5 New Year's Resolutions Horses Can Help Me Keep
Although I’ve read countless articles on the failure rate of new year's resolutions (up to 80%!), I still like to go into the new year with some thoughts and goals. I’ve read a lot lately about having a yearly word rather than resolutions; as an over achiever, I have both! I try to start each year with a mini retreat away from home where I pencil in a yearly calendar; it helps me to get a general idea of what I’ll be doing with my family, my businesses, my house, my garden, books I’ve been meaning to read and travel plans. I enjoy seeing and planning for the future, and at the same time leaving room for pivoting, adjusting and allowing for flexibility. That being said, I have some resolutions that I pretty much make every year, and this year I hope my work with the horses will help me keep them.
I have help with the day-to-day barn duties, however, I make sure to keep some of the feeding/cleaning shifts for myself. This is to make sure that I keep track of every
thing going on at the barn, as well as, for the exercise. My mom dislikes that part of my life involves day-to-day care of horses; she has said to me “you didn’t get your MBA so that you could muck stalls!” Let alone mow pastures, fix fences, crack ice out of water troughs, etc. She doesn’t understand how much better I feel physically and mentally after a day spent working at the barn. In an article in Psychology Today, the author links exercise with actually growing neurons The Brain Benefits of Exercise | Psychology Today. While in the past, exercise was mostly thought of as a benefit for your body, now there is evidence that it’s also a great stimulus for your brain.
According to mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn, benefits of meditation are numerous, “(f)rom alleviating stress and anxiety to reducing chronic pain and healing conditions like asthma or high blood pressure...” Can Meditation Heal Your Body? | MBSR (mbsrtraining.com)
I am always happier when I take the time to meditate and/or pray. So why do I struggle to do it every day? Experts say don’t jump on your phone/computer first thing in the morning, but I have found that if I try to meditate first, I am anxious about what is waiting for me once I get to my desk. So, I have been experimenting with my sequencing, and what works for me is actually to get some work done first…clear the inbox so to speak, and then make my list for the day, make a second cup of coffee and then go meditate before heading out to the barn. Once I am outside with the horses, I can really practice being present. Horses don’t think in past and future, they live in the ‘now’ so being around them really helps me quiet my mind and reinforces my earlier meditation and prayer session.
Slow down, you move too fast You got to make the morning last Just kicking down the cobble stones
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy
In their 1966 hit,The 59th Street Bridge Song, Simon and Garfunkel sing about slowing down and noticing the world around them.
We don’t do this enough. I am very guilty of this. I often seem to be in a hurry to get things done. In the past, when I was at the barn, I would try to rush through my daily duties to get to what I think of as the ‘good stuff’, the training and riding. This year I am trying to slow down and pay more attention to each horse and what his needs are. I want to slow down and foster a more calm and present relationship, which is what I teach with H&PP but sometimes forget to do every day.
Pay Attention to the Small Things
I’ve always loved the quote often attributed to Mother Theresa – “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Part of slowing down, of meditating and praying more, of slowing down, is paying attention to the small things. We sometimes want to jump right into and accomplish the big things, but it’s really the small things that are the foundation of everything we do. It’s the everyday mundane tasks that keep the systems functioning. Working with the horses really helps keep me grounded; the daily chores around the barn are not big things but they are important things that need attention. Taking care of animals, requires us to pay attention.
Every dog owner knows when their dog looks at them a certain way that he/she needs something (a walk, a pet, a meal). It is the same with horses. They communicate constantly, and if we pay attention, we catch it. Sometimes with horses their communication is a flick of an ear; easy to miss if not paying attention. If I want to have a good relationship with my horses, I need to be attentive to these small things, and then try to do them with great love.
I have a bad habit of making tasks into ‘work’ and not allowing myself to enjoy and relax, with no strings attached. I feel guilty having fun with
out earning it first thru work. This is a terrible self -imposed thought process and habit. As children, we did not feel the need to earn our play time, we just played. Summers were full of swimming, biking and Monopoly. A day off was a day off, not a day half filled with work tasks.
Horses don’t have any mental blocks around play; when they feel like it, they run around and play with each other. This is part of living in the moment. So, for 2023 I am determined to play more, just for the fun of it. Not everything needs to have a goal. Just because I like biking doesn’t mean I need to sign up for a century ride.
I am lucky that I have the horses to remind me to be present. I am confident that by being around the horses, my resolutions will become a natural part of my life.
I just need to follow their lead more. I am excited to see what this year brings!