Recently I came off a horse I was working with. He’s un-broke but I was TOLD he had some training on him. After the incident I really wanted to ask the people who bred him what they considered training. Turns out he has no foundation. So I ended up going very quickly thru the steps and he seemed fine until I sat down in the saddle, the second I sat and went “ahhhh” which quickly turned to “Ahhhhhh CRAP!” because he shot off like a bullet. I don’t really know how fast we were going and I’m not sure what we actually did but the one thing I did know is we had NO bend, I slid my hand so far down the rope that I had the halter in my hand, pulling with all my might to bend this horse and he wasn’t having any of it…The people watching said I stayed on pretty long but I had no sense of time. The saddle started to slip sideways so I bailed. Luckily I knew even though I jumped to the side I was going down back first so I curled when I landed so I didn’t get hurt badly at all, problem was I landed somehow in front of the horse. In another very lucky millisecond I locked eyes with the horse as I was rolling on the ground and somehow knew right then and there that he was not going to run me over, he veered to the side the second after we looked at each other.
I had to get up, dust myself off and get back on, I stayed on for a few seconds and got off.
I was totally shaken up. I didn’t know it then but I lost a lot of my confidence.
It took me a while to realize it too, I can ride my horse just fine but I know him, and feel like I know him very well, so riding him isn’t a problem. It was when I was offered to ride my friend Charlie’s 24 year old TB rescue. I’d never worked with her before and although we did ground work for an hour and Charlie told me he rides her on trails and she’s pretty bomb proof…I knew it was a different situation entirely but I was standing on the mounting block, bouncing up and down and leaning on her back to see if she was okay. She was…totally, but I could NOT physically make myself get on that horse. I was blocked, I thought, this must be what a deer in headlights felt like because I wanted to move forward but just couldn’t do it!
I went home feeling like a complete failure.
My friend recently said she wished she wasn’t such a coward, to which I laughed and said she’s nothing of the sort or else she would have never gotten a wild colt, trained it successfully and certainly wouldn’t have the balls to be trail riding him already but she is. So that word Coward was stuck in my head. Fate stepped in and she called me later this same day and I told her what I was going thru and I was so embarrassed at the moment this was happening to me, I couldn’t tell her or my friend Charlie even though they were right there and they would have been supportive. I literally stuffed myself into a mental box. She stopped all my agony by saying this one thing.
“Welcome to the world of good horsemanship-we all go thru this, even our trainers still talk about this- learning to be a good horseman is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to learn in my life.” She said a bit more about how I can’t be a coward because with my short time and experience with horses I have more guts to do stuff than some people she’s known that have had horses for over 20 years etc. She’s really great at telling people when they are overreacting.
So I decided she’s right (she’s not wrong very often!) I will just have to dig myself out of this rut the good ol fashioned way of trying harder and getting out of my comfort zone.
Today was my next opportunity to do so. I’ve always been afraid of doing a long trail ride bareback because my horse Kiko will spook occasionally and will want to just GO sometimes. I decided to just do it. My stomach dropped a little bit when my buddy Patrice said oh, lets go thru the woods too and see where we can cut some trails…I’ve never been back in those woods before but I stopped the images of me getting hit in the head with a tree branch while my horse is running wildly back to the pasture just as quickly as they hit me.
So we went…I just didn’t over think it and we ended up riding for over 2 hours, thru the little trails and down the road to a friends horse rescue and back. It was awesome! We had a little spook, Kiko suddenly decided to jump down a bank, shot off into a trot, even started a canter and the whole time I stayed on and even felt still connected to him in those DUH moments we had. It was great and a fantastic confidence booster. I drove home smiling the whole way. I’m still a little high from how well things went.
So now that my confidence is in a flow, I’m planning on going out very soon and working with the 24 year old horse- hopefully soon after that, working with the horse that I came off of too. I’ve got to get a foundation on him and ride that pony before I talk myself back out of it.
I assume this is how it will always be. The ebb is doubt and I will always have things to doubt myself about especially if I continue on in this journey to learn more with my horsemanship. So the only thing I can do is find a way to better manage when my confidence ebbs away.