I've heard people say that yoga calms them, quiets the voices in their heads, and that while on their mats, they are fully in the moment, focused solely on the union of breath and movement.
Yoga doesn't do that for me.
Depending on the day, it might be hard hard work, or it might be effortless. But either way, my thoughts never reach that place of quiet. Usually, I risk serious spinal injury by twisting around to compare my form to that of everyone else in the studio. I guess the entire non-competitive aspect of yoga is likewise lost on me.
On horseback - that's a different story. Unlike yoga, where you have only yourself to contend with, riding involves another creature with a mind and moods of its own. And with every thought and feeling communicated instantly through your arms and hands and legs and seat, you HAVE to be focused. And you also have to be open enough to receive messages as well. Is the horse about to try to throw you? Is the horse about to startle at something? (I have yet to meet a horse that wasn't a complete pussy. I mean really, why in the world would a 1200 pound animal be afraid of a sparrow? I rode a horse in Australia that was petrified of MAILBOXES). But I digress: being preoccupied is generally a surefire way of getting thrown, at least for me.
I fell in love with a horse once. Not in a Catherine-the-Great kind of way. Half American Appaloosa and half Irish Draught, his name was Killer. I was told his sire was the first Appaloosa in Ireland, but I can't confirm this. He was ugly, with an oversized head and graceless neck and stocky body and he had me at the first canter. In fact, I lost my galloping virginity to Killer. I am not one to appreciate speed. Driving too fast makes me nervous. I am a careful skier. But galloping at full speed on a sure footed horse? There's nothing better.
Killer's gait was so smooth that the three-beat rhythm of the canter was barely discernible. Encouraged by this, and with a long straight run ahead of me, I asked for the gallop: gently squeezing the reigns in my hands to get his attention, leaning forward into half seat, and then ever so slightly applying more pressure with my heels. Killer's gait changed, his stride lengthened, and it truly was like flying.
Too bad the loss of my actual virginity wasn't as enjoyable.
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