Sunday, January 24, 2010

On Fear, and in the Round Pen

I read another really thoughtful post on mugwump chronicles (you can read it here) on fear.

She talks about her idea of addressing fear has changed. She's more patient with it, more willing to take time to really get it resolved.

So many of us are dealing with fear. We're older, we've had our run ins, we are trying.

I was thinking about dealing with a horse's fear. Cibolo, for example, is afraid of standing on the cement area of the wash rack. For a time he was moving off the cement onto the dirt. I let him.

That's a bad idea. Not because he needs to learn to stand on the cement, but because I have to help him defang the cement.

Like Mireya. She's seven and is going through this bug thing. Bugs are scary. But I don't run in and smash the bug. My mother does, but I don't. I calmly catch the bug and send it on it's way.

Scorpions are a whole different story, but hey, nobody's perfect.

Anyway, my point is that if I allow her to constantly avoid bugs, it's going to get worse, not better. If I let Cibolo avoid the cement it's not only going to get worse, but it's going to transfer to other cemented areas.

And if no one pushes me to canter on my horse, it's going to get worse. Putting it off makes it bigger and bigger.

Today, it was very windy, so I did round pen work, then rode Lily briefly in the round pen. I've been hesitant (AKA SCARED) to canter in there because it seems really small. And you're turning the entire time. And Lily is fast. And I was alone, the trainer was gone. And my husband was watching and that's nerve wracking sometimes. And, and, and...

I could justify not riding anywhere, really. I'm creative. I'm in my late 40s. I'm the mom. It's a trifecta of mad self righteous justification skills.

But, after a smooth round of trotting, I did it. I kissed her into a canter. And we made our way around in a collected and smooth canter.

And my fear shrunk, just a little more.

Three days in a row has helped and I'm going to ride a bit tomorrow too. You know the theory with horses is it's best to do things several days in a row?

Like most horse things, it seems to apply to people too.

Here's a video of Lily and I at the end of our round penning. I hope you've had a great weekend!


Paint Girl said...

Woo-hooo! You did it! Yeah! Congrats! Loved the video!
I don't know if reading your blog has made me start to re-think my whole confidence thing with Fritzy, but I have set a new goal for myself and Fritzy. She is going to be my priority this year, besides Chance, but Brandy is doing so well, that I can now focus on Fritzy. I am actually very excited for this spring and summer and what it is going to bring!

Veronica said...

Yay you!

I agree about the fear. I'm slowly getting my confidence back, slowly.

Gail said...

Congratulations, I have yet to overcome mine.

Trailrider said...

Just catching up on your blog...I am a firm believer in the "first 5 minutes" thing. It starts when I go to catch my horse, and requires total concentration during that time. I put up with NOTHING during that time. No head tosses, crowding my space, being stubborn about picking up feet, I mean NOTHING.

Before I jumped on Cibolo during the trail ride, do you remember that I asked that you let me prepare him for that ride, to just give me a few minutes without your chaperone? I wanted that time to set the tone BEFORE I got on his back. I was rough and dominating with him in those few minutes, and I could see that I had his attention. Cibolo is the same as 95% of them, and he is going to test you every time.

And I think you should canter your butt off in the round pen, as long as it's big enough to not unduly stress joints. There is much less distraction doing that big circle, and you can concentrate on speed control, collection, and build up your seat. Too much to distract outside the round pen: other horses, trail obstacles, etc. Start in the round pen.

Tammy in TX said...

Fear is a hard thing to overcome. I commend you for facing yours and telling it to get out of the way!


Anonymous said...

Excellent progress! Sometimes you have to just suck it up and do it - and you did!

Wolfie said...

Good for you!!!

SprinklerBandit said...

Well done!! It's so easy to justify anything you don't want to do with horses, but I'm glad you pulled through.

Breathe said...

(I accidentally deleted this (because I'm a goof) It was from Nuzzling Muzzles...)

I'm impressed. That's certainly more work than I've been doing. You know, I sometimes wonder if I'd be half as comfortable with cantering if I didn't have an equitation instructor who pushed me so hard. It got to the point where I was more scared of my instructor than I was of my horse, so if he said "Lope!" I just loped. Now I've loped so much that I get bored at a walk. I've got a need for speed, but I also love the floating sensation of a very subtle jog.

--Nuzzling Muzzles

Susan said...

Good for you! My round pen is frozen solid, so an easy trot is all I can do.

Pony Girl said...

This post SO descibes me about cantering, too! The arena feels too small, and my horse feels like he is going too fast. I have no problem cantering him in the big arena where we ride and camp every summer, but at the arena at home, it's an issue! Actually, he does better in that arena in the summer too. Is it because I'm more confident, or he feels more comfortable, too? I'm sure its me, not him, and I need to get over it, in baby steps.

EcoLicious Equestrian said...

congrats and kudos to you...

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Lily is such a sweet girl in that video! :) Funny, when I was riding (my boy is injured right now) I loved cantering in round pen b/c I felt safer, lol! He spooked less and we were comfortable in there..but I think we were comfortable in there b/c I spent time in there..hence, I was comfortable in there mentally. It's all mental and kudos to us ladies/men for getting on these large animals and working with them with love and respect. Fear happens for a reason but as long as you face it and work thru it, it will make you a better rider!
We all go thru it..I dont think fear leaves a rider..nor should, it's what we do to conquer it that makes it that much more exciting! :)