Do you struggle with difficult decisions when they involve your horse?
Do you feel trapped between expert opinions and your instincts?
Being responsible for the well-being of our horses, we sometimes face uncomfortable decisions. Our habit is to ask our brain to come up with the best choices. The brain is great for processing information and seeing patterns, but it is not necessarily the best decision-making tool. Our brain is easily clouded with worries, beliefs and habits, which is not a powerful platform from which to make decisions.
The expert decision-maker is actually our heart. It has an inner wisdom which the brain does not. The heart doesn’t drown in worries like our brain tends to do, or becomes influenced by external events, opinions or pressure. The heart is our inner compass to what is true and right for us.
Let’s look at an example. One of my clients participated in a clinic with her stallion. My client was nervous about the event and the unfamiliar environment. People offered to help her with her stallion, touching him and moving him around. In the midst of the commotion she could feel her stallion becoming nervous. She knew internally that it would be good to ask the people to stay away from her stallion. But her brain chimed in with the belief that she would hurt others if she asked them to step away. Letting the brain override her feeling, she stayed silent. The result was that when her stallion reached the tipping point, he demonstrated his upset through a well-aimed kick. Luckily my client came away with a bruise.
We all have encountered situations like this and have paid for our lessons one way or the other. But the important thing is that we can learn from these situations. My client decided that she wanted to learn how to align with the wisdom of her heart to make better decisions. Here are three steps to get started:
Step 1: Listen to your body
Your body is your early warning signal. It provides you with feelings and emotions that alert you when something is out of balance. In hindsight, my client could feel the tightness in her body when she watched the increasing restlessness of her stallion. Her brain overwrote this tightness, telling her that if she hurts other people’s feelings, she would be more uncomfortable. She suppressed her body’s reaction and paid with a painful bruise.
It takes awareness and practice to listen to our body. Start scanning your body for feelings and emotions before you make simple daily decisions. Soon the body scan becomes a new habit and is available when situations turn stressful.
Step 2: Stop and take a breath
When you feel your body signaling discomfort in any form, take a breath and check in. Identify where the fear or worry sits and acknowledge it. Acknowledging your body’s reaction is a huge step forward in making powerful decisions.
Step 3: Think with your heart
When we feel uncomfortable, we tend to make decisions that ease the current situation but often are not beneficial in the long-term. Don’t make a decision when you perceive uncomfortable signals. Ask for one minute, 3 minutes, or a day, to make the decision. Then find a place where you can sit quietly, turn inside, check where the fear sits in your body and ask what your heart knows about the situation. Don’t let fear drive the decision.
Alignment with your heart takes courage and a willingness to stand in for your truth. Your horse depends on you to make decisions that are right in the long-term, even if they are uncomfortable in the moment.
A while ago I made the commitment to align fully with my heart. It took courage and finding the right words to express my heart’s wisdom in difficult situations. However, following the wisdom of my heart changed my life dramatically; I feel empowered and make decisions that are right for the long-term.
My desire for you (and your horse) is to experience this powerful way of life. Horses depend on our willingness to think with our hearts. I am not talking about pouring love on them and hoping for the best, but taking responsibility to make the best decisions for them. We often think (brain) that money, people, and/or circumstances dictate our choices. But ask your heart – it will tell you the truth; then act accordingly. Your horse’s well-being depends on your capability to make powerful decisions.
I wish you fun exploring how to think with your heart. If you have questions or would like support, I would love to be part of your journey.