Fear Factor

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The Relatable Rider

By April D. Ray

“Do one thing every day that scares you” is one of my favourite sayings. 

This quote is often misattributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, who actually said something a little more meaningful: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” 

The overall idea is that facing your fears will help you to grow and magical things happen outside of your comfort zone. But as someone who always needs to know the “why” of things, I find this sentiment a little lost without some background. After all, fear is there for a reason - to keep us safe. But fear can also be a bully and standing up to it can build courage and personal growth.

While I could argue that I already do multiple things every day that scare the you-know-what out of me, things like checking my bank balance, or stepping on a scale, I have committed to doing something that truly scares me once a week until that fear disappears. There is something incredibly vulnerable about admitting you are afraid of something. So here goes: I am afraid of lunging my horse. There. I said it. I hate to admit it. But after my life flashed before my eyes this past summer, and after several other close calls, I admit that I do not enjoy lunging my horse.

Part of the problem is that right now, lunging is the only “free time” my mare, Fire, has in a wide, open space. With smaller paddocks and the fields closed for the season, it’s her time to shine – or at least she thinks it is. So, there’s a lot of bucking, rearing, squealing, and general shenanigans. This is fine if she does it at the end of the lunge line on her circle. But that’s where our struggles begin. Whether she’s coming in on the circle or making a break for it in the open ring, we are a little all over the place. So, in my “promise to lunge once a week,” I will fix this issue and battle a little of that fear along the way – my fear of getting hurt, and my fear that she will hurt herself. 

But why? Because every well-rounded horse needs to learn to lunge in a safe and civilized manner. And this year I don’t want to still be worried and fearful about lunging my horse at home or at a horse show. 

“If the fear won’t go away, you’ll just have to do it afraid.” ~ Author unknown