As Alix Spiegel puts it on Invisibilia, “If you have a lot of fear, fewer bad things are likely to happen, but it’s very probable that your life is more painful to you. So is it better to be fearful or fearless? Which side of the continuum do you choose?”

Funny enough, this article on women’s safety (at night, on the streets, walking alone) also kind of echoes how I feel riding- sometimes, with a lot of fear.

I picture bad things happening, have a lot of anxiety during my ride, and sometimes let it rule what I do with my horse. I also let it manage me physically- like I don’t trust Oats to do the right thing, and I end up doing the WRONG thing because of that lack of trust and existing history/fear.

An example of this from my lesson last night- dressage is historically a tough subject for us. For Oats, it’s like doing math- hated, hard, challenging- both physically and emotionally! For me, it’s difficult because of how he has reacted in the past (poorly). So what do I fall back on when I feel fearful, anxious, worried? I let him fall in off the track when we canter, putting him at a big disadvantage. I raise my hands too high, bringing his head up and bringing up his ‘hoppy’ canter that always feels like a precursor to a buck, even if it’s not right now!

In short- I set us both up for failure because I can’t *quite* let go.

When I forced myself to stay ‘with’ him, brought my hands down lower and kept him on the track, our canter went soooooo much nicer. Of course it also fell apart quickly, but hey, that’s what learning is for, right?

I’m learning that my fear shouldn’t always dictate what I do, but overcoming it can be very, very difficult because it is not just a physical response but an emotional one.

Also- our trot work is DEFINITELY improving. YEAH! And our lateral work- while not amazing this week, is coming along much better and I can still sense that Oats is trying to accomplish it, rather than just being rude or a jerk about it. I can get behind that progress, for sure. For a few months, I felt like I was constantly behind, like making no progress and nothing good was coming out of anything!

Now- I have a bit of a better perspective. It’s a continuum…

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