What’s on your mind right now? Chances are you’re reading this seconds before having to dash back to work, pick up the kids from school or go and get a wet horse in from the field. Your attention’s half on this, half on thoughts of ‘I wonder if anyone’s thought to order more hay?’
Our minds are rarely still, but training ourselves to be in the moment, especially when we’re with our horses, can be hugely beneficial on many levels. Known as mindfulness, this quieting of our racing thoughts helps us relate to and communicate with our horses, and is even recognised by the NHS for its ability to improve our mental wellbeing, purely by paying more attention to the present moment and our thoughts and feelings.
“It’s important to learn how to quieten your mind so you can be open and responsive to your horse at a deeper level,” says Avis Senior BHSAI, an equine and animal Reiki Master Practitioner and author of Horse Riding in the 21st Century – discover the route to your success
(www.avissenior.com). “Being in the present moment with your animal, with no thoughts or regrets of the past and no worries about the future, alters your brainwave frequency and aligns it with your horse’s, allowing you to relate to him more intuitively.” As Avis explains, most people find it difficult to slow down all the noisy clutter in their heads, but it can be done. She suggests the following steps:
Before you enter your horse’s field or stable, take a moment to just sit quietly and concentrate on your breathing. While doing so gently rub your thumb and forefinger together. This will help your mind to quieten down from a thinking state. Try it for a few seconds at first, extending it slightly each time.
Try at least three times each day to spend five minutes with your horse, gently looking into his eyes and focusing only on his feelings and emotions. Think of a time when you’ve gently drifted off into your own world for a few minutes – where everything around you has disappeared. Think of the contented, calm feeling you had at the time. This is the feeling you’re striving to achieve with your horse.
Imagine the thoughts in your head on a scale of 1 to 10 – 1 being very calm and 10 being very noisy. Aim to get your mind down to at least 2 on the scale.
Test your horse’s state of mind. If he’s worried, anxious or excited, his mind will be high on the scale. Give it a number, then start to bring that number down just by being in the present moment with him, making sure your mind is quiet. Your horse will always follow your lead, so be aware that if your mind becomes busy again, so will his.
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