A big EI welcome to Claudia McCreedy. Claudia joins us this week with a post about overcoming fear. Thanks so much for taking the time to write something for us, Claudia.
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So there we were green on green on green. We found a place to keep them and eventually I sent Rohann off for horse boot camp. That was about four years ago. Keep in mind caution has always been my middle name. I have gotten lessons from all sorts of people that I have come into contact with at the barn. I read about and tried to follow different training approaches mostly of the natural horsemanship type. Rohann is a big guy, drafty in build and a very, very easy keeper. Of our two horses he is the leader. He has much more whoa than go, which is fine by me. I have learned a great deal about confidence, leadership, and persistence with Rohann. I have been so lucky that he has a great laid back temperament.
Early on, on a trail ride he tripped going down hill and went down and I came off. He stepped on the inside of my lower leg to pushing off to jump up out of the little gully we were in. Luckily he didn't break my leg because of the soft sand we were in. He did whinny for me for me after he got up. I was able to get back on and ride out. A couple of years later (in a hurry on a windy day trying to get ready to go on a trail ride – invites were rare) while picking his hoof Rohann (who I would not classify as a spooky horse) spooked, big. He spooked in place, but the hoof I had been holding came down on my foot (concrete under us) and I had a break/crush injury.
The following has been explained to by me by my then 11 year old daughter as I do not have memories of the event. Three months after the foot incident my daughter and I were riding in the upper pasture, which to me is quite hilly. Rohann took off from the upper section (not liking being away form the herd) he bucked three times and I came off going down hill. My husband and I had ridden our horses up here before and were fine. The only thing different is that my daughter was with me and on a different horse but one who was in the gelding herd. I was wearing a helmet. My memories resumed from the hospital bed. But aside from a pretty sore shoulder I was physically fine.
Mentally, fear was raging. I first noticed it when I was looking at a horse catalog in the saddle section and felt nervous like you do when you are about to go into the job interview. I got on a few times after that but was shaking with nerves when I did. I just could not give up though. I worked with a girl on natural horsemanship (Parelli) stuff on the ground for the better part of the year. His ground manners improved a great deal. It was a good move on my part. I then set a goal of one hundred five minute rides in the arena. I had about thirty or so rides under my belt when I found someone who understood the whole working your way back thing. She got me interested in the Mary Wanless riding philosophy. Maybe it is how my mind works, but I love it. There are a thousand things to be thinking about when riding but not one of them is fear. I feel so much more confident when I am on horseback now. I have a better understanding what a “good seat” is. He can offer an unasked for trot and that is fine, I can deal with it. All of our work since the accident has been in the arena, with one exception. I am thrilled to say that we have trailered out with some of the other boarders at our barn to some very nice trails and had a successful ride.
We are not yet cantering, but now I feel like I am working on having a much more solid foundation for it when the time comes. It has been a couple of years since the accident. I have just kept at it. It is like the “How do you eat an elephant?” question. One bite at a time. I just can’t give up. I have taken the endurance approach (just keeping at it) to over coming fear rather than by trying to take big brave leaps and bounds.
The most amazing thing for me to realize is how all of this has translated into “real” life. Now when I am in a difficult situation I can resist the “must curl up in the fetal position” reaction and correct my posture bring up my resolve and say “I am going to ride this pony!”