Horse Skills: Mental Focus

 Mind Full vs Mindful

For people who are new to my teaching and training theories, there are many questions, followed by a great deal of pondering and brooding as folks start to question “the way they’ve always done things” with their horses.

An introspective assessment, rather than seeking “answers” by imitating others, frequently leads people to an uncomfortable stage as revelations about themselves, their behaviors, and patterns during interactions with horses become apparent.

In our Western society, we are often praised for how much we can multi-task and power through scenarios, seemingly “accomplishing” more tasks than feasible in minimal time.

It may appear that individuals successfully accomplish multiple tasks in other aspects of their lives. When it comes to quality, clarity, and intentional communication while interacting with a horse, human chaos creates defensive equine behavior.

Many people want to ride or be with their horses, viewing the time as an emotional outlet for them to decompress. The problem is horses are highly emotional and sensitive creatures. They mirror what the human is experiencing, often reflecting back on what a person “brings” to the interaction. This usually creates emotional frustration and unclear human communication, leading to increasingly unwanted behaviors in the horse.

So the next time you are THINKING about spending time with your horse or going for a ride, pause for a moment. Take 10 (I’m not kidding) deep breaths, mentally scanning your body for rigidity, distraction, or tightness. With each exhale, notice if you can start to let go of, or compartmentalize, other “realities” from your life for an hour or two while you head out to the barn.

Horses are not machines waiting to “serve” a human’s purpose. Within seconds of your arrival (far before you are in proximity of the horse) he has assessed where your brain and emotions are. If you aren’t present, neither will he be, leading to a less-than-quality experience.

Equines can be fantastic partners, but only if offered fair and respectful communication by someone mentally present and emotionally neutral.  The latter is much more difficult for many people to accomplish.

Why not spend quality time, rather than “dutiful” time with him?  Speaking of time if there are limitations whether because of responsibilities, the weather, etc., a shorter session of quality interaction has much more value to the equine than an hour of mindless gray-area human chaos.

And trust me, all those “urgent” distractions and daily challenges you have, will still be waiting for you when you’re done spending time with your horse. 

So, leave the stresses of reality at the barn doors, and give yourself permission to slow down and enjoy the Opportunity to be with the horse!

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