Would that be a problem?
I hope not! Because you see.... I just don't have all the answers just yet!
Dr. Wayne Dryer and Deepak Chopra do!
But little ol' me... I'm still a work in progress.
Besides that... My ten steps might be different than yours...
It is a personal journey that must be determined by the individual. Last night I was reflecting on my program and I now feel the need to discuss each step at length. (are you surprised?)
So today, Step 1 and 2... the rest to follow in the coming week.
Here we go....
Step 1- Admit that I am scared of horses.
For cowgirls (at heart) this step is probably the hardest one of all. We have spent our life lusting after horses, dreaming of them, drawing them, wallpapering our bedrooms in their imagine, and riding imaginary ones through the fresh clipped lawn of our suburban backyards..... Horses encompass our spirit, they define us and captivate our minds. An so.... To fear horses seems a desecration of our love for them!.... Acknowledging that fear, accepting that it is well founded, and admitting that horses are dangerous- sacrilege.
One of my favorite poems speaks to that romantic notion we hold true of horses....
It was my goal to accept and acknowledge step one (that fear), but to never, ever let it mar the long held love, respect and passion I have towards horses...or to let it inhibit my ability to suck every last ounce of joy and delight I can from their company!
That fear is our greatest ally in protecting our love of them! Because fear inspires caution-caution preserves us from injury- and injury is what most often destroys our confidence and inhibits our relationships.
Fear is our ally....but only in the right dosage!
We can only use this fear to our advantage if we can keep it to a healthy level. Like so many things in life, sometimes we have to learn the hard way. Most of us horsemen started out with too little fear and were injured as a result... now that injury provoked the natural fear we should have had to start with...only too much of it!...
This is where the problem came in for me. I finally got rid of Loachan/Cheekeye, the "evil-doer", but I had kept him too long and was left with so much fear that handing any horse had become a problem. Even when I tried to fake bravado and leadership, the horse I was handling would sense my unease and inevitably reacted to it by pushing on me a little or becoming nervous themselves. ... their reaction would evoke an even stronger fear response in myself (I'd hunch my shoulders, cower, tremble, etc.) ....which of course would lead to a stronger reaction from the horse.... and so it would go in turn, until I would loose control completely and rush to hand off the horse to someone else or put them away... which would only served to re enforce my fears and anxiety... and the behavior of the horse.....and so the vicious circle would go.
Hence the "I am scared of horses recovery program" !
As so many people pointed out, the next step is most often to find a horse that will not react to your nervous energy and one who has abandoned the Rule Book of Horses (could care less about being a leader). This allows the fearful to preserve ourselves from injury while gaining (or re-gaining) our confidence and learning (or re-learning) to establish ourselves as leaders.
For me that meant adopting Step Two....
Step Two- I will not handle horses that are insane.
Did you know that in some Equine Assisted Therapy Programs (a post for another day) they introduce you to a bunch of different horses, ranging in age, size and temperament and have you choose the one that you feel most drawn too as a diagnostic tool!! They (the "shrinks") feel that woman are drawn towards the horse in the same way that we are drawn towards our personal issues or how we deal with life challenges (or something like that.) So, for example, a beaten and abused woman may be drawn to the wild and dangerous looking stallion (as a reflection of what she chose in life) or alternatively, if she is ready to move on and looking to heal, she may pick the calm, comforting and docile senior. I am sure I am doing a horrible job of explaining this, I hope you can grasp the gist of it as this important part of step two... which is to learn.....
What type of horse are you most drawn towards?
The wild and temperamental?
The soft and doe eyed?
The Steady Eddie?
The drama queen or king?
The flighty and fearful?
The indifferent, unaffectionate and reserved?
Why do you think you are drawn to that type?
My point is that in the past I had (have) "broken wing syndrome". I am a very sensitive person and am highly emotional (Mom and Fel stop laughing!) and tend to have a fair amount of "feel" towards the emotional issues of others. As such, I am constantly drawn towards the emotionally needy horses. The broken hearted and abused. Unfortunately, with horses, the broken ones tend to be the ones with the most behavioral issues.
So step two is recognizing what type of horses you feel drawn towards and discerning whether or not it is the best match for you.
Now for you this might mean that you have to take a good hard look at your beloved Fluffy and decide if he is going to be able to carry you through this hump or not. Be brave. This is important. At this point the wrong horse could ruin your chances for recovery...!
If it is, great! You are ready to move on to step three.
If it isn't, you need to 1) take a whole whack of reality pills, 2) down a few swigs of "you gotta do whatchya gotta do", and 3) get ready to swallow a big ol' peace of humble pie......
'Cuase its time to recognize that 1) the horses you love is is now too much for you to handle! ....2) It is time to sell your beloved Fluffy! (or have someone else take over his care for a while)..... and 3) You need to take your (once iron nerved- Balls-to-the Walls-"I can ride anything") butt out to buy that kid broke, Steady Eddie, been-there-done-that, dead head.... (and not the type that takes quarters either!)
It is a humbling experience. Let me tell you! I didn't nail step two the first time around. In Devember 06 I bought Ellie. She was well broke, sweet, quiet and had great manners but she was young (four year old), cutting bred (hot and smart), and needed constant riding.
Obviously I hadn't eaten quite enough humble pie! I thought I could handle her (this was post-Loachan remember). Unfortunately a bunch of factors like: My being away a lot with my grandpa's illness/death/and estate clean up; An abscess that kept her off for a few months; The barn owners feeding her straight Alfalfa and rolled oats (and her loosing her brain on the sugar high that followed), My own fear issues; Her bad behavior resulting from my fear issues; Receiving an unsolicited offer "to good to refuse"- all combined to make me feel that the best decision was to accept the offer and move on to a Steady Eddie....
And that was about the time that I put out an ad that read, "Looking for a Steady Eddy or Eddette" (Seriously! I did! And yes I am a total geek!).
What I found was this picture and an ad that read....
"dead broke, 17 year old ex-ranch gelding, therapy horse, anyone can ride, BTDT, good ol' boy, 100% sound, no vices ....etc."
At the end of September 07 I went to see that horse... and found....