Riding Fear Free – The Surprising Gift of Fear

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by Laura Daley


Horses have survived, and thrived, for thousands of years because of a natural hyperawareness. Mateo and Haley, courtesy of Catherine Madera.

As the holidays approach, we all look forward to giving and receiving gifts. There are all kinds of wonderful examples of horse related items to choose from. This season, put aside the usual horse trinket and think about the surprising gift of fear.

Many fearful riders deal with an over-active, over-stimulated, brain. Hyperawareness can be a curse. We are bombarded with sensory input, and it can become overwhelming. Often, we are taught to ignore our emotions, and just deal with the horse. But, for a fearful rider, the mental and emotional feedback never stops. Fearful riders try to learn more, be better and work harder so that the fear will go away. They try to ignore the fear, suppress it and even dull it through medication. None of that truly works.

Instead, consider embracing your fear. Don’t suppress it, learn to control how and where you feel it; learn how to feel fear and still function. Fear can actually be a helper in deciding if your situation is safe. By using traditional methods of coping with fear around horses you are ignoring your own common sense.

Some fear comes from not knowing what to do with the information that your senses pick up. You know by the lift of your horse’s head or a shift in his expression that something is going on in their minds. You see the small signals, but because you have not learned how to deal with your own fear, you cannot always think of the appropriate action and take it. However, if you learn to control your emotional response, you can develop a deep connection and communication with your horse far beyond that of the average, non-fearful horseperson. Hyperawareness can actually become an advantage and it all starts with learning to embrace the gift of fear.


Published in November 2015 Issue

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