That Darn Pony

Horse & Rider - - From The Editor -

My first launch from the sad­dle came from a les­son pony that was new to the barn— I think I was 9 years old. We were walk­ing in the round pen when my mom told me to kick the pony to trot. Not yet aware that there are var­i­ous lev­els of kick­ing and that I shouldn’t go to the big kick first, I pulled my legs from the pony’s sides and re­ally kicked her. I’m sure you’re shocked to read that she didn’t like that one bit, and she tossed me right into the round-pen panel. (A few weeks later the poor pony sur­prised ev­ery­one with a baby by her side. No one knew they’d ac­quired her in foal.)

“You were mad as a wet hen,” my mom told me when I asked for de­tails. “I made you get back on, but you swore you’d never ride again. You didn’t speak to me the en­tire ride home.”

Ob­vi­ously, like we all do, I got over it. It wasn’t my last ride—nor was it the last time I was bucked off.

Leo’s Wild Ride

We’re not sure what got into Old Paint, but he caught both me and Leo off guard when he pitched his mini fit. Leo stayed on, but his con­fi­dence was rat­tled. To be hon­est, mine was, too. I re­al­ize and have told him that he’ll hit the dirt some­day, but no par­ent wants to see their child in a po­ten­tially danger­ous sit­u­a­tion.

Once Leo re­gained con­trol, we both took a few deep breaths. He told me he was done for the day. But, liv­ing by the old cow­boy rule, I made him keep rid­ing. On the way home I was relieved he didn’t give me the si­lent treat­ment. We dis­cussed the sit­u­a­tion, fo­cus­ing on mov­ing on. He could learn from it, use what he felt to re­mind him to pay at­ten­tion and ride more of­ten, but then he had to let it go. At the next op­por­tu­nity to ride, Leo was more cau­tious, but he’s re­gain­ing his con­fi­dence.

The Best Ad­vice

This all hap­pened as I was work­ing with Bob Avila on this month’s “Get Your Mojo Back.” A set­back can come in many forms, rocking the con­fi­dence of a novice child learn­ing to ride or a pro­fes­sional like Bob. Be sure to check his ad­vice on page 30.

What’s your ad­vice for re­gain­ing con­fi­dence? What events in your horse life have shaken your spirit? Share with me at the ad­dress be­low.

Jpaul­son@aim­me­dia.com.

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