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Dipping in and out...

barefoot horses, treeless saddles, hacking on the Quantocks, Pippsway Classical Natural Horsemanship, Wellington, Somerset near Devon

I’ve been coming to Pippsway for six weeks now and things are becoming ever clearer. I have established what it is I am striving for. Even knowing what that is and understanding the principles involved I am still finding it hard to achieve. This should not really surprise me, it is after all early days. That doesn’t stop it being frustrating though. So much of what I do each day is on autopilot and raising my level of awareness sufficiently is proving to be a challenge.

It is not just my mental focus that I am struggling with. Something else I have been learning from Pip during this time is the disparity between what I think I am doing versus what I am actually doing, especially with my body, when I am around the horses.The things I do unwittingly can be striking! Old muscle memory taking over. Focusing on one body part can have me completely lose control of another body part without ever even noticing! For example whilst concentrating on my hips during Freeschooling I didn't realise I was leaning my head to the side until Pip pointed it out to me.

I started meditating about three years ago. Despite my daily practise and experiencing the many benefits of mindfulness meditation I have never really wholeheartedly taken mindfulness into the rest of my day, perhaps with the exception of when I am showering. Being present in the shower is one of life’s great joys. If you have never noticed the feeling of the jets of water on your fingertips then check it out! Bliss…..My experiences at Pippsway are helping me to realise that it is time for this to change.

If I truly want to be present at all times in body and mind when I am with my horse, which I know is vital if I am to be at one with him, then in truth I need to work on being present every single day whether I am with my horse or not. Expecting to be able to dip in and out of this level of awareness is frankly too big an ask! Like a muscle the only way to strengthen my awareness is to use it! The benefits of this can only be a good thing. I will become a better listener, better driver. Only good things can come from being more present in my day.

Horses have so much to teach me! They demand of me that if I want them to work with me then I must be my best self. Present, authentic, patient, kind, decided, determined, self confident. How can I hope to be any of these things consistently if I only practise them when I am with my horse? If I cannot maintain these states then my horse will not consider me a leader worth following.

I came to Pippsway wanting to learn to be a better rider. Through beginning to understand horses and what they require of me the realisation has come that the true path is to become a better person.

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