Updated: Dec 23, 2021
You Are So Brave!
And so am I!
“You are so brave!” are the words I spoke aloud to my to my mare this evening as we ventured out alone further from the barn and into the big hay field then we have ever ventured before! It was a lovely evening. The air was clear, warm and the sun slanted in the sky to cast a veil of golden light on the freshly mowed hayfield. I am sure it smelled heavenly to my horse, although I know she was leery of the dark areas around the tree line and aware of the space between her and her herd mates. My goal has been to ride her out comfortably alone. That always sounds so easy, until you try to do it. I would love riding company but the fact of the matter is, I mostly ride alone at home. I have areas I can ride on my own property and with permission, on to my neighbor’s farm fields. I occasionally trailer out but actually ride more when I just do it at home, minus the traveling time. So we practice being brave on our own.
As I spoke those words to her, I took ownership of them for myself too. I recognized how horses have taught me to straddle the worlds between weighing risk and finding adventure. I continue to learn thru them that in order to advance, I need to balance preservation with seeking out challenges. I have to look for ways to push the boundaries just so. The times I tip the balance too much toward comfort and safety, I lose out on learning opportunities for both of us. My horse doesn't like feeling like she has been thrown into situations she isn’t prepared for, and quite frankly neither do I! When I push her too fast, I usually have to backtrack and reestablish some trust on her part in me to do right by her.
I know doing right by her does not mean I let her call the shots or make the decisions on what is considered a challenge. I am pretty certain, if that were the case, she would vote to continue to graze in the pasture looking for the best mouthful of grass! I kind of equate finding the right balance is doing things in such a way we aren’t fighting about it and she feels it was partly her idea too! Doing right by her, in my opinion, means I challenge her to do more and be more than just a pasture ornament. Nothing against pasture ornaments, but my mare is young and in her prime and I feel it is in her best interest, as long as she is healthy and able, to be brought along as a riding horse. This really comes down to me seeing too many nice horses in bad situations because they were unbroke or not handled properly. It is my own pet peeve and why I put pressure on myself to keep my horses ridden and handled. If something ever happened and I couldn’t keep her, this is the best gift I could give her for some assurance of a decent life.
So the answer is pushing boundaries but in a way that the risk is balanced with the possibilities. I balance security with vulnerability, some certainty with opportunities, provide some shelter in the midst of exposure. And by doing that we grow…both of us. I ask when I feel she will be stretched but not strained. By reading this I imagine you can detect I am not a huge risk taker. No, I am not. And I am not getting any younger! 🙂 I hope to keep riding for many more years but in order to do that, the chances increase the more I work with my horse and we both stay injury free!
I can be brave when a balance is found and I am seeing the rewards. Each baby step builds on the next and even though we have just taken baby steps all along our path, we are maybe not quite ~blazing~ a trail but we are not meek, timid or stuck…we are slowly moving forward with calm assertiveness (most of the time) and that is just fine by me! 🙂
Happy Trails to you!
Sue and Porsche