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Check out this quick exercise!

If you’re like many women, getting to the barn to ride usually happens after  you’ve spent the day at work, taken care of the family, done a load or 10 of laundry, and tried to find the cupcake pan that you knew you had for the school bake sale last year…

Your list may look different, but however you slice it, you’re usually pretty tired and stressed by the time you head to the barn for a ride. Sound familiar? If it does, I’ve got some great news! You can do a simple exercise that will take less than a minute (on most days, anyway), and will allow you to walk into the barn and greet your horse with a relaxed and positive attitude.

Introducing: (Drumroll, please…) The Magic Box!

OK, I can see the eye rolls, but bear with me a minute. If you’re tired of arriving at the barn stressed, and it’s been forever  since you were relaxed at the beginning of a ride, you owe it to yourself (and your horse) to read on. Here’s the deal.

What it is: The Magic Box is an exercise to help you not bring your baggage into the barn. You can use an imaginary box, or you can get an actual box that you keep in your car, under your saddle rack in the tack room – anywhere you have access to it before you go see your horse.

How it works: When you arrive at the barn, do a quick mental (and physical) inventory of your current state. Tense from an argument with your daughter? Crabby because your co-worker baked double chocolate macadamia nut cookies even when she knows you’re trying to lose weight? Whatever it is that you’re lugging around with you – take a deep breath, exhale, and deposit it in your Magic Box. Whether it’s anger, frustration, or even fatigue – put it in the Magic Box, and leave it there till you’re done with your ride.

Note – sometimes it helps to imagine your negative feelings as a physical presence (assigning them colors like red for anger, yellow for frustration, etc.) Once you can “see” your negative stuff – place it in your Magic Box, and make a pact with yourself that the Box stays closed till you leave the barn.

If you go to the barn directly from work, using a physical box will allow you dump in your brief case and heels right along with the self-abuse you’re giving yourself for eating 2 of those damn cookies.

Why it works: By taking a minute to do an inventory of your situation, you bring awareness to it, which is the first step in affecting a change.

Physically – Once you’re aware of the tightness in your shoulders, clenched jaw, and stiff neck, you can take a deep breath, do a few shoulder shrugs, and prepare for your ride with a more relaxed body.

Mentally – Ditching the negativity puts you in a better frame of mind to actually enjoy your whole ride.

So, you get to dump your baggage and enjoy your ride and your horse gets an owner who is fully present and relaxed.  What could be better? Well, as an added benefit, you may find that when you finish your ride, you don’t feel the need to reopen your box and take back any of that baggage.  Then even your family benefits by having you smile your way through folding a load or 10 of laundry.  Oh, and that cupcake pan? Check with your son – he used it for his art project right after the bake sale…

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