As I continue to study and learn more and more about mindfulness, I can’t help but consider how mindfulness in my life is directly in alignment with my horses. Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. All of which is required while being with horses and riding horses—Provided you want to have the most authentic relationship possible with your horse(s).
This idea of mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging. This includes believing that there isn’t always a right or wrong way to think of feel in the moment. I can relate to this through my experience over the years with horse trainers. Many times I have seen a trainer abuse or send a horse away when that horse doesn’t fit into their training program. I have witnessed the “my way or the highway” mentality instead of the trainer changing his or her training program. Thus, accepting the horse for his or her individuality and being malleable and flexible enough to adjust the training program for the individual horse. Our thoughts tune into what we are sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or the future. When we learn to practice mindfulness with our horse, it translates into other areas of our life and reflects in other relationships.
Author and professor emeritus, Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, simply explained that mindfulness is really about paying attention in a systematic way and for no reason other than to be awake. If you pay attention to where your mind is at, it usually isn’t in the present moment. It’s off someplace else worrying, planning, being upset about something that did or didn’t happen. We are blasting through our present moments. The conditions are never perfect for the present moment, which is why we don’t want to be there. We watch Netflix, play video games, and scroll through Facebook never-ending avoiding the present moment … but why?
Why would you want to practice mindfulness with your horse?
Greater Good, the science-based magazine published at the University of California-Berkeley, explained that studies have shown that the practice of mindfulness, for as little as a few weeks, can bring an array of physical, psychological, and social benefits. The following included some of these benefits, which encompass a variety of diverse scenarios:
The present moment is the only time we can be in a place to be creative, love, or be in a relationship. Mindfulness in Chinese characters translates to presence of heart. Even though mindfulness is rooted in the Buddhist meditation tradition, a secular practice of mindfulness has recently entered the US and noticed in Jon-Kabat Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. Thousands of research studies document the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness. This research has motivated places such as schools, prisons, hospitals, veteran’s centers, and more to incorporate the MBSR model. I want to encourage you to include mindfulness in your everyday practice with your horse(s). It doesn’t happen overnight, but can begin with one simple step: Start to breathe, become more grounded and pay attention to your horse. He or she is always reliable to guide you in the right direction toward mindfulness-based riding. And most of all … you will enjoy the ride!
CONSCIOUS HOOFBEAT encourages positive conversations based on:
Finding inner peace, joy, and sense of self through horses (and other animals). Anything less will be removed. We appreciate your cooperation!