Pay attention to me

Attention; how important, how simple and how difficult. Being present, being aware, being mindful, the sacrament of the present moment, the power of now….reinforced by so many traditions and teachers, it all comes down to paying attention.

I have had a teacher of horsemanship who emphasises over and over ‘pay attention to me’. I can hear her voice saying it as I type these words. Her emphasis is that your horse should pay attention to you when you are with him. And she insists on bringing him back to you again and again. And it is very important, because if they are not paying attention to you what are they paying attention to? Their environment of course, alert for danger and certainly my two will either knock me down (Ben) or run through me (Cloud) if they spook and are not paying attention to me.

But it is more fundamental than that. If I am not paying attention to me, being present and centered and at the same time aware of what is around me: the movement of the air, the sunlight through the trees, the sounds, smells and feelings of nature that surrounds me and the wonderful, enormous presence of these ponies, well then, I am invisible to them and I am invisible to myself. When I have that attention, I have the ponies’ attention with no effort at all.

When I don’t, if I am tired, worried or generally distracted, well that is the time to sit and rest and relax as they munch through their hay, keeping a certain distance in fairness to myself and to them.

Ben, paying attention to the lake:

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Pay attention to me

  1. Love the photo of Ben

  2. Ben looks like a voyager out there on the edge of that lovely expanse of water. 🙂

    I notice something during the horses’ massage and chiro appts. They each insist on both the body worker and me paying full attention to THEM. When they get antsy is always, every single time, when we start talking about something else, or another horse. Bring the focus back to the horse being worked on and they let out one of those lovely breaths, lick and chew, and get back into their “this is wonderful” zone. Almost like we have formed a bubble together and to talk about other things pops that bubble.

    This makes me wonder what they make of it when we are riding them or leading them and our mind goes elsewhere. And I have to wonder about the correlation between that “elsewhere” state of mind and what many would call bad behavior on the part of the horse. If you think about it, if we are “elsewhere” in our mind and state of being, to a horse that probably equals “gone.” So for them, running over us or through us or out from under us is simply them leaving the empty, scary human-like body in their space or on their backs. ??

    Just talking out loud here. Not sure if it’s a legitimate track or not!

    • Yes, Billie, that is exactly it. We are often so much the opposite of how they are with each other – “elsewhere” as you say, or maybe full of the white noise of a busy mind or chatter, that it must be scary for them, if they do notice us at that moment. I like your example of what they demand during their body work appointments. I have experienced that also.

      And yes, Ben does look like a voyager doesn’t he? Which suits him as he loves to venture out to explore the world.

  3. June

    All very interesting. It is so different, isn’t it, to be absolutely in the moment with a horse as compared to off with the fairies. I think you’re right, Billie, that the horse feels almost as if it has a “right” to run through you when you’re “not there.” I’m glad I’m not the only one whose horses run through them sometimes. Some people say this automatically indicates disrespect on the part of the horse and think that the horse should be trained to neverever be so rude as to do that, even if the human isn’t paying attention. I see their point, but I never really thought, until you said that, Billie, that really it is up to the human to be there, paying attention, and to EARN not-being-run-over minute by minute. That’s what horses do after all, right?

    Things go better with me when trimming if I’m constantly in touch with the horse. I do keep up a chatter with the owner, but it’s very superficial (and I find I often don’t remember what the human has said!), and my attention stays with the conversation I’m having with the horse. And if it doesn’t, then there can be problems. Sometimes I find that everything goes best with a new horse who’s mistrustful and antsy, as it forces both of us to really pay attention to each other, and often a good rapport develops very quickly. Whereas when you get blase with a horse who’s used to the whole thing, sometimes it can be very easy, but sometimes it can lead to disharmony caused by lack of attention.

    • June, I think you have to look to yourself and your presence around horses. After all, that is their nature. I know what you mean when you talk about being ‘blase’ – when Ben first came to us I used to keep a very respectful distance from him and was always very alert in his presence, simply because at that time he was so suspicious of us and absolutely not trusting us. Now of course he is very different and it can be easy to be more switched off around him.