Whether you have been always passionate about horses but stopped this hobby in the middle of your journey or want to start practising this sport in midlife for the first time, don’t let your fear hold you back: there are many things we can learn from horses and most of the time they have nothing to do with being in the saddle at all.
By midlife, your centre of balance may have shifted a bit, your muscle tone may have faded- says Melinda Folse, author of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses: Finding Meaning, Magic and Mastery in the Second Half of Life-. You may also have discovered a few new insecurities midlife horsemanship can create—physical, emotional, and financial quandaries you’ve never before considered but nothing can stop you from experiencing that special bond once ready.
Graceful, elegant, and full of poise and intelligence, they are highly sensitive beings, amazing creatures that can help us create new responses and deal with a range of issues. They pick up intention by reading non-verbal body language and personal energy, offering us a safe way to experiment with changes in behaviour such as setting clearer boundaries, practising deep listening skills or noticing the impact of shifting our emotional state.
But how can a midlife horse experience change a person’s future?
Experts tend to agree that horses possess an innate ability to resonate with human emotions—the horse simply ‘reads’ and ‘mirrors back to you’ your own feelings and emotional state. And often, if not always, it is within this connection that physical, mental, or emotional healing occurs – explains Melinda Folse-. For many women on the midlife horse trail, this healing is such a powerful experience it changes the course of their life and charts a new future.
In particular, these beautiful animals can help boost our confidence, teaching us how to believe in our superpower and authentic self, making us more aware of our needs. Not only do they make us stronger as we live our truths, but they also train our negotiation skills.
What most people don’t realize is that the herd is a matriarchy. It’s not run by the big, tough stallion who has his harem of mares- says Kelly Wendorf, the CEO of Equus and co-founder of Thunderbird Ridge Ranch to Forbes. – The horses give women an opportunity to see something modelled that we don’t see out there very much: the right use of power and how power can be used for caring and how a caring-based leadership model creates strength in a system and optimal outcomes. So you can care and be a very powerful leader. That’s how the horses lead.
What’s more, they can help us manage our expectations, as well as control those voices in our head telling us we are not good enough. Regular contact with them can help improve our mental well-being even when life delivers something unexpected or challenging.
We don’t march in expecting the horses to be brilliant just because we want them to be, right? – says Emma Hutchison, co-founder of HorseBack UK, a multi-award-winning Scottish charity- We understand that everyone has an off day. So, we ask enough, but never too much, and if there’s a bit of a bog or a muddle, we just take a breath and start again. You can do the same with yourself. Give yourself small, achievable missions. Understand that mistakes and setbacks will come. Be forgiving. Always be prepared to start again from the beginning. Expectation management doesn’t sound glamorous or life-changing, but it’s one of the most potent tools we know in keeping the mind in equilibrium.
Through contact, riding or by way of grooming/care, horses can make us appreciate what we have. They start each day afresh, never worrying about what went on earlier and never stressing about what might happen until it does.
After all, worrying about the past or the future does little more than take away your chance of enjoying the moment you’re in right now: yes, this is the right time to take the reins of your life and find your happy trails.