Picture this- you have just gotten off work, you know you’ve got your horse to see to before you can get home, shower, eat, tidy, work some more. So, you rush to the yard and get started on the chores of things like mucking out, making haynets, filling water buckets. You do all this at 100 miles per hour and then finally you retrieve your soggy horse from the field.
You bring him up, put him in the stable, rinse his feed bucket, give him a quick pat and then off you trot to head home to everything you have to do. Sound familiar?
I know this has certainly been representative of me over the years. It almost feels like you are a hamster running on a wheel all day, everyday, without really getting anywhere.
Recently, I have become interested in ‘slow living’. This has different meanings for everyone and I won’t get into too much detail beyond the basics but it has helped me to change my perspective on life.
Slow living to me is an umbrella term for intentional living and sustainable living combined. It involves slowing down to appreciate where you are right now. This, in turn, helps you to reconnect with the here and now. As you become more intentional about how you spend your time, who you spend your time with and what your effects are on your environment, you can really start to appreciate the here and now.
Slow living is a change from the fast paced way of modern life. It involves simplifying and evaluating all aspects of your life and what brings you joy against what drains you. I know for me, I am becoming more solitary (or anti-social perhaps…) as I get older. Some people just really drain my energy, yet others are a pleasure and build me up. I am definitely someone who recharges alone, however. This is something I have learned about myself as I have slowed down, simplified and evaluated. Slow living, therefore, encompasses all areas of your life from those relationships you nourish to the products you buy, the food you eat and importantly for our purpose, how you spend time with your horse.
For me, the first step towards a slow life was to simply learn to slow down. I would set myself crazy schedules and training programmes (which I would never stick to, might I add) and sometimes I felt like I had barely taken notice of my horse.
Just to clarify, slow living does not mean doing everything painfully slow. That would be ridiculous and impossible. What is does mean is to slow your mind and to take moments here and there to appreciate things.
I have found the yard a great place to practice slow living. I might do this as I groom my horses or as I tack up, or even as I walk up and down to the field. I take some time to really look at my horse and appreciate him for what he is. I notice how his coat is doing, or what his expression is. As we walk to the field, I’ll stop and notice the colour of the trees or the temperature. There is always something you can spot which you are glad to have become aware of.
Slow living can relate largely to mindfulness. This is something I’d like to discuss more of at a later date… anyway, I digress.
I feel that by slowing down and appreciating the here and now, you also become more intuitive with your horse. There are some days where I look at Bo and I just know he is not feeling it. Thus, it allows you to respond more to your horses needs. I have ridden Bo when he was not feeling it before and let me tell you, it was not enjoyable for either of us. He was slow, choppy and he was not in the frame of mind to do anything productive. It made me feel frustrated which was not fair on him, too.
Slow living at the yard also means you learn to value the time with your horse more and so you create lovely quality time where you are entirely present for him. After all, horses are always present for us.
Do you think slow living could work for you? In what ways might you as a person and your horse benefit?