When people ask me, “why horses?” my response:
I started riding when I was in 3rd grade. It was my safe space where I felt confident, understood, supported, nurtured, loved, free! I felt immense joy, seen, heard, like nothing in the world could stop me or hurt me- not even a 1200lb animal.
Horses immediately understood me, and gave me the space to get to know me. I learned how to trust, I learned to have faith, I learned to relax, yet stay fully present, engaged, aware, and took control of what I could and trusted my horse to work with me.
I learned to listen with compassion to the rhythm of the horses breath & movement, and was able to shift my own to help guide theirs.
I quickly learned, by being thrown a couple times, to get back up, get back on, to try again yet with softer hands, gentler legs, and a strong spirit.
I experienced a sense of freedom like no other as the Earth moved beneath the strong, powerful animal. I felt beauty, grace, and ease, as I sat into my seat and let go of the need to control everything.
I understood the respect of such large creatures, and the rare empathy they express and emote.
You could very well say that horses were my first experience with the practices of yoga, yet I had no idea what yoga was at that time.
To ride a horse is to practice yoga. To be in the space of a horse is to practice yoga. I’m not taking about the poses, although asana greatly helps in alignment and comfortable riding.
I’m talking about nonviolence, being honest, contentment, letting go of control, releasing fears, focusing, breath, oneness, withdrawing of senses, faith, compassion; the juicy parts of the philosophy that show up in our lives when we least expect it.
Just like our yoga practice, a horse is a mirror for all of our stuff to show up in the most incredible ways. Approach a horse with fake confidence and that animal will mess with you nonstop. Approach the horse owning your fears, and the horse will soften, and treat you with kindness and grace.
Letting a horse breathe into your energy, feel where you are blocked, and if you let it, help you remove the blockages.
I remember being 12 and my trainer telling me I was going to ride bareback and bridleless over a 4.5ft jump on a horse I had ridden only for a couple months. I laughed and freaked out when I saw he was serious. He asked me these words, “Do you trust yourself? Do you trust this animal to carry you over the jump?”
Both were yes. I did. Completely. My heart softened. So did the horse.
I breathed into believing I could do this. He believed in me. I believed in me. I believed in my horse to help carry me over this huge obstacle.
And do you know what happened?!?! I did it. I cleared a jump bareback and with no reigns. I gave fully into faith and trust. That feeling is forever imprinted into my body. I tap back into that feeling when I feel scared.
Today, horses and yoga remain a very important part of my life, and will only become more important as I feel into making my dreams a reality.
These images showcase a journey of healing shared by two of my very dear friends, and one magnificent horse.
As I chose to trust this horse in the picture, Cowboy, in allowing me to use our relationship as a means to prove to myself my ability to find balance and strength in times of being unsure, he showed me that it was okay. That I could fully trust myself to stand, to rise, to breathe, and to have faith. It was safe to trust and to live fully in joy.
This day was the one-year anniversary of a monumental shift in my healing journey. It signifies so much more than what these images convey. In learning to walk in faith, to trust God, myself, and then others, to surrender to grace, and to live in joy, I am able to feel, receive, and give the love I have always desired.
I know that through disciplined practices, compassionate action, and passionate self-love, full healing and a vibrant, joy-filled life is achievable.
Even when the darkness returns, as we know life is polarity, by returning to the remembrance of light, we can rebirth stronger, happier, and more resilient than ever before.
A few tips to share on self-love:
1. It gets messy before it gets better. You will need to learn to let the messiness be okay, and understand it is all a part of the healing process.
2. Find something or someone you can turn to in times of struggle to remind you of your worth, your light, your truth. These people are rare and like gold. Treasure them. Hint: it may not be who you think it is.
3. Try many new things. Get curious about who you are. Adventure. Play. Laugh. Be a kid again in the ways you did not allow yourself to before.
4. Indulge in pleasurable pastimes. Feel them.
5. Ask those you trust to write you all the things they appreciate about you. This will help in cloudy moments and when the “I’m not good enough” voice returns.
6. Find your faith. In whatever you believe in. To me it’s God. Meditate in that energy at least once a day. Twice is better. Remember- the body remembers feelings. Give it new feelings to create new patterns.
7. Relish in the joy moments. Seek them.
8. Give horses a try. Equine therapy is profound and a very beautiful way to find your way into discovering your wholeness.
Always remember you are loved and deserve a life of happiness and peace!
Much love to you,