It seems like fear is a pretty common thread to see among a lot of adult amateurs. Whether it’s fear of jumping, fear of jumping solid objects, fear of riding outside of the ring, or whatever else, I see and hear the word quite a bit. As someone who is not generally a fearful person or rider, I admit to not really understanding a lot of it. I have a hard time identifying with fear issues and therefore a hard time being sympathetic or knowing the right thing to say or do. So lets use this post as a discussion point and help educate me – if you’re afraid of something, what is it, and why are you afraid? Have you always been afraid or did it happen as a result of a specific incident? What have you done to try to overcome or cope with that fear, if anything? When you’re in a situation where you feel afraid, would you rather people leave you alone or encourage/support you? If you aren’t a fearful rider – have you always been that way or have you successfully eradicated those fears? If so, how?
In my ponderings, and in talking it over with some other friends, it seems like there’s two general categories of fear: fear of bodily harm and fear of failure. I can identify more with the fear of failure… I am never particularly scared, but certain things do make me uncomfortable (ahem dressage). The bodily harm part I don’t get as much. I’ve been hurt before and I’m sure I’ll be hurt again. That doesn’t mean I’m reckless, but “OMG I’m going to fall off and break something” or “OMG I’m going to get run off with” or “OMG I might get bucked off” is never really a thought that crosses my mind. It’s all happened to me before and wasn’t the end of the world so I guess I feel fairly nonchalant about it.
I also think that there’s a difference between fearless and reckless, although sometimes people use them interchangeably. There was one point as a teenager where I would have gotten on any horse and jumped it over anything, whether it was likely to get me killed or a horse ruined in the process or not. That’s reckless. But I also sat on a lot of different horses of varying levels of sanity, so I got to experience and ride through and survive a lot of various misbehavior, which probably contributes greatly to my lack of fear today.
These days, as a 30-something, I will still get on just about anything (except a dangerous rearer, because I’m not suicidal) and not be afraid to try things with it, but only things that I think are within a reasonable expectation for that horse and myself. I’m usually pretty darn willing as long as I feel like it’s not stupid.
While fear isn’t really something that enters into the equation for me, that’s not to say that my heart isn’t hammering at the in gate or in the start box. I get the “let’s do this, self” butterflies for sure. Again, not what I’d classify as fear though, just adrenaline. I feel pretty lucky to not have fear issues, but it also makes it really hard for to me to understand and identify with The Fear Factor when it comes up with others. So, fellow riders – lets discuss!