From Confident to Cautious - Part Two - Finding My Way Back Into Horses

My second daughter was born almost two years to the day apart from her older sister. Talk about another colossal shock getting used to being the mom of two. I again struggled with postpartum depression; I was short-tempered, easily frustrated, and felt like I was getting lost in motherhood. 

(To read part one, you can find that here)

Come springtime, my daughters would occasionally nap simultaneously; this is when I would try and ride. We are very blessed to have an outdoor arena a hundred feet from our home, and wifi monitors gave me the ability to take advantage when the opportunity arose. Yet again, I felt pressured to start riding our youngster, Ace. I started doing some groundwork with him, and it felt like nothing much had changed in the past year; we still didn’t get along. I was getting increasingly frustrated with him, and I hate to admit I lost my temper numerous times. My fear of getting hurt only fuelled the fire. I had two little kids; I couldn’t afford to get hurt! But I was also stubborn and tried my best to push my fear aside. 

It didn’t take long to realize I just didn’t have the skill required to work with Ace. I was a scared ticking time-bomb, and funny enough, so was he. Combining us was a recipe for disaster. My husband and I decided to send him to a friend who also trained horses. He came unglued with her a time or two; hearing her replay his bucking escapade made me even more apprehensive at the thought of riding him when he got home turning my tummy into a ball of painful knots. 

I knew something had to change for Ace and me to find any resemblance of a partnership. While Ace was at the trainer, I started to look all over the internet for some insight on training methods that would work for him. What I ended up finding, however, was the farthest thing I was looking for. 

I started to see hints that I wasn’t listening to my horse. I would become defensive at this way of thinking; how am I supposed to be the leader if I’m not telling my horse what to do? He will walk all over me if I let him tell me what he wants; it didn’t make sense to me, and honestly, at the start, I thought it was ridiculous. I started to learn about stress indicators from Warwick Schiller, and while I thought it seemed a little crazy to let my horse have such an opinion on things, I was very intrigued with the idea of what he was doing. I kept watching his videos, and pretty soon, my skepticism started to dwindle. 

The more videos I watched, the more articles I read, every bit of evidence started to point to one main problem within our partnership. Me. My attitude, outlook on life, and buried trauma were negatively tainting everything I was touching. Talk about a kick to the ego. For so long, I thought the horse was the one with the problem, and I just had to learn how to train him. The reality was, however, I was the one that needed the training and the healing. 

When Ace returned, I was happy with his progress with my friend and trainer Breann Heatherington. I was still nervous, thinking my skills wouldn’t be adequate to prevent a blow-up or perhaps inadvertently cause one to happen. When we got home, I tried to do a lot of listening. I think Ace was a little shocked at how differently I was approaching our time together. Pretty soon, he started to communicate with me his concerns, worries, and even physical pain, as long as I was paying enough attention to see them. We were creating a deep bond doing everything in baby steps. I wasn’t in a rush anymore. 

A quote of unknown origins that completely changed my perspective was how we all, horses and humans alike, want to feel that we are "being seen, being heard, feeling felt, and getting gotten." When I stopped drowning in my own emotions, negative energies and trauma, I could finally open my eyes to see, hear, feel and get what Ace needed. 

Healing myself has been the most significant step to releasing anxiety, fear, worry and doubt. Without healing, moving forward would have been impossible. I encourage you to do the same. 

Like what you've read? Check out this video where I talk more about this. 

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Photo is my first barrel race back after the birth of my daughter.

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