A thought-provoking question was posted on the social networking site LinkedIn, for one of my member groups that reaches horse lovers in the business world. A member asked what skill or trait has been improved on through interaction with horses. That gave me pause. Leading, touching, tacking, riding, watching, loving, jumping, healing, cleaning, listening to horses has taught me so much over the past twenty years that I have been riding.
I have learned to be aware of my surroundings, as even docile horses can be unpredictable, spook at air. I am more humble; as my trainer Jeannine says “you can be a hero one day, a zero the next” as one excellent round on a course can have you eating dirt the next day. I know–I have several now-healed broken bones to prove it.
I have experienced the exhilaration of jumping (for me) a perfect line of jumps or an entire course. And after a hard ride or unexpected fall, sometimes I am ecstatic with simply galloping. Patience, patience getting the muscles and confidence back.
I have learned that there is always something new to learn, to test, to practice, to challenge. I have learned that these magnificent animals take a lot of time, of heart, of money to care for. I have learned that equines have varying temperaments, personalities, physical beauty, abilities, riding styles–and we don’t all like the same horses–just as we don’t all like the same people. Yet they capture our souls.
I have learned that cross training really does help. I have written before that yoga has improved my riding, my confidence, my center, dramatically.
One of the most valuable things that horses have taught me personally is to live in the moment. Trying to squeeze 90-120 minutes into several days a week with work, family, errands, and other obligations can be a challenge. I used to sometimes rush through the motions of tacking up, a quick ride with scattered thoughts, finish, leave. Not satisfying for me or the horse, I came to realize, still stressed after riding.
I slowly learned to live in the moment, to savor all my time at the barn. Grooming gives me time to check out the entire animal, then make sure my tack is on properly, then warm up and ride, cool down, post-ride grooming, and carefully cleaning the tack.
I try to leave my stress on the street. Focusing on the task in front of me is far more enjoyable than a whirlwind of each motion, it is safer being aware of my animal and others around me, and I think that the horse is simply calmer without nervous, hurried energy. I have tried to carry this into other parts of my life, focusing on what is in front of me, and I think it is more satisfying, fulfilling.
My riding friends, I wonder what you have learned from horses. and what we will learn tomorrow. C