SOMETIMES WE humans need a reminders to be fully present. As far as we know, we are the only species capable of using our brain to also think about the past and fantasise about the future. Horses on the other hand, as far as we know, are only mentally alive in the now. They don’t look forward to the next day and they don’t think about last weeks training. There’s nothing wrong with thinking about the past or the future when useful, but doing so prevents us from being one hundred percent present to our life that is actually happening. Now.
If I’m not totally present in the now as a human, I will not be able to perform at my best. As a human, the worst thing that could happen is just that I feel stressed and miss out on life, joy and love (because those feelings can only arise in the now) but as a horse if I don’t run away when I first hear a strange noise, the worst that can happen is a mountain lion eats me — and that’s a big fail.
Living in the moment, being aware and only thinking about what’s immediately occurring is natural for horses. It’s how their system works. Along with their enormous strength and speed, it is an evolutionary characteristic that has allowed them to survive for millions of years. They are literally aware of everything that’s going on in their environment every second of their lives. They not only use their super senses to eternally monitor their surroundings, they use them to detect the slightest change that occurs in their world. They’re like a walking mental, emotional and physical alarm system set to go off at any perceived lethal danger, many of which are often imperceivable to humans.
The human benefit of being in the now with one’s horse is always a mutually improved relationship, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Our ride become safer, more connected and therefore more fun. If we’re competing, we have a much higher chance at winning. Staying mentally connected to our horse helps prevent him from misinterpreting our physical energy and body communication, which can happen if we’re thinking about something else. It also helps prevent him from tuning us out which will happen if we’re not paying attention. If I’m riding and talking on my cell phone my horse immediately knows his leader has “left” him. He must now fend for himself and become his own leader (and you can count all sense of suppleness and collaboration is gone).
The power of being in the now is natural for our horse and if we want that power, it needs to become natural for us as well. A horse can be our greatest teacher, reminding us to be fully present not only when we ride but in every moment of our life – plus, being in the now makes you feel joy and love much stronger just a as a plus!
Right now I’m reading the book ”The Power of Now” by Eckard Tolle. I read it when I lived in New York and I still think it’s the best book I’ve ever read. It should be mandatory for every rider, and even every child in every school. Ah, it would just be a very good thing!