Changing priorities…

Life changes, and with it our priorities change. Adjusting to our changing priorities can be difficult, sometimes it feels like you have been focused on some target for many years, and suddenly it loses its allure, and we realise that our priorities have changed.

Remember when you were young, and staying out all night was great fun? And now being tucked up in bed with a good book by 10pm is the ultimate delight? That is simply your priorities changing. As our life changes our views, our outlooks change.

When you were younger riding horses as fast as possible was an aim, now a spook-free hack is a delight. When we were younger we might have been more results driven, and gained satisfaction from winning at a show, or beating our rival. Though often as you get older, you appreciate the delights of training more than the pinnacle of the competition.

Age changes us, experiences, both good and bad, change us, so that our priorities change. If you have had a bad fall, success might be a hack without feeling nervous. If are older, a ride where your hip doesn’t hurt might be the ultimate indicator of success. These aspirations are no less valid or important they are just different. All our personal goals are just that, they are personal, they are all equally valid and important. We cannot judge our goals against the goals of others. We don’t know what battles other people are fighting, we don’t know what constitutes success to someone else.

So be kind, to yourself and to others. Even if your aims aren’t as seemingly ambitious as they once were they are still your aims. They are still valid and you should still be proud of them. Take a moment to look back at where you have come from…

Letting go…

The mental flexibility required at the moment is immense. The world is in a state of flux, and change is now a daily occurrence. Staying balanced during this time is a feat of mental gymnastics. Letting go of pre-conceptions is a huge part of mental flexibility. Making the most of what you can do, rather than hankering after the unobtainable is a life lesson in happiness.

This lesson can be applied to anything. This week I had to let go of my notion about how long my child should do swimming lessons for, as it is simply not practical to do swimming lessons during this time. Once I had let go of this fixed idea in my mind, other possibilities opened, other sports that are less restricted than swimming. It was a prime example in the merit of letting go.

The same applies in our schooling sessions. Sometimes we can come out with a fixed idea of what we want to work on today. And sometimes it will go to plan, but other days it simply won’t. At this point you are left with two options; battle away with your horse because, that’s what you had decided to do, or, take a step back, let go of your fixed idea and do something else. This is not “letting your horse win” or “not standing up to them” it is simply having a plan b. A lesson learnt through force and stubbornness will never be as effective as one learnt through enthusiasm and collaboration. So letting go, may be the best thing you ever do.

Be kind to yourself, the world is a complicated place, always and even more so at the moment, but learning to let go of your fixed ideas, will help you to flex and adapt in a rapidly changing world.

Change…

This will change everything for ever. The world won’t simply go back to how it once was, and neither will we. We will all have been profoundly changed by this time. We will have accessed parts of ourselves that we haven’t before. Aspects of our characters will have been revealed to us, the good, the bad and the ugly.

In Buddhism, you go on retreat in order to learn more about yourself, to address issues, to force yourself to contemplate the less desirable aspects of yourself. We have effectively been forced into retreat, the whole world is being forced to confront their worse selves without the distractions of everyday life. This is not a comfortable process, but it is a necessity for growth.

This is why we can’t go back, because we will not be the same people who stepped into our houses and shut the door. We will be changed, forever. We will have changed, grown, altered in immeasurable ways. We cannot simply go back to who we once were. We can only go forwards, uncomfortable though that may be.

This is not what any of us would have chosen, it is far easier to rattle through life never really addressing anything, than to sit down and take stock. It has been forced upon us. But we have to make the most of it, we have to regard it as an opportunity for change, for expansion, for growth. We must always strive to embrace change, to embrace the unknown, to remember how very brave we are.

The world is waiting, catching its breath, in all its glory, it is resting, recuperating, ready for when we burst forth, as better people from our long period of reflection. Everything will be different, we will all be different, the world will be different, and hopefully better…

Stepping outside the box

It is very easy to simply do the same thing that we have always done. Whether it be the same exercises in the school or following the same route out hacking. It is all too easy to become entrenched in our habits. Stepping outside the box can give you fresh insight and a different perspective into your riding and your relationship with your horse.

Do you always work your horse in the school through the same set of exercises and through the same paces in the same order? For examples, lots of us begin in walk before progressing through trot work, and then finally to canter. Why not try working the canter before the trot? It can have the effect of opening the trot up and can be beneficial.

Or if you find that your horse seems a little stale, try going around the block in the opposite direction that you usually go. Suddenly, it will seem like a whole fresh new hack. Or you could try leading your horse around your usual walk. Both of you will gain a new perspective from doing that, and work in hand will always help your ridden relationship.

It is so easy to do the same things over and over, but sometimes it is good to set yourself a challenge and step outside of your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be a competition or a huge challenge, it could be taking your horse to a different venue to school him or meeting up with a friend to go for a hack. Or going for an all-day hack (check your weather forecast first!) Whatever you choose to do that is different from your everyday routine will give you a new experience.

Every time we try something new, we learn something. It may simply be that we learn not to do that again! But trying out new things is good for us and our horses. Experiences can always be put towards learning, so that our knowledge and understanding increases.

Never forget about the possibility of hope…

Hope is probably the most important thing, because the opposite of hope is despair, and that never leads you to a happy place.

Hope tells us that things can get better, that things can improve. It is hope that drives us on, and hope that supports us when times are tough. Without hope we are truly lost.

Hope is a bit like confidence, it is one of those elusive things that slips away as we look at it. But it is vital.

When something bad happens (and, sadly, they do) remind yourself that there is always hope. That however bad thing may be right now, they can get better. You can help yourself to hope, you can list all the things that could happen as a result of the bad thing.

Maybe you lose your job. But imagine what could happen, regard it as an opening of doors of possibility, things that would never have happened had you stayed in that job, suddenly could happen.

Your horse goes lame. Maybe could you learn to massage as a result of not being able to ride. Maybe someone else lets you ride their horse, and you meet new people and explore a whole new world.

Maybe your are forced to move to the other end of the country. But think of all the experiences you can have, the parts of yourself you might be able to access that you couldn’t before.

Change is always scary, but with change and hope comes the possibility for new beginnings. New things that can arise as a result of the change. It’s okay to be scared, and fearful, we are human after all. But remember the other side of change is possibility and the other side of despair is hope.