Explorations in Mindfulness (Part 3)
Before we get started: It has been a long time since I took to the keyboard to blog, and even longer since I focused my attention on "mindfulness." I want to start by saying that this "accidental" business is expanding and growing at a rate that sometimes leaves me breathless. I am finishing testing on new products to challenge conventional thoughts about feeding horses. Products that take us back to feeding horses like horses instead of cattle. I am also in the process of moving my production facility out of my home and into a commercial setting. I have had to hire more help to keep up with demand and am thrilled that the Ability Building Center in Rochester, MN has partnered with me and has helped expand my team with very capable people. I am mindful that none of this would be happening without YOU. In essence, you are responsible for helping create jobs. On a worldwide scale, our contribution may seem small; however, together we are making purposeful decisions that are having a positive impact in our corner of that great big world. Thank you for your continued support.
One of the most amazing horsemen I have ever seen is a man named Harry Whitney. I think what makes Mr. Whitney incredible is his ability to be "in the moment". When Mr. Whitney is with a horse, he is present with that horse; he is aware of his surroundings, but his focus is on the horse. Harry is mindful of the horse and the horse knows it. Harry is totally available to the horse, and the horse knows it. This sounds soooo simple, but it is really extraordinary.
When Harry asks something of a horse he is clear, direct and purposeful. He is always fair and kind and adapts his style to the horse he sees the horse in front of him. Harry's plan is based on that individual horse's needs, and he commits to that plan to reassure the horse during their time working together. Through the strength of his commitment and surety of his leadership, Harry brings the horse along and then the "magic" happens: true communication! The horse who was uncertain moves forward with confidence. The horse who was belligerent no longer feels the need to take charge. The horse who was confused has clarity and finds relief. It is a joy to watch him work.
The lessons of Mr. Whitney go far beyond skillful horsemanship because Harry Whitney is the same with the people. By watching him, I can clearly see that being intentionally present is a prerequisite for any relationship
— whether it is with your significant other, a child, a friend, a pet...it sounds simple and is simple when we are in a new relationship, but I have to admit that I am less in the moment and less available to some of the people I love the most, simply because I assume they know I love them. I give myself a pass on practicing the same mindfulness with them that I used to, though I still practice those skills with my dog or my horse because I do not carry the same assumptions about those relationships. Being present allows us to be mindful regardless of who we are with. Being mindful means we are paying attention to the other person and to ourselves, which is when we can be at our best. When we are at our best, most people deliberately strive to be kind. Subsequently, I think that when we are purposefully in the moment and mindful of others and ourselves, we have a greater tendency to be kind. The end result, the reward, is a feeling of fulfillment for us and for the person or pet with whom we have had the interaction.
When I created the first StableFeed products, it was from mindful attention to the nutritional and physical need of a specific horse, and concern about their welfare. I would see a need and wonder if the pain/issue could be alleviated with food; I would dive into scientific research, create a product, test, and make adjustments if I did not see the desired results. Throughout this process, my motivation remained the same: affection and concern for the horse and personal fulfillment.
I have a long way to go before I am as skilled at purposeful interaction as Harry Whitney. I have a long way to go toward becoming "human" in many regards. But I am having fun trying, and my heart really does rejoice when a client tells me my product has made a difference in the life, health and attitude of their horse.
What you feed your horse matters. To them. To you. To me.