Yesterday I did something which still today makes me feel really proud of myself.
You see, we have two horses which we currently do not have any saddles for.Why not is a longer story and of no importance.
First there is Boe, a quarter horse. We bought Boe when he was three and green broke. He was going to be my summer project, however that summer I became pregnant and now 5 years and two kids later, Boe is still with us, but not with many miles under the saddle. But again, as with so many of our other animals, we have been really fortunate. Boe is a real nice gelding, eager to learn and even though he can easily be spooked, he will avoid harming you if possible.
Then there is Mr Ed , a Tennessee walker which we just bought for my husband. I have only been on Mr Ed’s back for 10 minutes ,before we decide to buy him. He just gave us that instant feeling of being a good , well tempered horse and so far he has lived up to it by being kind, respectful and super sweet.
Living in Montana I am surrounded by horse people and thereby often reminded, how rarely I take the time to go for a ride and how much I still have to learn. Things which I can only learn if I get in the saddle and work for it. But with no saddle, how do you ride? Well the answer is quite simple for many people out here: You just ride bareback. But for me, that is just not a very simple and straightforward solution. Because of two kids, full time work and all the other excuses I can pull of the top of my head, I have not been enough on horseback the last five years to have the confidence in my own riding abilities..and especially not bareback. Are you kidding me!!
However, after all the snow we have had, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to go ride: The snow is so high that the horses get easily tired and if I fall, I would most likely land softer than on a warm summer day. I tried to go for it Saturday but must admit I lost my courage and instead decided to hang out with a neighbor. But Sunday, the stars and planets all aligned and since my husband took the kids, I decided to give it another try. First with Boe, since I know him better and he is not as tall as Mr Ed. Unfortunately Boe thought that today was the perfect day to keep running around in the round pen and almost discouraged me with his enormous amount of energy. But I carried on. Backed him up to the fence, climbed up the fence and almost lost my grip when my wet boot slid on the fence, slid one leg over his back while still hanging on for dear life to fence, and convincing myself to not listen to the little voice of fear every little step of way.The little voice that kept saying ” you are too old and not a good enough rider to do this”, you will fall off” . But I kept on going. It wasn’t pretty by no means, but I did it. And to be honest, I think I was able to make that final push from sliding a leg over the his back to actually sit on him because I had let him show me if he was ok. He was not tied up and could move any time he wanted to . But he showed me, that he trusted me to not harm him on my crazy endeavor, so he decided to stand still until I was on. And I think that made me feel that in just that moment I could trust him. He could decide to throw me off five minutes later if he wanted to, but in that final moment where you have to let go of your “safety net” (read: fence!) , I decided to trust him and that was awesome. It was great to just get out of my head with all my scary thoughts, and just focus on the moment and on what was right in front of me. A great big animal, who could harm me if he wanted, had decided to let me crawl on his back. Experiences like this makes me not only feel proud of myself, but also very thankful and humble to have the opportunity to be around these great creatures. So a big thank you was given after the ride. And because Boe gave me this great experience, he also gave me the courage to try and ride bareback on Mr Ed. And oh my God , how it was not pretty. Mr Ed is a very tall horse. Add it took me quite a few tries to even get up high enough on the fence, without sliding off (damn wet boots!). But again I did it and Mr Ed turned out to be the perfect gentleman.(Thank God!)
I put my trust in myself as well as my horse, something I haven’t done for a long time, and it really gave me a great sense of accomplishment and just feeling dang proud of myself. Proud because I didn’t let fear take the upper hand, but instead listened to my gut feeling in that particular moment.
My advice to you is, keep challenge yourself. Try something new. Something that might make you feel very self conscious and maybe even uncomfortable. Only by challenge our selves can we grow and learn more about our strength and weaknesses.
Also please keep in mind: Be grateful and thankful to the animals in your life. They will and can teach you more than you ever thought possible.