What is Self-Care?
While working hard is incredibly important to accomplish goals in life, I can’t help but wonder what happens when a person includes time amidst the hard work to practice self-care. Self-care is when a person takes time to check-in with how they are feeling - mentally, physically, and spiritually - and addresses the needs they have at that time. This can look like going to bed early, talking with a friend, or simply going on a nature walk. In our busy schedules where we are constantly listening to life’s demands, we often forget to listen to our own bodies. Think of your body as a game-piece in the game of your life; how can you play the game to your best ability if you don’t take care of your game-piece?
Self-Care as an Equestrian
As equestrians, we are always managing a billion things at once. We often ride several horses, clean tack, muck stalls, sweep the barn, and groom the arenas all in one day. While we do these things because we love our horses and our sport, it can easily become overwhelming at times. In order to perform our best as equestrians, we need to keep in touch with our minds and bodies and address what our needs are for ourselves. This can look like taking a break to drink some water, eating a snack, meditating, or doing a quick 15 minute yoga session to stretch out. Taking the time to meet our needs allows us to meet the needs of our horses.
Self-Care for Our Horses
Horses do not choose to do the work we ask them to do, so the least we can do to thank them for their work is to give them the care they deserve. Place yourself in your horse’s hooves, and consider how they might be feeling and what they might be thinking. Pay attention to your horses behavior and body language to understand them better. If your horse’s muscles are tight when you are grooming them, consider incorporating a massage and stretching routine 2-3 times a week. If you notice your horse is tired, consider giving your horse a “spa day.” Listening to our horse's needs allows us to build a stronger bond with them that will pay off inside and outside the arena.
Tools to Help You with Self-Care
Sometimes we need a little extra “oomph” to get us on the right track when we are practicing self-care. I like to use Young Living essential oils to help me and my horses. After a long day at the barn, I like to use Peppermint to soothe my tired muscles and drink Ningxia to rehydrate my body. If I am stressed before a show, I diffuse Copaiba, Frankincense, and Lavender to ease my mind. If I worked my horse, Kitty, extra hard, I use Panaway on her legs and back to relieve any soreness. If Kitty is antsy and nervous, I diffuse Stress Away to help her calm down. By practicing self-care with essential oils, I have noticed a huge difference in myself and Kitty. I don’t think Kitty and I’s self-care routine would be the same without Young Living essential oils, and it is truly a blessing they have made their way into my life. As equestrians, it is important we incorporate time to practice self-care for us and our horses because it not only supports us as athletes, but also strengthens the precious bond between us and our horses.