Pressing Into Fear


Where is your bubble of comfort?  How often do you try to push past it?

Today was the last day of the horse clinic that Andy and I attended with our horse Irish.  Our friend and riding instructor, Kaite, also joined us.  I participated in the morning session which was the Foundation Class.  This class involved about an hour of groundwork and another 2 hours of riding.  There were various skills we practiced – the main one being how to tune into your horse, get him to respond to what you’re asking him for with me having to do as little as possible to get that to happen.

This is quite a challenge when you’re just getting to know your horse – I’ve only had Irish since January and we’ve only been able to ride him since May of this year — not long to get acquainted and comfortable.

In fact, Andy has had more time in the saddle on Irish than I have since I was pouring most of my efforts into Astar.

So today was a bit of a windy day and about half-way through the riding portion of todays class, the wind picked up and there were noises on the roof of the arena cover.  Irish got a little dancy, which in-turn got me nervous.  So I went in the middle of the ring where the trainer was and I told him what was happening.

I wanted to get off.  In fact, I was near tears – mainly out of my own fears and worries that I had created b/c of thinking about everything the could happen.  I remembered the day that Irish had his come apart in the stall, kicked the shed in and was in panic mode when we finally arrived to rescue him – all because of a windy day that ripped the tarp off of the roof.

Well, Brent would not let me off – he looked at me and told me that I was ok and that Irish was ok.  So he asked me to move him forward 5 steps and then backward, forward another and then backward.  He also showed me a couple of other techniques like moving his nose to the left and then to the right.   And after that he told me that I needed to keep him moving and to go on and do some s-curves – (it’s basically like doing a bunch of u-turns – kinda looks like an exaggerated version of riding drunk and weaving back and forth…LOL) and to ride where I am comfortable.

I kept going – I did not get off even though every bone in my body wanted to.  There was also another part of me that knew if I did get off then I was giving into my fear instead of fighting it.  So I rode where I was emotionally / mentally.  I did lots of circles and s-curves mainly in the same area of the arena.  And I have to say that I managed to make a pretty darn good circle by the end of class and Brent said I did good!

I was proud of myself for staying on and not giving into fear.  Instead, I leaned into it.

And the advice I am taking home with me from the class is something Brent said towards the end of the session this morning – these weren’t his exact words, but the best I can remember — “ride where you are at and where your horse is at.  push your bubble of comfort a little and then come back to a safe place, push a little more the next time and then come back.  Always have a safe place to come back to – something you know that you and your horse can do well  together – that he understands what you want and you understand what you’re asking and you feel safe…. and don’t get discouraged if it takes awhile to meet your goals.  if you keep pushing that comfort zone a little at a time, you will get there.”

I think that this is pretty good advice – not only for riding and training horses, also for everyday life and fears that we must push through.

Before we left today – I asked him for some additional advice on helping Astar.  We are still unable to catch him in order to put him out in the field.  Brent showed me some great techniques and said it’s not about catching the horse, it’s about preparing him to be caught… I never would have thought about it that way.

Then as we were loading Irish, Brent saw us and took the opportunity to give us a lesson on how to get a horse to put himself into the trailer — it’s all about his mind being in the trailer – it was amazing!  He had talked about it the day before and then to see it in practice was so cool!  Now we all have a visual of what that looks like.  You can really tell when horse’s mind is in the trailer and when it is not… just look at his ears!

Of course, Irish loaded with no problem.  Though he was a great example of how-to load! =)

Thank you Brent, Chris and Monette for having such a wonderful clinic.  I can’t wait to participate again!!  And Thank you Brent for allowing me to be where I was during class and helping me to push past my fears and worries… it was an amazing confidence builder and I know with continued pushing past my bubble of comfort, little by little, I will reach my goals.   This was the most awesome experience on horseback that I have had in a long time and I will take so much of what was said, with me as I go forward with training my horses!  Now I have so much more to offer them!

A New Day … A New Decision


Horses (and animals for that matter) are not too much unlike children.  They have their ups and downs and they even have their temper tantrums.  There are those that choose to misbehave or not cooperate and those who cooperate willingly; those who are stubborn beyond belief and those who just go with the flow.  There are even those those have a past that must be dealt with and those who have no idea what it’s like to have a past and therefore what you (as owner) are teaching them is all new to them.

And we love them all the same – though the ones that are stubborn and less than willing to go along with our ideas & teachings are the ones that are much more of a challenge.  The main part of that challenge is breaking down a wall that they have built up so high that you’re wondering how you could ever break it down… and this is the same part that is the most maddening – try as you might, the wall stays up even with all the love and good intentions on our part.

I am talking about my horses here – they are my children for all intents and purposes at this point in my life and probably forever.

Today – we attempted again to load Astar — walking into the pen, confidently, Andy approaches him to get the halter on — Astar wants no part in it.  Andy continues his efforts with no success – so I offer to try and I am also met with no success at catching my horse within the small confined space of the square pen he is in.  So we made a decision – Astar doesn’t get to go – Irish will go instead.

We decided to take Irish to the clinic so that we will be able to go and learn something and make the most out the money we have put down!  =)  And I have to say that it was the best decision we could have made.  Irish was absolutely awesome!   He loaded right up on the trailer (only one small refusal) and we were off.  We unloaded him, put his saddle on and joined the rest of the class that had already started.

At first I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I watched, listened and learned.  We did groundwork first to get them warmed up and learning a few things that we would later apply in the saddle.  After about an hour – we traded out the halters for bridles and I got on Irish.  He was awesome!   He didn’t really care about all of the other horses in the ring so I truly felt like it was me and him working.  And even when he wasn’t exactly sure of what I was asking (neither was I, really) he gave is 100% best.

All in all it was a good day and am happy to say that I am excited about going back tomorrow for the last class and seeing how much we can improve from today!

As a side note: Turns out (according to what my mom found out today in a conversation with Astar) that he thinks he won – she told him that he ought to think about that because he didn’t really win anything.