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  • Writer's pictureSam MacLean

BALANCE: either the most boring topic in the world or the most important

Updated: Mar 28, 2023


This is a blog post I’ve been thinking about for quite some time and yet I have struggled to convey in words the feelings I have about BALANCE… So I am releasing my desire to write the perfect post and will instead write the one that is wanting to be written today.

I think we frequently hear the phrase, or something similar to: “I need more balance in my life” or “my horse needs to be more balanced” or even “I need a better work/life balance”!


Have you ever said this about your horse? “If I could only get her balanced, she would…xxxxxx”


I think the biggest mistake we all make when it comes to balance is that we assume it is, or want it to be, static. As in, once you find balance, you’ve got it! You are balanced! End of scene.


However, we all know that is not how life works.


Balance is not static. Balance is dynamic.

Even IF you do reach your perfect balance some day…it won’t last, because life changes. And, if you have not noticed...so does your body and your horse's body. Nothing stays the same for very long. Everything in life is in process and transforming.

And that is a good thing!



We can easily see and experience this dynamic balance in the natural world. In fact, a timely example of balance which just recently took place, March 20, 2023…the spring equinox, when there is an equal balance between light and dark. And guess what… it doesn’t last! Because nature is always changing and transforming. We (in the northern hemisphere) are now moving into the phase of the year where we will experience more sun, more light and warmth. Yippie! This constant process of change, evolution and transformation is representative of Qi, the foundation of Chinese (East-Asian) Medicine.

The system of Chinese Medicine is rooted in the natural world, its patterns and the flow of seasons throughout the year. It is within nature that we can see and experience how Qi is in constant dynamic balance between yin and yang…between dark and light, down and up, earth and sky, moon and sun, water and fire, cold and hot, flooding and drought, etc. There is a constant transformation taking place from one season to the next. Spring time is when the world is emerging out of the darkest, most yin time of the year, winter, and pushing its way toward the most yang time of the year, summer.

The natural world reflects this dynamic balance throughout the entire year: going dormant in winter, pushing the new shoots of growth through the earth in the spring, growing beautiful and abundant fruit and vegetables in the summer, harvesting all that produce in the late summer, and then finally in fall, releasing the leaves and returning back to the earth in preparation for winter.

Just over 100 years ago, humans lived according to this rhythm, because we are and always have been part of the natural world, not separate from it. We went to bed when it was dark, awoke with the sunrise, worked during the daylight, ate what was available during each season, planted and harvested when the conditions where optimal and stored foods to sustain us throughout the cold-dark of winter. There was a time for rest and a time for activity and work. And yet, we modern humans have made it complicated. Now, because of industrial and technological “advances” we can eat anything we want any time of the year from anywhere in the world. We can work any time of the day or night and we can organize our daily schedule however we like in order to maintain this constant pressure to produce and achieve and grow…all day, every day, everywhere. We are no longer tethered to the natural rhythms of the earth, we are only attached an amazing computer that fits in our pocket.. And, yet, there is a cost to that way of living that we are experiencing as our health (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) and the world’s resources are being degraded, depleted and destroyed.


Are there times in life when it’s ok to be out of balance?


Remember this line from the movie Eat, Pray, Love? “Sometimes to lose balance for love is part of living a balanced life.”


You will understand the truth of that statement only if you have ever been head-over-heels in love. So yes, there are times when being out of balance is part of the larger balance of life. But that also does not last long. There is a season in a relationship where every part of oursleves is immersed in the creation of the union and over time that transforms, too. There is a season of life when we are more active (youth) and a season when we are less active (old age) and if allowed, we can naturally adjust to what is right for our mind-body-spirit at any time.


However, when the demands of modern life require that we live, eat and work in ways that go against our natural affinity this can create great amounts of stress that can lead to dis-ease.

By now you are likely thinking about your own life….how balanced are you? Where in your life are you out of balance? Simply the act of attending to this question will help you become more mindful of what may contribute to imbalance.

And what about our horse(s) and/or pets? The degree to which their lives are sustaining a healthy dynamic balance is directly our responsibility. Because most of us, myself included, maintain our horses in a relative state of captivity, we need to assume that they are automatically in a state of imbalance.



Here are some questions to ask yourself about maintaining a healthy balance for your horse:

  • Is your horse getting enough REM sleep? Does your horse lay down to get the deep sleep they need?

  • Is your horse giving you “behavioral” signals during normal activity (grooming, tacking, feeding, etc.) that something is wrong? These signals could be anything like: pinning ears, swishing tail, turning his/her head away, biting/nipping, not greeting you in the paddock or pasture, not standing still at the mounting block, etc.

  • How is your horse’s body? Are they holding tension in particular areas of the body? Do you even know what healthy muscle and feels like? If this is something you need help understanding please reach out and ask for help.

  • How are your horse’s hooves? Do you even know what a healthy (un-shod) hoof looks like? If this is something you need help understanding please reach out and ask for help.

  • What does your horse’s poop look like? Too dry? Too wet? Does your horse have FFW syndrome (Free Fecal Water syndrome)?

  • What does your horse’s urine look/smell like? Is your horse getting enough clean water all year long?

  • Does your horse get unlimited (low sugar) forage (hay/grass)? Or does your horse get fed hay at certain times of the day? If your horse is going more than a few hours a day with no access to forage that can be very stressful on them physically, mentally and emotionally. And, donkeys should not go without forage for more than 1 hr.

  • How is your horse moving at liberty and under-saddle? It is really important to understand this from a feeling perspective (how you feel while riding) AND visually (how you and your horse look under saddle). Always a good idea to have a friend video you riding a few times a year so you can really look at your horse under-saddle. Do they look happy? Focused? Are they holding tension in the jaw/tongue? Are they foaming at the mouth? What are their ears doing?Are their gaits even and steady? Do you look balanced in the saddle? Are you smiling? Does something look off?

  • How is your tack fitting? No matter what anyone says…you need to get your saddle fit to you and your horse every six months (1 year at the longest).

  • Does your horse need more mental stimulation or activity?

  • Is your horse bored? Do you drill skill-work too often? Can you make your training time together more fun?

  • Does your horse get enough herd time?

  • Is your horse part of a healthy herd dynamic or does your horse exhibit stress while with the herd?

  • How are you and your horse getting along? Do you find yourself being reliant on tools (whips, rope halter, chains, spurs, round pens, cribbing collars, etc.) to manage or control your horse? Do you only spend time with your horse under-saddle?

  • Are you super stressed and bring that energy to the barn?

  • Are there people at the barn that make your horse stressed?

  • Are you asking too much of your horse when what they really need is more rest?

  • What can you do to allow your horse to be, live, play, move, rest and eat in as natural a state and environment as possible for them, while ensuring their health and safety?

There are lots more questions to ask, but these would be a good place to start and something to review frequently before a chronic state of imbalance (dis-ease) creates a health issue. Believe me, there is always more we can do for horses.


Ultimately, creating more balance in your own life will positively impact everyone in your life. Deepak Chopra says it best: “If you restore balance in your own self, you will be contributing immensely to the healing of the world.”


Here's to healing the world...one horse at a time.


With ❤️ and in harmony,

Sam

P.S.

For more information on how to support your horse throughout the seasons, check out these other blog posts:






Another effective tool to become more resilient to stress for yourself and others, is learning the HeartMath techniques. There are two courses planned for 2023; click for more info:



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