If you’re anything like me, you’ve been a little anxious for the last… oh, 8 months or so. Coronavirus, political polarity, social justice issues, hurricanes – it seems like 2020 is pretty intent on keeping us on our toes.
While we can’t control the world around us, we do have the ability (and I would argue the responsibility) to control our response to the madness swirling around us. One great way to do that is to seek wisdom from a pro – i.e. your horse.
Now you might not consider your horse such an anti-anxiety expert – look at the airs above the ground he did when a leaf blew by him out on the trail the other day. What about the time she was terrified because the barn cat jumped at a fly? Surely we don’t want to be freaking out at every little disturbance in the Force, do we?
Here’s the thing. Horses are reacting to those stimuli at the appropriate level for their native understanding. Their first instinct is to get the hell outta Dodge at the first sign of a problem, but they can learn to respond rather than react – and so can you.
Here are a few ways your horse can shine a light on a better response to life.
Not across the country, not even in a different circle, just move your body. Get up and take a walk. Stretch. Flex your muscles, take a couple of deep breaths.
Horses often exhibit this by being calmer when they’re turned out, despite the fact that there’s probably more stimulus that could trigger a reaction in the pasture than in their stall. The secret? Because movement is their body’s default setting, when they’re moving, they feel less “trapped”. They have a certain level of comfort in just knowing they could get out of Dodge if the need arose.
2. Find strength in your herd.
There’s safety in numbers. Horses will be the first ones to tell you that. Their whole social structure is organized around being in a herd. It offers physical protection, social interaction, and opportunities for procreation.
Although we’re predators rather than prey animals, humans are also pack animals. We tend to live in groups for the same reasons as horses do. However, while a community can help us be strong and connected, it can also devolve into herd-mentality, which can lead to things like going to coronavirus parties or turning the Great Dome at MIT into a giant version of R2D2 . While the consequences of the former certainly outweigh those of the latter by about a gazillion percent, the rules of the jungle apply even if the jungle in question is a frat party – those at the shallow end of the gene pool are the weakest link. (If you’re not familiar with the Darwin Awards, you owe it to yourself to read their examples of extreme stupidity, lending credence to the expression, “Stupid kills, just not fast enough…” ) And as a side note, you don’t often see herds of horses out playing pranks, except learning to open gates, and doors, and…. oh, never mind… the point is that horses in a herd often make better decisions than people in a herd.
The bottom line? Have a community that supports you in making wise decisions, whether it’s your family, your friends, or people in a co-working session online with a service like Focusmate.
3. Take a nap in the sun.
What is it about horses sleeping in the sun that’s so endearing? Admit it, you got the warm fuzzies when you looked at the featured image for this post – who can resist a sleepy little foal, especially with its tongue stuck out?
The lesson in this for humans isn’t necessarily to go lie in the middle of a field for a half-hour or so in the afternoon, it’s more along the line of Joseph Campbells’, “Follow your bliss.”
Crazy about those adult coloring books that were all the rage a few years ago? Grab your colored pencils and get coloring! Does grooming your horse for a half-hour or so bring your blood pressure down 20 points? Grab your grooming kit and get to it! Do something that works for you! And if you really do want to grab a nap in the sun, I promise I won’t take any pictures of your tongue peeking out.