Me: 1, Anxiety: 0

directions

My laptop committed suicide yesterday so you’re not getting shiny new pictures. Make do with this old one, depicting Pilar’s very first attempt at cordeo riding last spring. She was a tad confused.

I’ve written a fair bit about anxiety this spring. I’ve spent hours struggling to get back in the saddle, and then conquer first the indoors arena, and then the outdoors where my bad fall happened. It’s been a nightmare where my stomach would freeze up, I’d break into a cold sweat and feel like I was fainting, usually because Pilar turned her head a millisecond faster than expected, or turned an ear to something away from me.

Horses are extremely sensitive to their humans’ needs and fears, and more so if they are accustomed to being heard by them. After just two weeks of this, Pilar started to try to step away from the mounting block when I was getting up. We tested — she didn’t do it with anyone else. She was telling me that if I’m so terrified of getting on her back, then maybe I just shouldn’t. That’s horse caretaking logic, that.

The last three times I’ve mounted she’s stood statue still. I have overcome my fear of being in the saddle on its own, and she tells me that now it’s okay.

Yesterday was the first time I was able to ride in the outdoors arena without Alvin walking and leading Pilar (she’s trained to follow him around for groundwork and respond to voice commands so he wasn’t actually holding the reins but…).

It went well. Pilar kept stopping and turning her head right to nose bump my foot, a signal which, for her, means ‘are you sure about this?’. She exhibited no signs of stress or concern — her head space was all about making sure I was ready for what we were doing.

She takes good care of me, that horse. We take care of each other.

What’s next? Being able to ride down the road without being terrified, of course. Baby steps. The outdoors arena is where the fall happened, and overcoming my fear of that was by far the biggest challenge I’ve faced in my 45 years of life so far.

Tell us what you think!