What can we learn from horses, and horseback riding, that will help us to Live our day-to-day Lives?
Turns out, plenty.
I refer to this as: Ride Life!
Unpredictable, thousand-plus-pound animals that we humans, throughout the centuries, somehow learned to tame, control, direct and partner with — from marching to battle and plowing fields, to racing and hunting . . .
To meandering trails and wild-paced gallops — just for sheer joy and pleasure!
I’m often amazed at the similarities between successful riding and controlling our horses, and Navigating the Potentially Out-of-Control Ride we all call Life.
I work with horses — you could call me a horse expert.
I’ve bred and birthed them, raised and trained them, saddled and shod them, carriage driven and ridden them.
And I’ve observed in that grand arc of horse experience that many of the skills and strategies we learn from our horses can help us Live our own human Lives.
Horse Goal: To partner with my horse; to ride in harmony with her; to unite with her, trust her. Meld with her, be ONE with her . . . and with the ride my horse and I take. To learn from the ride, record the ride, ENJOY the ride!
Life Goal: To partner with my Life — my bigger goals, my higher self; to live in harmony with my Life; to unite with, trust, meld with, be ONE with . . . the Ride my Life takes. To learn from the Ride, record the Ride, ENJOY the Ride!
One of the strategies required to successfully ride horses, is constantly adjusting my riding seat, my body posture, my hands . . .
For example, when all goes well:
* My body, my hips, all move with the swaying rhythm of my horse’s back
* My shoulders, my arms and hands, follow that swinging movement
* I hold the reins loosely, my arms outstretched, relaxed, everything flowing in unison . . .
* (And I SMILE :))
Yet as my horse carries me, her head, neck, and back forever move — and this movement secretly, silently, pulls the reins — millimeters, centimeters, inches — from my hands.
Therefore, I must constantly adjust my hand position on the reins, or face the fact that my hands become ineffective, and I’ve lost control.
The Zone of Contact
There is an area, out in front of me, where my reins and my hands are effective in stopping, turning, and controlling my horse.
We’ll call it my “zone of contact”.
It’s a sweet place, this zone, where soft, yielding wrists and fingers are forever a slight touch or “feel” away from contacting my horse’s mouth — my horse’s mind, that which controls the drive-train, if you will . . .
With my soft hands in this zone, my horse feels free to move forward, unhindered by me — which is what I want.
I want to bring out the very best in her, for the best partnership and cooperation, the most unity and enjoyment.
If I hold my hands too much in front of this zone, my reins too short — I choke my horse’s ability to move.
Too much behind, my reins too long — a big gap exists, making me unable to seamlessly control my horse’s tempo, direction and speed.
If I hold my hands outside of the zone, my movements will be jerky, rough. She will resist me. Resent me. Our smooth partnership aborts.
Therefore, the need to constantly adjust . . . which an experienced rider does without thought.
The horse’s movements pull the reins — the rider adjusts — the reins pull — the rider adjusts . . .
And so it goes, like a tennis player adjusting her racket, a surfer shifting the angle of his body on his board, a skier setting the edges, cutting into the icy slope.
Now what does this have to do with the Ride we call Life?
Life Goal: To partner with my Life — my bigger goals, my higher self; to live in harmony, in peace, with my Life; to unite with, trust, meld with, be ONE with . . . the Ride my Life takes. To learn from the Ride, record the Ride, ENJOY the Ride!
Like our horse, Life is constantly moving, changing.
And like my horse, Life’s-forever-movement secretly, silently, pulls the reins — the safety zone, the control — from my hands. Millimeters, centimeters, inches, at a time.
But how do I adjust my hand position on Life’s reins? Or face the fact that my hands have become ineffective, and I’ve lost control!
Where is my “Zone of Contact”, and how do I Ride Life ? ? ?
The Zone of Contact
Let’s look at where Life’s Zone of Contact isn’t.
* It isn’t found in freaking out.
* It isn’t found in clutching tight.
* It isn’t found in closing my eyes, holding my breath and “hoping for the best” any more than riding my horse would succeed with that approach . . .
Life’s Zone of Contact is a sweet place where soft, yielding thoughts and aspirations are forever a slight touch or “feel” away from my Life’s purpose, motivation — that which controls the drive-train, if you will. That which keeps me connected and on the very Ride . . .
With my soft, yielding thoughts in this zone, my Life freely moves forward, unhindered by me — which is what I want.
I want to bring out the very best in my Life, the best Partnership and Cooperation, the most Unity and Enjoyment.
If I hold my thoughts — my actions – fearfully, too much in front of this Zone, I choke my Life’s ability to move.
Lackadaisically, my thoughts and actions too much behind, a big gap exists, making me unable to steer my Life’s tempo, direction and speed.
When I live Life outside of the Zone, my movements are jerky, rough. My higher self resents me. Resists me. Our smooth partnership aborts.
Therefore, the need to constantly adjust . . . which an experienced Life-Rider does without pause . . .
Life’s movements pull the reins — the Rider’s thoughts and actions adjust — Life pulls — the Rider, again, adjusts . . .
And so it goes, when fear and resistance attempt to pull against us — we adjust, yielding — loosening thoughts, embracing goodness — taking action . . .
~ Toward love. And trust. ~
~ Toward harmony. And peace. ~
~ Toward my bigger goals, my higher self. Again. ~
And so I’m reminded to Ride Life, like I ride my horse — on meandering trails and wild-paced gallops — just for sheer joy and pleasure!
And it’s true!
I’m often amazed at the similarities between successfully riding and controlling my thousand-plus-pound-horses . . .
And Navigating the Potentially Out-of-Control Ride we all call Life.
Photos: DawnHoof (Dawn Jenkins)
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