This past week I was riding my horse in the park which I do pretty regularly. I'm like a lot of my riding friends who prefer to go out riding in the park rather than spend time in the arena doing circles and practicing the 'basics' of riding. I do spend time in the arena every ride but I don't always practice all the basics or spend as much time as I need to to help my horse understand my cues or take the time he needs to learn the basics as well.
I was used to getting a lesson every week which kept me WAY more accountable than I usually keep myself. Well my trainer has gotten busier and busier so isn't able to give me a lesson every week so one of us got a tad complacent on spending as much time on the 'basics' as I need to. I'm sure no one reading this can identify!
Well as I said I was out riding in the park and things were going along just swimmingly and I decided to canter a bit which was also fine until Teddy decided that it was so much fun that he not only wanted to keep going but go faster. Keep in mind Teddy was a race horse for 9 years - he likes to go fast the problem is I don't. Another problem is that jockeys pull back on the reins to get the horse to go faster during a race, I wasn't racing but old habits die hard and I was concerned about pulling too much on his mouth. I started to get scared which he picked up on which made him scared not a good combination.
My trainer had taught me how to do an emergency stop but at the speed we were going I knew that I would be thrown and Teddy would probably fall and probably injure himself. I began to come off and grabbed his neck to hold on and yelled "Teddy NO!" I'm not sure what made him slow down, whether it was my verbal yell or my mental shout or his sense of self preservation but he slowed enough for me to regain my balance and bring us to a stop. We were both shaking and I admit I felt sick. I almost got off and walked back home but decided to stay on and start working on basics right then and there.
By working on the basics we both calmed down and relaxed. As I was heading back home I really thought about what happened - how it happened, what I could have done differently to prevent it from happening in the first place, what I could have done differently in the heat of the moment, what signs did I miss that would have told me what was coming. One of the first things I realized was that staying calm in the midst of it all would have been the most helpful thing I could have done. Teddy picked up on my fright which caused him greater anxiety. The next conclusion I came to was that I needed to spend WAY more time on the basics so that situations like this don't happen. It happened because I wasn't paying enough attention and I was getting complacent. And finally I needed to pay greater attention to the signs that Teddy was giving me that he really needed to run so he could get his extra energy out. There are also exercises my trainer showed me to do to help him calm down that I need to start doing again. It's not just for everyone's safety but also to support my horse in the way he needs me to support him. The realization hit me that, by supporting him, I'm also supporting myself which falls directly into the self care category.
I realized that I have had many experiences like this in my life. Not riding a run away horse but riding a run away situation. There are always signs if we are open to seeing them, if we are willing to do the basic's to be prepared. Because by doing the basics more often than not we can completely avoid these situations. And most importantly staying calm in the heat of the moment which allows us to think clearly and effectively. Being willing to stay with the situation to the end as well as having the courage to go out there and try again is critical. You never know how strong you are or how capable you are until you find yourself in one of these situations and come out the other side. Sometimes we end up with bumps and bruises or scared or worse! Yet other times we emerge completely unscathed. It's walking through these times that we emerge more powerful than when we began.
What basics do you need to revisit and start practicing again in your own life? I know I have my work cut out for me! Here's to you and courage and the willingness to try.
Here's to you in Health, Wellness and Fitness!
Jennifer Malocha CEO of Fun at Wuhoo Fitness
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