It’s too hot…I struggle in the heat, my brain hurts, I can’t do what I usually do and have to change my day around so that I do all the outside things early and late rather than during the day as I usually do. Flexibility, that skill that is so important at the moment, becomes even more important during hot weather.
Flexibility, the ability to adapt easily to changing circumstances, is, I think, one of the most important skills that we can learn. I think they should teach children flexibility in school rather than some of the things that they seem to spend their time doing. That would be a far more useful lesson, than how an oxbow lake is formed (literally the only lesson I can remember from geography at school, and has had no practical application ever in my life, whereas mental flexibility I need every day and have never been taught!)
At the moment we need flexibility every day, every hour, as the world and our circumstances change in a kaleidoscope of chaos. Applying flexibility to our horses is just as important as applying flexibility to our own lives. If you bring your horse out to school him and you had planned to a particular exercise that your trainer had given you, it is important to make sure that that exercise is relevant for this day. If it is an exercise to stop your horse rushing, but your horse is very sluggish when you try to school him that day, the exercise is no longer relevant. It is better to think of a new exercise than simply to carry on with the other exercise, because that was what you had planned.
So the next time you come out to ride, make sure you are responding to how your horse is today, and training him from there, rather than simply following your plan. People change, horses change, we need to be flexible to adapt to what is before us.
In this brave new world, it is okay not to be okay. It is okay to feel like you cannot cope. It is okay to struggle. None of us were prepared for this. No strategy devised for keeping ourselves happy and healthy ever had these restrictions placed upon it. But time will pass, this will end. Remember, every day that passes, we get one day closer to the end.
Humans are incredibly adaptable. Already people have come up with new ways of living, new strategies to get them through their days. We are, when faced with no other choice, remarkably inventive. I hope that you have found new ways to be, new ways to cope in this new world.
Share your tricks and tips with others. If we all have one good idea and share them, imagine how many good ideas we will have altogether? Lots! Anything that works for you, whether it is a game that you are playing with your horses, or a way to make baked beans taste more interesting…
Discard the old rules that you had. I have always had screen time limits with my child, not any longer! In the grand scheme of things another hour spent watching television is not the end of the world. Most of the rules that we held were designed for a world we are no longer living in. You need to flex with the changing circumstances, you need to change according to what is happening in front of you.
The only thing that shouldn’t ever change is kindness. Today we need kindness more than ever. We need to not judge others, offer help if people are struggling, check in with your neighbours, your family, your friends, your work colleagues. Everyone will be coping with this differently, but everyone is affected, in some way.
In the recent heatwave I spent some time observing how people dressed. Some people are very prepared, the moment the sun appears, so do they dressed in cute sundresses, with matching sandals. Others, (myself included) seem to take a few days before they realise that they need to adjust their clothing to the current conditions. A few people just carry on regardless, wearing the same outfit that they wear throughout the year.
This has more to do with horses than may meet the eye. Being adaptable means that you can quickly change according to your circumstances. So, a few people will realise straight away that it will be too hot to ride when they normally do so, and will act accordingly. Maybe getting up at 5am to hack out, or only working their horse for 10 mins, or choosing to spend some time simply massaging their horse. Their acceptance of the change in circumstance and the speed of their reaction leave them in a much more positive state.
Other people may take a while to adjust. So will unsatisfactorily school their horse at midday for a few days, before working out that this was not a good plan and then alter their plans. While a few people simply resolutely carry on, regardless of the change in scenarios. We can all imagine how well this position of rigidity will work out.
Adaptability is one of the key skills in our lives, and applying it to our horses is equally important. So before you ride, take a look around and see whether you are simply behaving as you always do out of habit. Or whether your circumstances have changed to an extent where your previous habits are no longer applicable. You might be surprised.
Meanwhile enjoy the sunshine and your horses!