How Did I Overcome My Riding Fears?
The first time was with my 15 hand Arab cross, who developed a rearing problem. He thought it was a great trick because if I told him to go somewhere or go somewhere or do something that he didn’t want to do, he would rear and I would totally back off and totally just say, “Okay, just do whatever it is that you want to do.” And he would go, “Beautiful. Thank you. I have the power.”
So I remember I was, I think I was like 14 at the time. I put on my little body protector. I got my little crop and I went, “All right buddy, either you’re going to kill me or I’m going to make you go to where I want you to go.” And I remember I went, “Okay, we’re going to go over there.” And the pony went, “No we’re not.” And up he went and I gave him a tap on the shoulder with the crop.
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To Your Success,
So many of you know or don’t know that I… There was two incidences where I had to overcome fear in my riding journey. The first time was with my 15 hand Arab cross, who developed a rearing problem. He thought it was a great trick because if I told him to go somewhere or go somewhere or do something that he didn’t want to do, he would rear and I would totally back off and totally just say, “Okay, just do whatever it is that you want to do.” And he would go, “Beautiful. Thank you. I have the power.” And I remember, it was a day at pony club and I just couldn’t get him to do anything. He just kept rearing and he kept rearing and I was so upset and so scared and so lost and confused. And I remember doing, I’m so embarrassed to say the spoiled child thing and I brought my pony back, to the phone I said to mom, “I want a new pony.”
And bless my mom who never spoiled me in any point in my life. She said, “Guess what Natasha, you’ve only got this pony so you can ride this one or you don’t ride anything.” God bless her. And I remember going, “You’re the worst mom ever. I hate you.” because that’s what children do. But thank God she did that because I was never going to give up a pony. I was never going to give up riding. So she gave me the ultimatum and the choice of none or a bad one. I chose the bad one and I realized if it is to be, it’s up to me. Now, that’s a quote I carry with me my whole life. It it is to be, it is up to me. So if it was to be, it was up to me, what was I going to do?
So I remember I was, I think I was like 14 at the time. I put on my little body protector. I got my little crop and I went, “All right buddy, either you’re going to kill me or I’m going to make you go to where I want you to go.” And I remember I went, “Okay, we’re going to go over there.” And the pony went, “No we’re not.” And up he went and I gave him a tap on the shoulder with the crop and on gave him a big kick. And I said, “We’re going over there.” And up he went again. I did the same thing and I said, “We’re going over there.” And he went up again and I said, “We’re going over there.” And then he just went over there and I went, “Oh my God. He went over there.”
Why did he go over there? And it was my first experience with leadership and my first experience of, if you as a rider are committed and determined that this is happening now, the horse actually craves that leadership and likes that leadership. And if you actually can portray to the horse that this is what’s happening, the horse will follow you. And I use that lesson that I had in my riding. Oh, I used it so much with the stallions. If ever I was apprehensive, if ever I was unsure, if ever I was undecided, the stallion would make a decision and that is never a good thing. So I learnt the rider I had to be when I swung my leg over the back, especially when I got on a stallion, was completely decisive, completely committed, completely thorough, completely focused on what we were going to do when and how.
And as long as I was that, everything would go okay. So that was my first lesson in overcoming fear, in realizing that I had two choices, to never ride a horse again and to stay with my fear or to put on your little body protector, get your little crop and go, “I’m going to make the decisions and come hell or high water, I’m going to go over there.” And my horse says, “No.” I will die. I will lay down my life, I am not like, “Oh, I really hope if I tell you to do this, that you’ll do this.” I’m like, “I will die trying. You’re either going to kill me or I’m going to win.” And I know that sounds very warrior and very dramatic, but that’s how it is. It is a warrior. It is a leadership. It is a captain’s role of, “I am this committed to my cause. I will lay down my life for it. So it’s either you follow me or you fight me and I’m ready to die for this.”
And the minute, I’m not sounding, it’s a bit theoretical. Please don’t think that you’ll get out a sword or anything but when someone is that determined and that clear, it’s very easy to follow them, which is why the horse follows you. The second time I had to overcome fear was a lot worse. I came off my stallion and broke a bone in my back. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had to crawl. I couldn’t stand up. The minute I tried to stand, I just had shooting pain in my spine and I didn’t know what was wrong and shooting pain.
It brought me to my knees. I actually physically couldn’t stand, so I crawled all the way from the arena to the house where my phone was and I called, it was my mother-in-law at the time who’s a nurse and she said, “You should just call an ambulance and go to the hospital.” So I actually had the grooms, once they put the horse away, I said, “Okay, take me to the hospital.” I had to crawl from the house into the car and I couldn’t sit in the car. I just had to kind of lie in the backseat. And then yeah, had to go into the hospital. Then I couldn’t ride for a month and then obviously a month off, you get back on horse and you go, “Right, now what?” And that fear and that doubt and that just trepidation of, “Please don’t do it again.”
So I went to put my foot in the stirrup and I was thinking, “Please don’t do it again. I don’t want to die. I don’t want you to [inaudible 00:05:21], throw me off. I don’t want to experience what I experienced last time.” And I put my foot back on the ground and I said, “Well, you’re not getting on.” You’re not getting on if you’re saying, “Please don’t.” like you’re hoping and you’re just praying to the horse, “Please don’t do that.” The horse doesn’t get to make those decisions. I decide if he gets to move his legs like that. I decide and I was just so lost and so confused. It was around that time that I discovered in [LP 00:05:44] and did my own paid training and realized that I had to retell myself the situation that happened.
I needed to get some skills on what to do to stop a horse bolting and bucking because that was his little trick. So I could have that in my armory as well. And I needed to change the event so the event didn’t have any power over me anymore. And then I had to reassess future events in a different way so therefore I didn’t fear them happening. And I did all of that and never, ever had a problem with fear on that horse or any other horse again. So that was a really, when I think about my riding and I think about when people come to me about fear, I know what fear feels like. I really do. And it’s not like I’ve never been hurt in a horse because I have and I’m human, like every other person out there.
I am, you’re a human, I’m a human. And that’s one of the best and worst things about being human is that we have these human emotions and these human experiences. So I just hoped by sharing with you those two stories, that might help you where you’re at in your riding and remember, seek the answers, seek the help, do the work that you have to do to get back to the fun and the excitement of riding again. I will never forget that given a choice of a naughty, bad experience with a horse or no experience with a horse, I will always choose the experience with the horse. And therefore it’s only up to me to fix the experience of the horse, to make it joyful, exciting and wonderful because it’s with a horse and that is where my love and my entire lifeblood comes from, an experience with the horse.
So I trust that helps. Remember, if you guys need help by overcoming fear, click on the link below to get some free resources. You guys take care and I’ll see you next week.
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