As a long-time, backcountry trail rider in the Smoky Mountains, I’ve had hundreds of successful and enjoyable rides, however, one cannot spend that many hours deep in the woods without a few tricky moments. Those challenging incidents can serve as, teachable moments. I often say, “The trail, my teacher” as I’ve learned so much about myself, my horse, and horse riding in general, during my time spent on the trail.
Speaking of teachable moments, here’s a true story of a narrow, ridge trail that scared the daylights out of me. Though my horse and I made it through unscathed, in hindsight, I could have handled it differently by simply using deep breathing when I became nervous – I didn’t realize how much I was holding my breath until we made it off the trail and I breathed a big sigh of relief.
It is said, “We have the most to learn from what we are teaching.” Though I’ve been teaching yoga and breathwork to equestrians and non-equestrians for 32 years, in this instance, I did not heed my own advice. Sometimes, fear can supersede wisdom, this is why we continue to practice when the waters are calm.
Breathing is a tool we always have in our pocket to pull out any time we need soothing, calming, and focusing – the key is to remember to use it.
Happy Trails & Namaste
Cowgirl/Yogini ~ Cathy Woods
Cathy is a yogini and horsewoman, author of Yoga for Riders, creator of Body, Mind, Equine™ and The Mindful Equestrian™ online courses, and national retreat leader/clinician. She has taught and led retreats for equestrians and non-equestrians since 1991 at distinguished locations such as Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Yogaville Ashram, and Mount Madonna Center. As an equine enthusiast and avid rider, Cathy combined her passions to create a program called Body, Mind, Equine™ that focuses on the use of yoga principles and postures to improve horsemanship, from ground to saddle. She offers retreats and clinics at ranches, resorts, equine centers, and expos—including Equine Affaire and Equitana USA—as well as for private groups and equestrian organizations like USHJA.