That Darn Pony
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.