Meet Natasha a fellow OTTB enthusiast who combined her passions of horses and wellness to create OM & The Equestrian.
Tell me a little about your background with horses and how long you have been riding?
I’ve been obsessed with horses since I was 6 when I got my first ride on our neighbor’s pony, Silver. I attended our local pony camp every summer thereafter. When I was 17 my dad passed away, a portion of my inheritance afforded me the opportunity to begin formal lessons. We found a hunter / jumper trainer and facility where I started with lessons and then had the opportunity to lease numerous horses through the years, and 5 years ago I bought Stuart.
What made you want to start teaching yoga and how long have you been teaching?
At 17 I felt so far behind my barn mates that had been riding since they were much younger. One day after lessons I asked my trainer, “what can I do outside of the saddle to help me be more effective in the saddle?” She suggested Pilates and the next week I was enrolled in Pilates classes and in 2013 I got certified to teach. One of my mentors took me to my first yoga class but I wasn’t hooked until I tore my hamstring training for a half marathon. During that time, I really clung to my mat to rest and rehab that leg. Diving into practice, I discovered so much more than just rest and rehab. I discovered an internal conversation, an awareness of my thoughts, emotions and my body in space. In 2016, I completed my 200 hour registered yoga teacher training and continue to grow my knowledge and deep dive into continuing education training and wellness immersions to offer my clients my best.
The daydream to merge into the equestrian space started soon after I started offering weekly classes in 2013. Having used both practices to augment my own riding, I know first hand how important, impactful and beneficial they are for the mind and body.
What inspired you to start OM & The Equestrian?
My path with Stuart has been the strongest inspiration, coupled with COVID and everything shifting online – that really gave me the courage to put a business plan in place and start putting the daydream plans on paper. I have so many notebooks filled with name ideas, etc. In 2021, we contracted the logo design out and I’m grateful everyday that the rest of the pieces are finding their way. After the logo design was done, I submitted paperwork to have our LLC (The Holistic Hive, NY) assume a new name OM & The Equestrian.
I know that you own an OTTB as well, tell me a little about him?
Of course, I love to gush about Stuart. Steady Stuart is a 2007 OTTB with 92 starts, $273,545 in earnings and retired from racing at age 10.
In October 2017, my trainer, myself and a few others from the barn took a girls trip to the Finger Lakes track. On the way up, my trainer said “Natasha, you might want to look at Stuart”. We watched him trot that day at the track and to this day, I swear that he looked over at me as they were leading him back to the shed row which sealed the deal. While I did not make a decision that day at the track, thankfully Stuart was purchased from the track by an adoption agency that our trainer served on the board for. That winter and early spring, I would go out to the farm and spend time grooming and riding a little bit. May 4, 2018 he came home and slowly began retraining. Typical of a thoroughbred he has just as much heart as he does brains (and sass and opinion). Somewhere along the retraining path, I became timid, nervous and scared. So much so that I wanted my trainer to take over retraining completely. While she was a great help (I wouldn’t have made it through that period without help) hindsight it was a lesson in digging in, finding some grit and perseverance. I’d given up a daily yoga practice to spend more time out at the barn during those early months of horse ownership and it wasn’t until I dove back into practice that my relationship with Stuart started to shift. I immediately noticed a difference, the softer and quieter I became (letting go of the fear and reservation, letting go of playing out all the negative scenarios, putting down the reservations and guards to open up to trust) the softer and quieter Stuart became (it is really so incredible how much we play off each other energetically and emotionally). Doing the work and watching it unfold with my relationship with Stuart is why he is the why behind OM & The Equestrian, he is the light of my life, one of my biggest teachers to date and owning him has been the greatest honor. While our path hasn’t been linear, I wouldn’t trade the ebbs and flows because they have been great lessons (as a human and horsewoman) and to see where we have been to where we are now is truly incredible. I think in the past year or two that he’s really started to let go of some of his ingrained behaviors from his long life at the track and is fully embracing being spoiled, dotted on and truly LOVED.
How has integrating yoga in your routine helped improve your riding?
I like to think of a yoga practice as pulling back the layers of an onion. We all want to ride better and yoga helps us with the mental & physical side of things, helping us become aware of our bodies in space, our awareness in general (emotions, breath, moods, etc.). Yoga helps us to build strength, improve balance, improve and build confidence. Honing in breathwork practice helps us become resilient to stress and anxiety by calming the nervous system and giving us the tools to put space between our situations and our reactions (i.e. first horse show, a big class, riding in a clinic or just trying something new or a new to you horse – nerves are normal (we are human after all), but giving ourselves a moment to name the emotion/energy find our breath and get into our bodies). We are designed to fit ourselves and when we get a handle on ourselves, we are better equipped to handle situations. We start with the physical changes and while they can take time, when we see them we start to realize that we change our minds as well.
Have you seen a difference in your horse since doing yoga consistently?
Oh absolutely! Hands down. My mindset shifts have made a drastic difference. Knowing where our bodies are in space also makes a difference, it helps our horses with balance and how they are moving under us, as well as our transitions and departures.
What kind of classes do you teach and how can someone take your classes?
I teach a lot of classes that are heavily inspired by Katonah Yoga. I am currently building hours to qualify for their mentor program. I also teach vinyasa, breathwork and pilates.
We have an Online Studio of prerecorded, on demand style classes where equestrians can practice anytime, anywhere.
We also offer weekly classes Monday and Thursday at 7PM (est) for those that need a little more accountability and that crave community.
You can find us on instagram @omandtheequestrian
Through our website you can sign up for weekly classes or subscribe to become a monthly or annual member. On demand classes are added regularly and range in category and duration to accommodate what you’re craving. Sometimes the hardest part is getting on the mat but once you do and start moving, you start feeling better.