The Om in Horsemanship


It’s pouring down rain, so there won’t be much horsing around today.  My goal of riding Bridger every day as a cure for our woes is on pause this day.  But there’s plenty of time for thinking about horses and life and stuff.

Horseman Peter Campbell says something like “the problem is not the problem, your attitude about the problem is the problem.”

My “problem” with Bridger is very simple — there are things he needs to understand better and ideas he has that I’d rather he didn’t.  This wouldn’t be a problem at all except that the process of teaching and redirecting him can be scary because I sit on his back and he is large and powerful.

But even so, it’s my attitude that creates the problem.  When Bridger gets fractious or lost, there are a couple options.  If I were Buck Brannaman, I’d ride him right through it without blinking because I would know I could.  Or, I could see the issue developing, mindfully dismount and address it from the ground.  Neither is a problem.

What do I do?  Fear grabs me, or maybe frustration, and right behind come self-doubt, self-criticism, dismay and a bunch of other complicated emotions.  My muscles tighten, my mind trips offline.  I’m lost in a feeling storm, useless for giving my horse the direction and confidence he needs.  If I’m not careful, I can start blaming Bridger for the whole mess.  And voila — a real problem.

FDR would have answered Peter Campbell nicely, adding, for example, that all we have to fear is fear itself.  Or anger or jealousy or despair.  My yoga teachers would nod sagely — notice where your mind goes when your body is challenged, they say, is it necessary?

How many times a day do we create problems with our emotions and reactions where, in fact, there is simply a circumstance?

Yoga and horsemanship point me in the same direction: stick with exactly what is for a while and let the rest go.  Next time I get on Bridger’s back, I’ll be really trying to do just that.


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