California Riding Magazine •September, 2013

It's Supposed To Be Fun!

by Dennis Campbell

I have some questions for you.

Are you happy? Are you losing your passion to go to the barn? Is riding getting boring? Do you avoid former friends at the barn? Are you starting to hate showing all the time?

You need a change!

Your time with your horse should be joyful—meaning "full of joy." If it's not, try to change the way you think!

Start by understanding that you are lucky to have horses in your life. They are natural anti-depressants. Be aware that riding forces you to tune out thoughts and concentrate on what you are doing. People studying yoga meditate for years to master the discipline of controlling toxic thoughts. Zen master Osho calls this "being present." The Power Of Now author Eckhart Tollé calls this state "being in the now."

Linda Kohanov, in her new book, The Power of the Herd, tells us that new scientific research shows riding increases the release of the hormone oxytocin. Not only does oxytocin lower blood pressure and relieve anxiety, it triggers the release of dopamine. Dopamine "releases feelings of elation similar to mild doses of cocaine."

There are many other beneficial interactions. Just spending time outdoors, in our wonderful climate, is another example. Even our daily acts of kindness, compassion and bravery enhance our sense of well being.

Use awareness to strengthen your intent. Make having fun and enjoying your barn time an important goal.

My motto is: "Enjoy our time together with our horses and let our horses enjoy their time with us."

Author Dennis Campbell operates the hunter/jumper training barn Tartan Farms in Del Mar. He can be reached at 858-699-4843 or visit