Horsemanship By Franklin Levinson If you are someone who believes that our life is how we think it is, then you should have no problem understanding that brooding, negative thinking, criticism and angry thoughts, can bring us down and create depression. These sorts of thoughts produce a giant weight we carry around on our shoulders daily. Having this negative energy and taking it to our horses creates stress for our horses and removes any chance for lightness in the animal’s movements and performance. Horses tend to reflect what is going on emotionally for the human who is caring for and interacting with them. The question becomes how we can rid our minds of this damaging, heavy negativity and return to lighter, more loving thoughts? I believe in the positive benefits of self-awareness and paying attention to our thoughts to spot negativity before it gets a foothold in our minds and our lives. The one thing you have absolute control over is your own mind. Many folks will not agree with this or understand the principles behind it. For me, it is an obvious truth, but not always easy to accomplish. We cannot control others, our spouses, the weather, stock market, or anything else I can think of. But we can change our minds if we choose to. Many believe they have no control over their thoughts, but this is an illusion. Try this little experiment; think of something you do not like. Notice how those thoughts makes you feel. Now simply change your thoughts to something pleasant and how those make you feel. You have just demonstrated how you have control over your thoughts. Here is another example: If you have a dentist appointment and worry and think about it much before the actual date, by the time the appointment comes up, there is a good chance you’ll be a nervous wreck, have a panic attack, feel sick in your stomach, or some such discomfort. However, if you do not dwell on your fears and worry, but choose thoughts that help you to feel good, peaceful and happy, you will most likely face the dentist with a more positive attitude and not succumb to those fearful emotions negative thoughts can produce. It seems to me most fear is related to the future, the unknown. Our current, or present situation, is often just fine, our needs are mostly met, and we are in our comfortable, habitual, routines. It is easily seen that when we move out of our routines and away from our known comfort zones, that anxiety, stress and fear may creep into our minds and lives. Imagine how it may be for our horses when something changes in their environment which may create uncertainty, discomfort, and fear. Lightness leaves when fear comes in. I believe it is the same for horses and human alike. I deal with my fearful thoughts by focusing on the present. If this is practiced with consistency, I have found that negativity has much less of an opportunity to take hold of my mind and energy. This has a wonderful spiritual and psychological truth attached to it: “Our thoughts create our lives. Love and peace come by letting go of fear.” If you find yourself in a dark place mentally, no matter what the outward situation is, change your thoughts. It takes practice, but you can do it. We have all read stories about people having horrific and painful challenges. But they seem to still be undaunted and able to maintain a positive attitude. Even confined to a bed or wheelchair, they exude peace, light and lightness. They have learned to focus their thoughts on peace, love and the release of fear. Fear is dark and heavy. Peace is light. Find the peaceful places within yourself and your life and horse will be much lighter.