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!

You must be logged in to post a comment.