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I’m Handling a Fear on Horseback

Thanks to the holidays, in this case Thanksgiving, I’ve actually had the opportunity to ride frequently.  My husband took off the whole week of Thanksgiving and was willing to help with the kids so I could ride the fantastic Ruby!

Each day I would saddle up sometime in the morning while my family headed down the trails on foot.  One day I would join them right off before leaving them to work my horse and another I would work first and then find them to wander the property with them, enjoying the beautiful Florida weather and the chance for us all to be together on our own property.

I’ve been working on myself, on something that I already knew happened to most women, because I’ve been giving lessons for 20 years, I just didn’t know it would happen to me.  Fear.  Not fear of riding or fear of horses, just that bit of “Eek, I could die!” in the back of my mind while doing anything that’s out of normal on a horse.  Since, in the last 2 years, I’ve only been averaging 2 rides a week, there is a lot that isn’t part of the norm on horseback any longer.  Especially…. speed.

Most of my life I’ve run barrels to one extent or another.  Yep, trail rider, reiner, cutter and barrel racer.  I’ve never had a fear of speed, ever.  I’ve traveled this country with my horses running at high levels so I wouldn’t have imagined getting to a point where I’m afraid to push my horse.  Alas, my running mares are retired, well mostly.  I haven’t run one of them in 3 years.  I’ve convinced Ruby that she can be a barrel horse as well.  As a reined cow horse, she has no problem with that.  I just haven’t convinced myself that I’m not going to die if I get up over her neck and push her.

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Until Thanksgiving week.  I decided enough was enough.  It was time to get over this silly fear of letting this horse run.  Wrong term for Ruby, “Letting her run.”  My running bred mares you “let run.”  My cow bred horse you have to ask to run.  So you ask for a lope.  She lopes.  You ask for more speed, she increases a tick and then asks you “Is this what you want?”  And you think…… “Ok, I can handle this.”  You ask for more speed and she increases a bit more, again asking to be sure you really want to do this.  When you are at ohhhh three quarter speed you are telling yourself “It’s ok, really, the ground isn’t that hard, she won’t trip, she’s not bucking yet, you won’t die.”  Then you ask again.

I think it was easier when you had one that you held back and then “Let them run.”  Well, I did it.  Ruby didn’t trip, she didn’t buck me off, and I didn’t find out how hard the ground was.  Phew.  So I did it again the next day.  And this time I only had to slightly ask Ruby, she was figuring it out.  And the next.  And I survived the whole week.  And when I was done, I could still put my kids on her to go for a walk.

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Love that mare.


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