Why are horses so healthy? What can we learn from their way?
My horses always look so healthy as they meander around the pastures. Their coats are fluffy; they are content and relaxed. My herd has been this way for many years. I wish I could say the same about myself. After many years of pushing myself to write books and provide transformational programs here at the ranch, I felt I would collapse. I certainly was not as healthy as a horse.
Oddly, the last two years have given me the time needed to apply more of the way of the horse for good health and recalibrate my emotional and physical well-being. I hope this list offers ideas to reframe your life to be healthy as a horse, both inside and out.
#1 Intent and Focus– Horses have eyes on the sides of their head. They see the world with an entirely different perspective than humans do. They have a more broad or general focus. A horse will narrow her focus and intention when she needs to protect herself or the herd. It is powerful when she does! However, the majority of the time, horses maintain a general focus. A general or broad focus is expansive and keeps the body in homeostasis.
On the other hand, humans tend to be over-focused on different aspects of their lives. Many of which they have no control over. Humans are predators with eyes in the front of their heads. The intentness in which humans can and do focus on acquiring their goals, agendas, or objections brings tension into the body; it creates an underlying current of hypervigilance. The mind signals the body to release stress hormones to handle the pressure it is experiencing and the perceived threat within that focus. The intent thoughts bring the body into the awareness of danger (not having yet what it seeks to obtain), this creates great tension, and the body moves from inner harmony and a healing state into a state that is ready to conquer, fight, defend, hoard, or protect. A continual focus of this nature brings the body into imbalance. Most humans are intently focused most of the time. The conditioning of all of society through the use of electronic devices only increases this act of overfocusing, putting humans into high-beta brains ways in an unhealthy imbalanced way.
Tip: Establish boundaries in your daily life to create device-free time. Use the newly available time to meditate, listen to music, read (something inspirational), take a walk, do artwork, cook, or play music. Let go of overly focused thoughts and intentions that will put you into pushing at and pushing through life. Shift to general thoughts of appreciation and enjoyment of an expansive movement, learn how to meander through life.
#2 Environment – Horses have a minimal choice about their environment. Humans put them into trailers and stalls, take them out for rides in all settings, choose when to separate them from their offspring, and gather (ripping them away) herds from the wild, seldom asking first. They may at first fight back or resist, but they learn to adapt before long. They understand they need to adapt in order to survive. They cannot fight all situations. They learn to pick their battles as they know they have only so much energy. To survive and thrive, they become masters at how to focus (and conserve) their energy.
Humans do have choices. Horses adapt to their environment; humans often complain about their environment (including political and worldwide issues). Humans can adapt, but often it is with resentment. Yet, with every change in the world, there is also an opportunity and opening.
Tip: Learn the art of adaptability. If you can’t do something in your environment, move your focus to what you CAN do and start with smaller steps. A different focus brings more openness to your body and brings down stress. Find the opportunity. What did you previously put aside that you can now engage? What can you do to make the best of the situation or make your life better given the situation?
#3 Grazing/Food – We had a wet early summer. I got my first load of hay late summer, which looked promising. When I opened the bales, many had moldy or brown parts. None of my horses, of course, would eat these parts. They intuitively know what is good for them and what tastes off. Luckily, the other 200 bales I bought are rich, dry, mold-free hay. My horses are picky eaters because they intrinsically know how important it is.
Tip: We need to do the same: eat clean and simple. Avoid buying food if it comes in a bag, box, or plastic. Steam your veggies for a week, eat less or no meat, reduce dairy, use minimal spices, let go of condiments, no frying, and give up the supplements. WHAT?? Try it. You will find you will have a different relationship to food. When your food is not covered with additives (toxins), your taste buds become more refined. You will understand what clean food tastes like and how it fuels your body. After you great through the withdrawals of old habits you will fall in love with it! Be like a horse and leave the “off” food to the side. Eat what is clean, rich, healthy, and supportive to your system.