In the spirit of our Austin Eventing Blog , we have so much fun with Rider Re-Caps we decided to start them here too! Thank you to OM Clinic participant Kayt C. for sharing her experiences and impressions during the clinic as well as her continued thoughts on it.
This weekend was transformative for me. I came to the clinic desperately needing to rebuild my confidence. It may sound dramatic, but the stakes were high - "fix the issue or find a new horse" was where I was at with my relationship with my horse over the past 2 months. This sport is too expensive in terms of money, time, and emotions for it not to be fun at the end of the day, especially as an adult ammy. So, as per usual, I placed a lot of pressure on myself going into this clinic. Of course this is nothing new for me nor probably to anyone else who has ever owned a horse. It is human nature to put pressure on the self, but the pressure seems to quadruple when it comes to matters involving our horses. The first and most poignant takeaway I got from the clinic is that I'm not alone in that feeling. It is too easy to get caught up in our minds and feel like our troubles are completely new and unique and like we are the only ones feeling this way. The truth is, there's a whole community of us out here who are asking hard questions and dedicated to the learning and self-improvement process. This weekend I felt the support of my community in a big way.
Enter OM Riding.
First of all, Storm Ranch could not have been a more perfect place to facilitate the learning and healing of this weekend. It felt like we had all 2,000 acres of gorgeous rolling Texas hill country to ourselves, and I believe that physical space facilitated more mental space. Our hosts were fantastic, and I really cannot thank them enough for opening their doors to us.
As for my personal experience at the clinic, a lot of the issues we were facing at home that I expected to confront over the course of the weekend did not show up in the clinic, and after some thought I am not surprised in the least. I think it is because each day, I woke up early and fed my horse, went for a walk, practiced yoga, ate good food (and coffee) communally with good friends, and fed my soul with fulfilling, deep-diving conversations with other clinic goers. In other words, I had the opportunity to take the time to take care of myself and the stress of my everyday life had a chance to melt away for a while. I was able to focus on the love and joy I feel in my relationship with my horse which had been forgotten about to some extent.
That's not to say the whole clinic was full of rainbows and warm fuzzies. There was a lot of breathing through nerves. I saw a lot of bravery, a lot of teary eyes, and yet every single participant left the arena with a huge smile on her face. Those smiles came from confronting challenges, and then finding the inner strength to move through and beyond the constraints it presented. Lisa has an amazing ability to draw out that inner strength and help her students find the ability to overcome their personal challenges, and it was amazing to bot watch it in other clinic goers and experience it myself. A lot of riders and coaches with her skill and experience would say they don't have the time or the patience to dig as deep as Lisa does into the emotional side of riding. Thank you Lisa for being brave enough to go spelunking with us and then guiding us back into the light.
At the very end of my last lesson, I was to canter a circle to the left, which even just the idea of doing that was causing me to feel fear and anxiety at the beginning of the weekend. I picked up my canter and hoped for the best. Very quietly, Lisa said to me "align your chakras over the top of her spine and connect your third eye with her third eye" and like magic, our energy levels connected, and the quality of our canter improved, and I was able to ride my line with ease because we were connected. It was like that moment in the movie Avatar when the main guy connects his hair with the mountain banshee and they become one. Those are the moments I live for - after all, if I just wanted pretty ribbons, I'd go to a craft store and save a whole truckload of money.
Lisa's instruction got me thinking about chakras and how a deeper understanding of our energy centers can start to develop a deeper connection with our horses. Warning: things are about to get real hippy up in here.
Chakras are energy centers in the body.
1. Root Chakra connects physically to our horse, our seat bones are in the saddle, our legs wrap around our horse. Root chakra houses our survival instincts, and indeed the security of our seat keeps us on our horse when things are out of balance, and can get us back into balance without conscious thought. Our bodies know how to stay on our horse if we just get out of the way and surrender. Surrender does not mean give up. Surrender is letting go of our attachment to outcomes and trusting the process.
2. Sacral Chakra is about where you hold your hands, the most intimate line of communication you have with your horse. Sacral chakra is about connection and relationship, housing out sense of well being, our willingness to accept others and new experiences. When our of balance, a person may feel pain or compression in the lower back, which may be related to issues surrounding intimate relationships, finances, and openness to change. It is very important as riders to spend time healing and strengthening this area.
3. Solar Plexus Chakra is your core, your power. This is your powerhouse, from where your deepest strength is drawn upon, where you store your energy reserves. It is essential to have the first three chakras in alignment, and when we are riding they are physically stacked on top of one another, allowing for great possibilities.
4. Heart Chakra, heart chakra, your feelings world, your life blood, love and inner peace radiating from the center of our heart
5. Throat Chakra communicates what we are feeling to other people, to our trainer, sometimes out loud to ourselves. It is always best to allow your words to fist filter through your heart, and to choose your words carefully. Remember that what you have to say is important, but sometimes it is our "monkey brain" or ego that wants to take over our communication. When you start to observe your thoughts like a witness, you can begin to differentiate between ego and true self and allow only your true self to speak for you.
6. Third Eye Chakra focusing on the big picture, honing our energy towards our greater goals. Our intuition and imagination are housed here. This is where we visualize how a test will be ridden, a jump approached, a course navigated. Here is the essence of our self-fulfilling prophecy; we want to be careful what kind of energy we put out and what kind of intention we set. If we are not mindful of both, we may end up with a situation that we unintentionally created. Riding is hard enough without having to deal with ourselves in our way. Get out of your own way, and don't break your own heart.
7. Crown Chakra connecting us spiritually with the divine, radiating pure bliss, communing with the natural world we inhabit. Our most important organ for riding, our brain, is housed here, and we protect it with expensive high-tech helmets for a good reason. Energetically, this is the crown-jewel (pun always intended) of our chakras, where it all comes together on a subconscious level. Our connection with the divine is of course deeply personal, and you have to find what works for you.
We sit between our horse's heart and solar plexus chakras. We are most directly and physically connected to our horse's main powerhouse and expression of love and joy. We can have a direct affect on the amount of joy our horses are able to express and feel in any given moment. We can choose to let it be expressive and move with their energy, or we can get stuck and bottle it up or dim their light. With the right intention, a great coach, mindfulness, patience with yourself, and the ability to laugh it off, take a breath, and try again and again, it is possible to do anything.