Do you believe in vibes between people? You’ve probably seen someone walk into a room and:
• Suddenly everyone got tense.
• The room lit up with a kind of gentleness
• Everyone dared not talk because the person
• Suddenly all were happier and more
Do you believe you can sense how someone else is feeling although no words are spoken?
What I’m talking about here is the “energy” someone brings to a situation. And although that energy is unseen, there have been research studies that measured it.
Our horses surely pick up our energy like lightning rods … and then reflect it back to us. If we are calm, they are calm; if we are nervous, they are nervous, etc. I don’t know exactly how this works but I do know it’s true. In fact, therapeutic riding instructors utilize this reflection of emotion to help their students become more aware of their emotions … and perhaps transform them … or not.
In the world of sports science, our emotions are said to “run the show.” When we are in an emotional state that is a blend of simultaneous positive feelings (calm, focused, energized, ready, in-the-moment, having fun, etc.) then we have the best chance to ride at our highest level of talent and skill. That same state of human emotion is reflected back to us by our horses.
I believe we have a responsibility to cultivate the SKILL of entering into this positive state of energy in order to be a good partner with our horses.
There is a simple way to bring our best energy forward to our horse before we ride. All we need to do is take the time to do a short ritual to get us into a state of calmness and then focus on what we want to accomplish in our ride. This ritual will ground us in the moment so that the external world … in that moment at least … is silent to us.
You can do this in a couple of ways.
First, before you get to the barn, perhaps as you drive, turn off the radio and give gratitude for the awesome opportunity to ride your horse. Drink up how lucky you are just for the sheer bliss of riding a horse … no matter the outcome.
Then think about what you want to accomplish. If you begin to get nervous, relax. Breathe. Then visualize a great ride.
Whenever your emotions begin to run amuck, bring them back. You might have to do this 20 times in a row. But one thing is for sure, the more you practice, the more you will be able to enter into this power-packed state at will … and do so quicker. Remember, this is a skill. All skills take practice in order to master them. Mental ones are no different.
Right before you ride is a critical time to do a similar ritual, too. Breathe … and do the same visualization discussed above. In an ideal world, you would do this mini-ritual of relaxing, getting calm and clearly seeing “the good stuff” of what you are about to do right before each little maneuver … or right before the flow and rhythm of many maneuvers strung together. This will keep you in the moment with your horse as well … and focused on what you want instead of fearing what you don’t want.
We control the energy we bring to our rides. Sometimes past conditioning or our own negative thought patterns can distract us. But with persistence and practice, you will be amazed at the positive effects you will experience as you ride. Chances are you will see your horse respond in a wonderful way to his consistent, awesome, positive, focused partner.
Barbra is a personal performance coach for all riders, a cutting horse trainer, author, speaker, clinician and 2012 National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Inductee. Visit her Blog and signup to receive her FREE monthly email newsletter, “News From Barbra”. Go now to BarbraSchulte.com.
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This article was printed in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 9, Issue 3