“Your energy introduces you before you speak” – especially to horses! Our energy and attention directly affect our equine partner, as well as our experience with horses.
These highly in-tune beings are quite sensitive to reading and detecting honest energy. For equestrians, it’s doubly important to be mindful of where we point our energetic arrow.
Horses require us to be honest and authentic. As humans, we sometimes mask what’s really going on. When tired, we often power through things, or when feeling nervous we move forward with something that may not be in our best interest, rather than honor the energy; but remember, your horse knows! When we’re not congruent, present, aligned, integrated, and honest, it’s palpable! “You can’t lie to a horse or a highly attuned person,” (Yoga for Riders).
As a long-time yogini and horsewoman, energy and vibrational awareness are part of my everyday world. But I know that’s not necessarily the case for everyone, or at least not on a conscious level.
Detecting and Directing Energy
We all have the ability to detect energy and do so all the time, whether we know it or not. We know when a person, place, or situation feels good and, we know when it doesn’t; That’s detecting energy!
On the flip side, we all have the ability to direct our energy; energy follows attention. Focused and one-pointed energy/attention is collected, clear, strong, and more efficient. When multitasking, energy fragments and becomes less clear and effective; scattered energy can also be exhausting!
Energy is everywhere and our energy has an impact on all situations and everyone we come in contact with, especially our horses! Horses live in a non-verbal world and are constantly sensing energy and energy shifts – their survival depends on it, especially in the wild.
Energy and Horsemanship
It is important to be aware of what energy we’re bringing to our horsemanship (from ground to saddle) and moreover, what energy we’re bringing to our lives. Is it centered/grounded, tired/lethargic, or nervous/scattered energy?
In the yogic tradition, it’s believed that we are always operating in one of these energy fields; they are called, The Three Gunas. For yoga practitioners, awareness of these three qualities of consciousness, tell us whether we’re genuinely moving forward in life (sattva), running in place (rajas), or losing our way (tamas).
Each Guna has its own characteristics. Perhaps you can see how these also apply to horsemanship? Is your horsemanship moving in a positive direction? Or, does it feel stagnant? Maybe it feels scattered, unproductive, or even chaotic? Each outcome can largely be attributed to what energy space you’re operating from when interacting with your horse or in your daily life. Notice if there are similarities in the way you handle your horsemanship in comparison to other areas of your life.
One of my favorite Buddhist quotes is, “How you do anything is how you do everything.”
How do we become more aware of these energies and do we have the power to shift them?
Since true yoga is an awareness practice, a regular, committed practice puts us in direct touch with the various energy states we’re operating from. Keep in mind, when I say, “yoga” I mean the whole of yoga, postures, and yogic principles. As we become more keenly aware and in tune, we can more easily identify patterns in our energy. We can look at possible causes for the various energy shifts and patterns – maybe it’s our diet, or perhaps we’re over-extended, or not getting enough rest, etc.
The good news is, that yoga gives us tools to help notch our energy up or down through modalities such as yoga postures, yogic breathing, deep relaxation, and meditation which can alter and adjust our energy and our nervous system. These tools can support us in managing our energy in more integrative ways. Living a yogic lifestyle can also help stabilize energy as it teaches us how to live in a more overall, balanced manner.
Keep in mind, sometimes, we don’t need to change or modify our energy at all, but rather accept where it is on a given day and adjust our activities and interactions accordingly and to the best of our ability. It’s important to give ourselves permission to honor the energy and sometimes modify our plans or say no altogether if we’re just not in the right energy space; otherwise, it can be counterproductive, especially when working with horses!
By becoming energy aware, we become more skilled humans and therefore, better for our equine partner, so it’s a win/win!
To learn more about this topic, I’ve dedicated an entire chapter in Yoga for Riders to, Energy.
I will also be giving a lecture presentation on this topic at Liberty Festival, in October 2022.
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.