of balance, and gaining strong elastic muscles, and a solid core, but the mind work is an extra level, and while body awareness and strength is crucial, mind power is everything!
If you want to ride a happy horse, give him every opportunity to understand you, provide him with a calm rider, who is physically aware of their body and the way it works.
He might just thank you in ways you never expected 😉