Saturday, February 7, 2009

Steps 6 and 7

This 10 Step series has just two more segments and then we shall leave it behind... forever and ever... promise.

First, I must interrupt this post with an important announcement.

I rode today.

As in a real live horse.

Not the kind that takes quarters.
(this one looks just like the one outside the grocery story when I was a little girl! I LOVED it!)

Thank you, Barbie! For letting me take Sage for a ride! You're the best! But you also know what this means right? Yah.... you know! You know.

On with "the program"....

Each greater concept we set out to achieve with our horses, whether that be teaching them to stand quietly for mounting or achieving a 20 foot sliding stop, can be broken down into smaller and more manageable steps...just like overcoming a fear of horses!

Many of the steps I used to successfully overcome my fear of horses are the same steps that I would use to train my horse to overcome his!

Just as I would set my horse up for success, I needed to set myself up for success!

If my objective had been to train my horse to load in a trailer, I wouldn't have just walked him up to a trailer and expected him to jump in! (dont we wish) I would consider what tools I needed to get my horse in the trailer and make sure I had them handy before I went to do any loading.... I'd make sure my horse gave to pressure, that he lead well, that I could send him forward, move his hip or shoulder etc. I also might have practiced smaller challenges like sending him between two barrels or asking him to step on to a box before we headed off to the big dark horse eating tomb we call trailers.

Well the same applies us!

Once I had Shaunti at home I would sometimes take a little cue card to the barn with me and on it I would have a challenge or task for that day. Before I did anything with him I would go to the arena and make sure I was set up for that task. Only then would I get my horse, take him to the arena and go about sending him through or over the obstacles I had set up. When I had accomplished my objective or overcome a challenge, I would often go back to a previous challenge (one that we had already mastered) and finished the day on a good note.

I remember one day specifically where my goal was to simply take Shaunti from his stall to the arena and back again. That was it! But before I went and got him I made sure that there was no horse eating monsters hanging about, I checked to make sure the arena door was open and not ready to blow open and bang against the side at an inopportune time, I turned the lights on, and .... as cheesy as it might sound.... I very often visualized how I wanted things to go, how simple it would be and how calm, cool and collected I would be doing it! I also visualized myself doing so as 5'10 and skinny.... but that's beside the point. I set myself up for success. Of course there are no guarantees in life but I wanted to stack the deck in my favor!


Make sure that you have given yourself the best opportunity possible to succeed by planning ahead and keeping your task simple (and remember- just one baby step outside of your comfort zone).

Step seven is simple- Time is on your side.

The more time you can spend with your horse, the better. One of DB's favorite expression is "You gotta pay to play!" You have to put in the time to reap the rewards. With each and every hour I spent with my horse, so long as I stuck to the rules (playing safe, learning, putting my new tools to a practical and clearly defined use, staying just a tiny bit outside of my comfort zone, and setting myself up for success) I gained confidence. Time is on your side. Use it.

I found the pics in this post from this site! They are beautiful! Check it out.


  1. I just love your 10 step program. It really make you think how to set up your horse and yourself for success.
    Thank-you for riding Sage today, its really nice to go out and just ride the trail with a friend.

  2. I've been following your series of steps and am impressed by how you set yourself up for success. It's no different,as you say, than setting your horse up for success by planning ahead. Taking small steps is my motto too with myself and the horses, and if something goes wrong then we just go back a step into the comfort zone.
    Glad you rode and had fun.

  3. Your new program is called HA (horseaholics anonymous). Your steps are very tuned and definitive as to what is being accomplished. Very nice.

    love that link to the other pictures. That bride on the horse in the lake was really beautiful. I'd have LOVED wedding pictures like that, but I guess I'm happy with my Elvis :)

  4. I love your step program. I really needed it. After having my three kids, I am terrified to ride any horse younger than 20! So, this has helped me put things in prospective for me, thanks!

    And hooray for going riding!

  5. Yay!!! I am so glad that you were able to get out and ride. And on a good horse no less (or so it sounds!).

    Your steps are great! It is so much easier to face your fears than it is to swallow them and pretend that they don't the long run!!!!

  6. That is a cool little blog site! Nice pics!

    Consider yourself sooo lucky for getting to ride! I want to soooo bad...

  7. Chelsi, I appreciate that you're blogging about your 10 steps to overcoming the fear of riding. I needed this. More, because of you, I've had to admit I'm a bit of a control freak.

    I'm stuck at step 3. Can't seem to move forward from there. But, I think I'm my own worst enemy. I'm fine on the ground, not so fine on a horse's back. Do you mind addressing that a bit more, please?

    And congrats on riding today!