To say it has been a busy year is a gross understatement of the chaos that describes the better part of 2018. It's been all I could do to just tread water and keep my nose above the waterline to keep breathing and searching for the high ground. I can't complain, really, after 14 years in business for myself I have seen huge growth in the business and we are experiencing growth in our secondary business of Cowboy Dressage as well as we attempt to build a community for like minded horseman to congregate and learn from each other in northern Idaho. Busy is good! Busy is profitable! Busy is flat exhausting!
But, the shear weight of my responsibilities this year and the days away from home has definitely had an affect on my riding and training. My 4 year old went out for a 30 day refresher course this spring with friend and horseman, Jon Ensign and ended up staying for 60 days just because I couldn't get the time off to go pick him up!
But, now that things have calmed a bit and I have some time to just focus on my own horses I can feel the secret ingredient that has been missing each time I've carved out 30 minutes for some arena time. A quietness of mind.
I have trouble quieting my mind when it gets really busy. I have trouble sitting down, sitting still and ceasing to do 5 or 6 thing at once. The miracle of this modern age allows folks to communicate with me in several different forms from several different devices meaning that by the grace of technology I can be having multiple conversations at once. Even now I as write this blog about the importance of focus and quietness of mind I have several different apps open on the computer allowing me to flip back and forth. Bad habits are harder than heck to break, aren't they?
So, because of my crazy schedule this summer my few "training" rides have been short and oft interrupted by calls, texts, messages and emails while my mind churns desperately on the goat that isn't improving or the mare I referred to WSU. My horses have received precious little of my full attention this summer.
That all changed last week. I wasn't supposed to be home last week. I was supposed to be traveling down to California to pick up a horse. A very special and important horse who is also causing us to expand and revamp many of our fences and outdoor shelters. Unfortunately we just couldn't get those projects done in time so low and behold suddenly I had a week off call with no appointments scheduled and no trip.
Suddenly I had some time to dedicate to my horses. I could take my time grooming them and meticulously comb out their manes and tails like I didn't have a care in the world. I could spend 20 minutes on ground work or fixing a piece of tack or attempting a lesson I haven't had time to deal with. I could quiet my mind, slow down and focus just on being with my horses in the moment and giving them my entire mind and attention.
Oh it was glorious. My horses all responded uniformly with giving me their very best. They could tell I was actually there with them instead of just going through the motions because I happened to have a spare 30 minutes. Instead of a crammed forced lesson that had to fit in between other chores and concerns I had no agenda, no time schedule and nothing but the sun on my face to tell me how much time had passed.
Time is a precious commodity that we so often take for granted. We are all busy and few of us have the luxury of really taking our time. But, I think that many people have the trouble, like I do of really being in the moment and giving 100% of themselves to their horses. Yet, isn't that exactly what we ask from them every time we get on? We want their full attention and get very frustrated if they are distracted or ignoring our cues. I'm no different. I do everything I can to make sure my horses don't have any distractions when we ride because trying to get them to focus is so important. But, me? Nope. My phone is right there where I can get to it and hear the messages coming in. Sometimes I'll even be riding and texting or fielding phone calls. And even when I'm not touching my phone my brain is still half on my the calls I saw that day or the calls I have to see tomorrow or the blood work pending . . . The list is endless. No wonder my horses don't feel the need to give me 100% during our lessons. I'm not giving them anywhere near that.
I don't know that there is much I can do about my crazy life style other than retire, so I'm going to have to find a way to show up with a quiet mind for my horses more often than I am. It was so good to see this past week how amazing my horses can be when I can be there for them. It was a stark reminder that if I am going to get the best from my horses, I have to give them my very best as well. There is definitely a lesson there that transcends even time in the saddle. It's time to close a few of those apps.