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.