The Farmer’s Wife – Horses Have a Mind of their Own!
Other than school camp, I had never ridden a horse before George (my husband) convinced me to learn to ride. At camp the instructor had told me I had great posture for riding which gave the horse the impression I knew what I was doing. I felt very proud of this as a child, but as an adult on a ‘real’ horse; one which wasn’t trained for hours of tedious riding with totally novice riders, I realised I didn’t really know what I was doing as a child and nothing had changed.
We free leased a horse for me to learn to ride. Now the old adage that nothing of value ever comes for free is certainly true when it comes to horses. This little horse looked friendly enough; he certainly behaved himself when George took him for a ride before we agreed to bring him home to the farm.
That all changed when I took my first ride. George carefully gave me some very basic instruction, adjusted the saddle and stirrups and helped me onto the horse. I have photos to prove it, I looked super comfortable on a horse, not! I don’t know what that camp instructor was talking about? The horse brought his ears back waiting for some clear instructions, so I gently nudged him forward and we set out for a leisurely little stroll. At least that was what I had in mind. It wasn’t long before he discovered I really had no idea what I was doing and he was off, cantering across the paddock, with me bouncing in the saddle, frantically pulling on the reigns and grabbing hunks of hair from the main to stop from falling off. One consolation from this experience is that I can still go a good round on the rodeo bulls you find at parties or cowboy bars. We persevered with this for a while, well it felt like a while, until it became evident that Red and I were never going to see eye to eye. Even after trying another slower, older horse a few years later I failed as a horse rider; realising I liked riding motorbikes more than I liked riding horses and I wasn’t very good at riding motorbikes if you recall my earlier story.
It was hard for my husband to understand. He had always found sports and activities like motorbikes and horse riding so easy. He had a beautiful black Galloway he used for stock work. The horse was more afraid of white rocks than the stock whip George would crack right next to his ear or the one tonne Murray Grey bull (Grey Angus for you non-farmers) that tried to run him into the fences.
Realising My Limits
I can still remember my own disappointment with my failed riding adventure. I wanted to make George happy, to join him riding, but the fear of not being able to control the animal was too much for me to cope with. Most of all, I was disappointment in myself and my serious lack of conviction. The fear of falling off, hurting myself, being embarrassed and basically failing had always been a struggle for me in so many areas. Why? I couldn’t really say. Maybe it was the teasing at school or being the youngest little sister. Maybe somewhere, someone managed to convince me that if I didn’t manage something straight away, I was never going to succeed. Maybe it was just in my DNA, who I was, part of me. It took years of patience and encouragement from a very loving man and a farming life with situations that challenged me beyond my comfort zone to help me learn to put these irrational fears behind me. I learnt that I was being told lies, by my own subconscious and although the encouragement and support helped me, eventually it was the messages I told myself which made all the difference. When my stomach started to churn and my palms went sweaty, I eventually learnt to push through and just try.
What About You?
I would love to hear about your experiences in pushing through the fear barrier. Or maybe you are struggling with fear and you don’t have someone like George to encourage you. Drop me a line and we can talk or see my post on ‘3 Simple Ways to Overcome Fear’