Getting my confidence back...
I’m not really new to horses at all, but kind of new to being back into them I guess? But really, my issue is what I swear is leftover horse related PTSD (and that’s only a slight joke). At some point as a fearless and dumb teen, I was every one’s solution to their problem horse. I had a sticky butt and all the confidence in the world. But a family friend’s pony caught me with a double barrel to the head, leaving me with a pretty severe concussion (my fault. Semi feral mare had a new foal at her side, and I was standing nearby when friend decided it would be a great time to try to mess with the foal). Followed shortly after by my grand father gifting me a new horse.
This horse is the real source of my trauma. My grandpa picked him up out of a field as a feral, untouched 5 year old stallion. He had him cut and sent to the Amish for 3 months. At the time, this was my only shot at having a horse, and I was so worried about letting my grandpa down (I was 16 and firmly a people pleasure, what can I say), that I stuck it through. Never mind that he reared and flipped on his rider the first time I ever saw him. Not sure why my parents didn’t step in, but alas they did not.
Now, he never flipped over on me, and he never bucked, but those are about the only two nice things I can say about that horse. He was a chronic rearer (and one who would throw himself backwards if necessary), a biter (you didn’t dare stand within reach of the gate, he would get you), a kicker, a bolter, and whatever other flaw you can give a horse. All habits that were firmly cemented before he ever came into my possession. With time I had him where we could consistently walk and trot in the arena with no rearing, and acceptably safe for me on the ground (I could never, not even for a second, drop my guard down, but as long I was alert and on my toes, I could keep him from attempting to hurt me). This went on for two years before I shipped off to college and pretty much joyfully sent this horse back to my grandfather’s 4 hours away.
I spent the next years taking any riding lessons I could get my hands on, falling in love with eventing and dressage, and just enjoying rebuilding that confidence and some amazing school horses. A while back I decided it was time. I spent a lot of time and plenty of money finding myself the perfect horse. He’s an absolute saint on the ground and under saddle (sometimes I have to carry a crop to remind him that we want impulsion and good forward momentum, but I don’t have to use it). He’s just a really genuine, good horse. Very smart and quick to learn whatever we throw at him. I’m working with a trainer, and it’s going really well.
But whenever it’s me alone, I feel some of that fear come back. I sometimes have the hardest time making myself tack up, and getting on. I *know* he’s good and he’s going to try his hardest. I feel guilty always dragging some one along (I’m a grown adult and I find myself dragging my mom to watch me ride more often than not.) Will this just come with time and a good horse under me? I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to have somebody their watching, but I know I’m not riding my best and I’m worried about damaging my horse’s brain and ability to trust me with my unconscious fear.
I really thought I was ready. I wanted more time in the saddle and I was bold and confident in lessons (and still am! With the same horse!) Leasing really isn’t a thing here, so that wasn’t an option, and I absolutely don’t regret buying my boy.