When I came back to riding as an adult (at age 25), my immediate fear was falling off. My days of youthful invincibility were long behind me and I would find myself holding back on things that, as a kid/teen, wouldn’t have made me think twice, like cantering a fresh horse or raising a jump past itty bitty. As an adult/wife/mom, getting hurt means doctor’s bills, missing work, and making my family’s life quite a bit harder. And death would suck. So I’d let myself “go there,” and envision the consequences of taking a risk. And it limited me for a LONG time.
Enjoy this absolute blast from the past at my expense. This is EIGHT YEARS ago, on the first horse I owned, Jester. I think this was his second time jumping ever, but seriously…WTF am I doing?!
So anyway. Clearly Jester was a saint, right? But if he so much as looked at me sideways, I was all, “Better be safe and not ride.” Because clearly he was out for blood.
Yep, my self-preservation instincts were incredibly high, to say the least. As long as I stuck to only doing safe stuff on safe horses, I’d be totally fine.
Then I broke my ankle JOGGING IN A GYM.
Really, though. My fears have definitely changed over the years, as I got comfortable with riding again. I no longer think about falling off or get freaked that my horse could spook. I don’t look at fences (ok, except tables) and think, “What if we crash and get hurt?”
Oooohhh no. That’d be way too rational of a fear. Instead, I make sure to keep things as mentally disabling as possible and instead have this nagging knot of doom in my stomach that I’ll never be any good.
It took me two years of bopping P over things like this these…
…before I was comfortable with anything else. A lot happened in those 2 years that set us back and while logically I realize those were valuable lessons I learned (albeit, the hard way), I’m a bit resentful that I essentially wasted “so much” time.
I remember the day the still-new-to-me-trainer-who-is-terrifyingly-better-than-I-will-ever-be set the below exercise and I almost fainted at the height:
And once I realized that this guy wasn’t going to spend lessons making fun of me or insinuating that the horse was so much better than I was, I starting filling that role on my own and continuously put myself down. I’d do it to take the sting out of messing something up, but I’m starting to see that while yes, it’s ok to make fun of yourself, moderation is key. I have the tendency to take things way too seriously, so I swung the exact opposite way, which, turns out, is just as unhelpful.
Because (takes deep breath)… while riding is and always will be just a hobby for me, I do want to move onwards and upwards. Do bigger and more technical things. So I stopped looking at jumps and telling myself how large they were. Sometimes that meant not looking at the jump altogether (#survivaltactics), but it mostly meant making a conscious effort to be less self-deprecating. When I’d get directed to ride a certain exercise that looked daunting, instead of saying something like, “Ok, watch this me screw this up royally,” I’d swallow any sarcastic response and just say, “Ok.”
And for while, P & I were definitely headed in an upward trajectory.
I got braver about pushing myself out of my comfort zone while riding on my own:
Buckled down in lessons, including switching to working solely with Trainer B to help fill in some foundational/dressage holes we had:
FINALLY started riding more forward:
Dragged P to jumper shows so I could get some additional course time over larger fences:
And I tried to stay in riding shape with BO’s awesome guy, S.
Which worked for a couple months. I even took him to his first ever HT at BN, which alone was a huge mental win for me, considering it had taken me 2 years to get there with my own horse.
But S found himself on stall rest along with P after a series-of-unfortunate events involving a joint injection gone wrong and a confrontation with a copper head.
And I found myself despairing again.
So I’m back in my hole of I’ll-Never-Be-Any-Good, as irrational as it may be, and will probably remain here until I can get back to doing anything besides w/t around an arena for 35 minutes.
So in the meantime, since misery loves company, I’ve GOT to know:
What’s YOUR biggest fear?