Life Lessons from an Equine

I tend to over-think way too much. I never stop… clocks always ticking, my mind traveling in 5 different directions at once. Well, while sometimes it can work in my favor it usually is my downfall.

Growing up, I always admired horses: their beauty, their grace and the pureness of their souls. There is something about forming a partnership with a 1200lb animal that is riveting, empowering and humbling all at the same time.

As a kid when I rode around on the numerous lesson ponies, I never realized the valuable life lessons these creatures teach us until I embarked on my own journey with a 3-year-old Quarter Horse mare. Everything she taught me immensely applied to my own life — my own flaws.

While as human beings we delve into the complexities of life and try to unravel every little aspect we can’t understand, sometimes we forget and over look the simple things. Yes, the little stuff.  Instead of wallowing through the grey area, things can still be black and white.

As one of my favorite horsemen of all time has said, “The horse is so honest they live in the moment. And what they do, whether they need to protect themselves or whether they need to accept you really is directly relative to how you make them feel”.

It is true. With horses everything you do is based on a feeling. The horse will move off of pressure whether your hands, your seat or your legs, provide it. The horse’s reward to properly responding is the release of pressure. Ah, the release! I can’t tell you how many times my trainer has said to me, “release the pressure, give back, you can’t keep taking and not give back”.

While I thought the whole time doing this I was in fact training my mare, on the contrary she has been training me.

If I constantly nag her with pressure and no release, she shuts down she gets frustrated and falls apart. We don’t look like a team. In that moment, I lose her and she is no longer focused on me. When I release her of the pressure, I get better results. She responds and she responds well. Sometimes I just have to let her be and trust her. While riding, it was a “light-bulb” moment where this mechanism paralleled with other things I struggle with in regards to certain relationships in my life. This is where I run into trouble with other aspects and not just with my horse. I can’t always get my way without ever giving back or letting go. No one responds well to that constant pressure.

When watching a rider and their horse truly in sync, they give the illusion of something so effortless. My mare is teaching me that I need to live in the moment more. The beauty of working with horses is that each day is a clean slate. So what if you had a bad ride last time or couldn’t nail that 360 degree turn or pick up the right lead every lope-off.

Tomorrow is another day. Rome wasn’t built in a day. The sorority motto that was engrained in my mind during my college days is, “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring”. If you bring that past baggage under-saddle each ride it will ruin you. How does this relate to other areas of life? If you dwell in the past, hold grudges or can’t learn to let go it won’t work out too well for you.

It is impossible to live in two places at once. Live for right now. While it is impracticable to go backwards and change the past, we are always able to go forward, learn from it and most importantly strive to become a better person. TC mark

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image – brianac37

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