You are rushing from work to the barn, just got out of the last meeting, and had to make sure that your husband didn’t forget to pick up the kids from soccer practice. The traffic is pretty bad and you barely make it in time to get your horse tacked up and in the ring for the lesson. Walking to the ring you make a mental note to pick up the dry cleaning on the way home and to figure out what to cook for dinner.
All of this is spinning through your head and you haven’t spent one moment concentrating on what your horse needs from you or what lays ahead in the lesson. In our lives today each moment seems to be organized and planned out and stuffed full of things to do, and if you are a women, you are most likely multitasking on many levels.
In the meantime there is your horse, which has spent most of the day in his stall or out in the pasture and who has nothing on his agenda but nibbling on grass and having a pleasant day in the sun. He lives in the moment, and his only care is where his next flake of hay comes from. He is totally relaxed and you are totally wound up from all the activity of the day, his base energy is low, yours is high.
Before you even get on the horse, maybe on the mounting block, take a moment and close your eyes, take a deep breath, exhale it slowly through your whole body, quiet your mind, bring it to neutral and feel every cell in your body relaxing. Just leave the stress of the day on that mounting block. After all you are doing this for fun and you are paying a lot of money every month to have that horse in training. By taking this moment you are getting yourself ready to get the most out of your ride with a relaxed mind and body so you can focus and be committed to your horse and the task at hand.
If you have seen the movie Avatar, you will remember the scene where the warrior had to make the flying dragon his own by mounting him and then connecting to his very soul. Through that connection the dragon could feel and know what the rider wanted him to do. That is our ultimate goal in communicating with our horses that the sheer thought of what we want them to do will elicit the correct response. That is amazing to watch and takes a lifetime to achieve.
In order to even try to get started doing that we need to learn to tune into the right side of our brain, the feeling and intuitive side, rather than the left side, which is analytical and rational and most of the time going a hundred miles an hour.
If you are tight or nervous or stressed out on a horse, they will instantly pick up on that and inadvertently it will amplify everything you do on that horse. If you have a sensitive horse to start with it could easily spiral out of control. By taking a few minutes and making this simple thing part of your routine you will be able to get so much more out of your lesson, have better communication with your horse, and it will help you focus and you will have more fun.
I do this myself all the time and have all my students at home and in clinics do the same thing. Just like with everything else practice doesn’t make perfect, only perfect practice does.