5 ways to slow down in life and appreciate the scenery between your horse's ears
Doesn’t it seem like there’s never enough time in the day? There are never enough days in the month, weeks in the year. You never realize how fast a month flies by until you have an appointment that is the same every month. When I was in college and having to work on 20 horses a month and work full time and wrangle my own horses and dogs I realized very quickly how fast a month flew by. I am raising my hand right now because I am 100% guilty of absolutely rushing through life and not even noticing it pass me by…. Who’s with me? C’mon put your hand up, you know you do it too. Every day the to-do list gets longer and the days feel shorter. The daily chores seem to take up half your life. We rush through life with coffee and gasoline in our tanks. The saying “Rise and Grind” defines us. The one time we are supposed to slow down is when we get on the backs of our horses right? But raise that hand again if you’ve ever said you need to “just get a quick ride in” to keep going with your training program, or because you feel guilty that you haven’t ridden your horse in two weeks because life got in the way but you feel like you should get on just for the sake of it.
The truth is, so often we aren’t even present in our lives. Worst of all that spreads over into our riding. As kids, we were 110% there with our horses. We hung on every word of our coaches. We loved every second of grooming our horses. We felt every minute of our ride. We spent the time with our horses in pure, excited bliss. But now….. as adults, those external fears, ticking clocks and ever-growing to-do lists nag at our brains and hurry everything along. When was the last time you truly rode with no purpose, no expectations, and no time limit? When was the last time you felt every second of the ride?
I remember feeling that a few months ago and it was a sobering and humbling reminder in my life. I tuned in and rode with no time limit, no purpose, no expectations (okay, I had one expectation and that was to not have my little mare buck my ass off when I hadn’t ridden her in months). It was beautiful and amazing and filled my soul’s lungs. My boyfriend and I hauled the horses out and went for our first ride together in a community pasture overlooking the mountains on a beautiful winter afternoon. Our only goals were to enjoy the weather. We built a fire and roasted marshmallows while we gave the horses a little break. I am exceptionally lucky to have a man in my life who has taught me the art of slowing down and being present. Time and reality seem to change with him. He has taught me to truly feel with every sense, to let go of stressors, to live in the moment and it has created the most wholesome feeling in all aspects of my life that I can’t even explain. I might not be able to explain the feeling, but I know you’ll know it when you feel into it too. So here are 5 ways to slow down in your life and really smell the roses, really feel the ride, and enjoy that incredible scenery that is right between the ears of your horse.
1. Quit setting time limits. Make time so you don’t have to set time limits. Even remove those self-imposed time limits from your vocabulary. Instead of saying I’m going out to the barn for 3 hours I’ll be back at 2:00, simply say “Im going out to the barn, I’ll see ya when I see ya”. No more time blocking, no more 20 minute lunge sessions followed by a 40 minute ride and 20 minutes to spend with your horse. Unless you’re taking a lesson you do not need to be that regimented with your horse. Practice feeling into how your horse is doing that day. Ride and train intuitively. I promise you it will deepen your connection with your horse when they can feel that you aren’t rushing them or on a timeframe.
2. Tune into your senses. Feel the touch of your husband's hand while you’re walking into the grocery store. Feel the sun on your face on a summer day and feel that vitamin D sinking into every pore of your skin. Smell that intoxicating horse scent that is like cocaine to little horse-loving girls. When was the last time you hugged your horse and just stayed there breathing in their neck and smelling that? Taste that glass of wine, no I mean really taste it after a long day. Pause, smell the aromas, swirl it and look at the color and pick out the flavours in the wine like you’re a damn professional sommelier. Listen to the wind going through the leaves while you ride. Watch every muscle in your horse as it powerfully contracts as you lunge imagining it’s in slow-motion like the Rolex commercials before equestrian events. I implore you to tune into your senses!! Actively think about all of them. Pause for 30 seconds in your everyday life, around your horses, when you are out on your rides, when you are eating and drinking and spending time with people and truly notice what is going on around you. Our minds are brilliant and can process all of those senses without us even consciously knowing, but it’s up to us to train our brains to notice these things again.
3.Schedule days of nothing. Yes, full days of nothing. No cleaning, no house chores, no plans. Days of nothing. But that doesn’t mean just sitting on the couch watching Netflix. It means not being obliged to ACCOMPLISH or be goal-oriented. For a busy person who feels they constantly need to be busy in order to be making it in life this is surprisingly hard. The benefit: when you’re faced with nothing to do you can take your time CHOOSING what you want to do. You can take your time sipping your coffee, then going out to check on your horses you can take the time to rub them down and show them how much you love them. You can find what you’re passionate about again. You can engage in your creativity. You can F.E.E.L again.
4. Lower your expectations and allow for mistakes. Be grateful for mistakes. Lean into them. None of us want to get on our horses and actively make mistakes, as riders and competitors we often become perfectionists because we know small mistakes could lead to tragic accidents when we’re paired with a powerful 1100 pound animal. But, they are the only way you become a better human being and a better rider. So show yourself some grace and embrace the mistakes and welcome them with open arms.
5. Stop to take pictures. Appreciate the view, appreciate a good hair day, find the coolest angle to take a photo of your horse, get pictures of every ride with your best friend. You never know when life will change and it will be your last chance. The more you stop to take pictures the more you are truly seeing your blessings.
You cant appreciate all that you have unless you can see and feel into it right here, right now. So take a breath, slow down, and tune into your gratitude. Gratitude is the key to feeling abundant, fulfilled and present. And that feeling of true presence is bliss.