I am sure as humans and especially as horse back riders, we have faced fear. The question is: how, and what to do. Here is a letter from a reader of Jane Savoie's email newsletter that I found especially helpful. I have had some rather bad falls in the last 3 years, and lost a lot of my early confidence. Yes, I am 70, and still think I am 50, but I had been surely acting like an old lady. What helped me a lot was discovering what I have heard called: the Jockey strap. I am not sure what it is exactly, but one day I discovered my "seat belt" for riding.
As my hand hung down by my side, it touched the latigo strap. I was riding with one hand..the only way this works. I had an epiphany: hang on to that latigo strap close to the saddle, and I had an anchor. When my horse spooked, I went with it, and got it stopped, and regrouped. It is that first splurge of energy that unseats us in most cases. Try it, you might love it as I do. On my dressage saddle, I attached some soft latigo straps and had one for there also. It is a marvelous feeling to have that stability that I once has as a much younger and, yes, stronger person. For me it must hang where my arm naturally hangs, or it is uncomfortable and puts me off center. Putting a strap in front of the english saddles or using the saddle horn is not the same feeling.
Here is the letter from Jane's
I just listened to the last CD in your Freedom from Fear set. And I have finally figured it out! My biggest fear is the fear itself! I kept thinking that I "shouldn't" be afraid, reinforced by other people asking why I was afraid in that condescending tone. But the fear is not only normal, I should honor it, as you said. It is totally ok.
So when Mini Me comes and says "What if you fall off again? You'll never recover. You're gonna DIE!" I can thank it and consider what I'm going to do that day such as I am going to trot around the round-pen today. Hmm, am I capable of doing that? Yes. Is my horse ok to do that today? Yes. Ok thank you fear, good point but not justified, please go sit on the fence and I'll call you if I need you. Or if the answer is that no, as a matter of fact now that I think about it my horse is not ok to trot around the round pen today, I can say good point, thank you, we'll have this discussion again after another 20 minutes of ground-work.
What a relief! It takes so much energy to run from the fear and avoid it. How much better to turn and look it in the face and even dance with it and then send it to the sidelines.