Confessions of a Timid Rider: Today my trainer told me that I think too much. Is she right? Absolutely.
I joke and say that I am a timid rider. But the truth is, I’m a thinking rider. Too much so at times that I get into my head, for good or ill, and second guess myself and my skill. I have overcome a lot of insecurities but my confidence level goes up and down like a roller coaster. Luckily I have more ups than downs these days.
Looking back, I think of how much I’ve learned. I’ve taken baby steps so I feel comfortable, but what’s the rush? I don’t compete in shows. I am not a professional. I ride for the love, the joy, the passion of horses. Every day I spend with them both on the ground and mounted is a blessing that I am grateful for always.
I don’t think I can change the fact that I think too much. My husband says the same thing about me at home. I am a very cerebral person. I read, constantly. I learn, voraciously. Learning is a passion of mine, as are horses. So of course I will take my lessons and “think” about what is working and what is not.
The problem is when I think too negatively and have trouble moving on from that. For example, a few months ago I had a scary incident. Delight and I were coming into a jump too slow. We both hesitated, and he stopped. Because I was a little ahead of him, I started to roll forward off his neck and he started to go down too.
This is my worst nightmare as a rider, and specifically why I am a nervous jumper. I was able to shift my weight back and pick him up. Crisis averted. But I was incredibly shaken. My daughters were playing at the barn. What if that didn’t have a happy ending? What if, my daughters saw me get injured or worse?
It was obvious I was upset- I was shaking. Thank goodness Delight is hard to ruffle. So much for a crazy OTTB, right? He’s a gem. I trust him, but I didn’t trust myself enough. My trainer made me catch my breath and before I could dwell, I had to do it again.
It Wasn’t Pretty But I Did It Again
One scary incident, where I didn’t even fall and no one got hurt. But it resulted in MONTHS of me overthinking and nervous to jump him again.
So my trainer did what I needed to rebuild my confidence– go back to groundwork, transitions, ground poles. Basically anything but jumping.
Caption: Handsome Earthly Delights and my love. I’m told he might like me back, so I’ve got that going for me.
Recently we had a “breakthrough”. My trainer’s words. It meant so much! She has been so patient and we worked so hard that when it came time to jump again, I didn’t even hesitate. And we were perfect! Beautiful pace, extended trot in, canter out on the correct lead.
We had to laugh because after that amazing compliment she could see the gears turning in my head, revisiting what I did well and what I could work on.
I’ll let you in on a secret. I’m a perfectionist. I am highly competitive with myself. I don’t need to place higher in the ribbons than others. I need to know that I didn’t make any mistakes. Unfair, yes. I have incredibly high standards because I know what I am capable of, and I’m not sure that I’ve done it yet. What I need to do is get out of my own way.
I am so grateful to learn with Delight. While he’s my trainer’s horse, we have an amazing relationship and I love him so much. We still have a lot to teach each other and I’m still trying to convince my husband that buying him is the right move. One day, I hope he’ll be mine. But if not, I’ll still love him always.
About the writer: Heather Wallace is a certified equine and canine sports massage therapist, co-owner of Bridle & Bone Wellness LLC, and equestrian & canine blogger at Bridle & Bone. She is an adult amateur equestrian in unrequited loved with an OTTB and has two rescue dogs, Gonzo and Beau. Follow her @bridleandbone on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.