Melinda's Life With Horses Blog

Melinda Folse, author of The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses, shares her experiences since returning to horses at 45.

Finding Horse Time

Horse Time, as I like to call it, is that blissful place where the world slows down, senses struggle back to life, and the tension lines throughout my body soften and dissipate. Just standing with a horse is calming. Watching him eat, graze, and move about his world is a gentle reminder to pay attention, breathe more deeply, and get out of my head and into the moment. This, without a doubt, is the part of the day where I return to myself, find my own sacred space, and recapture the quiet rhythm that life always offers, but in the rapid-fire demands of the world around us,  gets easier and easier  ignore.

Do you take this time to just “be” with your horse? Or do you, like I used to, enter the barn every day with a head full of agenda, a list of to-dos, and expectations of your horse and yourself that have very little to do with your heart and everything to do with your head?

Sometimes life has a way of slapping some sense into us.

I recently took a full time job — an exciting, demanding, challenging return to who I used to be in the work world. As a Director of Communications now instead of a writer of books and articles and freelance grants, I start each day with a staggering to-do list (usually with a few leftovers from the day before), and time enters warp speed as demands on my attention pelt me like pea-sized hail (not enough to hurt me any; just impossible to ignore). Every escape to the barn — not every day now, but every chance I can create — has helped me realize the true gift of Horse Time.

Now I realize that while it’s good to have goals with your horse (and mine do start to come back to me if I am able to stay at the barn long enough), it’s just as important to allow yourself to take the ideas espoused in Veronique Vienne’s treatise on the subject, a little book called The Art of Doing Nothing into your Horse Time. The opportunity is there for all of us, every time we’re with our horse. It’s quiet though. And very easy to miss.

Take some time today and let yourself soak up a little bit of this wonder. You’ll be glad you did.

And, of course, now I want to hear from you. How do you find more Horse Time? For those of you who work in the 8-5 world as I now do, what’s your strategy for getting enough Horse Time without shortchanging the important people in your life? This has always been a hot topic, and now that it’s turned personal, it’s even more important to me  to dig into it than ever before. Let’s put our heads together here and brainstorm ways to find and make the most of our  Horse Time!

Categories: Life With Horses Blog.

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4 Responses

  1. I more often than that go to the barn with no real agenda, unless it is a day I am having a riding lesson. My biggest problem is leaving my horse, I love spending lots of time, just brushing him and patting/smoothing his handsome face. He gets so relaxed, quite often falling asleep. I am very lucky that I have the freedom to do this quite alot. I am sure he is surprised when often I do this and not ride him. He also loves it when a friend and I bring our horses in and let them have the indoor arena to themselves. They have so much run chasing around, rearing, bucking, just releasing some energy; Particularly in the winter when it is so snowy and icy in the winter paddocks.

  2. 8-5 is rarely actually 8-5. If you factor in the commute and getting ready (shower, hair, makeup), the work day soon becomes more like 6am-6pm. Most people like to get some sleep each day so subtract at least 6 hours. That doesn’t leave much time for horses! Things that help: how far apart are your work, your barn and your home? Can you do anything to reduce the distance between them? Does your job allow you to work from home at all or have flexible hours so you can avoid spending valuable time in traffic? Next, evaluate your horse. Is this a horse that you can ride anytime without issue or do you need to lunge him for 30 minutes first? High maintenance horses take more time. After a long day at work, do you want a calm, willing partner or a challenging hot head? If you job prevents you from riding for a week or two, can your horse handle that or does he turn into a wild thing? If your horse doesn’t fit your schedule, consider selling him and finding one that does. Do you board your horse so that someone else is cleaning the stalls and eliminating the time it takes to do that? If you have the available funds, see if someone at the barn would like to earn extra money grooming/tacking your horse on the days when you have limited barn time. Alternatively, consider a partial lease on your horse to a teenager that can be your part time groom in exchange for riding. Look at your schedule like a budget and see if you are spending time on unnecessary activities that can be streamlined or eliminated. It isn’t easy so you’ll have to be creative.

    • Hey Stacey! Thanks for writing. You hit the nail on the head in so many of these areas we struggle with. And you’re so right. It is a creative challenge as well as a practical and logical one! One thing I’d like to emphasize, too, is that it’s a process. A a constant rebalancing, reassessing and retooling. I’m finding out this is not a situation you solve once and that’s it. Unless, of course, you just throw in the horse towel and give up. Which I for one am not willing to do!

      One of the best books I’ve read lately is Cheryl Richardson’s The Art of Extreme Self Care. I think horse time falls squarely in that category for those of us afflicted with the “horse bug.” And interestingly, Cheryl herself struggles with the issue of constant rebalancing, remarking that sometimes when she finds herself at the office at 9:00 pm she has to stop and say “is this really what I need to be doing to take care of myself right now?” Sometimes it is. But more often, it’s time to just say, “WHOA!” Once we set that intent — and that bell to go off in our heads when we veer too far off the course we’ve set for ourselves — it becomes easier and easier to monitor our choices and habits to create the solutions we need to stay happy and balanced in all the areas of our lives.

      Melinda FolseOctober 31, 2012 @ 11:44 amReply
  3. I do have a hard time finding enough time to fit riding into my schedule. I only work part-time, but I have alot of other responsibilities. I find my true self when I am just with my horses. Enjoy the time you can block out for yourself and make barn time a priority are my goals for the upcoming year.
    I have a young colt with whom had a bad experience with his first trainer. I then hired a second, more skilled trainer who took the first month, retraining him from square one. Over the past year, I have been working with him on rebuiling trust. He still needs lots of riding time in order to become the ideal companion. I have had several people tell me to just sell him and get a more seasoned horse. He has taught me to never give up on someone or somethng you love! I wish more people would take this view on their loved ones.
    Being true to yourself and to others is a feeling I highly value!

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