Q: What can we learn from our horses to help us through this time of pandemic?
Cavallo President Carole Herder shares her thoughts….
A: This pandemic leaves us in unchartered waters, and I admit that I am scared. I am going along OK for the most part. Then, I hear news and up comes the trepidation—the 'what ifs' and fearfulness. The power of the mind can create all sorts of scenarios. When I turned my thoughts to horses, I realized how our animals can help us through these trying times. Horses can us teach about managing our thoughts because they read them and reflect them back at us. They pick up on our feelings.
We've all had times when we go out to the barn riddled with anxiety or sadness and end up having a horrible time with our horse. Alternatively, we go out full of joy and have the best ride ever. They can scare us or comfort us—and often it's as a result of our projection.
Focused Thoughts Over Fear
My experience with my horse, Slash, shows how horses pick up on our fears. He taught me the importance of projecting calm, clear thoughts and doing my best in the moment. I had my big foundation-bred ranch horse for a couple of months when I moved to a heavily overgrown rainforest. I trusted him. We had a bond from the moment we met. As soon as I was marginally unpacked, I confidently hopped on his back, and off we went to explore this labyrinth of old-growth trails. It was a thrilling adventure. Everywhere we turned, there was another way to go. We just kept right on going, down, around, over, and through. Rushing creeks, rocky beds, and snarly roots. Across old logging bridges and onto another trail. One path after another. More beautiful and exotic, the deeper we got.
Then it started getting very dark. I felt that if we could just keep on going, the trails would bring us near where we started. Instead, the trails got denser and then disappeared altogether. I was two hours in and had to turn around. In my fears, I imagined that cougars were waiting to pounce from overhead, that a big mama bear was also around this next corner. Every shadow represented another evil threat. I was very talented at freaking myself out. I was nervous, and Slash picked it up. The more he pranced, the more nervous I became.
What happened in my terrifying trail story? With the help of a sweet Blue Healer, we made it out of the forest alive. Tired, crying, and prickly with tension, we surfaced back in the barn some three hours later. This scenario provided a real lesson in mind control in the face of fear. I don’t think I practiced this well on the trail, but I am better now with practice. Like most of us, we learn what we must.
Sometimes we need to remind ourselves to remain calm. It doesn't help to imagine the worst possible scenario. Right now, it's vital to take control of the story we are telling ourselves. Start reframing the gruesome tale into something uplifting.
Calm and Thankful
No matter the circumstances—or even if you’re sick or know someone who is—there are reasons to be thankful and look for the positive. We can switch our focus to be thankful for our lives. We can be thankful for our animals. Our horses. Our dogs. The beautiful four-leggeds in our lives who give us a fantastic 'feel-good' advantage. As equestrians, we commune with nature.
Yesterday I went out to the field and stood with my horses. Being there with them calmed my mind, and the troubles and worries started to slip away. Now, Slash is 34 years old and perfect as ever. My horses are peaceful and enjoying life as usual. The barn doors are open. The footing in the paddocks varies from crusher dust, gravel, mud, and sand. The fresh grasses are starting to grow in the fields. They are barefoot, nibbling delicate shoots and happily roaming around. Everything is OK and as it should be.
If you can, take this time to “just be” with your horses. Let your peaceful feelings blossom and spread. The world needs us to let go of the fear, and our animals are here to offer their assistance. With horses in your life, you know what fear is. Our prey animals can unsettle us with their behavior. They also teach us that fear passes. You come out of it. Things return to normal. Let's trust that this virus will give soon. And for now, know that we are all in this together.
About the Source:
Carole Herder is the author of the #1 International Bestseller, There Are No Horseshoes in Heaven. She has been involved in horse health since 1993. Her company, Cavallo Horse & Rider Inc., develops, manufactures and distributes horse products in 26 countries. Herder designed and developed Cavallo Hoof Boots and Total Comfort System Saddle Pads. She presents trainings around the world to teach the benefits of keeping horses in a natural state. Herder is an honored recipient of the Royal Bank of Canada Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She is a member of the Women’s Presidents Organization, supporting female entrepreneurs in every industry.
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