Examine your Beliefs about Riding

BookCoverImage_JourneyWorking with the horse can come from the desire of the ego or from the connection of the heart.  At our core we are drawn to the horse because they interact with us in a pure manner that we do not always encounter on a daily basis.  Horses demonstrate to us the power and beauty of living in the moment and acting with honesty, integrity, and authenticity.  We are drawn to horses because they move us on an emotional level.  The transformation that they inspire within you should be the focus of your work with horses.  You can inspire them to transform as well.

In order to relate in such a pure manner, you have to start with an awareness of your ego-based belief systems surrounding horses and riding.  Even if you love your horse, what are you gaining out of your interactions?  Are you placing unfair expectations and demands on the relationship?  If you are looking for a relationship in which you feel better by a means outside of yourself, in this case the horse, you are projecting your own lack of self-worth onto your relationships.

When you project a need for love, understanding, and acceptance onto a partnership you will always remain insecure.  When you are insecure, you cannot be vulnerable.  When you cannot be vulnerable, you will act in a manner to defend yourself, prove yourself, and gain control.  From this position, you will attach yourself to your horse’s behavior and the outcome of your partnership’s circumstances.  From this place you will never find peace of mind because you will be judging every interaction as good or bad.  Judgment causes an emotional attachment – positive or negative – to behaviors and circumstances which are beyond your control.  You remain emotionally entangled so long as you grasp for certain behaviors and outcomes and resist others.

Your horse cannot work with you in partnership so long as you are treating the relationship as special.  Feeling loved, understood, and accepted must come from within by loving, understanding, and accepting yourself.  It is through an inner path that you find peace of mind.  With peace of mind you do not need to attach yourself to the horse to validate who you are.  You are already a pure, perfect, sinless, beautiful creation of God – as is the horse.

What are you currently getting out of the dynamic between you and your horse?  Do you want to change that?  If so, what would you like the dynamic to look like in the future?

What desires are you looking for your horse to fulfill?  Is your horse’s behavior meeting your expectations?  How does it feel to have those needs met or not met?

Which of your horse’s behaviors – positive and negative – do you feel emotionally attached to?  Are you willing to fully accept your horse, yourself, and your partnership with non-attachment and non-judgment?  Why or why not?

 ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

This post is part of a year-long series of heart reflections based on the book Soulful Horsemanship, A Path to Emotional Freedom for the Horse and Human.  Soulful Horsemanship is a spiritual approach to working with horses with the goal of developing empowerment, authenticity, and inner peace for the horse and human alike.  The entire collection of heart opening essays is available as a book – check it out.

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2 responses

  1. I agree. I find that it’s best to be like water when around horses, that means fluid and able to change direction when necessary. When I get in the saddle I have no goals other than questioning, “What do we want to do today? Are we going on a trail ride today, working in the arena or playing around in the open field?” I discover that by doing our warm-up routine in the arena and then going from there. A proper warm-up, I believe, gives you the opportunity to listen to and hear what your horse has to say that day. If you don’t take some time to let your horse voice his opinion then it becomes very obvious later in the ride. I’ve noticed that if I get in the saddle with some definite goal in mind, my horses know that as soon as I sit in the saddle and they don’t want to trust me because if I’ve already decided what we’re doing for the day then I’m not going to be listening to what they have to say. That makes them very upset :(

    • That is an excellent observation. A warm up period is very helpful to check in with your horse and get an idea of what direction the ride is going to take. I think it is helpful to also tune in before then – from the moment you greet each other, through the grooming and tacking process, and into the arena. I like to be in constant communication and agreement with my horses. And I totally agree that when you sit down in the saddle with an agenda you have already harmed the trusting partnership because it is certainly an indication that you have arrived ready to do the talking rather than listen. Thank you so much for your feedback and joining the discussion.

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