Self Preservation

I think a lot of riders can relate to the ‘good old days’ when falling off was no big deal, or when you would literally ride anything someone pointed you at.  I was definitely that kid and that teen, and I attribute many skills I have now to valuable lessons taught by those horses.  But a surprising takeaway from all of that is now, as a young(-ish) adult, my self preservation drive is sky high.  Gone are the times I would hop on a strange horse, or be the test drive dummy for someone else.

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This one wasn’t scary.

In some ways, I honestly hate it.  I hate that I second guess things.  I hate that I get anxious about certain horses.  I hate that I grew to resent my own horse, when she began to put me in a precarious situation over fences.  I used to be brave, I used to push the envelope, and I used to beg for a challenge.

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Teen me being dumb.

Whereas in the past few weeks, I pretty much broke down to my trainer about her well trained thoroughbred…and asked that I not ride him anymore.  He was never dangerous, but I was so focused on my anxiety over him, that I had stopped learning and stopped enjoying.  Again, stupid self preservation.  At this point in my life, I’m not willing to keep pushing if it doesn’t feel right.

Changing lanes a bit, my husband grew up around horses, and broke his own mare to ride in middle school.  Since then, he has sat on a lot of baby horses, and when his mare’s first colt was old enough to be ridden, he wanted to do it.  However, this time, he grabbed me as back up, had a lead horse to help, and kept it very short.  As he got off, he laughed at my teasing and said “I’ve got too much on the line now”.

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And it’s true.  As kids we only really answer to our trainers, maybe to our parents.  But as adults, we have family who rely on us, trainers who care about us, careers to maintain, and lives full of things other than horses.  So while I hate the second guessing, and the general increase in anxiety, it’s important as adults that we be our own advocates and do what feels right.  Even if it means slowing down the growth process a bit.

Everyone loves to ask me what I’m wanting to buy next, but my honest (and boring) answer is something that I feel safe on.  They laugh, but it’s true.  Apparently I’m past the days of reckless bravery…and that’s okay, I’ll just have to find a way to fill that void with a boatload of confidence and experience.

Happy Friday everyone!

16 thoughts on “Self Preservation

  1. Amen to all of this. This is why I didn’t buy a horse to win speed classes with- I bought the one that I felt safe on. All the talent in the world is meaningless if you can’t enjoy it- we’re not getting paid to ride! I couldn’t agree more with all of this. The confidence that my safe, confidence-boosting horse has given me is worth more than a million ribbons.

  2. It doesn’t help that falling off seems to hurt more and more every year I get older…
    I think that part of it, too, is becoming aware of the actual possible consequences of a fall – broken bones or a concussion – or worse – are real possibilities. As a kid/teen, I just didn’t consider those things. Now I am wise enough to know that I’m not interested in riding horses that stop at fences regularly because that’s just putting myself in a situation where the odds of a broken neck are higher than other situations. It’s not losing your bravery, it’s gaining wisdom.

  3. Nothing wrong with where you are at mentally. Most of us get here (I got on that boat early lol) and its reasonable. We dont bounce and move quite as fast as we used to. Most of us worked hard for our horsey amd nonhorsey gains in our life, who wants to potentially lose them for a horse we didnt even enjoy? I want a short, safe horse next. Because ground mounting 16hh+ is harder too lol

  4. You are not alone! I want to ride horses I trust, that are safe. I’d take fun and safe over winning every day of the week and twice on sunday.

  5. It is like the last rite of passage, or coming of age. Drivers license, smokes, boozes… Mortality.

    I know of a lovely horse in TX that is looking for a home soon, can take a joke like an effin champ.

    Be you, be the brave you you know you can be, but also don’t bully or be mean to yourself either. Listen to yourself and ask questions.

    Good luck!

  6. Wanting to feel safe is nothing to laugh at. Riding is expensive, it takes a lot of time and above all else, You should want to go to the barn everyday, want to throw your leg over the back of a horse and even when the times are tough, seeing their head pop out of their stall, munching on some hay – that should bring a smile to your face.

  7. OMG I can SO relate to this and have this conversation often with friends. When it was time for me to purchase a horse scope and talent were secondary to a safe horse with a good brain. Those crazy horses just aren’t fun anymore. I’ll leave them to the teenagers.

  8. I got an earlier lesson in this than most I think, thanks to that whole almost-died-at-age-9 thing. When the fear sets in that early, you don’t ever really get those careless teenage years. Good and bad – good because I like to think it’s saved me some pain, bad because I think you also learn a lot during those years riding a little bit of everything. In a lot of ways, I’ve actually done the reverse of everyone and grown out of a lot of my fear. Not enough to be careless or stupid, but enough to be brave to try new things (12 year old me wouldn’t ride outside an arena or with a gate open, 15 year old me wouldn’t ride a horse that spooked, 18 year old me wouldn’t trail ride, 20 year old would only ride a crop/spur ride and here I am, eventing on a forward horse, doing gallop sets in an open field). It’s definitely a balancing act though, and where a lot of my previous ‘no’s’ were from just fear itself, now mine have more rationale behind them, “No, I won’t ride that horse/jump that/do that because of specific reason.”

  9. Yup! Right there with ya! Riding is my ME time so anything that causes anxiety around it kind of defeats that purpose. My next horse is probably going to be an older safe sane fancy a$$ schoolmaster I can go show the upper levels on, sorry not sorry 😝

  10. Omigosh I was thinking about this the other day! Gone are the days when I pointed my painted pony at a 4′ fence just because all the big people were doing it…. Something tells me I wouldn’t make it over that today. Especially as I point my coming 4 y/o at a cross rail and ride so defensively even he is like wtf woman!

  11. Ah no truer words have been spoken mate. It is so true, self preservation takes over as you get older. I am 40 and when I look back at my 20’s I think how did I not kill myself doing some of those things.
    I too, ride for self preservation and I am happier and less sore than ever
    mel x

  12. dude i’m right there with ya too. nothing beats having a horse you feel 100% safe with to go out and do all sorts of fun things. ppl always say nonsense like “i’d be so bored with a packer” but like…. idk. imo there’s absolutely nothing boring about getting to do things like riding trot lengthenings or jumping big jumps or galloping freely across a field amid a group of friends without ever worrying about an explosion or any shenanigans bc i’m mounted on a good safe horse that i trust.

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