Ride It Through …

The greatest advances often occur after the most potent struggles.

Last week’s grouse with my rather opinionated horse turned out to be an event that shook, rattled and rolled me out of the rutted comfort zone of one skill level into the challenging, but potentially more satisfying, growth of the next.

Essentially it was a mini wake-up call.

Processing the event in the ensuing couple of days is what led me to this conclusion.

In spite of how well I’d ridden through Bear’s mischief on Tuesday and the compliments I’d received from those who’d witnessed it, doubts began to creep in that threatened to undermine my self-confidence.

What if this successful outcome was a fluke? What if Bear’s evil twin rears his ugly head again? What if I’m getting too old for this “dangerous” game? What if … what if … what if!!!

By Friday morning, (after two previously scheduled days out of the saddle), my confidence was at a low ebb and I was exhausted with it. Fear of failing my horse, and myself, was a constant torment. However, I also knew the only way around this mental/emotional obstacle was to ride through it.

To help me get my bearings again I leaned on my coach.

Back in the saddle and determined to make things right, I took up the reins but with an assertiveness I hadn’t anticipated. I engaged seat and leg. Immediately Bear reached into the contact; held my connection. It was as if he’d been waiting for me to figure it out so he could finally relax and get on with his job. There was an instant difference in our way of going. Ice falling from the roof was not going to be a big problem.

Coach entered the arena during our warm-up. He planted himself in the corner and observed our progression.

“Come here for a minute …” he called after a short while.

I brought Bear to a halt beside him.

“Now,” he started in that firm quizzical tone he uses when he’s about to make a point, “what’s changed since Tuesday? … You’re connected to Bear; he’s travelling in a lovely frame … what are you doing differently?”

I thought for a moment.

“Bloodyminded determination… .” I smiled.

“The difference between this and what you were doing a week ago is huge,” he went on to say. “This is how you ride. This is what will put Bear in the frame of mind to stay connected to you. Well done!”

A swell of pride rolled inside me as I gave Bear a pat and started into work again. Receiving a compliment from Coach is, as anyone who knows him will tell you, something to be held and cherished. He doesn’t just dish them out. You have to earn them. 🙂

I’ve since come to realize that Bear’s challenge to me last week was an important catalyst for growth in my development not only as a rider, but as a human being. While on the surface I felt my confidence under threat, deep inside the machinations of a more sophisticated self-trust was under construction. A more effective skill set was on the cusp of manifesting. Another more engaged way of being with my horse, and with the world, was being created.

Is it any wonder I love my horse?

He constantly gives me the gift of my self. He nurtures me.

The lesson from all this has been that struggle prepares us for the next spurt of growth. The challenge is to experience the discomfort with an open mind and without judgment. Rash decisions are often made in the midst of uncertainty. The mind wanders into dark corners of doubt and despair which shadows our view of ourselves and what’s possible and, if we’re not paying attention, puts us in a position to do and say things we most likely will later regret.

At my lowest point last week, some part of me — the fearful part, I’d say — toyed with the idea of selling my beautiful boy. What would that have accomplished but create even more misery? Thank goodness there are enough people in my life who, understanding the relationship Bear and I share, will tell me to give my head a shake when my evil twin starts imagining the worst.

The very things that threaten to bring us down have the potential to raise us up. When we connect to our discomfort; feel it; ride it through and have the courage to lean on those we trust for support through those tough times we create the potential for a new set of life skills and, in the process, expand our comfort zones and horizons.

At least … that’s what my horse has taught me. 😉

I think that’s worthy of a kiss … don’t you?

A kiss

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom


Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

7 thoughts on “Ride It Through …

    • Thanks, and not a chance he’ll be on the market any time soon, if ever … 😉 … He’s my buddy and, as we know, even buddies can have disagreements. … We have solidly redeemed ourselves this week. Absolute joy with the occasional difference of opinion just to keep things honest between us. … Be well and thanks for visiting and leaving a comment … Dorothy 🙂

  1. A very lucky horse…obviously a very loved one as well. Thanks for your visit to my “place!” I’ll be checking back in here from time to time. Take care, Skip

  2. The psychology of working with animals is very interesting. Yes they are a lot like people in some ways … but very different in others. Yet all life responds to love – the universal language.
    Some folks seem to have a greater affinity with animals though. My Dad was a veterinarian. I’ve watched him pull porcupine quills out of a dogs face with a pair of pliers – while the dog sat stoically enduring it.
    I wouldn’t have liked to try that myself. But animals responded to him differently – they knew he was there for their good.
    A little while back, Rose and I watched Buck – the wonderful documentary of the real Horse Whisperer. Enlightening and enjoyable.
    Ride on !

    • Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. … I haven’t watched that documentary yet, but I’m familiar with the works of other natural horsemanship types like Chris Irwin, Linda Kohanov and Monty Roberts. In fact, I studied with Chris for a year, and what a life altering experience that was. My relationship with the horse, and myself, changed completely in the most amazing ways and I’ve been growing and expanding in my knowledge and understanding ever since. My horse has been the beneficiary of that knowledge and he is, indeed, a happy horse — mostly because I am a more present and self-aware human being. Since horses feed off our energy and body language, this is perhaps the most important aspect of working with horses. But so many people don’t get that and the result is many unhappy horses who would love for their people to “get it.” Of course, when I inadvertently stray from the path for whatever reason, Bear calls me on it, jolting me back to his reality. I love that we continue to grow in our relationship this way, no matter that sometimes it can be pretty jarring. … Glad you enjoyed my post. Be well, Dorothy 🙂

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