Many of our clients are folks that are coming back to riding after a few years (or decades) off to raise families, establish their careers or due to injury and taking the time to heal properly. As such, they often have some trepidation about signing up – the spirit is willing, but the small voice in their head chides them with visions of white knuckled riding and broken bones.
And this got me to thinking. Why is it that fear often prevents us from doing what we love? To date I’ve never had any debilitating injury or harrowing scare on a horse. That’s not to say I’ve not had more than my share of unintentional dismounts (in fact one barn where I boarded offered to charge me rent on a section of the arena that I got to know intimately, LOL) and in reality, my worst injury was a severely bruised hip that sustained a hairline fracture when I had one of those above mentioned dismounts.
But here’s the thing – I’ve always gotten back on and kept riding. And when I first got into this business, I was the one with butterflies in my stomach on the first day of a trip – more than a little anxious about what my mount would be like and would I be ok on this strange horse? What I can tell you about that one point is – that’s the least of your worries. The horses we use on our programs are veterans – they know their jobs and enjoy them. That’s not to say they might not shy or flinch when a bird flies out of the brush, but they won’t lose their heads and often, they’ll be abashed to have even given any notice to the bird. They are tried and true and solid citizens.
You’ll figure that out in the fist 30 to 60 seconds of riding on any of our programs. So let your mind rest easy on that count.
But – what about jumping?
When I was growing up riding and taking lessons, I jumped every week, no problem. And when I got back into riding in my late 20s, I had no issue signing up for the adult classes – 3’6” – no problem!
But that was 20-25 years ago.
And for the last 20 years, I’ve dabbled in dressage and in enjoying hunter pacing – but with the go around options on the pacing. Yet, when I come to one of the small fences on the trail, my brain and my heart both say “go on – pop over it – it’s no big deal”.
And so I do.
And my horse loves it.
And I stay on, albeit not so form perfect.
And the not so form perfect part of that has that cheeky small voice telling me “aren’t you the lucky one today – you could just as easily have come off over that. And did you feel how big your horse jumped in his enthusiasm? Next time, you’ll be out of the tack for sure! Better count your blessings for today and stay away from that again.”
Ugh. It was just a small two food vertical. And my horse was perfect. What’s the matter with me?
That’s when I realize that I need a week in one of our training programs. Not on my horse – on a trusty, foolproof, take you around horse that will let me figure it all out again. And again. And again. Figure it out so many times that my brain is reprogrammed to the channel that plays the “this is how it always is” playlist and doesn’t play the “this is what might happen” playlist. I mean, for crying out loud – driving on most streets is FAR more dangerous than riding my horse – where is that blasted small voice when I back out of my driveway each day?????? Little bugger.
So that’s my plan for 2017. I’m going to sign up for one of our “Build Your Nerve and Learn to Jump” programs. I know how to jump – here’s the last time I took a formal lesson with no prior jumping:
I realize it’s a dark photo, apologies, but – that was the third jump in a small grid. And for not having jumped in several years, my leg isn’t SO awfully far back. But I needed more days of this – those are not relaxed shoulders you are seeing. Nor is that hip angle doing much to help my horse, hence the flatness of the jump.
But we are all our own worst critics. Sometimes – you just have to get on with it all. And that’s my plan. I’m not afraid to ride and don’t mind my spooky horse at home – his quirky shying and running don’t faze me. And so what we need is mileage and jumping. And there is nothing better than a week of riding school horses – up to 3 hours a day, to start to drown out that pesky voice.
And I need some (many) days of riding in modified two point at home, and strengthening my core, honing my balance, grabbing mane and just giving it a go.
Do you struggle with any fear issues when you ride? Is that whiney little voice holding you back from anything in your riding? What will you do to change the tapes that play in your head and reprogram?
All suggestions and comments are welcome – we are all in this together.