During my entire childhood, I was taught to fear all animals. The only “animal” I was allowed to have was a goldfish. I can remember walking outside with my mom and a dog would be across the street not even close to us. She would go into a panic and quickly lead me away.
Now as an adult with children, I am overcoming that fear, growing from a goldfish to horses! My daughter has always had a passion for horses. We both took riding lessons and even leased our own horses. I have been allowed to go beyond my past, beyond my fears, and beyond anything I could ever imagine because of this wonderful creation–the horse.
After a traumatic riding accident as a young girl, I didn’t think I would ride again. Then came college and with it, horses. I was awarded a scholarship to a college with an equestrian program and, with apprehension, I decided to start riding again. The first lesson was rough and after months of terrifying lessons, I almost gave up. I thought that was the end of the road, but a horse named Toby had other plans.
Toby was downright mean and nobody wanted anything to do with him. But one stormy winter evening, I wasn’t left with any choice. We’d rushed out to get the horses in before the storm hit and all were accounted for–save Toby. With no other option, I grabbed the huge gelding’s halter and went out to bring him in.
Safe and sound in his stall a few surprisingly easy minutes later, the black giant seemed to eye me with gratitude.
Over the following weeks, Toby and I became buddies. He would meet me at the gate and didn’t harass me like he did the others. Before long my trainer suggested that I try riding Toby. The first lesson was nerve-wracking, but over the next few weeks his back became the safest place in the world to me. Sometimes souls who need each other cross unexpectedly. All Toby asked for was a friend and in return he gave me back so much more. –Jennifer White, Internet
I knew the magnificent 17-hand, blue roan American Quarter Horse was probably more horse than I could handle, but I had fallen in love and something in his eyes promised me a beautiful partnership, if only I refused to give up.
I named him Blu Springsteen and, true to his name, he turned out to have the temperament of a rock star. He spooked at everything, most of the time leaving me bruised and windless on the ground behind him. It was the fall that sent me flying into the side of an oxer that almost ended my relationship with Blu. I watched in tears as my trainer rode him around the arena because I was too afraid to get back on.
The next day I spent four hours watching Blu graze, pondering our future together. Then I made my choice. I saddled up and we headed for the arena.
I was terrified and only stayed on for a few minutes, but it was enough to keep me riding and reminded me to never give up.
Blu and I have since developed a beautiful partnership based on trust and respect. The fear is occasionally still there for both of us, but the thing that keeps me going is sheer love. Love for horses, love for Blu, and most of all love for that feeling I get every time I dismount. My feet hit the ground with indescribable satisfaction, knowing my equine partner and I have conquered our fears and had yet another great ride. -Astacia Morocco, Texas
At age 46, after a lifelong dream of being a horse owner, I purchased Ginger, a Quarab mare. She is basically a well-behaved horse. Whenever I talk to people with more experience than I have, they always mention the “dreaded first fall!” Those words stuck and that’s where MY fears came alive.
I would ride Ginger anticipating her running off, bucking or rearing. My tension was seen in Ginger being a jittery girl. I learned to overcome these fears by riding with my instructor Deb Page. Riding several different horses, I learned to read the horse beneath me. I learned to gain confidence and to ride horses with different personalities. With Deb’s help and her horses, I was able to bring Ginger to our first show as real partners. We entered every event-barrels, poles, rescue race–and won!
Ginger and I respect and trust each other. Once you have that, there is NO fear because you both look out for each other. -Sharon Couture, Maine
Read more about overcoming fear >>