Sunday, March 28, 2010

Staying in the moment...

I have lived with fear of riding for years. It started when I took about a dozen riding lessons with a lesson horse and bought my first horse when I was 32 years old. She was a 16.3 hand 3 year old horse that had only a few rides on her. Additionally, this horse was primarily a left brain extrovert that could easily go right brained. She was strong physically, strong spirited and strong willed, playful and very dominant. I did not know what I was getting into and let’s just say within the first few rides I was terrified. It took only one incident to shake my confidence so much that I could not ride without shaking for over one and a half years. That one instance ignited fear that lasted in varying degrees over 4 – 6 years. My riding instructor that sold this horse to me, held her for me to mount, because she wouldn’t stand still, the horse bolted with me on her several times, and this horse had her own ideas of what we are doing, I had my hands full. What happened to riding on that school horse… UGH! But this learning experience was the best thing that could have ever happened to me, it caused deep personal growth over time.
I kept a diary for over a year on my day to day journey with this horse because I wanted to document my feelings and progress. I was determined to become a leader for her, but I knew I had to become a better horseman before I could help her when she got worried. I found the Parelli program and focused on taking my time to not only go through the program, but take it slow so that I could build my confidence back, one day at a time. It took me over a year to get on and ride without being absolutely terrified. I started primarily playing with another horse that was a bit older, had more experience and was a left brain introvert. She had a different set of challenges for me. She bucks when she disagrees J. So… one runs off and the other bucks.. GREAT …… So, I found myself in a couple of bucking fits which brought fear up yet again. But, what I will say is as I became stronger as a horseman I also processed how to beat the fear because as it minimized it still resided. What I found was that I was not staying in the moment. I was projecting what “could” or “might” happen. What if she bucks? What if she wants to go to fast and I can’t ride it? What if I can’t ride it period” etc… So, my thoughts and focus were holding me back, causing me not to enjoy what my horse was offering because I was too worried about what might happen. It’s like not giving yourself completely to your significant other because you’re worried he’s going to cheat on you.
Yoga is a practice of staying in the moment, staying present in mind, body and spirit, which is a challenge to us all. During your practice not only exercise your body but exercise your mind. Can you stay present within your postures? How often does your mind drift in a posture, how long does it take for your mind to drift after you have refocused your mind? Do you find as you are consistent in your practice that you are able to stay more and more present? This exercise of the mind transcends off the mat. As your yoga practice is consistent and your mind becomes more and more focused during practice, notice how you are able to stay more in the moment with your horse, in meetings at work and in conversation. One of the vehicles to staying present and in the moment is the use of breath. I use Ujjayi Pranayama, controlled deep breathing, see Fluidity Connection DVD’s, which helps you engage your breath, deep inhalations and exhalations through your nostrils with a slight constriction in the back of your throat. It is audible breath and it has an ocean like sound. Engage this breath to gain calmness and clarity of the mind. Continue to focus on your breath, bringing your mind back to present on and off the mat.
Breath has facilitated my ability to stay in the moment when I am in the saddle and alleviates my mind from drifting to the “what if’s” and allows me to stay more focused and present for my horse.
Let me know how you are coming along in your practice and what you are noticing in your everyday life and horsemanship. Join ZennerYoga facebook group and post your progress or write me with questions at This will help me help you and others at the same time!

Be Blessed,

Theresa Zenner

No comments:

Post a Comment