In the Night Farm…Your Ride is Here.


Photo by Michael Ensch.

Fear is a question: What are you afraid of and why?

Our fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if we explore them.

~ Marilyn Ferguson

I don’t think the real horseman exists who hasn’t been afraid at one time or another.  Mary Twelveponies breaks the fear of horses into three, common categories:

1. Fear born of inexperience;

2. Fear resulting from trauma; and

3. Fear based in respect.

I’ve felt all three at various times, usually more than once and sometimes for extended periods.

The third is positive; I don’t mind keeping it.  As the vaqueros used to say, “A man won’t make a good horse until he is afraid to ride.”

But the others…they must be faced squarely, evaluated, and addressed.  Through education.  Through creativity.  Through graduated exposure.  And sometimes, through good, old-fashioned “getting back on the horse.”

Fear is a question:  What are you afraid of and why?


10 responses

  1. Dom

    What a great way of breaking it down, and such an inspirational quote!

    May 29, 2011 at 7:11 am

    • 🙂 Thanks, Dom. I like a lot of Mary Twelveponies’ thoughts.

      May 31, 2011 at 6:56 am

  2. Helpful way to look at fear. I know that in regards to # two, if I come off, I have to get right back on again and keep riding through whatever it was.

    May 29, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    • Agreed — I always get back on, too, before the fear has a good chance to take hold. Of course, that doesn’t work as well when you’re badly injured. 😦

      May 31, 2011 at 6:55 am

  3. Yes, fear certainly comes with the territory doesn’t it? Ofcourse we have all felt it, experienced it from time to time. I fear for another bad stumble by my horse where we both go down. It’s happened and been an issue for me. I have climbed out of that fear more than once, but it isn’t easy. An uncontrolled runaway.. that’s a sick feeling… would rather take any bucking , rearing horse any day over a runaway . All that aside, my heart really goes out to those people that have fear everytime they get near their horse, and yet, for whatever reason , they continue to pursue their love, in spite of it.. I often wonder why put oneself through that??? I see it at the trail heads, the common riding areas that I ride in, or the riders I happen to come upon on the trails. Mostly women, but men too. I can sense the fear in their bodies, and see it in their horses as I go on by, hopefully avoiding an incident. I often think that if I am ever plagued with that constant fear, I might not want to continue this, because what joy does that bring a person?? And , what does that fear in the rider/handler do to a horses psyche over time??? Fear sucks….

    May 29, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    • Agreed on all counts. Bolts are the worst. I’m not a big fan of bucking, either, after my wreck in January! But it’s like that vaquero saying claims: The fear makes you a better trainer, because you take the time to iron out the wrinkles in every horse.

      May 31, 2011 at 6:54 am

  4. You probably don’t follow my blog, but I’ve given up riding because of fear. Running is my first passion and a bad fall earlier this year made me realize how quickly that can be in jeapordy. I really dislike that I made this decision but it is one I can live with. For now I volunteer on the ground with horses and I find that fairly satisfying.

    I like to think that if horses were my primary passion I woud have worked through my issues. But really, who knows?

    May 31, 2011 at 12:55 am

    • 😦 I remember you mentioning that fall. It does become a very personal decision, involving the standard weighing of costs and benefits in a more-than-usually serious way. I know several equestrians who have made the same decision as you did. Sometimes they try again, years later, and sometimes not. I know others who have seriously considered giving up riding, but ultimately continued and were glad they did. It certainly isn’t a moral decision, in my opinion — “quitting” isn’t necessarily bad.

      May 31, 2011 at 6:51 am

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