I consider myself a fairly brave rider. I have my weenie moments like anyone else, but I’ve never told my trainer “I can’t” when she gives me a task. A big part of that is trust- trust that my trainer won’t put me in an unsafe situation, trust in my horse to do his job, trust in my own abilities. I don’t mind getting nervous because I know I have the tools to work through it.
But there is one thing that does freak me out a little bit, and I acknowledge that it’s kinda ridiculous: bringing horses in from the field.
A lot of this fear stems from an incident when I was young, where my dad went to help me catch my pony and ended up getting kicked by another horse in the field. He has a dent in his leg from that kick even now. And then my horse in high school was just an absolute juvenile delinquent and dragged me around when it came to turnout (it got better over time, but I was teeny tiny). Over time, I started to view turning horses in/out with a sense of dread. And that dread still rears its ugly head to this day.
I really REALLY don’t like bringing horses in. Which is why I’ve been forcing myself to do it as often as I can lately.
And I’m in a great spot to get to work on this- I am at a barn full of happy, well-behaved horses who all have good ground manners. I can lead a horse in each hand without worrying if they’ll spook/bite each other/try to drag me. From the 32yo pony to the 3yo baby warmblood, they all know how to walk politely (even when they know that dinner is waiting for them).
But when I go to bring Frankie in from the field, I get a pit in my stomach. None of this is due to him, God bless him. He can be playing Wild Island Stallion with his buddies and acting like an idiot, but he keeps all four feet on the ground as soon as I come close. And other horses can be romping and playing and running, but he will stay by my side and follow where I lead. I have absolute trust that my horse will be a solid citizen.
It’s the other horses that worry me- without cause. When I see other horses running up to see where Frankie is going, I brace myself for Frankie to bolt- despite Frankie never showing any inclination for this. When another horse follows us closely to the gate, I wait for them to start kicking at each other- again, despite Frankie literally NEVER even flicking an ear at his herd-mates. I put his halter on quickly because I am so sure he will try to rip it out of my hands to go play with his friends- even though he always puts his face down to make it easier for me.
Slowly but surely, I am working through this fear. I trust Frankie’s ground manners, and I’m coming to trust his herd-mates’ manners too. And when they are playing like fools, I’m learning to trust my own ability to tell them to cut the crap and get out of my way. I’m not completely relaxed yet, but I’m happy to be making progress.
What fears are you working through?