Podcast: Horse Riding Confessions of a Nature Junkie

I’ve always loved horses, and as a child the dream of owning a Palomino was quite often the topic of conversation with my parents.

When my daughter went on Grade 3 camp in 2020 and experienced horse riding for the first time, she loved it.

Since she wants to be a vet, I’m always up for giving her experiences with animals. We discussed a trail ride at Christmas time, but the idea became an IOU rather than me immediately taking action.

After Christmas/New Year passed, even though I procrastinated with making the booking, Miss 9 kept me accountable to the promise of a trail ride.

And now I know why, which I’ll share in this episode.

The opportunity was definitely one to be shared with friends, rather than our immediate family because the experience was a way of connecting in person with new friends rather than online.

So recently, the idea washed over me to book a trail ride and bring Miss 9’s friend and her Mum. It’s been eons since I saddled up and jumped onto the back of a highly intuitive creature. Nerves? Didn’t think they were there, but they did surface!

“Just breathe and enjoy the view,” I suggested to my daughter and the man next to me, whilst hearing the call of yellow tail black cockatoos. #spiritbirdmoment. As three of these magical birds flew overhead, the warmth of the summer sun and beauty of the patterned sky indicated that we were in for a great ride.

Even though I took my phone to snap some nature junkie moments, the memories of the experience are what I take away the most.

My friend and I chatted about this while we waited to embark and I quietly made a pact with my inner guide to start doing this more. More moments that become etched into the mind as a memory rather than constantly snapping photos.

As our guides skilfully coached and led the group along the trail, awe washed over whilst being out in nature off the beaten track. A self-confessed nature junkie, I’m happiest when immersed in the beauty of nature - whether it’s by the lake of my hometown, in a forest or by the ocean - nature surprises and delights daily.

There were a few key lessons I deeply felt on this ride and I think they’re a great metaphor for life:
  • To lean into discomfort and embrace vulnerability. Going downhill for the first time can be a bit scary. So too is making way. But these creatures and the trail ride guides are well trained and skilled at what they do. Trust the process and go with the flow.
  • To trust the horse and know you are safe. I kept thinking, “This horse knows what it’s doing. It’s done this lots of times before. It’s like a self-driving car. Don’t stress.”
  • To listen to the instructions and keep repeating the actions to build the muscle memory. “Heels down, toes up, kick the horse to get it going, lean back when going downhill, lean forward when going uphill…” this became a mantra for an hour to remember everything we were taught in the mounting yard when the nerves were washing over.
  • To thank the horse when they are getting you through the ups and downs of the hills. The biggest metaphor for life! “Appreciation is the magic formula you’ve been seeking,” as Abraham Hicks once said. Horses and people appreciate a bit of gratitude. I kept talking to Louise, that was my horses name, and saying “thank you” when she was going through some tricky terrain. I also felt compassion for Louise, carrying me over logs, rocks and bumpy paths. Then awe, as she knew the path to take as she followed the convoy intuitively.
  • To BREATHE and take it all in! Ahhhh the serenity. Slow down, remember to breathe and enjoy the process.
  • And refrain from screaming when the horse deviates from the path. There’s a reason why the horses might go off into the bush, like what happened for my daughter as her horse wanted to poop and wee in the private of the bush! Since her default coping mechanism when frightened is to scream, she learned a thing or two on the horse as well!

As we drove home, we shared stories of our favourite micro moments from the ride and mused that we’ve got to go again!

I discovered on the trail that the power of a horse is profound, and this was something that I rediscovered by staying true to my word and taking action.

I’d like to leave you with four questions to ponder:
  • When was the last time you tried something new, or pushed yourself outside your comfort zone?
  • Did you need accountability or support along the way?
  • What did you experience as a result of taking action?
  • And what did you learn from the experience?

Categories: Personal Growth, Psychology, Slow Living, Nature