Sunday, August 22, 2010

Facing Your Fears

I'm generally a pretty fearless person. Most would even call me "foolhardy". There is, however, one thing that sends me into a panic: lightning. I hate the stuff. Even though I know the odds of being struck are remote, the first sign of lightning sends me running (and usually screaming) to the nearest building as fast as my legs will take me. Much to the amusement of my friends. Generally, if there is even a hint of thunderstorms I do not ride, or even leave the house.

But, I have dedicated myself to getting my horse fit. That means no excuses. And I didn't end up riding yesterday because time got away from me. So that means I had to ride today.... no excuses. We're having intermittent thunderstorms today. Great.

So I waited for a break in the storms, and ran out to ride. Naturally, as soon as I was finished tacking up I heard the familiar rumbling of thunder. Great.

And, of course, it was windy. And you know how much horses love wind. Great.

So now we had a tense horse and a tense rider. Great.

I had wanted to trot over cavaletti in a nice, relaxed frame. We did trot over cavaletti, but I ended up putting him into a higher frame, and asking for more collection. Loose and relaxed just wasn't going to happen with him jumping at every rattling leaf and me jumping at every boom of thunder. And, while I don't really like putting a horse into a more collected frame before they're relaxed, I couldn't really just quit, either. Spider is a riding horse and a show horse. I can't just allow him to quit because something is scary. To allow him to quit working because he or I was scared would set a dangerous precedent. I've known too many horses who became quite dangerous aa a result of that type of mentality. So, my only choice was to push on through it.

At first it was awkward and not productive. He wanted to jump at everything and not go forward or round. Eventually I got annoyed with him and just sat down and got it done. I planted my butt in the saddle, my arms at my sides, fixed my eyes on a point right between his ears and kicked him up towards it. As I worked, I forgot about my impending doom and relaxed. As I relaxed, Spider forgot about his impending doom and started paying attention.

In the end, we survived. Obviously, since I'm still around to write this. It wasn't our best work, and it ended up being a lot shorter and much more intense of a workout than I had planned. We trotted over the cavaletti, did a lot of transitions between walk and trot, a few rounds of canter and a few leg yields at walk and trot. He only tripped once, and that was during a particularly intense spook at the beginning. That spook was actually the catalyst for me getting annoyed and getting down to business.

Lest you erroneously think that I was very brave (or very foolish), I must say that I did not actually see any lightning while I was riding. I only heard the thunder. Had I seen any lightning, I would have hightailed it back into the house. With or without Spider.


  1. Sometimes just getting it done is the best solution!

  2. You're really making progress. I want to say good for you for sticking it out, but also I'm scared of thunder and lightening too, so my inclination is to say - don't ride in it!
    Glad to hear Spider is tripping less. Good work.

  3. Heck yeah, good for you! I used to be prone to chickening out during bad weather (ok, I'm still working on it:), so well done!

  4. Well done you. I hate storms too so know how brave you were!

  5. Sometimes riding through the fear is the best therapy for horse and rider. I probably would have taken the day off if it was thundering or lightening, just because I would probably rather be in a warm cozy house reading a book and not dealing with the elements outside.

  6. ;-) So you are human after all, I was starting to doubt ... ;-D

    It is all down to concentration/focus/mediation really. I just read that the more you practise focus, the more you developp the neurone connection.

    Well done.

  7. Heart in throat when I'm on the horse and I hear thunder. And down there, the storms were supposed to be really bad...that tornado warning. Oh, my, oh, my. So glad you are OK and managed to get a short but productive ride in.

  8. There's only 2 things that will absolutely keep me out of the saddle:
    intestinal flu.

    I don't even debate the question for either of those!


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