Horse riding collection, done right, is euphoric for both horse and rider. Plus we can learn some profound life lessons from it, too.

Imagine that you’re riding an amazing horse that has a willing heart, a quiet mind and an athletic body. As you trot and canter around the cross country course, you notice that he is nicely forward, but all kinds of discombobulated.

His neck thrusts out in front, he falls on his forehand and he trips over his own front feet several times, as you’re going slightly downhill. Yep, not safe.

The footing out there isn’t perfectly even, so it tattles on horses that aren’t balanced. You get the sense that he is kind of throwing his hooves ahead in response to your leg but not really paying close attention to where they’re going. Then, he starts going even faster to try to keep up with his own unbalanced forward momentum.

What do you do?

You help him do his job. You ask the horse to balance, collect, work from his hindquarters, round up his back and pull it together. You use your leg to encourage him not faster, but more organized. You half halt with all of your aids—and even your brain!—to help him balance, get off his forehand and engage his butt. You may bend him a little one way or the other. You maintain steady contact on the reins to allow him to move into the contact and maintain this beautiful frame that the two of you have now established.

He stops tripping. He balances. His gaits feel more powerful without being faster. You feel his back round up underneath you and his hooves pound the ground with purpose. And it is glorious. Now, the two of you can conquer the world.

Now, think about life. How many times do we empower ourselves in the same way we try to empower our horses?

Consider: Doesn’t our society urge us to keep going faster? Isn’t almost every message we subtly receive telling us to rev it up to accomplish more?

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” we joke. We work 14-hour days and then spend another five hours doing stuff—running errands, seeing friends, cleaning, and then watching Netflix because we are too tired to do anything else but our brains are too busy to sleep.

Are we churning forward so fast we haven’t pulled up to balance? Are we tripping over our own feet in a race to…somewhere we think we need to go? Somewhere that matters but we’re not sure exactly where it is?

Some people have a good handle on what it looks like for humans to collect. They set their priorities and live accordingly. They take time to process and take stock.

If you’re one of those people, good for you. Please keep it up, because the world needs more like you.

But what if, the next time you ride a forward, unbalanced horse, you find yourself thinking of parallels to your own life? Then give yourself permission to collect! Contrary to messages you may have received through the years, it’s not lazy or lame to think about what’s really important or to step back from a frenetic schedule to focus on doing a few things really well.

You may find that you plant each step with more power and purpose if you do. And you just may find that, like a horse, you’ll actually perform better and be able to accomplish a whole lot more in the end.