The Tao of Horsemanship

When I was 20 years old, I was in a very lost place in my life.  The details aren’t important, only that I was alone and scared, and adulthood had just smacked me in the face with a reality check that I thought was the end of my life.  I don’t remember exactly how, or why, but The Tao of Pooh somehow ended up on my reading list; a reading list that was, and had always been 0 books long.  Despite my inability to focus my attention to even a page of most books, I read the entire book in a day.  Forget that it’s only about 50 pages long, complete with illustrations, it was still a stretch for me.

The book couldn’t have come at a better time.  I was too young and immature to know how to deal with the struggles I was facing.  I was a spoiled young girl who had managed to make everything in life go her way, come hell or high water, and I had exhausted the Universe’s entitlements to me.  Slightly ironic how a book about a beloved childhood character (beloved to society – not to me.  I hated Pooh) could teach an adult how to grow up.

But reading it gave me hope, which gave me faith, which gave me peace.  For me, I desperately needed to learn how to cope with the fact that I could not control everything.  I needed to learn that sometimes it’s best to just float, soak in what’s around me, and be grateful for what is.

This is a lesson that I had to carry over to my riding and training as well.  I am, by nature, a boss mare, but I had yet to refine my skills as a leader and earn trust through respect, not fear.

After reading The Tao of Pooh, I picked up Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony, and it has become my bible.  I even keep it on my nightstand.  The book is divided into 15 parts, each including stories surrounding one word explaining Tao all around us.

I’ve decided to share one of these words a day, and how the philosophy surrounding that word has (or needs to, as the case may be) improved my horsemanship.  My hope is that I can sprout a seed of faith, hope, joy, love, laughter or peace in at least one equestrian a day.  Each of the words will not be meant for everyone, everyday.  For some, you may shrug and move on, and others may be just what you needed to hear that day.  Who knows, maybe it will own it’s own page on my site.

Today’s word is Dao.  Tao, way road, path, course, head, principle, doctrine, to speak.  Tao is “the organic movement of the cosmos as a great, balanced, and dynamic body in motion.”  I’m pretty sure I just described a horse, so I’m just going to let you marinate on that for a minute.

Next Post: The Tao of Horsemanship: Follow


All ‘Tao of Horsemanship’ entries on this website are inspired by the book “Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony” by Deng Ming-Dao.


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