Bring the benefits of focus and
a quiet mind to the saddle.
BY KARA L. STEWART
The mindfulness movement continues to grow in response to the increasingly stressful and hectic pace of today’s world. Practicing mindfulness can result in a quieter mind, better focus and an increasingly calm approach to life’s inevitable ups and downs. But what exactly is mindfulness?
At its core, mindfulness is bringing awareness to the present moment. “Mindfulness embodies a beautiful, if somewhat
illusive, concept: slowing down, accepting where we are and not
fighting the situation we find ourselves in,” says Crissi McDonald, owner of Heartline Horse Training.
However, finding mindfulness in our culture can be challenging. “We tend
toward race-car lifestyles, focused on getting ahead, moving quickly, spending as
little time as possible on anything and often running in circles,” says McDonald.
“Horses live their lives in exactly the opposite way,” she points out. “They
Breath as the Bridge
blend peacefully with a situation instead of raising dust around it. They deal with
what each moment requires and then move on to the next moment. For me,
that’s mindfulness exemplified.”
So, how can mindfulness benefit us as riders?
Bringing our best self—calm, controlled, receptive, aware—to our horse is the root
of being a great horseman. Not surprisingly, horse trainers known for their effective
methods incorporate mindfulness into their ways of working with horses.
They might not call it “mindfulness,” but the outcomes from that place of
quiet are the same: deep connection,
unshakable trust, consistency. There is
the conviction that the horse is doing
his best and we are doing our best,
and that working together, we are
capable of amazing things.
To reach this place, one common
theme shared by many horsemen is
developing awareness of our breath.
Breath is the element that connects
every moment of life and grounds us
in the present. Breath is our entryway
into and touchstone for mindfulness.
As you explore the suggestions that
follow, see what speaks to you right
now and pick one idea. Commit to
building it into your daily practice
and observe what happens as you