Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A deeper thought...or two

I've been typing and untyping and not publishing on a handful of thoughts that are swimming around my head today. The steady rainfall outside probably does nothing to help my blase (add a little accent over the e please) mood.
I'm currently fermenting on a work phenomenon where I'm stuck trying to sort through two trains of thought. Is it better to withhold info or be untruthful in order to spare people the truth which at this point has no impact on reality BUT saved them undue stress in the past, or to tell the truth, let them stress and be honest and upfront?
I keep feeling like I prefer truth, as much as it may suck, to half-truths or withheld information.
Maybe it's the planner in me? The one that likes to be prepared? Maybe it's that side of me that kept telling the logical, pragmatic, realistic side of me to shut-up, because I was told by someone I *should* trust that everything was peachy-keen.

I'm pretty irritated that I trusted where my gut told me not to, and if it wasn't for a slip of tongue, never would have been any wiser.
Instead, I now feel...like I'd be an absolute idiot to trust what I'm told again. It very near left me in a position that I don't want to be in. Yes, it worked out fine this time, but who knows about next time? Maybe next time I'll find myself blindsighted when I'm handed an empty box...
Obviously I try to keep my work life out of my blog life. To some extent.
But my work life is what funds my riding, my Moon and my adventures. This is here because of THAT.
I just have to remind myself to let it go. Trust my gut. Always, always trust your gut. And always, always, be honest. People like to hear the truth, good or bad.


I've been thinking a lot lately about things like fear and trust, and in this instance, as they relate to horses.

My experience has made me the kind of person that feels safer on the back of a horse then on the ground beside one. I'd sooner ride a horse through a scary situation then walk one. Which to some people is nutty. But I've fallen off horses and no evil has come. I've been holding horses and been hurt.

I find myself driving to the barn and appreciating, having read so many other blogs, the fact that I feel no apprehension or foreboding on my drive. There are a great many things that I don't even consider "scary" as I'm doing them, that I realise later for so many others, may be fearful.

I look at myself and wonder, what makes me different?

Then I realise, perhaps it isn't me.

Perhaps, just maybe, it's Moon.

Because I still feel my heart beat fast when I lift the hoof of a different horse. Even if I've known them for awhile, worked with them before. If I lead them and their head is high and they're "looky", I put a little extra space between us and get ready for anything. My hands grow cold at the thought of walking someone's horse into the trailer, and the last time I mounted a new horse, I could feel my heart beating in my chest.

It's not fear so much as nervousness, but I find comfort in my boy.

From the day I first rode him, I felt secure. Even when I was nervous, I had some strange sense of security in him. I can't even begin to describe it. It's this feeling that he'd never intentionally hurt me.

I found and continue to find myself pushing his boundaries, pushing his anxieties, fears and nervousness with new experiences. Making him go through that deep puddle, asking him to jump that fence, leading him onto that trailer. Things that any other horse I'd be scared to attempt, yet with him...I'm not. Just simply, not.

I was caught off guard on the weekend when my boy was prancing and pawing and dancing around calling at H's place. And T made a joke about how you'd think he was a three year old.

: ) It was one of those times when you find yourself stepping out of you own paddock boots and into someone else's. In my head, my heart-of-hearts, I always perceive him as this chunky, tubby, hay-bellied short little QH pony, eeyore-like in personality, slightly sad little eyes, head hanging low and just meandering through the world. "dum-de-dum".

Wasn't it an eye opener to see that there stood my boy, foamy and glistening, head high, neck elevated, calling like the devil and dancing on the spot. Totally encapsulating his TB-ancestry, all snort and nostrils.

If he was any other horse, I can promise you, I would have been nervous right there. So why, why wasn't I? I've been injured before. I have fears relating to horses, I'm jumpy and scared of horses on the ground when they're nervous...

Because it's Mr. Moon. <shrug>. My Moon. He's just wondering why we're standing still when we've running and galloping to do. And things to see.

I had to wonder, if my horse, was maybe more horse then I've been telling myself?

And do I find myself feeling secure because of what I tell myself he is, and others perceive him as something else, or is he everything I perceive and merely misread?

I know that our time together this past year has developed a bond, trust and understanding that far outweighs any initial sense of security he gave me. And vice versa. I can gallop him and never feel like he's running away. I can feel him balk at going across a muddy patch of marsh, ask anyway and know it won't result in him rearing or bucking to avoid it. Because he trusts that I'm asking him to do something I know he can do. And he'll be safe.

I wonder if our heart horses are the horses that we feel comfortable with from the first time we meet them, and time does not create that trust/bond/security, but rather time only acts to enhance it? Experience only solidifies it?

I've ridden horses that I know how they'll react, how they like to be ridden and how to control them. But I never feel "connected" to them. I never feel "in-tune". I'd think twice before galloping them willy-nilly down a gravel road or hesitate to crouch before them in a narrow little horse trailer.

There's a moment that keeps sticking with me. When Moon was nervous about entering the trailer and the whites of his eyes were showing, his nostrils were blowing and his ears were standing straight up. He was scared.

I should have been scared too. But instead, all I wanted was to comfort him. I reached forward and scratched his little blaze and was floored by the way his tension just drained away at my touch. It was like my touch provided as much comfort to him, as his does to me. He trusted me. He found security in me.

Over and over and over again, I get this overwhelming sense that this is a natural bond. This is our connection.

I well up with happiness when I think of it. I think of Cuna and Charlie and wonder if they feel it too? Is THIS what we're all searching for?

And then, I'm stuck.

Yes, I'm stuck.
Why is it, that we believe that our fears are wrongfully placed and we must stand up to them and do things that make us so woefully unhappy?

I believe there are two types of fear. Fear that protects us and Fear that holds us back.

Fear that holds us back is both positive and negative fear. It is, in truth like The Force (I know, since when do I quote StarWars?). It can be used for good or used for evil.

I'm scared of high jumps. Let's face facts, that's a fear that holds me back. I just see any jump over 2' and my gut twists, my pulse races and I'm scared. I am. I'm not even shy to admit that. BUT, I know that in part, my fear relates to a degree of self-preservation. The fear that protects us. I don't have a lot of experience jumping, and there's a lot more danger jumping then there is with four hooves planted on the ground doing dressage.
That being said, I don't have any fear when I kick my horse up to a gallop and fly across a field, even when my horse throws in a buck or deeks out at the last moment.

Why? Do I have no self-preservation instincts in those moments?

No. It's experience. Experience reduces or promotes fear. Positive experiences overcome fears. I've galloped a lot of horses. Fast horses. Off-the-track horses. Polo horses. Quarter horses. And overall, my experiences have all been positive.

That being said, I have positive jumping experiences. I've only once fallen off over jumps...well, once a horse bolted on me in a field while cantering, jumped a chain-gate and sent me flying over her head...and whalloped my head with her knee. I'm not sure to this day if that's a jumping-related accident or a flat-work accident...

Overall though, I should be comfortable, aye safe, with jumping. But I am not. And as soon as it gets higher...uh oh.

However, my sensible side reminds me that the danger, at low levels is pretty minimal. Certainly no worse then galloping over fields or working dressage in a spooky ring. And so I remind myself of this and do it anyway. But I try to do it in a way that minimizes my fears. Is that bad? Probably not.

I use the fear that should hold me back in a positive way by taking pride in overcoming it. And facing it. But I remain respectful to the fact that it exists.

If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened.
- George S. Patton

I think, perhaps I wonder, if we as a society have told ourselves, convinced each other, that fear is bad. Nasty. Weak people have fears. Unstable people have fears.

How foolish is that?

We all have fears.

But, how do we know where fear ends, and self-preservation begins?

We can't all be sky divers. Some of us are too scared. Is that a bad thing? Hardly.

We can't all rush out and jump 4'. Is that a bad thing? No. Show jumping would be a lot less impressive if we could all do it.

Our lives only last so long. I've come to realize, in the short time that I've walked the earth, that I haven't time for things I don't enjoy. I haven't time to waste doing things that scare the bejeebers out of me. I do have time for things that inspire me. Things that are challenging and just "scarey" enough to encourage me to work hard and be safe while doing it.

I learn to embrace those things. I learn to distinguish between the good fears and bad. The positive and the negative. The fears that make me a better person, and the ones that I allow myself to be convinced make me a worse person.

I'm not. My fears are not who I am. They are not me. I am me. And I will not, can not, never will, allow them to define me. Nor will I let others define me by them.

I WILL NOT face all of my fears. I refuse. I refuse to watch horror movies because they scare me. I have NOTHING to prove by sitting through them. I will not drive over 10 km/hr in a parking lot due to an unrational fear that I'll run someone over. You can't make me. I will remain scared of those ugly sow bugs that crawl out from under the picnic table every Spring, I will triple check that the stove is turned off before I leave the house out of an irrational fear that I'll burn it down. I will be scared of the tallest water slide (but still go on it!) and I will refuse to watch television shows with dismemberment. I refuse.

And I will not overcome all of my fears. I won't. I will do as I chose, when I chose. I will be pleased with who I am, and embrace my sense of self preservation, my fear that protects me. And when and if I feel like it, on any given day in any given year, I'll address those fears that hold me back.

But I'll do that my way, surrounded by those I love, trust and believe in. And I will take the same mentality, the same pathway for my horse, my dog, my family. Fear is, as I said, only what I chose to make of it. And I'm making it into nothing.
I've everything to fear, but NEVER fear itself.

Courage is knowing what not to fear.
- Plato


  1. This is such a great, thought provoking post! I've never thought of it that way, but I completely agree. Fear isn't a bad thing, and in fact, if you're intelligent, fear is a rational thing. Self-preservation fear is never something to be ashamed of. Super super post!

  2. :) This post makes me really happy to read. There is a lot to be said for a comfortable relationship, and for stretching oneself but with intelligence!