Growing up in the horse industry I learned to disassociate from my fear and push it down. For years actually even had myself fooled into thinking it was gone. During this time I showed on the “A” circuit in the jumpers, I groomed and rode for World Class trainers, I taught clinics and courses at the Monty Roberts International Learning Centre and I rode horses that very few others would get on. Then a pony named Breeze came into my life.
Starting my riding career as a scared kid and then continuing it in an industry that taught me to ignore and push through my fear has caused me to create a false persona of toughness when I rode. For the most part I was able to push through any fear and ride horses than many others wouldn’t. In fact, at the time I probably would have told you I had no fear in the saddle. Breeze broke through that façade quickly.
Breeze had her own fears, issues and trauma when it came to being ridden. Our first couple of months together was focused on teaching her to walk under saddle. Her nervousness caused her to trot and prance everywhere. Once she could walk under saddle with a contact it was a whole new lesson for her to walk on a long rein when no one was holding her back. She was quick to react and hard to settle. Breeze was just a scared and confused pony looking for direction. When she did react she quickly looked to me for that direction, but not from my aids. The aids actually caused her more stress. She responded mostly to inter species communication; to how I was feeling and what messages my mind and body were sharing with her.
I had spent all these years burying my fears, riding horses others wouldn’t and now a 14hh pony was stripping away my walls and seeing me for who I really was, a scared and insecure rider. As situations from my past seemed to replay themselves I became aware that I was very much a part of these situations. I became aware that I was scared, that when Breeze needed security from me the most I was insecure. This was a very hard pill to swallow but there was no avoiding it. Trust me, I tried.
Recognizing that I did have fear started me on the path I am on today. For me it did not disappear from my experiences with Breeze. The experiences just allowed me to find a way forward, to experience my fear and to learn ways to help me through. Without Breeze I’m not sure I would have explored all the topics I am sharing with you today. and I know I am a better rider, trainer, teacher and person because of it. How many of you would like to learn from your fear and move forward with more calm and more confidence in your life?
Breeze started me on a journey of embracing who I truly am as a rider, horse person and a person. When I was finally able to stop ignoring my fears I was able to learn from them. I do ride and work with horses that most other people cannot or will not deal with. Does fear still arise for me sometimes? Of course! But because I listen to it message I am able to find a way forward that is win/win for me and the horse. I am more successful with both horses and people that are traumatized or dealing with fear than most other trainers because I understand fear, because I know how to work through it rather than ignore it.