I can't say the day went off without a hitch, when we were warming up outside the arena a dog ran at us and B' was surpised by it, he tried to escape and I didn't go with him as well as I should have, and hit the ground. It was my first fall from a horse, a moment I have been dreading for 2 years. In my mind when I eventually would fall off (with horses it is when not if) it would mark failure. That despite it happening to everyone, usually many times, that for me it would mean all those insecurities I carry around would finally be proven true. That I am not a good rider and people were just humoring me, that my trainer would finally realize I am a waste of her time and would desert me, that people would decide I don't deserve my horse. For me fear of falling has been much more emotional baggage than physical fear. And in a lot of ways I am glad it happened. Because when the dust settled all that stupidity in my head was proven wrong. I got up, dusted myself off and the world went on. I was banged up and bruised, but my trainer was still right there by my side, my horse was standing there waiting for me and when I got back in the saddle and headed into our class 5 minutes later my friends were still standing there cheering for me. The world didn't end because I was less than perfect. Those ghosts I carry with me from my parents growing up didn't swallow me up like I had imagined they would.
I think that is a big part of the lesson B'sheret has crossed my path to teach me, that I don't have to always strive to be perfect and have all the answers. Through having to take the time to let him grow and mature at his pace I am having to also allow myself that space too, and as foreign a feeling as it is, it is also really liberating. Especially when it comes to showing.
Last year I felt this terrible burden all the time. That if I didnt show in every class possible right away, if I didnt place in every class I went into, I was failing. That if I only did walk trot I was less than everyone expected. That if I picked and chose what I felt ready to do I would be looked down on. I enjoyed showing last year, but I can't say I ever relaxed doing it or felt at ease. I put myself under this constant pressure to do more, be more, accomplish more and it took a lot of the fun out of it. I never felt safe enough to admit I needed to go slower, to tell anyone that there were times I wanted to do less for no reason other than I felt overwhelmed, that I needed more space to take it at a student's pace instead of trying to keep up with others. And I have no one to blame for that than myself, because the pressure all came from me and no one else.
This show season I feel like I am in a very different place, and a big part of that is due to B'sheret. Having a younger horse with so much we need to work on has really helped me find a different pace for myself. In giving HIM permission to be less than perfect and accepting his learning curve I have made some peace with my own too. In allowing him to take things slowly so he can acclimate and adjust I am allowing myself the same. And in doing that I am opening myself up to all kinds of new experiences. The biggest of which is showing at the breed (AQHA) level. Had I tried this last year, or even this year with Joker, I would have expected way more out of myself than I am ready for. I would have expected myself to compete in riding classes above what I am prepared for (especially at the lope), I would have overloaded myself with the number of classes, I would have beat myself up for not placing and I would have stressed myself to the point of misery. But with B'sheret, I have found comfort in trying just to do it. That if all we do is a class or two it is still success because we had the experience together, that if we are having a day where all that makes us both comfortable is a halter and showmanship class that is still us moving forward and if we walk away without a ribbon that is ok too, those will come, but for now it is about gaining arena time and time together. We have nothing to prove and no one to prove it to, he is my horse, I only have him and I to keep happy. No one can decide I am not worthy of him or take him from me so I can go at a pace that makes me comfortable.
I also am finding this new freedom is changing how I interact with my riding coach/trainer and others around me. In needing to have people help B'sheret, I am learning to let them help me. I feel like I am finally finding comfort in saying "I don't get it" or "I need help", phrases which used to terrify me. Back to the ghosts of the past, that showing vulnerability was setting myself up as a target. In doing what is best for my horse I have had to let that go. I cant do it all alone for him, or as I am learning, for me.