Friday, 13 February 2009

Re: Fear

I have just read a post titled 'Fear' made by a fellow blogger at Diary of a Young Horse and it made me think about this rider of mine. She started riding with me about 7 months ago. Rode as a child, then had a break and is now coming back to riding in her late fifties. Tiny lady who just wants to be the best she can be, doesn't have any unrealistic goals but nevertheless wants to learn 'proper riding' rather than travelling on horses...
Up until about two months ago she made a steady progress but nothing great chiefly because of being scared...I tried various things but with very moderate results. She actually have quite a nice feel for horses and is very trainable which makes her a very good pupil but I don't do too well with people who are nervous of riding all the time...

Two months ago I decided to take a different approach and started thinking about confronting at least some of her fears, those that she could define. I don't know how you feel about it but I reckon we tend to be most scared of the unknown. If you feel afraid but don't know the substance of those fears they seem to be scarier and more preoccupying.

I got her to take plenty of lunge lessons and we did all sorts of exercises including loosing balance on purpose and basically doing all the things she thought 'might make her fall off' (one of her biggest fears).
She is now working towards her first dressage show and yesterday she jumped for the first time enjoying every minute of it.

The truth the story of Suzie at Diary of a Young Horse tells you is that you have to work on those fears if you don't want them to walk over you.

There is this horse I school regularly that sent me flying some time ago and every time I sit on it I wonder if she will do it again...first 15 minutes is always the worst as she does feel like she wants to play up. And it both worries and irritates me. Your safest bet is usually not to talk to me when I ride that mare through her warm up routine ;)

But you see, I think we make our own riding fears. Noone else does it for us. It's all in our heads. Maybe the best way to tame those fears is to understand them, challenge them, give them names and have a good old chat with them...
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