There are a lot of emotions tied up in riding. Like possibly ALL OF THEM. It also seems that this sport attracts people who are perfectionists or Type A personalities. And here’s the thing about working with a large animal with a mind of its own: it’s never going to be perfect… and it doesn’t have to be.
Last week Dave Freeze from Ripple Rock Consulting came to our barn to do lessons and a lecture. If you’re not familiar with him, he offers personal coaching, consulting, facilitation and training for business professionals, athletes, and performing artists who believe Better is Always Possible. He has worked with a lot of riders over the years, and the tools and insight he has provided to me alone over the few times I have worked with him are invaluable. You can find more information about his services on his website.
The lecture was planned for Friday with lessons scheduled for Sunday. Since I work Sundays, my lesson was going to be before the lecture. I was rushing to get ready in time which is always super helpful when trying to stay calm and relaxed. When Dave asked why we were here, I started by talking about how I worry. He asked if I worry about falling off, getting hurt. I said no. I worry about EVERYTHING. And actually falling off and getting hurt is last on the list. I worry about my horse misbehaving and interrupting other people at the barn. I worry about people judging my horse and me while performing circus tricks in the ring or trying to get around a course. I even worry about made up things (like baby seals in the field). Over the few hours that followed, and with Dave and Katie’s insight I realized I am somewhat responsible for all of the actual problems we are having.
During our lesson, no matter how hard I tried to relax I could not unwind all of the feelings inside of me. I let things from the week interrupt my ride that had no place being there, work and relationship stresses. And even worse, I let my worries get in the way of the skills I have to ride my horse well, no matter what she does. I spooked at things before she did, like the lawn mower, the dogs, the bikes. I beat myself up when things didn’t go right and held on tightly to all of the things that were going wrong.
After my ride, I spent two hours listening to Dave talk to us about how to be better riders (heck, even better people). I’ve had a lot of time to think about things since that night. Awareness is the first step in making a change, and I am ready to make that change. Let go of the worry, and just ride my horse. Dave said a few times – to remember that 12-year old who was carefree and resilient and rolled with the punches. I want to be her again, but maybe a little bit better dressed this time around.