If you’re like me, when you get on a horse, you initially think about what you want to accomplish. You’re focused on things that can easily be seen on the outside, like a pretty stop or lead change.

Perhaps if you’re a fan of studying and applying mental skills, you also think about getting focused, grounded and into a state of mind and body that sets you up for success. Good for you on both counts … tuning into both the technical side and the mental side of riding.

For me there’s one more part of the riding equation that is less talked about, but perhaps it is the most important of all … and that is the spirit piece of riding in “mind, body and spirit.”

When I use the word “spirit” you may wonder where the heck I’m going with this discussion.

Well … I’m not talking about some ethereal or celestial place outside of you. But I am referring to a place within that is personal and unique to you.

That place is your heart for your relationship with a horse.

It is the “why” you ride. It is what gets you personally excited about any aspect of your interaction with a horse. For some people it’s seeing a horse out their window as they heal from an injury. For others it’s forever learning more and more without the need to measure it in competition. For others it a soothing trail ride. And yet for others it’s that absolute intoxicating love of competition where they lay it all down on the line in a scheduled venue.

For many, it’s a combo of, or all of the above. Nothing is more or less important than the other. It’s personal.

But a couple of things can happen that have the potential to dilute the spirit side of riding.

One is buying into the belief that we have to measure things by outside standards. That is a dead end street. What standards? Potentially for every person “out there” there is a different standard. To try to ride by a standard that’s not important to you is crazy making … unless you so choose that standard because you like it.

The second is what can happen when things don’t go well … a horse gets hurt, competition results are weak, something goes awry at the barn, you get injured, just to name a few of the unlimited kinds of things that can falter. During these difficult times, it’s easy to lose the perspective of our “why.” Our internal juice … our own brand of spirit for the love of what we do … can become diminished and seem unimportant in comparison to how awful things are at the moment.

I suggest that on a daily basis you take a moment and reflect on your personal expression of spirit … your why. Therein lies your joy. If you stay mindful and grateful about your why on a consistent basis (which is always there no matter what is happening on the outside) nothing can ever take your joy away. Maybe you will have challenges to overcome, but when you stay “in-spirit” about your riding, you personally are never diminished.

Give thanks for the awesome experience to share your life with a horse in whatever way you love. If you do these things, no matter what happens, the “spirit” part of mind, body and spirit will forever sustain you.

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10 Comments on “RIDING IN-SPIRIT”

  1. Kathy Smiley on Mon, 26th Sep 2016 9:51 pm
  2. For me, the spiritual aspect of riding, the communing with the mind and spirit of the horse, is EVERYTHING, as I’m not that keen on competition, except with myself. Now, with a new, green horse, we are building that relationship on a daily basis and discovering each other in every interaction. THAT is the fun part for me, plumbing the depths of another creature’s consciousness to have that deep relationship that transcends everything else and makes every ride a great one and every achievement worth celebrating, no matter how small it is. Everything moves us forward in that relationship, and soon we learn to read each other’s thoughts. We are both learning every day, and everything we learn is valuable to our partnership. At this stage, there is no such thing as ‘failure’ for us. We can only go up. It’s the kind of relationship that keeps me going through the years.

  3. Michelle on Mon, 26th Sep 2016 11:47 pm
  4. Thank You 🙂

    A horse injury created a major derailment. Then came a major transition, indoor arena might, crossing fingers and toes, be up next fall. Lots of tired, sore, and long days to get there 🙂

  5. Mary Dee Palmer on Tue, 27th Sep 2016 8:51 am
  6. Beautifully said Barbra.

  7. Phyllis Jess on Wed, 5th Oct 2016 5:12 pm
  8. Oh Barb, this is so how I would explain it…………or write it………if I could……but I couldn’t………..but I FEEL it every time I ride………THANK YOU for writing what I also share in feeling and spirit……….with horses…………..Love and prayers, Phyllis

  9. George Laubner on Wed, 5th Oct 2016 5:49 pm
  10. I love horses, but don’t have a horse and don’t ride. At 70 years old it seems too old to start, but I do enjoy your writings showing how there is much more to a human / horse relationship than simply any type of utilitarian aspect. I can only relate to it via my relationships with my Labs wherein we understand one another without a word or a bark being said. Please keep doing what you do.

  11. Eva Barnes on Wed, 5th Oct 2016 6:35 pm
  12. Barb, I so loved what you wrote and felt you were writing just for me. Recovering from back surgery I’ve had six weeks to reflect on what is really important to me. I found how much I appreciated my husband and his help while I was “down” recovering. I appreciate him in all aspects of our life together. Then I realized how important my horses are to me. Even though I couldn’t get out and ride, I could certainly interact with them, by grooming, just spending a few extra minutes out in the barn with them and realizing once again what amazing creatures they truly are and the healing they provide for us in times of need. And lastly, I realized how important family is. We all come from somewhere and someone and even though we don’t talk to each other daily, these people still are our wheelhouses. Barb, thank you for putting it in such a perspective that any of us horse people could understand. God bless you.

  13. Celia on Wed, 5th Oct 2016 6:52 pm
  14. Well expressed and stated, as with all relationships…

  15. Celia on Wed, 5th Oct 2016 6:53 pm
  16. Well stated and expressed as with all things we are connected too!
    Thank you!!

  17. Leslie on Wed, 5th Oct 2016 7:57 pm
  18. Barbra, thank you. This post was just what I needed to read, the day after my return from a clinic with a beloved, respected, and true horseman – but where my horse and I did not represent our spirit or our partnership. At all.
    I returned home deflated and defeated, wondering if I had anything even close to what it takes to become the horsewoman I long and aspire to be. And after all of these years and sincere effort, who am I kidding?
    But, thank you for this. It is MY journey and MY joy, and cannot be judged fairly or measured, particularly by anyone not traveling this road, right beside me.
    So I will fight my way back to the place where I belong and began. That place of Spirit and passion, to do and be all that I can be for and with my horse. Thank you again for helping me push “reset!”

  19. Alice on Mon, 17th Oct 2016 10:27 am
  20. Thank you Barbra. I’m a horseless horse lover, who has previously leased at one barn and later worked for lessons at another. Unfortunately, I think both owners suffered from either mental illness or chemical addiction. They were both highly volatile–unpredictable, undependable, and verbally abusive. One morning, the owner had left town and there was no feed to give the horses!

    Right now I feel that I shouldn’t take the time…but I think I also fear the emotional trauma associated with past experiences. Hopefully soon I’ll muster the strength and determination to reach out again.

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