Confessions of a Timid Rider
My Name is Heather and I Have a Confession
I Let Fear Take Over
I’m a returning adult rider that has been back in the saddle about 8 years now. I rode for several years as a child but stopped because of my anxiety. Self doubt that I was not good at what I loved best.
For a long time I let that fear get in the way. It was easy to step away and say it was due to college. To get caught up in those four years away and pretend to be an adult. I focused on books rather than animals and followed a path into publishing for 12 years.
But I always felt like I was missing something. Living in NYC I would dream at night of riding bareback through the woods, the wind whipping my hair, and feeling a freedom that I could barely remember.
I craved nature. Taking a leap I chose to volunteer with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Central Park Zoo. Spending those 4 years in an oasis of sounds and exotic sites, was a band aid for what I was missing soul deep. I took my passion for animals and I used it to teach visitors from around the world about our species. One of my mentors told me something that sticks with me even to this day, “People want to save what they love”.
I Am a Timid Rider
When I moved back to suburban New Jersey, riding horses was at the top of my list. Within 8 months of giving birth to my eldest daughter, I was hesitantly mounting an aging thoroughbred packer. I was terrified and excited simultaneously.
My perspective was so different than in my memory. Suddenly I was higher off the ground than I remembered. I felt precarious in the saddle. A child at home depended on me, whether I was hurt from a fall or not. I began to sweat in anticipation of the unknown.
My desire and my fear were in direct oppostion with each other that day. Just like they were when I chose to step away as a teenager. But this time I chose to let my passion be greater than my fear. I knew that I had taken the easy way out and regretted walking away from horses for so long. I became determined to follow through.
Let your passion be greater than your fear. Click To Tweet
We took it slowly. I very quickly remembered how to hold the reins properly, how to post the trot and immediately get the correct diagonal. Small successes for sure, but they made me incredibly proud.
I’ve come a long way since I took that first step back to horsemanship. My Middle-Aged Equestrian Reinvention. I’ve had ups and downs, good rides and bad rides. Funny stories and some scary falls. The whole way back has been slow and steady. Always progressing forward, even if sometimes it feels like I’m going backward.
When I say I am a timid rider, it is not because I am scared to ride. Oh no, it is because I am scared to fail. I am scared that I cannot live up to my own expectations. That my insecurities will hold me back. Or that I will let my anxiety be greater than my passion once again and step away. Something I have always regretted doing in the past. It is only my self doubt that holds me back.
This series, Confessions of a Timid Rider, is my personal diary. My thoughts, feelings, highs and lows. The struggle is real people. Slightly overweight mother of three balancing my small business, writing, and always reaching for the goal of owning my own horse. I write this series to remind myself of why I love horses and everything they have taught me.
I write to remind myself I know more than I think, and that I am an equestrian. Thank you for following on my journey.
I can really relate to this. I have been away from horses for over 6 years now (due to time, school, and finances). But I am ready to get back in the saddle again. I find that now that I am older, I really appreciate the solid school horses who are so good at letting me regain my confidence with them. I miss my teenage self who was willing to ride almost anything. The horses really do seem taller now.
They do seem taller! I was talking with some other returning adult equestrians. Funny how we either prefer the packers or the sassy ones. I am happy with a horse right down the middle.
Thanks for being so brave to share your story! I think we all have a little bit of “Timid Rider” in us – bravery is all about conquering our fears one step at a time 🙂
Oh, how I get letting your anxiety take over! I let it take me so far that I quit twice. I convinced myself it was for other reasons, but it was simply my fear of failure. When I realized that I needed my failure to succeed, that failure was actually my best friend who fear had masked as my enemy, my whole world changed. Make failure your best friend.
Easier said than done, I know, but it’s a habit you can learn to develop.
You’ve got this! ????
I can relate to you saying that you weren’t so much scared to ride, but afraid to fail. That can be said with so many parts of our life, but if we can just take that step, we may see it’s not that scary after all and we can succeed.
Exactly. It isn’t just horses, although that is my particular passion, but anything at all. I can easily say the same about my writing. I’ve always been too shy to share my writing with the world, so in doing so I am facing my fears this way as well. And I’m so proud and grateful that I pushed through that wall.
Good for you for feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Given your passion for horses, it would have been a shame for you to stay away from something you love so much. I am crazy about horses, but I only rode a short time many years ago. I think I was around 30 when I first got on a horse and took lessons for about a year. I loved it, got thrown a couple of times while learning how to jump but got back in the saddle as it were. I wish I had a farm I would fill it with animals, horses included!!
I wish I had a farm too! My friends have one though so I plan on getting my fix through them. They have goats, chickens, and will have horses eventually too.
Lola The Rescued Cat
I’m glad you faced your trepidation and got back in the saddle. The feeling after that first ride must have been amazing! I’m enjoying reading your series. Maybe some day I’ll give horseback riding a try.
Thank you! It wasn’t easy to make that first leg up but it was so worth it.
Horses are big (yes I know but it needs saying – right?) but they are also magnificent, and courageous and beautiful. You are brilliant for getting up there and riding. I have to make mental leaps and they take a lot of courage so I can relate!!
Well done. Taking that first step is often the tough one!
Too true, the first step is usually the hardest. I said the same thing about publishing my first post here on the blog and revealing myself to the world. I’ve grown so much as an equestrian and a writer that no matter what happens, I can be proud of myself.
Patty Leonard Woodland
I used to ride when I was younger but can’t now due to health reasons – although I will do a trail ride now and then. I’m sure you will be fully confident once again. It’s not easy to do what one did so freely as a child
It’s definitely a different perspective from childhood to adulthood! Even if I were to stop riding for some reason, I created a career centered around horses and so will always ben able to share my life with them in some way.
I can completely relate to fear and anxiety getting in the way of doing what I love. And your candid account of your struggles truly hit home. I was reminded of Samwise Gamgee’s speech to Frodo about the great stories, and the people in those stories doing the right thing because the good in this world is worth fighting for.
Props to the Lord of the Rings reference *fist bump*. I’m so glad my story resonates with you. It was my hope that others would relate, because fear and anxiety too often provide that obstacle.
I’m glad you overcame your initial fear. I used to ride a lot when I was about twenty, then left it behind for decades. I got on a horse on vacation in Germany a few years ago, and wow, I felt so timid and different from the confident self I felt at twenty. Riding again definitely takes some getting used to, and if I had the chance, I would do it.
I’m glad you were able to come back even for a short ride! It is such a different perspective but it’s really about what drives your passion. Everyone has something they are passionate about and I hope this provides some incentive for people to face what makes them scared and push through.
Right there with you. It’s funny – falls aren’t scary as they are happening because they happen so fast and you can’t really fight gravity. But they sure are scary if you let your imagination go wild. I got bucked off last fall and it sounds much worse than it was – I landed on my side and rolled under the horse who then clonked me in the head (I had my helmet on). I was able to get up without issue but yeah, it’s hard to see how you can be relaxed if that’s all you are picturing. My fear levels are in stages – now that I’m jumping, I’m ok with single jumps, but courses are kind of freaking me out. That’s just silly on my part.
Glad you were okay and were wearing your helmet! You are so right that our imagination makes things more scary. It’s the “what if” factor. I’m a better rider when I get out of my own head and just breathe.
How wonderful you’ve worked to overcome your fear. I remember getting back on horseback this past Christmas after not riding for almost 30 years. It did seem a lot higher than before and I admit to having the fear of falling off. I need to lose much more weight and exercise my legs so I can get on and off a horse by myself.
Coming back from my rib injury will be interesting this week. I’ve been on rest and will be mounting up again Tuesday for the first time in three weeks, since my big fall. It’s not going to be pretty! But what happened was a fluke and I can’t let it get to me. Something that even two years ago, I would build up in my mind.