A time to ride

Riding and working around horses is like It’s putting a giant magnifying glass to your psyche. As the horses mirror you and your emotions, you can look objectively at them and change them if needed.

We’ve made it through another summer season. The sun has brightened our spirits and our mood. As we head into fall and that dreaded winter it’s time to reassess, regroup and make plans for not only our horse’s health but for our own mental wellness during the darker, colder months.

Horses are magical creatures, noble, strong and intuitive. When one rides a horse, they borrow its freedom, even for just a little while.

Horses are good at sensing when something is wrong, when you’ve had a bad day or are feeling stressed. They just know what your mood is like and it’s not coincidence that they seem to mirror your emotions when you are around them, or even your personality. If your horse is acting nervous or anxious this might be a good time to check and ask yourself, how your day is going?

A horse will mirror the person riding or working with it because horses are sentient beings. As sentient beings, horses and humans communicate via a common language of intention and energy. This energy is instinctive because horses are a herd animal and react and respond as such, automatically. As a herd animal, horses need social interaction to live; they need to feel this communication daily with their herd to survive.

Horses respond to their herd by picking up on unspoken emotions and feelings and then reacting as a group. Sometimes it’s just an electric energy, unseen, other times it’s a visible threat. In the wild, their existence literally depends upon on how the horse reacts to the rest of the herd. This hyper-vigilant behavior could save the horse’s life some day.

By riding or working around your horse every day you can better assess your own mental health and those around you. Riding and working around horses is like putting a giant magnifying glass to your psyche. As the horses mirror you and your emotions, you can look objectively at them and change them if needed.

This type of hard-wired response is why horses are the perfect companion for people of all ages and backgrounds. Just being around horses seems to slow down a person’s mind to appreciate the present and stop worrying about the future, creating a mindfulness situation in itself and a way to staff off depression and anxiety.

Horses can teach adults and children so much just by being around them. This is why horseback riding lessons and interactions with the horses create such positive reactions in families. We learn that we can achieve calmness, centered focus and bonding with our family unit and others if we just follow their lead.

In a stable, horses are individually placed in stalls, these are their living quarters, and they go about their own personal lives not interacting with other horses much during the day.

However, when breakfast and dinner is provided to the horses they in unison greet the person feeding them, actively begin to eat as a group, and together their rhythmic munching of hay brings a sense of community, peace and calmness to the barn.

These simple activities bring the separate parts back together again, bonding them as one unit. This may be one of the most important lessons we can learn from horses. You can be your own person and individual most of the day, but the reconnection to family and friends must be renewed daily to achieve peace, happiness and mindfulness in your family and daily life.

As fall and winter quickly approach, this might just be the perfect time to reconnect and center yourself and your family. Schedule a riding lesson, attend a horse training clinic, visit a horse stable or join an equestrian group. It’s a great time to explore the world of horses and reap all the benefits it offers to you and your family – fall is a great time to ride! Happy Trails!

LORI RICIGLIANO is a horse judge, trainer, riding instructor, equine photographer and clinician. She also hosts a weekly syndicated equine radio talk show “Hoof Beats with Lori”. Lori has held her horse judges license as a USEF / AHA — “R” rated licensed horse judge for more than 25 years and currently operates Ricigliano Farms Horse Training and Riding Academy near Kent, Minn. She can be reached by email or phone for any questions at 218- 557-8762 or riciglianofarms@gmail. com. Her website is www. RiciglianoFarms.com

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