Sunday, December 05, 2010

Take Time to Smell the Roses

How many horse folks out there have ever noticed how horses can show you how to slow down and live in the moment? I’m a busy body - I tend to naturally want to be moving. I simply have a hard time sitting still. If I’m sitting still, I’m fidgeting. Shaking a foot, leg, hand….I’ve often wondered, why it’s so hard for me to just chill! I’ve had people comment on it before. I even made someone giving a presentation nervous through all my fidgeting…oops! I’ve actually apologized for it and reassured people that it is a habit of mine….I’ve never been able to sit still well. I’m always thinking. When I have to wait on something, I’m thinking. Thinking about what I need to do, where I need to go, what I want to work on. If I got paid a dollar for every “thought” I had I’d be sitting right now on a beach outside my Mediterranean villa sipping a tasty beverage. One day, one day…. But I recently realized why I’m hard-wired for horses. Horses slow me down! They bring me back down to the moment. They give me the gift of being able to “see” life for what it is and appreciate it.

Okay, so they can also ironically turn me into the energizer bunny. When I’m around horses, I’m on a mission. I know what I’ve got to do, and it’s time to get busy. Typical day with my horses goes like this. Get to barn, grab halter, catch my horse (s) in pasture. Repeat, repeat again….. having more than one horse means more work! Oh, and let’s not forget the lesson horses and “old geezers” that sucker me into bringing them in too! Next comes either feeding, or grooming. I LOVE to groom. Every horse-lover has their own special “system” to this and bag of tricks. There is something about the “system” & business of it that’s calming- ironic?

Although I’m crazy about all horses, there’s one special breed that I’ve always had an affinity too. Thoroughbreds! Anyone whose spent time working with them will know what I mean in that most thoroughbreds don’t want to stand still or to walk. This is TORTURE for many! In fact, when retraining off the track thoroughbred’s, I don’t dare start them off by trying to first train them to stand still, or even walk when I’m on their back. This is just NOT natural for them, and by forcing them to slow down, walk….you may create a ticking time bomb that’ll quickly explode.

No, they need to be busy. They need to be moving forward. Pull back, they’ll go faster. It’s trot, trot, trot and more trot. Pretty quickly, in all that business, they start to relax. Their mind starts to slow. They start to listen more to you and you to them. And before you know it, you’ve got a harmonious team in forward motion both thinking alike, and almost melding into one mind. When riding them, all I have to do is “think” of something, and my horse will follow. A thoroughbred at this stage is so sensitive to the slightest feel that my aids…even at the subtle thought are transferred to them. For anyone who’s been here….this is a “WOW” moment. For those that haven’t, stick with horses…they’ll show you the way to this. Only the horse can teach you what this is. You have to be willing to listen though.

Eventually, the hottest off the track thoroughbred will get used to the “routine” and settle. As you both develop into a “team” you’ll eventually be able to start them back at the beginning so to speak, and walk before trot. But this “busy body brain” will always be hard-wired into a thoroughbred psyche and reappear at times. It’s part of who they are and why I adore them. It’s also why I can relate and connect with them so well.
I’m like an off the track thoroughbred. It’s through my nervous pent up energy and moving that I’m able to settle my brain and have great ideas. I guess I have to exhaust myself to “calm down.” But the activity, settles my mind, body, and spirit. It makes me happy. When I’m working with a busy horse, I’m able to be in that moment. Make my body relax, and listen and respond to my mount. The horse tells me what “he/she” need’s to settle, and because I’m in tune with them and “listening” I can respond. When finished with the ride, I’m able to see more clearly, think more clearly, be in the moment and enjoy it and so is my horse! It’s a special feeling and one I’m truly grateful for. This feeling and recognition is truly a gift- and one that only a horse has been able to give me. It’s a combination of magic, spirituality, and something bigger than me and the horse. It’s truth, calm, and as close to heaven as I’ll probably ever get while on this earth.

Now, I’m not suggesting that high strung people start riding high strung horses! That can be a recipe for disaster. But speaking for the anomaly that is me- it works, and it’s magic. The very nature of all the hard-work that is horses is what keeps me grounded. Keeps me sane, keeps me focused. How ironic that it’s through being busy, that I’ve been shown by horses to slow down and take time to smell the roses? Take time to “see” life in the moment and appreciate it. I hope that you are also able to let your horses show you the way to this. If you’re willing and open to it, they’ll teach you to take time to smell the roses too, and appreciate what’s important in life.