Focus on the Body - 3 Skills to Improve Your Ride
Have you ever stopped to appreciate the sheer awesomeness of how our bodies help us stay on, communicate with and guide our equine partners? With that in mind, how much love and support do you give your own body?
Your body is what transfers your thoughts into action. The urge to spend time with your horse becomes the action of going to the barn, grooming and tacking up to go for a ride. Of course the body does so much more, including sending you important feedback through physical both external and internal sensations. Examples of external feedback are:
Rhythm - feeling the length and evenness of your horse’s stride
Balance - understanding what your horse is doing with his neck
Suppleness - noticing when your horse is stiffer one direction versus the other
Equestrians prioritize external feedback while our internal feedback tends to get tuned out, despite being as important if not more so. Whether it’s joint or back pain, low energy or brain fog -- these are messages from your body that need your attention.
We equestrians have a bit of a reputation for being competitive and goal driven to the point of ignoring what our body needs us to hear. We get caught up in the culture of convenience, feeling like there isn’t time to slow down and pay attention to ourselves. The tendency to do what is convenient, easy or fast ends up being what slows us down by creating the habit of tuning out important internal feedback. Information from our body helps us determine where we need to get stronger or more supple, when we need fuel to keep going, and when to apply more effort or take a break. These messages are all critical to our success. Ultimately, chronic inattention holds us back from reaching our goals.
In an earlier blog post, Equestrians = Athletes, we introduced the idea of thinking about ourselves as the athletes that we are. Our abilities as equestrians flourish with athletic training beyond the barn. Athletes train their bodies to offer optimal strength, suppleness, timing, and coordination. These are the skills that we tend to give the most focus to, but more is needed to better support our bodies.
Knowing where to start can be a challenging practice in self-awareness because our physical well-being is multi-faceted.To simplify this broad topic we can break down these areas of focus into three easy-to-consider points:
Refuel - choose appropriate nutrients to build and repair.
Reshape - develop strength, suppleness, and proprioception.
Restore - enable our bodies to rest, rebuild, and repair.
With these focus areas in mind we can explore and integrate what works for our individual bodies. Building a practice of customized self-care gives us the power to make bigger gains and enhance our skills in the tack. Taking the time and attention to give your body what it needs, while working towards your goals, is a daily practice of building yourself up to feeling stronger, more present, and more connected to our horse. Who among us doesn’t want that?
What are you going to do today to refuel, reshape, and restore your body?