horse attitude gratitude

…In the Barn & Beyond

Gratitude. It’s been quite a few years that this powerful concept – thousands of years in the making – has moved into the spotlight of our consciousness. From Oprah & Dr. Oz to gratitude journals (I love the Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal: Questions, Prompts, and Coloring Pages for a Brighter, Happier Life), gratitude rocks, and jars – you name it, it’s there!

Gratitude – A Deep Human Need

From Stone Age to Rocket Age, humans have been practicing collective and individual gratitude (e.g. Thanksgiving Holiday, Thank You cards, Prayers and Offerings, etc.) and there is good reason for it: Gratitude is Good Medicine!

Gratitude is Good Medicine

Have you ever felt warm around the heart when expressing gratitude to someone? Then you did it right! That’s the kind of heart-felt gratitude that feels good to you when expressing it and to the receiver – whether human or not…

No Lip Service, please!

In our brain-centered, head-heavy world, we tend to rationalize, organize, streamline, multi-task – all brain-based ‘surface modes’ that do not get to the core of feelings. To express gratitude so that YOU & the RECEIVER FEELS IT, please let it come from the heart.

Let it come from the heart!

Try this exercise at home:

  1. Stand in front of a mirror (or talk to your dog or an imaginary friend ūüėČ and say “Thank you for [fill in the blank].” How do you feel?
  2. Now let’s try that again: Feel you heart area. Really direct your consciousness to this area. Then imagine, you heart had lips. Relax you shoulder, soften you gaze, smile a little and say (with your heart lips) “Thank you for  [fill in the blank].” How was that?
  3. In step 3, you ‘lip synch’ with your heart. If you do it right, you will feel your heart area and other parts of you body – perhaps your hands – warm and feel pleasant. This is the kind of FEELING you want to convey when expressing gratitude.

5 Ways to Show Gratitude in the Barn & Beyond

  1. Simply say ‘Thank you for […]’ whenever you feel there is something to be grateful for. Example: I say “Thank you for providing such caring help to Regalo.” to my helper and friend Bettie – either in person or even via text! Important: You must look the person in the eye (when in person), smile, and ‘lip synch’ with your heart. Then it’s a real gift!
  2. Leave a little note. That can be a sticky note with a smiley! Example: I have a little book that my dog walker and I use to communicate. I draw little smileys next to my thank yous and often say “I really appreciate that you….”. Find opportunities to express your thanks to others with little notes they find in unexpected places.
  3. Share a little. Baking something? Got a little too much of something? You certainly have experienced an overabundance of something. Instead of putting it in the freezer or the cupboard, why not attach a little ribbon and a thank you note and express gratitude by sharing. You can find plenty of opportunity! Example: When I buy a big bag of Forage First horse treats, I put a few in a little bag and leave it for a helpful barn friend’s horse with a little thank you note.
  4. Picture that! You may have a smartphone or a phone that takes pictures. These can be easily shared. Taking a picture of something someone else loves or has helped you with and sending it to them with a ‘Thank You’ is a great way to show gratitude. Example: Take a picture of your friend’s horse (“Thank you for […]. I saw your horse in the pasture and thought you’d like to this picture.”)
  5. Book it! Accidentally bought the same horse book twice? You may have done this before, if you are like many horse people on a horse book buying binge… This book will be someone else’s treasure! Write your heartfelt thanks into the cover and give it to or leave it for your helpful barn friend.

You got this!

These are just some ideas. You know best who to thank and how to do it. Practice is key! Here some tips:

  • Practice heartfelt thank yous at home – you may be in ‘brain mode’ and give ‘lip service’ without realizing it!
  • Grow your gratitude vocabulary – create a little collection of terms and phrases that express your gratitude. Write them on a card or in a journal. Soon, they will be anchored in your gratitude tool box!
  • Say less – mean more! A simple heart-felt ‘Thank You’ is better than a stream of words that come from the ‘head’.
  • Be grateful! For everything. Food, air, your old paddock boots, a cup of Joe, fair weather, YOUR HORSE!

Hope you find this helpful. Please share this article, if you do!

THANK YOU for reading this far.

Enjoy your horse!

SReinhold_sm

Stefanie Reinhold

Continue reading “5 Ways to Practice Gratitude”

white horse kind massage

How to Bond with Your Horse

3 Do’s and Dont’s for a Better Relationship

After many successful rehab experiences with horses that had ‘people problems’, and 7 years of working with ‘airs above the grounds’ performer turned equine behaviorist Anita Kush, I realize that a large range of problems in the human – horse interaction can be traced back to a small set of unhelpful behaviors on part of the human.

Let’s get one thing clear: It is NEVER the horse’s fault. If we can agree on this, you may read on and may find something helpful here.

Bonding with our horse – what a wonderful and noble intention.

Not only do we want to get on, get along and understand each other, we want to forge a relationship that will be strong enough to carry us through the unavoidable moment of crisis – big or small. We want to have ‘something in the bank’ – on the trust level. This topic is rich enough to fill a book. But it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Let’s start somewhere…

Here 3 common mistakes and what to do instead:

Mistake: Feed snack as reward.

Do this instead: Let ‘virtue be its own reward’. The exercise went well? The horse stood calmly for the farrier or while mounting? Praise in a soft voice, be a relaxing and reassuring presence for your horse. Then feed snacks out of that context of reward, for no reason at all, just to socialize.

Mistake: Letting your horse fend for himself

Do this instead: A dominant horse is crowding your horse when you fetch her from the pasture? Your horse’s more assertive friend grabs for his feed bowl? A fellow boarder is loud and encroaches on your space in front of your horse? These and other types of situations require you to take charge. Give your horse the feeling that you are “in charge of everything” and will create a safe environment where your horse’s needs (for instance for space) are met. Be your horse’s ‘Joan of Arc’ or ‘Genghis Khan’!

Mistake: Expect obedience at all cost (i.e. “don’t let him get away with it”)

Do this instead: Look at every interaction with your horse as a conversation. E.g. you want to turn left, your horse turns right. Diffuse, deflect, re-channel – never argue with your horse. In this case: Good idea, but let’s do that my way (turning right, circling around, coming at it again, repeat until desired outcome is achieved – without confrontation!). Obedience in horses is a habit willingly built on trust, never enforced.

Follow this ‘recipe’ for 30 days, then let me know how you and your horse are doing.

Enjoy your horse!

SReinhold_sm

Stefanie Reinhold

10 Easy Tips to get YOU Started Riding to Music

As we follow the Olympics (or not…) or view Youtube videos of the classic ‘Pas de Deuxs’ of yesteryear or spunky dressage Freestyles of today, we may get the idea of riding to music ourselves. Not a dressage rider? Never done this before? No problem! You do not have to wear any special kind of pants to have fun with music.FElixBuerkner

For those, who have never tried this and would like to give it a shot, here some tips

1. Getting the ‘horse to ride in rhythm’

Hmm… this is actually not how it works. It works the other way around! Find your horse’s natural rhythm in all three gaits and certain exercises (according to your schooling level) by determining Beats Per Minute (BPM). Thanks to modern mobile technology, that’s easy with a Smartphone app such as the Android App BPM Tap. This video shows how it works.

Have someone tap the rhythm on the Smartphone while you ride and write down the respective bpm for trot, canter, for example.

Here a similar app for the iPhone: Beat Counter for iPhone

If you prefer to take a video of your horse under rider and then determine the needed bpm on your desktop, this is the app for you: BPM Online Counter for Desktop

Here the average BPMs – your horse, depending on size and breed – may differ from this!

  • Walk¬†– between 50-65 BPM
  • Trot¬†– between 75-90 BPM
  • Canter¬†– between 95-110 BPM
  • Passage/Piaffe¬†– between 60-65 BPM

2. Determine the kind of music you like

What type of music do you like? Classical, Pop, Rock, Reggae? Dig around in your CD collection, on your MP3 player, your iTunes, record collection or on Pandora.com.

Unsure? Let your horse guide you! What type of guy or gal is your horse? Daredevil or sensitive flower? What kind of expression do you have as a pair? Serious, sense of humor, goofy, elegant? Have fun with this!

3.¬†Find the songs with your horse’s BPM

Oh my! Just when we thought this was going to be easy. Here a good way to start:

  • Go to Equimusic.com, a free resource created by Michael Matson, creator of the “Dancing Horse Fund” or to the very comprehensive, searchable BPM Database.
  • Enter the desired BPM in the search field and ‘enter’ to bring up search results.
  • Browse the songs and listen to the song (youtube, iTunes, etc.) to¬†develop a feel for the rhythm.

You can either use the suggested songs or find one with a similar rhythm in your own collection. In that case, double-check with your BMP tap app.

4. Create a log of suitable music per gait.

A great tool is Evernote. You may just be sitting at Starbucks and hear a song that may work for your horse’s trot, tap the beat, confirm, and want to remember that song later! Evernote will work across all your mobile and desktop devices.

5. Create a first practice routine

Motto: Keep it simple and make it short and sweet! Have fun! Just ride in the arena and experiment, then write down what your’d like to do and practice a few times.

Once your are relatively secure, have a friend time the different sequences or take a video so you can time them yourself.

6. Assign music to sequences

Decide which of your selected pieces would be fun to combine and write down your plan.

7. Be the mix master!

Purchase (if needed) the music and mix to match your routine. A useful tool I like and that is also recommend by Equimusic, is the open source application Audacity.

8. Load and go!

Load your mix on your mobile device, get the ear phones going or hook up to your arena speakers and give it a whirl!

9. Some don’ts…

  • Do not try and force your horse into a rhythm just because you like the song!
  • Your horse has ears, too! Heavy Metal may not be the best choice.
  • When it comes to speaker volume: As high as necessary, as low as possible.
  • Mix it up and create built-in walk breaks. Be mindful of your horse’s fitness level!

10. Last not least…

  • Don’t be surprised if your horse shows a side of his/her personality that you did not know yet. You will feel different and so will your horse!
  • Riding to music can be addictive. You will never listen to the car radio the same way!

Most of all, make this an activity you BOTH can enjoy and keep in mind that it’s easier to overdo it when you are having fun…

As always, enjoy your horse!

SReinhold_sm

Stefanie Reinhold
Reinhold’s Horse Wellness