Mindful Horsemanship

What is it and how can I get there?

mindful horsemanship

I could start by telling you I'm going to get all "Zen" on you in regards to horse care but "mindful horsemanship" simply means doing what makes sense when it comes to your horse. It doesn't have to be more complicated than that and I'll list below several examples of what is meant by that term.

Example #1 Do you use the same brush on your horse in the winter that you use for the summer? Stop to think about that one? If your horse gets to go "au natural" in the winter and sports a lovely thick winter coat you most likely use a brush to groom him with that has stiffer, stronger bristles. Now, think about his summer coat that is quite fine, smooth and close to his skin. If you were to use that same stiff and rough brush on him instead of a soft brush you will have a very uncomfortable and unhappy horse. This idea seems quite logical and basic yet there are more horses then I care to imagine that are suffering what could be an enjoyable experience. Being mindful of your horse would require you to understand that your horse is anxiously misbehaving in the crossties because of something as simple as the wrong brush rather than him merely trying to make your life miserable.

Example #2 You've just got on your horse that has been worked on a regular routine. He walks out fine but when you start to trot he seems goosey. You know he isn't hyper, he was fine at the walk and you're sure there's nothing under his saddle annoying him because you're an excellent groom. You start to consider he's trying to get the upper hand wanting to show you who's boss when you realize something is different about your regular routine. You've recently purchase a new, more comfortable girth that is lined with fleece and upon further examination you discover your horse is ticklish and the fuzzy fleece is driving him mad. The changing of the girth proves your suspicions and you've avoided an unhappy confrontation by riding your horse as though he's some rouge stallion.

Example #3 I was leading a trail ride with friends through a familiar area on a wonderful experienced mare. We had already crossed a great deal of shallow water when all of a sudden my mare stopped and refused to cross a wet area. She baulked, snorted at the water and dug into the ground with her back legs like she had seen a huge monster. I felt like she was being unreasonable and insisted she cross, legging her forward into what I didn't know was quicksand. Thank God I had enough trust in her that the minute we stepped in and started to sink I released her rein giving her the space she needed to whirl around, thrusting her front legs back onto the bank allowing her to dig us out of the mess. Myself in a daze I sat in the saddle as she shook violently feeling very stupid I had not been more mindful of what she was trying to tell me. After dismounting to access any damage (there was none) I allowed her plenty of time to relax before taking a slow quiet walk back home to the barn with me a much smarter rider.

I'll assume you are now starting to get a much broader understanding of what is meant by the term "mindful horsemanship". It's about stopping to think before you act; being in touch with what your horse might be feeling or thinking and respecting him for those God given instincts that place their intellect in some ways above ours.

Having reverence for your horse because of his close connection to Source (God's) energy will lead you to greater awareness of who your horse is, what he can do for you and what you can accomplish together along with putting you in a place that will increase your satisfaction of every equestrian experience.

Let this greater awareness serve you and take you to heights you never thought obtainable while you enjoy every moment!