Ain't No Quitter
|Because no new media, and I LOVE THIS PHOTO!|
Contrary to popular belief, I am not afraid of falling off.
I've fallen off a lot. By the time I was 17, the count was at least 50 times. Yes, I realize this is abnormal, but I learned to ride at a barn with horses that were of questionable sanity and soundness, and falling off frequently there was the norm. That said, hitting the ground (even as I age and take longer to recover than I did as a teen) doesn't faze me. Falling or otherwise injuring myself doesn't really factor into all of my weird anxiety and irrational fear surrounding jumping. I rode my pony yesterday for a little flatwork and hacking around, and ended the ride wishing I had jumped over our little coop once or twice!
What, then, does scare me?
Loss of control, and not knowing how, why, when, or if a "bad thing" will happen.
What's scary to me is cantering down to a jump and not knowing if we have enough or too much speed, not seeing a distance, feeling that Dino is on the forehand, not having a plan, not knowing if my pony is straight or not. I'm not a "hang on, kick, and hope for the best" type of rider - I need to know what's going on at all times. Knowing that a refusal or a run-out was a strong possibility but not knowing WHY they happened or how to prevent them was the most frightening part of my struggle with fear and anxiety when jumping, and fed into a vicious cycle of lost confidence, poor riding, more refusals, and on and on. But thanks to some fantastic trainers in my life, I've gained a better awareness and understanding of why things happen the way they do when I jump, and much of that anxiety has gone away.
And that's why I'm also not fazed by my forceful meeting with the earth earlier this week.
It wasn't the continuation of a pattern, or caused by fear or pain in horse or rider. It was Dino checking in the way that only ponies can to see if stopping was still a behavior that was effective in getting me to back off when he didn't feel like participating.
Newsflash: that trick no longer works.
In my past experience with Dino and his uncanny ability to slam on the brakes, one stop often leads to full on Stop Mode. He gets behind the leg and nappy, and is soon refusing anything and everything, which is only compounded by feeding my own fear of uncertainty and loss of control.
That didn't happen this time, and I truly believe it was a one-off, pony'tude, "Let's just see if this is still a thing" kind of event. Especially since I was able to get back on and school the snot out of him, I'm really quite confident that this is not the beginning of another rash of refusals.
I still enjoy jumping Dino, and I think most of the time he enjoys it too! My plans to show him this season and be the best darn Elementary-level eventers we can be remain unchanged, and I am not about to let one little bump in the road keep me from doing fun things with my favorite pony. After all, progress is never, ever linear, and I think we've made far too many huge leaps in our confidence and partnership over the past year to give up now!