Taking yoga into the horse world | VailDaily.com

Taking yoga into the horse world

Cassie PenceVail, CO, Colorado
Illustratioin by Dawn Beacon/Vail DailyEquestrian yoga isn't horses in lotus position, although that's fun to think about. It's taking the basic concepts of yoga and applying them to horseback riding.

Equestrian yoga are two words that can play in the mind. Some might imagine a horse in the lotus position, others might picture a woman balanced on one foot, in the tree pose, galloping bareback through a grassy field.The second image is not too far off. Cowgirl Tammy Pate and yogi Janice Baxter have taken the basic concepts of yoga balance, breathing, alignment and positive energy and applied them to horseback riding to create Equestrian Yoga. Theyll teach it in a week-long retreat on a ranch outside Steamboat Springs June 3-9 and again in Oct. 7-13. The Home Ranch is set in the wilderness of Northwestern Colorados Elk River Valley, and the accommodations, from the yoga studio surrounded by picture windows to the lodging, is wild west luxury.

The retreat is designed for all abilities because its not necessarily about yoga and horses although your riding will improve drastically. Its really designed to balance the mind, body and spirit, Baxter said, improving all aspects of the students’ lives.We had this woman straight out of New York City, this high-powered wiry thing who had never been on a horse and had never been in a yoga room, Baxter said. But she needed a shift in her life. Baxter starts by teaching balance in the studio with exercises for both the body and the mind. She challenges you to balance your inner and outer world, all sides of your body and to bring your mental, spiritual and emotional self into union.Then we take that exercise around the pen with Tammy on the lead rope, Baxter said. Students are riding bare back with their eyes closed. The rider isnt holding on to reigns. They are really feeling their balance while theyre on their horse. You have to connect all stages of being while on the horse.

She also teaches the concept of muscle testing for your thoughts. Its the idea that every thought we think has an effect, and Baxter teaches how to shift those negative thoughts, like Im so inflexible, to positive perceptions, like I am learning deeper flexibility. The exercise builds confidence, she said, and shows the pure power of the mind.There are 200-pound men athletes that cannot pull their arm up with a negative thought in their head, she said. You look for the thought that person truly believes and you help them change it into the tense of already being present and healing.Horses are a natural assistant to healing and are used around the country for different therapy programs.Whats fascinating about horses is their intuition, Baxter said. They know how to take care of their rider.Horses working with special needs kids, Baxter explained, will actually move themselves around a child who is leaning too far one way. Wranglers match students with a horse that fits their personality and riding ability. There are still spaces open for the June and October retreats. For more information or to sign up, contact the Home Ranch at 970-879-1780 or e-mail info@homeranch.com.Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 748-2938, or cpence@vaildaily.com.

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