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At Heart—Helping You Live Life to the Fullest

Belly Breathing

Use these seven steps to meditate with your horse and deepen your relationship both in and out of the arena.
By Megan Brincks

“Leave your emotions at the gate.” Equestrians are no strangers to this common anthem, echoed by riding instructors everywhere. Negative emotions can sour your ride faster than a burr under your horse’s saddle pad. But what about positive thoughts, emotions and feelings? Can tuning you’re your breath—slow, intentional, focused—help improve the horse/human relationship and boost performance?

Some riders suggest just that—and some scientific studies back them up. Research has shown that meditating for just a few minutes each day decreases blood pressure, helps controls pain, reduces stress and anxiety, improves sleep and even mitigates age-related memory loss. In addition to these physical benefits, meditating in the presence of your horse can also deepen the bond between human and animal.

Alejandra Lara with Park City Horse Experience in Kamas, Utah, uses equine energy to help individuals tune into their own emotions through meditation. She is certified through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association with a special merit for her work with military veterans; she’s also a credentialed therapeutic riding instructor and an equine specialist in mental health and learning through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.

“I like to focus on mindfulness in horse sessions because horses live in that space of complete awareness—not with their thinking minds, but sensing with their bodies” Alejandra said. “Especially if riders are doing high-intensity sports with their horses, they come to realize their horses have a lot more to say. A lot of people can still learn that there are many layers.”

Jini Patel Thompson of Langley, British Columbia, uses her lifelong observations and learning with her horses to share what she sees through her online program called “Listen to Your Horse,”available at listentoyourhorse.com.

“Horses spend 40 percent of their time in a breathing and meditative state, so they’re alreadyused to this space,” Jini said.

The seven practices that follow dive into the benefits of meditation. Of course, safety comes first—if a practice feels uncomfortable or unsuitable for you or your horse, it’s OK to modify as needed.

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This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Fall 2019 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.

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