I love getting stuff in the mail that is not bills. So when GunDiva sent me a CD surprise, I was super excited. If you don’t know GunDiva, she spends some time each year working with Julie Goodnight, which is pretty cool. She also just got two Mustangs and is working on starting them. It is a very cool adventure to read about. And, she sent me one of her CD’s Building Confidence with Horses.
I listened to the CD multiple times. It made sense and it provided an action plan. In the CD, Julie explains fear and fear responses. As I was listening, I wanted to smack myself upside the head. . .I knew this stuff. I deal with it every day at work. But I never related my anxiety to any trauma.
Quick recap, trauma or fear memories are stored in the amygdala, which is a primitive part of the brain. So sometimes, even if you don’t remember something traumatic, your body does and responds accordingly. So, when I fell off Shyloh, I fell off the back of her (bareback), which is one reason why I am having so much trouble letting go of hunching forward.
|Shy's water in her face, face|
The first thing to do is intellectualize your fear by understanding where the fear comes from how how to override the fear. There are two types of fear, a post traumatic type fear and a general fear. I think my fear comes from thinking I will not be able to handle the situation if something takes place, like a bolt or large spook. Then falling and getting hurt comes secondary. There is also the general anxiety that I deal with every day. And Shy is a very sensitive animal, so she can feel everything I feel. So in order to ride her successfully, I really need to get my fears in check because my body will send off signals that she can pick up on.
Next, come up with some real life coping skills and think about the purpose for having a horse. My main purpose when I bought Shy was to do trail rides. My purpose had evolved from then, now I want to do anything I find fun. That can range from driving to ground work to clicker training to riding.
|After bath munch and dry time|
I think my biggest obstacle is being physically fit. This I NEED to do. I have not been this, let’s say “unfit”, ever. I like cookies too much. Really thinking about it, I think my fears may stem from this as well, not trusting my body. Not feeling balanced or coordinated. I really need to incorporate some type of exercise more often (I do take a swim class weekly, but more is needed). I prefer outdoor things (biking, kayaking, hiking) that do not seem like exercise and I hate the gym. And running, I figure I spent enough time running in high school where I ran cross country and track.
Keeping a positive attitude is also and important coping skill. Sometimes I get down on myself, but most of the time I try and stay positive and celebrate the small successes. Lately, I have had a real lack of motivation and have been overall blah. I need to get out of this funk.
Finally, have some tools for building confidence. There is a whole list she goes through on the CD, but these are the tools I think will help me most.
Breathing. I do this. I take a minute just sitting on the horse to slow my breathing and relax. I am not sure if I will ever be one of those people who can mount on the fly and just go off on my horse.
Eyes. Do not look down, it freezes your mind. Look around instead and take in other information to stop the anxiety mind freeze.
Stop the “What-Ifs”! This is my life. . .what if this, what if that? I think it comes from the anxiety.
Sing to occupy your mind and develop rhythm. I love to sing. I am terrible at it, but I love it. This is one I have heard before and I think it is a good one. I just have to remember to do it. Because when I ride, I tend to freeze up. I don't talk to Shy like I should and I am focused on keeping her calm (even though she already is) and staying on.
Take lessons. I am happy that Terry is helping me with this and letting me use Reba.
Once all those things are in place, I should have a plan to manage my fear. The best way to do this is by having goals. I don't want to give away the whole CD, these are just the most helpful to me. And they have been very helpful. Listening to the CD really put some thoughts in my mind and some other things in perspective. Thanks again, GunDiva!