Tension Releasers

The term “fast-paced” doesn’t even begin to fit our world anymore. Most of us would probably agree “maximum warp” is more like it. From the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning, we sprint from one demand to the next, answering e-mail, faxes, and cell phones, juggling family, friends and work.

We drive too fast, respond with knee-jerk reactions, and feel pressured to do more and do it “yesterday.” But if we take that same speed-crazed attitude into the barn, it’s going to blow up in our face.

Horses don’t respond well to “warp-drive” — they can pick up on tension faster than they can swat a fly. And they’ll react to it, too. Badly. Rushing through a training session “just to get it done” isn’t going to do you or your horse any good. You may as well turn him out and move on to whatever else is pressuring you at the moment.

Take advantage of your barn time to become recharged mentally. Forget the stock market or that promotion you want. Focus on your horse and don’t pressure yourself. If you know your nerves are frazzled and you can’t escape them, you know, deep down, that they will only exasperate your riding struggles. The idea is to escape pressure, not add to it.

If you know your horse hates sidepassing over a pole, skip it. Instead, just hack around the field or on a trail. The training session you had planned can wait. If it means you have to scratch that upcoming trail class, scratch it. Who needs more headaches in a world filled with demands and deadlines’

If you’re really short on time and high on anxiety, use grooming to your advantage and skip riding entirely. Give your horse a good “Pony Club” grooming from head to tail. Use every curry and brush in your box and rub away all that tension. Spray on some coat polish just for fun. Paint his hooves — one time isn’t going to hurt anything. Both you and your horse will feel better afterward.

I know riding’s where it’s at, but really, don’t most of us find just being near our horses helps bring sanity to our life’ Consider why we do this: Why we spend all that money. Why we invest all that time.

Our horses help us cope with the crazy, responsibility-packed world around us, giving us a release, and an inner satisfaction that, for most of us, is unequaled anywhere else in life. And aren’t we lucky to have that’ So, turn off those cell phones when you walk in the barn and remember why we want horses — or maybe that should be why we need them.

’Til Next Month,

-Cynthia Foley

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