I've never been a huge risk-taker, as far as physical things go. I have done risky things, sure, but usually because circumstances arose that made those risks necessary. Apparently, my self-preservation instinct is very well-honed--possibly too well-honed.
This thought process, and my ride today, led to this conclusion: The ground work is important, particularly as Bar gets his fitness level, balance, and confidence up, but I need to get up there and ride. For him, for me, for both of us to grow--him as a horse, me as a rider.
I need to push past the fear and trust him--and myself--more than I've allowed. Bar has given me every indication that he is ready to work with me and I've been too scared to accept it, to trust it. That means we're both missing out on the relationship we could have, not gaining knowledge and skills both of us need.
That's not going to get either of us anywhere and today was a prime example.
We were forced to use the outdoor arena--or give up and not ride--so down we went. I worked Bar in small circles around me, letting him come in for a second before sending him back out the opposite direction he'd been going, until he circled at at trot consistently before being called back in. This is hard for him, though I don't yet know why. Then we did pivots around his front end and side passes, just to be sure he was loose and paying attention.
He was, which meant no more excuses for me.
I was so stiff, so out of balance, and Bar never once took advantage of it. He kept at it, responding to leg cues that weren't great, and accepting my truly horrific attempts to post with relatively good humor.
I'd laugh, if I didn't feel so much like crying.
Steve asked me what I'm so afraid of. It isn't even so much getting hurt--though there's no denying that thought floats in the back of my head--it's the risk of sliding backwards with Bar, of having another accident that sets us all back to square one.
But that risk exists no matter where we are in our training, so it's not a good reason anyway.
I'm not Steve, I didn't grow up pushing my limits, and I didn't grow up riding and falling off horses, either, so learning to push just far enough is a new path to follow.
It's the right path, though, for learning, for growing--for Bar, and for me.