Controlling Emotions - Hitting Re-Set.

When you ride horses, you will likely find yourself on the ground at some point. It happens to everyone. We all know the saying, "When you get bucked off, get right back on." This idea is not just the literal sense, but includes the emotional re-centering from the ordeal. As you can imagine, getting bucked off elicits a range of emotions - anger, fear, frustration. However, the idea of getting back on invites a new try, a do-over. This is also true of the emotions involved with riding.  

Working with horses requires true control over your emotions. If a horse bolts off bucking and kicking, you have to be able to not react in the human version of the same energy. You have to be able to erase any negative experience or notion you have constructed of the event and not take it personally. 

Lilac is my six-year old Appendix fiery, confident, alpha mare. One day last summer, I was riding her in an indoor arena while my friend was riding another mare. Pretty soon, I let my guard down and the other horse got a little close to Lilac's hind end. I did not even have time to blink while Lilac spun around and fired off her hind legs at the other horse. The spinning and launching was a perfect combination to throw me right to the ground. I knew Lilac was dominant and now I was angry at her for trying to kick the other horse with a rider! I was mad, but, I was also planted in the arena dirt. 

I got up, realized I was ok, took a deep breath, and looked at her. This had never happened to us before and I could see the question in her face, "Why are you down there?" Losing my temper with Lilac was not going to change the fact that I needed to be more observant, understanding for her personality, and responsible. I zeroed-out my emotions, accepted what I needed to change about myself, and began an exercise with moving and connecting with her feet. I got back on and paid closer attention to where her feet were at all times. 

Pretty soon, the understanding we developed over-took the emotions gripping me. Naturally, I was angry and scared, but I did not pitch a tent in these reactions. I let them pass and focussed on what I needed to learn. Lilac and I have a great relationship, she trusts me and I have seen her shift to be less dominant. Reacting with violence can never bring a peaceful, trust-filled solution. You cannot control horses, you can only control yourself.

The friendship Lilac and I have is based on trust, understanding, and mutual respect, not fear or dominance.  

The friendship Lilac and I have is based on trust, understanding, and mutual respect, not fear or dominance.