Love is a feeling that motivates us to appreciate life with joy, enchantment, awe and wonder. It is an emotion that allows us to be aware, appreciative, open-minded and accepting unconditionally what is less than perfect, and willing to change what can be changed.

Each one of us is born with the capacity to love ourselves, others and life and it is inherent to our being. I believe that learning to love ourselves, others and life is a function of our soul. Often times we think we love but, most importantly, we need to be able to feel love and act in a loving way. Understanding what love is will help us understand our self, others, our horse and our life.

Simple delight in life’s experiences is a characteristic of love that is shared in both horses and humans. Horses express this daily and show their love through gratitude and appreciation. One example is the food and care that we give them. Almost all horses enthusiastically accept their food. They hear the feed door open, perk up their ears, whinny and sometimes bang on their stall door. Once a horse is fed, his eagerness is replaced by the joyful sound of munching on his grain or hay. The horse’s ears are relaxed, eyes soften, and he is solely focused on the joy of eating.

How often do we appreciate our food? The provider of the food? Or even the purchaser of the food? Even if you pay all those roles, do you take the time to appreciate yourself? How often do we take the time to really enjoy, be present and thankful for the meal we are eating? Maybe, we should take a tip from our horse by being thankful of each one of our meals and appreciate how and where it came from.

I love when I clean my horse’s stall and put new bedding down only to have him lie down and roll, oblivious to my presence, completely absorbed in the scratching of his body in the fresh, clean bedding. He is immersed in the absolute enjoyment of scratching his back. I can hear him saying to himself, “Ahhh, right there. That’s the spot”. It always makes me laugh to myself and at that moment I know that he is taking full advantage and is thankful for his clean, fresh stall. It is his way of thanking me for taking care of him. How often do we show thankfulness to the people who take care of us?

These are the little ways that a horse reminds us to be aware, thankful and present in each moment, no matter how little or insignificant they might seem. Now, every time I clean my bed sheets and climb into bed I enjoy the smell of the fresh dried sheets and take a moment to feel the cleanliness and softness of my bed. I try to really enjoy the sensation of how my body feels and enjoy the slowing down and relaxation I feel as each one of my muscles relaxes into the mattress. I owe all this to the horses in my life.

I believe that taking several minutes a day to enjoy the total sensation of your bedroom, your living room, your yard and yourself could be a great learning tool for appreciating more aspects of your being. I feel this concept directly relates to you, your horse and your riding. Successful riding requires awareness, and awareness is enhanced when we learn to be aware, know and love ourselves and our surroundings. Love of life experienced through all of our senses adds to the fullness of life.

Unconditional acceptance of yourself and others is another manifestation of love. Our horse accepts us as we are. He tries his best to do what we ask. His nature allows him to love and accept himself and you, free of judgment. This is just another way we can learn to love ourselves and others, void of judgment through the way of our horse. By emulating our horses’ ability to accept their conditions with out judgment we can learn how to love unconditionally. How has your horse taught you about love?