The other week I was confessing to T that I'm not a confident rider; I always feel like others are critiquing and judging me when I ride, and that I fail to live up to their belief of what a good rider is.
Lately, I've been out at least twice, if not three times a week to work Moon. I've been working hard to training him to lunge properly, and was out both on Monday and today working him on the line.
On Monday, I was REALLY hesitant to take him out, because T was there grooming the other horses and could see me. I know it sounds crazy silly, but part of me thinks that others will watch me and think that I don't deserve to be working with him and that I'm doing him harm in trying to train him or in my riding.
Determined that wussing out and not working him on Monday would do more harm then good, I did the lunge lesson anyway. Almost as soon as I had him going out around me, my entire focus was on him and what we were doing. 30 minutes later, we were done and headed back to the barn, and he tried to rub against me. My favorite instructor always told me that it's a sign of disrespect when a horse rubs against you. You means nothing more then a post or a tree trunk to him. Never let them rub against you. So when Moon tried to use me as a post, I gave him a quick smack to get him to reconsider the pecking order...
...and looked up to what I think was T staring at me. Instantly, I felt guilty. I had hit my horse, even if it was lightly and with good reason. Now I shouldn't own him, I thought for a second.
And then changed my mind.
What I am not, is lacking in confidence. I'm actually a very confident trainer in things that I know, and when out on the trails or working in the ring, confident in guiding my horse to work and listen to me.
What I am, is self-conscious. VERY self-conscious. I'm much the same way with my dog, who I trained myself, is extremely well trained (pulls a wagon, does agility, flyball, rides in a canoe, very obedient, etc.), and yet I still hate training or working her around other people. It's the 'judgement', that I'm mishandling my dog, because my methods differ from theirs. And I believe very strongly in my methods and approaches (they work and came from very highly regarded trainers), yet I don't like to be watched! And no, I don't beat horse or dog, as it serves no purpose. But I also don't believe that treats are the be all end all. A creature should listen to you out of respect, not because it wants a piece of candy. Imagine if our parents raised us that way!! :O
So in my hatrid of being watched, I was left wondering how I'd ever compete? It's all about judging!
Anyway, at the end of today's lunge lesson, and Monday's, I was happy to say that I have a horse that's learning and becoming a better mount. I'm not perfect, but I'm a good rider and trainer (certainly no expert, but I try hard, study lots, and give it my best), and for all my years of lessons and training, not nearly as bad as I fear people think I am.
What a confession.
In all of this, I just wanted to log my work to overcome my self-consciousness, since I've been actively working him when others are around to watch. And will keep doing that. And ride him down the road again, and get him out to the lesson barn, and remind myself every time, that I deserve my horse, and he deserves me riding him as who I am. To hell with everyone else!
Good ol'Mr. Moon.