Saturday, March 06, 2010


Sometimes I think back to when we first got Bar, before some of our accidents, and remember a more confident rider--namely me--and get frustrated with myself. I look in the mirror (or at pictures) and wonder if I'll ever feel that brave and carefree on him again, if I'll ever get to a place where I can ask him to canter without holding my breath for at least the first lap.

Just like grief, working through fear is an individual journey and all of us deal with it a little differently. Some people can push themselves through it with bravado and come out fine the other side. For me, it's taken a longer, slower, and more circuitous path--a path that has taught me a lot about myself and about my horse, and a path that has led to a trust level between us that is invaluable.

Not to mention a healthy dose of reality.

Having horses in your life includes a level of risk and responsibility and forgetting that--even for an instant--is the biggest risk of all. It's not that you can't relax, which is something I keep striving for, but it's a balancing act between relaxing and being ready to ride through whatever this 1,200 pound prey animal might do in a mere nanosecond.

I've had people tell me it's okay to get rid of Bar, to get an "easier," more "bombproof" horse. But he's not a car that just didn't drive the way I wanted it to, he's my horse. He is happy to see me when I get to the barn, happy when I put a saddle on him, and now incredibly tolerant of my truly terrible efforts at posting and my breath-holding. He actually pays attention when I ask him to slow down and when he's not sure what I want (usually due to unclear directions on my part), or I'm off-balance, he stops--a marked improvement to dumping me. He has given me amazingly solid efforts on the trail--sometimes more than he really had in him physically--with little complaint.

We even managed several laps at a canter today--not to mention some really nice walk-trot transitions--and I did eventually manage to breathe.

So the reflection of who I was as a rider looks at the reflection of who I am as a rider--and who Bar was and is as a horse--and thinks maybe we're doing okay after all.


Anonymous said...

Looking good! Is he as big as he looks? Very handsome boy - he sounds like he really wants to please and do well by you, which is (more than) half the battle!

Jessica said...

Thanks, Kate!

He is pretty tall, over 16, maybe 16'2? I am only 5'3 so we are a funny pair.

aurora said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
aurora said...

Some people just don't get & Bar obviously have a connection. It takes courage to work through issues, you are making progress together, at your own pace - and doing great!

Buckskins Rule said...

Kate and Aurora have touched on truisms: Bar has "try" and you and he have connected.

Speaking for myself, it boils down to this: Horses, like people, have individual personalities, accompanied by individual quirks. The question becomes "am I willing to live with these quirks?" No one else in my family likes to ride Smokey, as he has scared them to the point of saying "no". I, on the other hand have learned to understand and either deal with, or ignore these behaviors. For me, his positive attributes far outweigh any negatives.

I understand that OTTB's come with a completely different set of challenges. I have a great deal of respect for your willingness to accept Bar, and your courage to continue working through those challenges. And remember, it's no longer a race. You can progress as quickly or as slowly as it takes.