In my +30 years of teaching, I have discovered several key skills that students regularly struggle with─skills that are critical to their success as a rider and a horseperson, regardless of their previous experience or riding discipline, or the breed of their horse.
Mindfulness is integral to developing quality horsemanship. Every student must develop the skill of being “in the moment”. Your horse lives in the moment, and if you can learn to live moment by moment, you will see your horse begin to trust you more every day.
Horses are genuinely honest creatures─they cannot hide what they are thinking because they don’t know any other way of being. You and I, on the other hand, have countless thoughts in our heads at any given time and have learned to mask those thoughts from others.
Learning to meditate, practice yoga, or perform martial arts are great exercises for training your mind to be focused on one thing at a time, in the present.
Here are a few key tips I recommend to becoming more present while with your horse. You can do these anywhere, anytime.
- Take time each day to actively and consciously be in the present moment. Start small: begin by setting aside just 4 or 5 minutes daily and work up from there.
- Pick a peaceful environment to spend time with your horse, perhaps while riding horseback through the field.
- Breathe deeply and slowly. Don’t worry if you become distracted; simply reconnect your awareness to your breathing.
- Repeat this process any time you need to centre and calm your mind.
Training your mind to be still and relaxed will empower you to become more aware of your energy and to fill your space with peace and clarity.
Personally, I prefer practicing these in the stable, out in the pasture, or in my horse’s stall. The sights and smells of nature combined with the presence of my beloved horses is the best scenario to support my practice of mindfulness.
When you choose to become more mindful, your horsemanship will begin to significantly improve. You will notice that your relationship with your horse will develop positively, and your connection to your horse while riding, liberty, and grooming will become increasingly joyful.