Becoming a Windhorse Rider

Conscious and Compassionate Horsemanship is an approach to building a better relationship with your horse by understanding how it thinks and behaves. Windhorse Path refines and deepens that relationship by addressing not only the horse’s behavior and state of mind but the rider’s as well. If one believes, as I do, that the relationship between horse and rider is paramount, then it isn’t enough to bring awareness and attention and focus onto the horse. We must also become more self-aware. Windhorse is the translation of a word from Tibet that literally brings together the words for spirit or breath (Wind) and power (Horse). It means the kind of spirit and personal power we have at our disposal to make a difference in the world. When our “Windhorse” is low, we feel weak and powerless and ineffective. When our “Windhorse” is high, we feel strong, empowered, confident and capable of facing change. Becoming a Windhorse Rider means developing or reconnecting with that personal power by coming to understand and respect the power and sensitivity of a horse, while at the same time coming to understand, and effectively utilize our own personal power.

Beginning with connection

Empowered Rider—Empowered Horse

Windhorse Path Conscious and Compassionate Horsemanship empowers a horse by allowing it to relax in the presence of a confident rider. It empowers a rider by helping him or her reconnect to a sense of personal identity, purpose, self-confidence, and energetic balance. In this way, it helps us not only become better riders, but also helps us live our potential more fully. Riding is relationship, but relationship is also reflection. Our relationship with a horse, as a rider or simply as a human being, is a reflection of our strengths and weaknesses. Horses are amazingly sensitive animals and they reflect in often dramatic ways the energy a rider or trainer brings to the task of relating.

Windhorse Path is for anyone wanting to learn to develop or deepen a relationship with a horse, whether they go on to ride or not. For those who want to ride, it can result in a newfound sense of relaxation, confidence, and control. Sometimes, however, it can be profoundly healing just to spend time with horses, without ever actively training or riding them. This horse/human relational work is also especially useful for those in times of change who often experience a kind of disempowerment. I am not a therapist and make no claims of doing equine assisted therapy, but I’ve found that the way I work, what I’ve come to call, Windhorse Path Conscious and Compassionate Horsemanship, has been especially beneficial for youth, young adults, and adults dealing with the kinds of life-challenges that come from trauma, grief, or simply rapid and unexpected change.

Windhorse Path is also very effective when people have developed a fear or anxiety around riding (from a fall or an incident with a horse). I’ve helped a number of clients return to riding in a healthy and balanced way after a fall.

Alignment of purpose

The Path

Windhorse Path Conscious and Compassionate Horsemanship begins with simple introductory work and progresses to training. This is time on the ground—in a round pen or pasture— coming to understand the emotional logic of a horse. It is a time for establishing a relationship firmly but gently, and, most importantly, reflecting on and refining our own sense of power and identity within that relationship. This often includes practices that help potential riders develop awareness in themselves and in their horses by attending to posture and breath, tension and relaxation, where energy is moving and where it is getting stuck.

When the relationship has been built, we move on to guided riding that allows us to practice the awareness and control we’ve developed on the ground, while mounted on the horse’s back. Guided riding helps us deepen the relationship with a horse in ways that allow horse and rider to move gracefully as one. One doesn’t become a good rider by riding a lot. If one is riding poorly, riding a lot only reinforces poor riding habits and makes them that much harder to correct. So even pleasure or trail riders can benefit from the impact that Windhorse Path has to offer. For most riders, improving their experience as a pleasure rider or trail rider is their endpoint.

Some riders, however will choose to stretch and test themselves by engaging in more formal and organized riding events or disciplines. I don’t teach dressage or formal jumping or eventing because I have chosen to do foundational work, helping riders with the skills, awareness, and ability to build relationships that are fundamental to these more formal disciplines. Once you have those foundational skills, I can help you find a teacher who will refine your skills for a particular event or discipline. My focus is on making your dream of training, riding, or simply being with horses a reality.

Building confidence

Riding as relationship