We as riders know, our horses are our partners. When something upsets the partnership such as an accident, or even a little hiccup it can rattle confidence and trust in either party. Even a little case of the nerves can affect your horse, and being able to address the underlying issues can positively affect your teamwork, as well as your horses’ physical well-being.
My own experiences with mindfulness and attitudinal healing has resulted in my unique approach to working with riders and their horses. This insight facilitates the process of exploring and uncovering those small (or big!) upsets so we can begin working with them in a productive way. Learning to see things differently provides healing opportunities to grow stronger as a team.
You and your horse might benefit from relationship work if:
- When executing a jump, turn, obstacle, or other task, you’re not confident in the outcome
- You experience anxiety, nervousness, or fear when riding or handling your horse
- Your horse is fearful, jumpy, anxious, or acting out
- You and your horse have been through an accident or other trauma and feel “off” or unsettled
Benefits of relationship work:
- Increased trust and confidence
- Improved teamwork/performance
- Enhanced awareness and understanding of the communication between horse and rider
- Strengthened bond between horse and rider
Here’s an anecdote: As an adult, I had a lot of fear coming up while riding. I knew this was coming from a bad experience riding as a little kid. However, I continued to carry that fear for years and continued to ride and “push through it.” I noticed eventually with a new horse that she was starting to have problems in her hips. I tried everything from therapy, massage, time off, strengthening muscles, etc. Nothing helped. It wasn’t until I took a look at my own body (my hips were out) and started dealing with my fears, that I found a difference in my horse. Horses mirror us, especially the horses with whom we form those special bonds. Paying attention to what your horse is trying to tell you opens up a world of healing possibilities. This bilateral healing process inevitably translates to the show ring or whatever form your riding takes.
Acknowledging the mental and emotional aspects of horsemanship is just as vital treating and preventing physical issues.