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Showing up with Gratitude:

Updated: 23 hours ago

What is gratitude?

Equestrian culture is a complicated environment especially around sport and competition. It's easy to lose focus on what really matters.

Our first experiences when a horse connects with us is raw magic. Just being in their company, feeling their majesty, smelling them, touching them, and then to actually sit on a horse and feel the presence and openness of the horse to let us experience them. It's incredibly exhilarating. That is no small thing. I remember this heightened awareness lasting months and years, in between my sporadic encounters with horses as a child. I held onto it. I craved it. I dreamt it.

With the introduction of lessons and showing, often the focus becomes directed at fitting into the industry standard and leads to acquiring 'stuff'. The narrative around the beloved horse is red-penned with 'must haves and must dos'. Attention is focused on having the right equipment, lessons, following criteria, who is who, being in the right society, being judged, and of course, money. Passion and gratitude, seemed to be set on a shelf collecting dust, while the more important work is done. Over time, a deepening the chasm emerges of between honouring the time together and constantly 'needing more'. Not just in the physical sense, but even in ridden work. Bigger jumps, bigger movement, higher scores. Horses, in all of this, are less and less just 'being with us', and more and more 'doing for us'.

How many beautiful moments in all those rides do we miss? How do we stay focused, present and express gratitude for time and connection with horses?

Are we truly present and Grateful?

How do we show that?

Horses are incredible beings. Through history they have served humanity like no other animal. They've transported us, helped build cities, gone to war, ploughed fields and have been loving, devoted family and companions. I truly believe horses are connected to a bigger consciousness than we are aware, otherwise it would not be so easy to enlist them. They are open and willing to enter relationship with us.

How do we express our Gratitude for this?


The awareness of 'having enough, being enough'.

A flow of energy that is allowing.

Gratitude does not try to control.

You might say ' then why bother riding, training or doing anything? Why not leave the horse in the field, stare at them, feed them treats?

The answer I have (which is my personal opinion) is that - passion, authenticity and and desire for relationship is not egocentric or controlling. It's real. It's beautiful. It is a child-like energy that invites collaboration, friendship. It is a recognition of beauty and relationship. Horses are genuinely intrigued with humans. As herd animals they desire connection and enjoy relationship, too. It's our responsibility to honour and maintain that.

Horses are always authentic. Always meet us where we are.

Do we do the same? Or do we meeting horses with a set of ideals and expectations?

Often, when I first sit in the saddle, I breathe deeply and just allow myself to be completely present. I will think or even say these words: 'I am enough, you are enough. Let's play and find more connection through moving through these exercises together'

Sometimes there are misunderstandings, technique is not perfect. Here is the thing about horses, though. They are the ultimate forgivers. Their capacity for showing up and forgiving is immense. They will often tolerate poor connection, control, even the momentary discomfort of our mistakes - for a while. The thing is - we should not expect that its their job to tolerate. but we should be very Grateful when they do. It's not easy to develop perfect technique. In fact it's a lot easier to chase new ideas and to collect 'things'. But when we direct our attention on 'things' instead of 'being present' we are avoiding real relationship. 

It's uncomfortable 'just 'being' because we have to face ourselves, and its easier to avoid the very thing we need to hold in focus. Being. Listening. Feeling. That's where it's at.

Riding with 'feel' is exactly this. A focus on connection, each moment. I never ending loop of listening and feedback.

When you spend time with your horse, how do you meet them? How do you show up? When you sit in the saddle and pick up the reins are you in your head, or in your heart?

"I am enough, You are enough. I am grateful for sharing this moment with you, and for the privilege of being carried by such a magnificent animal, Let's play and find connection through these exercises."

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