Whose Time?

April was a really busy month for me. I was in charge of a charity event for 300 people, and I was launching my book on horses and essential oils, in addition to working a full-time job. The result was that I hadn’t spent as much time at the barn as I would have liked.

The day after the charity event, I headed out to the barn and I was going to ride my horse! I definitely had an agenda. What helped me get through the month of April was a lot of checklists, and that day at the barn was no different. My checklist was:
-Get Gracie from the pasture
-Groom Gracie
-Saddle Gracie
-Ride Gracie

You know who wasn’t interested in my checklist? Gracie.

Horses are herd animals and bond very closely with their pasture mates. After a long absence of the human, horses can be reluctant to leave their pals in the pasture. This is known as being herd sour or buddy sour. While saddling up Gracie, two of her pasture mates had also been brought in to the barn to be groomed and saddled. I led Gracie in to the arena, where I checked the fit of her saddle before mounting her. She kept looking towards the grooming area where her friends were. The signs were all there that she was more focused on where her friends were than with what I was doing. But I had an agenda! And no time to waste!

I spent about 30 seconds in the saddle before I abruptly dismounted. This may sound obvious but let me state it clearly: never mount a horse that isn’t paying attention to you on the ground. While my dogged persistence in getting things done helped me at work and in my personal life, it had no business at the barn.

The next few visits to the barn involved doing things on Gracie’s time, and without an agenda. The beauty of horses is that they are amazing mirrors to us. When my mind is elsewhere, so is Gracie’s. But when I am present, so is Gracie. And when I make our time together about her, she makes it about us.

It reminds me of that old Buddhist saying:

If you have time to mediate, meditate for fifteen minutes.
If you don’t have time to meditate, meditate for one hour.

The more I’m in a hurry at the barn and have an agenda, the more I need to give up my agenda and be on Gracie’s time. After all, “getting away from it all” is the reason I have horses in my life. Thank you, Gracie, for reminding me what’s really important.

Kristen Hall