All in Your Head

  When it comes to riding, you have to learn to tune out the world around you. You need to let go and focus on the task at hand. Horses are so sensitive to how we feel and how we react. Our job, as riders, is to realise this and relax while we're in the saddle.

  This isn't something that comes naturally to many of us. Often, we are worried about what might feel like the millions of problems in our lives. From work to family, from finances to what you hear on the news, sometimes it feels almost impossible to tune everything out.

  I know I definitely have a problem with this. Even though I do feel like the barn is my safe place, my escape, it's hard for me lately to leave my problems at the barn door. Instead of being in the moment and enjoying one of my favourite places in the world, I'm thinking about everything else. What I've learnt is that this can be dangerous around horses. Take it from me, I learnt this lesson the hard way last week.

  Last week, when I was at the barn for my riding lesson, my mind was anywhere but there. I was worried about all of the things I had to do. I couldn't shut off my mind. Because of this, I was tense. I gripped too hard with my legs and pulled too much with the reins. This, as you can imagine, didn't go too well with the horse. As the lesson went on, the horse just got more and more anxious because the mare was mirroring what I was feeling. The more she got anxious, the more stressed I felt.

  It came to the point where not only was I worried about all the little aspects of my life, but I was also frustrated that I was creating this horse to get anxious which was causing the bad ride. Eventually, it caught up with me. I got too tense and the horse started to go too fast, I was able to bring her back but then I got too tense again. Instead of avoiding the jump, doing a circle and regaining control, I decided to go for it anyway. I approached the small vertical at a bad angle, the mare took a bigger jump than I expected and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground. I learnt my lesson the hard way. I'm still sore from that ride and it's all because I couldn't relax and enjoy the moment.

  It's a bit of an art to be able to tune out everything around us, but around horses it's almost necessary. If anyone has any tips, please share them with us as I'm sure we'd all like to know (I know I would!). What I keep trying to remind myself is that I'm riding for the love of the sport. For the love of the horse. I shouldn't be out to prove anything or to try to force things to happen. What I need to do is to take a deep breath and enjoy the ride. All of my worries can wait. I guess I'm working on trying to make the barn almost like my place of meditation if you will. A place to shut off my mind, be in the moment and enjoy these wonderful animals.

  Until next time, happy riding!