I was scared to ride today. Well…terrified actually. A little backstory. I’ve been riding since I was 9. So for 21 years. (Crap, i’m old). I’ve had my share of wrecks, falls, broken bones. Lots of blood sweat and tears have gone into my riding career. I was always a little nervous when riding. But it wasn’t until I met Liela…oh my sweet crazy Arabian, that I learned what real fear was. She was a beauty. I got her when she was 2 and she didn’t know a damn thing. I brought her a long way. She was incredibly smart and talented….and with that comes her unpredictability and psychoticness. Is that even a word? Well it is now.
I had a nasty fall off her about 7 years ago almost shattering my rotator cuff in my shoulder. Since then I have been a very nervous rider. I know if I take another bad fall I’m going to need surgery on my shoulder. But falling is part of riding. And so is fear. So, regardless of how many times the doctor has told me not to ride (which is alot) I am not going to stop.
Fast forward 3 years. I met my heart horse. The extension of my arm. She was owned by a good friend of mine who had outgrown her. When I decided to get back into riding (I had taken a break after I had to unfortunately sell Liela) she and our trainer contacted me to come to the barn. She was busy with school and her other two horses that she told me I could come ride Fritz whenever I wanted. Fast forward another few weeks and she made the decision that she was going to need to lease her out. Horses aren’t cheap. By this time I had fallen in love with her. I very nervously made the decision to lease her and we moved her to our friends barn. It took me a very long time but over time I got my confidence back. She was put down this summer. It broke me into a million pieces. I was fairly certain I would never have another horse.
Jump a few more months forward. My trainer who had hooked me up with Fritz told me to lease her horse. I’ve been lost without horses and the price was perfect so here I am. Back in the horse world. Which leads us up to today. I’ll obviously talk much more about my previous horses in time. That was a quick summary.
Now Hollywood is a gem. An all around been there done that 17 year old quiet as a mouse gelding. He does only what is asked of him. No more, no less. He’s not in any hurry to go anywhere fast. He is a spur ride and even then it takes all my energy to get him to canter. So when I say he is safe, I mean he is safe. But I’m still nervous.
It was windy and cold today. 2 things that usually spook me from getting in the saddle. Both of those weather conditions make me nervous to ride. The wind and cold has a tendency to make horses a little more excitable. Not hollywood. At least not really. He did get excited when the horses in the paddocks by the ring started running around but the most he did was lift his head and perk his ears. Not really dangerous. But the old me would make me get off him. But then I remembered: I know how to ride and he is not going to hurt me.
I also remember what one of my favorite trainers, buck brannaman, wrote in one of his books. “If you control the horses’s feet you control their mind.” So I took a deep breath, put both hands on the reins (I’m not going to practice neck reining when my horse is obviously going to kill me) and began to circle him. Within minutes he was 100% back to me. Ears relaxed, gait forward, head down. Of course I was never in any danger, but tell that to my mind when I’m having an anxiety attack on top of a 1500 lb animal.
Hollywood is an absolute gem. I know my friend would never put me on anything I couldn’t handle. And her 6 year old rides him. So I know hes safe. And hes such a love. He’s not Fritz. No horse ever will be. But I know she’d want me to get back in the saddle where I belong.