I do not enjoy riding my horse down steep, rocky, muddy trails. I know cowgirls are supposed to be fearless, but I’m not.
After a wet spring and more horses on the trail than usual, the tails have become muddy swamps. On a Memorial Day Weekend I was coming down a big hill with rocks and mud halfway to my horse’s knees. My inner fear monster came out in full force. Thoughts create reactions in the body. I did not to need to pass my fears of nervousness onto my horse, so I switched into yoga mode and started doing box breathing: take in smooth sips of air for a count of four, hold for four counts, release smoothly and evenly for four counts, hold for four counts. Do the entire process in rounds of four. This breath drops your body into a relaxed state after the first full round.
All the way down the hill I let Moe have his head and pick his route through the rocks, deep mud and downed trees while I focused on breathing and using my body to help him. I also thought about trust. Riding is a partnership. Over the last 20 years he and I have not made any decisions that harmed the other. That is how trust is built.
I have a yoga teacher that says what happens on your mat shows up in your life. I say what happens in the saddle shows up in your life.