Taking On Challenges

Last week, a kind person offered to let me try her firebreathing, American Saddlebred show horse. I said no.

I hate myself.

The gentleman in question was a gorgeous, powerful chestnut who had done well this season, including placing at their big, end-of-the-year, National show. It was an honor to be asked. I wish I were the sort of fearless soul who would get on any horse and try anything. I know I’m not. If I were to force myself, nervousness would be a self-fulfilling prophecy. That sort of gold-plated courage comes naturally or not at all.

It’s not a matter of getting old. I wasn’t particularly bulletproof in my earlier riding days. I had my moments. I did show my friend’s crazy jumper mare. However, it took me seven years to work myself up to it.

My bravery is also horse-dependent. I’d show Previous Horse in Jumpers, but I wouldn’t take Mathilda over a cross-rail. It’s not clear where Rodney falls in the spectrum. In the beginning, I would shrug off his misguided moments. I wrote this in September of 2010 [BTE: Cast]:

Top Ten Reasons You Know You Found the Right Horse

& the number one reason YKYFtRH:
1 When he pitches a widget that would incite panic from a different horse, you laugh and tell him to get over himself.

The laughter died off as the antics increased in decibels. On good days, I can face him down with impunity; other days, his size gives him an edge. (In my defense, if Previous Horse had ever thrown a fit on a similar level, it would have been time to get away from him NOW. Rodney is harmless, but habits die hard.)

For teaching me to equate self-worth with fearlessness. I blame the Event world. That was where I had my first exposure to recognized competition. To old-school Eventers, if you weren’t bold, you were scum – or a dressage rider.

I give myself points for trying saddleseat at all, but – surprise, surprise – we bring our issues with us.

Are you the kind of rider (skier, knitter) you want to be?
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Gratuitous Kitten Cat Pic

Categories: Horses, Riding, Sports Psychology

4 replies »

  1. You did quite an outstanding job with Tory once you got going. And in answer to your question, no, I’m not (yet) the ballroom dancer I want to be. It’s taking a long time, but it’s worth the work. Not being a spring chicken anymore, I’m having to learn a completely new balance point and center of gravity, plus unconditional trust in my partner. Hard work.

  2. Maybe time to rethink your discipline? Note: we will now stop talking about you and only talk about me – it might be I use your blog as my therapy 😉

    I have always wanted to be an eventer. I had a pony when I was in my 20s that I went training level with, and that creature made me think I could ride. I truth, he was a brave super star and he carted my butt around. I was unfortunately left with the notion that I could ride with some degree of expertise. Something that took me years to unlearn. My next horse was not cut out to be an eventer and I spent a decade trying to stick her into that mold. All the while not being a great or terribly brave rider. Ugh. What a mess.

    I have no idea where I will go with my riding if and when I get back to it. Part of me harbors the notion of buying a really super nice eventing packer and letting him cart me around. I’d be spending the big bucks on something like that though, because if I’m going to buy a packer, I’m going to make sure he really will pack me around. On the other hand, what’s really the fun in that? Wouldn’t I just be buying ribbons (the answer is YES, because I cannot imagine myself buying a fancy horse and then spending the rest of my life riding it HC … so, buying ribbons).

    Is that really something I need to do? Or maybe I should buy a nice Paso Fino and spend my days hacking around my (eventual) farm. It’s certainly more honest riding. There is middle ground, so part of my life plan would be to find that space; and maybe occupy it.

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