Mindfulness Based Sport Psychology Clinics with Dr. Carrie
During the off-season I have been visiting barns to share mindfulness-based sport psychology with equestrian riders, trainers, and horses. It is such a pleasure to visit barns in the quiet of winter. The sound of the horses chewing and breathing can be heard and sometimes felt before I walk into the barn. Trainers are taking stock of where each horse-rider pair has been and where they may go next. Riders seem to soften their intensity a bit, enjoying time grazing their horses after lessons on the fresh, green winter grasses. The horses all seem refreshed with the consistency of days and nights in their home barns, short days, and regulated routines.
You may wonder what the heck I do at my clinics.
After all, I am not a trainer so what do I have to offer?! Here's a
video to give you a sense of my clinic style.
I teach the riders and trainers of the barn about mindfulness as it connects to the equine world. One of my mentors explains that mindfulness came from the aboriginal world where ego and individuality didn’t exist. With this in mind, our equine friends are the best teachers we know as they are still directly connected to the natural world through their prevailing instincts. You will discover how to learn from your horse while developing a practice to train your brain to focus on the present moment before, during, and after riding. This is the essence of mindfulness.
After learning about how mindfulness applies to the many aspects of riding in the introduction talk, we saddle up! Typically, the trainer teaches a basic lesson and I accompany sharing how and when to implement mindfulness-based techniques to your ride. Trainers learn how to bring this method to the ring and riders put theory into practice. Examples of this are learning to breath in sync with your horse at essential times, developing an awareness of how you connect with your horse, and exploring methods to stay present when monkey mind threatens to derail you!
In some cases, the trainer and riders choose to have unmounted sessions with the horses. The material we cover is similar to the riding sessions but we have the opportunity to slow down and fill in the gaps that tend to emerge when riders’ busy lives prevent them from doing some of the essential ground work that typically come with the territory. In these sessions we focus a bit more on animal communication and accessing intuition than we do when riding. We also do more observing of horse behavior and our responses to it from the ground, which tends to be easier to understand when the activity is focused specifically on observation.
It is amazing what riders and trainers learn from the un-mounted sessions. They learn about themselves as individuals, about their relationships and how to improve communication, as well as how to increase connection with each mount as a prelude to the ride even if it is just a split second of awareness before getting on!
Most clinic participants choose to have an individual session with me after the mounted component as well. This is exciting for both of us because we have a lot of material to discuss after you have ridden. In the individual session we unpack your individual challenges. We establish the first few steps of developing your personalized mental practice as well. Riders leave the clinic with a renewed passion for the vast possibilities of what can happen between human and horse and reverence for how much our mind can effect what happens each time we ride!
I hope this answers the questions that are pouring in about my clinics and inspires you to book one soon!
There is nothing more sacred than the relationship between horse and human and it is my hope in 2017 to increase awareness of how much we all can grow by giving it a bit more attention!