Sunday, July 17, 2011

Riding through life with looser reigns.....

"There are times when you can trust a horse, times when you can't and times when you have to..."

Everything I read, everyone I talk to, tells me that how you are in life is how you ride your horse. That horses reflect back who we are at our core. I had heard the comment, but I hadn't taken it to heart, even though it was happening right in front of my face, with both Snapper and Cheyenne. And even in my interactions with one of Cheyenne's pasture mates.

The first piece of the puzzle happened last week during my riding lesson on Snapper. Snapper is usually not the most He has it in him, I have seen him run, he is a talented smart horse, but he chooses most of the time to give only what you push him to give. Like I said, he's smart, why work harder than his rider makes him. And as a newbie, I was ok with that most of the time. Slow, safe, controlled. They make me feel good. So I was a little caught off guard last week when Snapper decided on our trail ride to show me what he was capable of (well some of it, I know he has more) and actually pick up the pace. We were following another horse and he wasnt going to be outdone and trotted at a moderate clip. My first reaction, reign him in, slow him down. Because while it wasnt fast, it was outside my comfort zone. I do the same when riding Cheyenne. One of my first questions to her owner was how do I make her trot slower.

What was interesting wasn't my reaction when Snapper stepped it up. It was typical me, but my instructors comment when I went to slow him down. When I said I wanted to get him to a safer pace, she pointed out "you are a safe, a lot safer than you realize". I heard the comment, I thought about it, but I didnt get until tonight what it really meant.

The second piece of the puzzle that I was living like I ride, or riding like I live, was in the gym last week. I have had a rough couple weeks again with food. After being on track for a bit I have fallen again. And my trainer pointed out, that everytime we get close to making a breakthrough something happens and we move backwards again. I didnt get it then, but I am starting to get it now. The what happens is me reigning things in when it starts to feel a little fast or beyond my control for me. But even when he said this I didn't connect the comments.

The last piece came tonight reading a book a friend loaned me ("Chicken Soup for the Horse Lover's Soul"). It is a collection of short stories, and one ("Big Brother is Watching") talks about how the main character anytime his horse would gather himself to run he would rein him in from his fear of falling  and have to watch as his brother raced off the way he wanted to.

Something in reading that made me connect my behavior, my riding instructor's comments and my trainers comment's. I live like I ride, or ride like I live. There is so much I want to do, I want to run, be it literally on my horse or metaphorically in life. But every time I start to make that progress my fear of falling has me grabbing for the reins. I never get to find out if I am safe or not, because in my mind I have already predetermined what will happen and launched my emergency plan.

Another comment just crossed my mind, one made by Cheyenne's owner. She said to ride and be around horses you have to expect at some point to be thrown, to break bones, to be kicked, to be bitten. My problem is while I am willing to accept that risk with horses, I have spent a lot of my life, and still do, trying to not get bruised, to not fall down, to not be thrown and to avoid anything that spooks me in the rest of my word. And when I do get spooked I, like the horses, follow my first instinct to flee instead of testing out if the fear is founded. Run now ask later!

Today's big lesson, just like I need to learn to trust my horse and ride with a softer reign and less of a tendency to jump right to "whoa" when things feel unfamiliar or chancy, I need to find that same trait in life. I need to figure out how to trust myself more and to willing to be thrown and get back in the saddle. To accept that is part of life, not failing. To not only ride at a pace I know I can manage but to take that chance of trotting at full speed. Otherwise I am always going to be the one watching from the sideline too afraid to move forward and sabatoging myself every time a chance to grow presents itself.

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