Today's post is all about "Free your mind, and the rest will fallow!" I love the scene in the 1994 movie The Cowboy Way (with Woody Harrelson and Kiefer Sutherland) where this song is playing during a scene where these two ruff necks are at some high fluten' fashion show! Oh, and I totally want to play "Big Chief" too!
*ehem*First, I think that we just have to, for the sake of moving forward, leave the Parelli/carrot stick conversation for another day. I promise that I will do a Parelli post and that we can have a rip roaring conversation about it one day soon! Actually, I am looking forward to it... I have a feeling it will be an all out smack down and I love a good girl fight! (not the pillows, feathers, and underwear male fantasy kinda thing...nor the jello or mud in a bikini's either.... ..promise!)
*ehem* (again! Sorry...just havin' one of those days)
Step Four is about addressing the spiritual and mental side of your fears. I am the kind of rider (and person) who is very much stuck in their own head. I am my own worst enemy that way because I can think things to death...and then beat on them for a while. I mull on an issue for so long that it can become distorted and hard to define....So, when I was trying to overcome my fear of horses, it was important that I break things down and look at each fears specifically in order to prevent them from getting all balled up inside of me and overwhelm my ability to physically and actively work through them.
In other words, It is gut check time!
The first part of Step Four is- DEFINE YOUR FEAR
This meant that I had to look at each and every single bad experience I'd ever had and try to understand WHY it happened. What went wrong? What could I have done differently? Sometimes there are no answers, and I had to accept that too. But understanding what has happened, looking it in the eye and finding the common thread is critical in determining how you can resolve that issue going forward. For me, that meant acknowledging that I had been handling the wrong horses. My eyes were bigger than my stomach, so to speak.
For you, that might have been that you didn't have the tools to be safe or that you put yourself in a dangerous situation.... Maybe you pushed your horse too far or asked him for too much, maybe you did nothing wrong but things went bad anyways. Either way, looking at and understanding what happened will focus your fear and narrow it to a specific issue.
This knowledge allows us to move forward in the next part of Step Four- DEFINE YOUR COMFORT ZONE
This comfort zone is going to be the foundation of everything you do going forward. You need to find one single starting point at which you feel safe, and from which you can move forward. For some this might be standing outside your horses stall door and for others it might be standing beside your tacked and ready to mount horse. Some might not even make it to the barn before they begin to feel weary. I've been there. Either way, you need to figure out where it is around or with horses that you feel safe.
In my case, that comfort zone was a place where I could see my horse and where I could protect my personal bubble. I didn't like a horse being out of my sight line- where I couldn't anticipate a problem. I didn't like a horse standing beside me or being near enough to strike me. I felt comfortable when a horse was 8 feet in front of me and I had a stick in my hand.
The last part of Step Four is- DEFINING SUCCESS
What is success FOR YOU? Each of us has different goals and ambitions when it comes to our relationship with horses. If you don't know where you are going, how do you ever expect to get there!? What do want your relationship with horses to be? Do you want to be that ubber confident professional horse trainer- starting colts and riding 'stangs! Or do you just want to be able to go out on a leisurely trail ride? Do you just want to be able to take your horses out to local shows? Or just handle them safely as pasture pets in your back yard?
Know your goal, so that you can work towards and it and, of course, so that you will know when you have found success!
I feel it is important to note, once again, how CRITICAL it is that you are handling and riding the right horse. Everything going forward is based on the premise that you are handling a horse that matches your ability and who is suited towards helping you overcome your fears.