When you have horses, at some point, you will experience fear. Gah the dreaded word! I was reluctant to even make this post but I feel like it’s something we all experience and should be discussed. After all, we are literally putting our lives in the hands of a 1200# plus animal and letting them go. We have to trust in our training, trust in God and let them go. Of course, this is not in all sports involving equine but most of them!
When I make a run on Lynx, I do get the jitters. We have been running together for over 10 years. I raised him. I’m the only one that has ever run him on barrels. We have a bond. Someone made a post about when riding a hot horse you just let that anxiety wash off because it’s all you can do. Lynx is a back forty, full blast down the alley horse. When warming up, we are warming up. If I stop to chat, he will give me about five minutes then he does this little kick out and attempts to get back to warming up. When we are in the holding area waiting to run, he is… well… an ass. I’m constantly apologizing as he shows out and insists on long trotting or loping and might kick out here and there. It’s not that he doesn’t want to run. The issue is, HE DOES WANT TO RUN!!! He wants me to let him at the gate to go! He has always been this way. But this weekend, something clicked in my brain. It was fear. Oddly enough, it didn’t happen before or during my run. It was way after. I cannot explain it. All I can say is that when I was unsaddling I had this “what was I thinking? He could have really hurt me!” But this horse has my heart and gosh darn it, I LOVE to run him! He had just been a bit extra that day. The fear was there. I gave it to God in the warm up and holding pen. I had to step off him and hand walk him until before my drag. I prayed. I prayed with so many people! A nice person came over on her horse, whom was also acting out, and it seemed to calm them both down. Luckily, we were in the same drag. We had a great run! I didn’t fall off! He did his normal victory lap! I loved him and gave him cookies! But he was talking up a storm about how I got behind and he needed me to stay with him. Yes, we talk to each other a lot!
When I got back to my trailer, I was struck with the fear of “what if’s”. This is the same horse I give lessons to all level of riders on and he is a saint. Truly. He is only like this for me. So where did this sudden fear come from? Here is my thought…. I got too much in my head. He and I feed off each other. I was nervous about him hurting someone else. He was wondering why I was nervous. He was confused. I was trying to keep him calm. He wanted to run. I was trying to not get him anymore excited than he was. He was feeling my negative energy and my worry so he was worried. So I think the fear came from him. I think he thought that he did something wrong (he did, he bucked and tried to kick at a little girl) and I confused him. It hit me hard at the trailer and I think he was afraid that I was unhappy with his run. I wasn’t! I was unhappy with his attitude towards innocent bystanders! But he didn’t know that. He thought I didn’t trust him.
So what do I do with this fear? Obviously, I need to work on reassuring him that he is a good boy! I need to stop getting on him too soon (25 riders before me was evidently too soon) and I need to warm him up where there is not a ton of people. I need to work on MY confidence in HIM. I need to trust my training. I need to send positive thoughts to him. I need to give it to God and leave the jitters at the trailer! This is my rockstar! This is my awesome, totally broke, athletic barrel horse. I need to get myself stronger so I can ride him better.
As we get older, we start to gain self preservation. It’s normal. I need to forgive myself for that! I have a family! It’s ok to be aware. It’s not ok to loose my Faith. God had me. He always does! My horse had me, he always does! So I will have to start listening to music or something before my run to keep my brain from the rabbit hole!
Lynx did pull his biggest check this weekend in one run! We won 2nd in the 3D and won $1235!!! Other than a few thigh bruises, we are fine! We both really had a great weekend! I think we need to just ride and enjoy each other more! With the weather, that had been challenging!
So if you are like me and catch a dose of the fear, say your prayers and don’t feed that energy to your horse! Literally, peace out! ✌🏻