In my last post, I discussed the importance of keeping compassion at the forefront of working with horses. However, it is also important to recognize that taking this approach can benefit not only your relationship with a horse, but also your relationship with yourself and others.
Applying the sensitivity we have for our horses’ energy, emotions, and needs to our own needs, and the needs of others, can allow us to be more intentional and thoughtful in each interaction we have, approaching ourselves and others from a place of empathy and compassion. Instead of attacking issues head on aggressively or forcefully, we can use a compassionate approach to address disagreements from a space in which we are open to understanding the why of an action or a choice.
Understanding the “why” from a compassionate perspective won’t magically solve all disagreements. However, connecting the motive to the action, or taking note of the intention behind it, will assist in creating a productive atmosphere in addressing issues within interactions or relationships.
Living with many college housemates (pre-COVID!), holding compassion for one another was incredibly important.
Recently, as the semester just wrapped up for school, I dealt with my own exhaustion, as well as the burnout that my friends and the students in the class for which I was a teaching assistant were experiencing. Even my professors admitted to Zoom exhaustion – I’m sure many people can relate!
During this extra stressful time, I found myself being too hard on myself and others. When I had to miss an extra hour at the barn to study, I felt guilty, as though I was a bad horse mom. But when I took the extra hour at the barn the next day, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough as a student. I felt frustrated with myself, and then others, when their emails were delayed or responses short.
Being aware enough to recognize my “random frustration” as real stress and exhaustion allowed me to manage my time better, working in some time for rest. Allowing myself to give that compassion to myself refreshed me, giving me the ability to approach my schedule with a new perspective. I was more intentional with my time at the barn or studying, and I felt like I had energy to be proactively compassionate towards my horses, friends, students, and professors. By being sensitive enough to listen to myself and make changes to be more considerate, I was able to solve unnecessary tensions and enjoy my work more.
Virtual and physically distanced time with friends have helped me recharge!
As equestrians, we strive to develop a strong connection with our horses. That requires compassion towards them. But, as I’ve experienced, it also encourages compassion towards ourselves and others. Holding the awareness and sensitivity we use with our horses in other areas of our life will improve our self and our work, both within and outside of the horse world.
I hope you can use some time this holiday season to recharge your energy with compassion for yourself, helping spread a feel of empathy, kindness, and understanding to yourself, your horse, and others.