Inconceivably, I somehow was the recipient this past fall of a huge boost of self confidence. This was before I started losing the weight, before I started having some of these big successes with Bronwyn. This was before I realized how awesome I have the potential to be. I don't know how or why or where it came from, truly. Someone asked me what the big, pivotal moment in my life outlook was and the closest I could boil it down to was this:
This fall, I took a chance at being rejected. I sat in my car for a half an hour listening to the song "Opportunity" by Pete Murray, and then I took a deep breath and did something really, really scary to me.
Nothing bad happened.
The end result I was looking for never happened, but I learned that it is okay to take a chance, it is okay to fail, and dust yourself off and get back up. I think that is a big way to build confidence - to face your fear, and come out alive on the other side.
“There comes a time when you have to stand up and shout:
This is me damn it! I look the way I look, think the way I think, feel the way I feel, love the way I love! I am a whole complex package. Take me... or leave me. Accept me - or walk away! Do not try to make me feel like less of a person, just because I don't fit your idea of who I should be and don't try to change me to fit your mold. If I need to change, I alone will make that decision.
When you are strong enough to love yourself 100%, good and bad - you will be amazed at the opportunities that life presents you.” ~Stacey Charter
I've made it no secret on Facebook and the variety of forums that I visit lately that things are finally going "my way" (weight loss, job wise, horse wise) - I'm sure there are people that have been wanting to slap the stupid grin off my face for the last several months. I have learned how to make the good things that I deserve in life happen through motivation, perseverance and logic. I can't teach anyone else how to do it but I can relate it to horse experiences.
“Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.” ~ Anonymous
I don't think I have made it much of a secret what my riding history is: I grew up riding safe, sane, quiet horses. I continued to gain weight through my childhood. Eventually, I was a few years away from having ridden, with an unbroke horse and heavier than I had ever been. I had no idea how I had gotten there. Fortunately, confidence still intact, I rode Angel bravely, and did many things with her that I hadn't done with any of the show horses I had owned prior to her. After she died, I found myself farther away and thinking about this fat thing.
I know so many of my readers deal with the issue of having been told they were too fat to ride, they were hurting their horses, etc. It's true that we need to be more aware of our bodies and the way that our bodies impact the horses we ride than some other riders, but I think in ways, that makes us great horsemen and women.
When I got Bronwyn, I was definitely thinking about my weight and how it worked in relation to horses. I had had a few blows to my confidence. Bronwyn gave me what I needed - she was a quiet, secure horse to start, despite having been so "crazy" when she came to me. She was slow on her feet and took some effort to get her moving forward, believe it or not. She is now the most forward horse I've ever owned, but I digress.
I've made it no secret that Bronwyn attempts to jump out from under me at least once every ride. I think I have also talked about my vow to ride in only my English saddle or bareback to improve my seat and my skills. Combined, I have had a lot of near misses and close calls, but I've stayed on. Even when I did fall off, though I was sore for a week - nothing bad really happened.
I know there are people who have had falls and broken their backs, or died. Guys, this is a risk that ANYONE, regardless of weight or size, takes when they step outside of their home. You increase the risk exponentially by riding horses. You increase that risk exponentially by not preparing yourself fully. But if you are confident, secure, and have a network that you trust, the odds of a fall are slim. Even if you do fall, the odds of dying are slim. I've never even broken a bone riding horses. It's true, it does happen to people, but in the words of Anaïs Nin:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
As a closing note, I will share a little story. I am a volunteer 4H leader and have kids come out to the farm every other week to play with the horses. All of mine are generally quiet, easy to handle, as long as they are treated like horses and not dogs... and handled confidently.
I have a young boy in my group that can best be described as "troubled". He is very scared of the horses, despite having owned his own before - the best I can discern from what he has told me, he has had a bad experience and was hurt with a horse. Every other week, he valiantly comes to the barn and works on his fears. I have had him handling our small pony, up to our big draft cross filly. He is most comfortable with the pony, however, this week he worked with Ari.
Ari is about 14hh... so not a big horse, and generally very well behaved though she can tell when you're not serious and will test that boundary. The boy was doing very well walking her and starting to square her up when at one point, when he was about 40 feet away from me, Ari caught a wild hair (tossed her head a little bit). I have always told my kids that if the horses get out of control for whatever reason, it is best to just let go so they don't get hurt and we can catch the horse later. If the boy had held onto her, he might have gotten hurt.
Instead, he listened to my advice and let go, and ducked into a ditch to get out of her way. Ari, as is typical, headed toward the barn, and since I was in her path, I told her to "Whoa" and grabbed the lead rope.
The little boy was scared, and definitely not interested in handling Ari anymore. While I was holding the mare, I pulled him aside and had a conversation with him.
"You did what I told you."
"Did you get hurt?"
"Then what are you afraid of?"
He looked at me, then looked at the mare, and I handed him the leadrope. By the end of the session, he was beaming and informed me that he liked her, and she clearly liked him by her behaviour.
No doubt, his confidence as he handles these horses is going to be an ongoing battle, but I think I proved a point to him. Bad things don't happen every single time you put yourself out there, as long as you are smart and know what you're doing.
So ladies... if you have to fake it til you make it or have someone telling you in your ear over and over that even though something bad could have happened, it didn't... find a way to overcome that fear, and feed your passion. Sometimes the horse will get away from you, but the moments when the horse doesn't get away from you and you succeed and realize you can do something despite the fear are worth it.
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." ~Mary Anne Radmacher
I lied earlier - that quote above was not mine at all, however, I was being rushed out the door and so credited it to myself in an all-too-frequent fit of blondeness! Apologies!
Have a great weekend, everybody!