Monday, November 21, 2011


The worst thing about being afraid is how persistent fear is.  How fear sits next to you and holds your hand, strokes your forehead and your hair and tells you that you should just go lay down.  How fear snakes through your stomach while soothing your mind into thinking you're sick.  I have general anxiety about things and have been working on it for the past year, but today I just want to go back to bed.  When fear has been your strongest relationship for the last fifteen years, it's hard to break up.  Every day I confront my fear.  My fear of getting hurt at the barn, my fear of throwing up and passing out while driving (did I mention fear is also totally irrational but can convince you that it's totally valid), my fear of judgement from other people, my fear of making parenting mistakes and raising a serial killer.  I stare fear down on a regular basis and I always come out the other side.  But fear is strong and we're still in the middle of our wrestling.  And today I'm tired.

I don't want to push down these vague, uneasy feelings today.  I don't want to go to the barn and fight through the nausea that will rise up as I make the twenty minute drive.  I don't want to have to give myself a pep talk about training my horse and not letting her train me.  I don't want to focus on breathing out and relaxing my shoulders and being the leader in the relationship.  I want to get back in my pajamas and crawl into bed.  I want to stay in  my safe house and eat toast and hot chocolate and watch the rain and wind move through.

Tomorrow is supposed to be stormy, with high winds and lots of rain predicted.  I have my weekly lesson scheduled for tomorrow and I'm already afraid.  I don't want to go out in crazy windy weather and ride.  I know I sound like a petulant child, but I'm so afraid.  And then I'm angry at myself for being afraid.  And then I'm depressed that I'm so afraid.  But I know that if I take a break it will get worse.  If I don't go out to the barn this week, then I will just have a young horse that has had a whole week off.

I will go to the barn today.  I will suck it up. I wonder how much of this is because the last ride I had on Friday was not a good ride and then Saturday she had something funny on her elbow/shoulder.  I couldn't go out yesterday so it's now been since Thursday that I had a success.  The rational part of my brain sees all of this and is nodding and going "Yes, yes.  Of COURSE that's it!" but then good ol fear jumps in and says "Why do you own a horse you're afraid of?  Why are you even dealing with horses?  This isn't fun.  This is never going to be fun.  You're never going to get it.  And I'm pretty sure you're gonna puke today.  Go back to bed."

Hopefully I will have a post about this afternoon that will turn this around.  If nothing else, I will have stared fear down for one more day.


  1. Would you find it empowering to know that this isn't something that only you struggle with? You're not the odd man out, you're probably in and amongst the norm...

    I have a friend I used to trail ride with. The first time we went out together she nervously admitted to me that riding makes her nervous. That she gets sick to her stomach, she has to stop at the bathroom a couple of times before even going out to groom the horses, and even when she's up there she's locked up, her stomach's doing summersaults and she's feeling faint.

    And I suddenly realized I'm not alone. I used to find all kinds of excuses to miss lessons or avoid the barn, even though I was leasing a horse or paying for lessons. The stress of going there and being there was too much. Stressed the whole time I'm there, and only finally start feeling better when I get home.

    Then I started talking to other riders about it, and learned that a lot feel the same way. So we started supporting each other and going to the barn together. We'd never want to let the other person down or be late so we'd show up (being late makes me incredibly anxious). And the best part is that the more we did it, it became part of a routine.

    Suddenly, it was the norm to show up there and ride. So we got less anxious and nervous about it. And when we did, we talked to one another about it and encouraged each other.

    Now I've been on my own with Moon for almost a year, and had the same nerves as you when I first got him. But I moved him somewhere that costs me a fair chunk of change to be. And I'm more anxious about my money situation then riding. So I get out there to make myself feel like I'm not wasting money (every ride reduces my 'per-ride' cost of horse ownership, justifying it over say a lease or part-board).

    Both times I've curbed on anxiety with another. I hate being late, so having an appointment at the barn meant I'd show up. Not wanting to waste money, I have to ride to feel better. And then the rest is just routine and pattern once you've got yourself out there.

    So figure out what makes you MORE anxious then riding, and work that in to your plan! And then relax, realize you're just human and it's okay to feel like vomiting every time you drive to the barn. Just make sure you get there.

    (pardon the novel : P )

  2. First off, you've got company, many of us have been where you are now - I certainly was right after my bad fall back in June. Second, give yourself permission to feel the fear - just experience it, don't judge it - if you try to tell yourself you shouldn't be afraid or fight the feeling, that will make it worse. Sometimes allowing yourself to be "with" the feeling will actually give some relief. Third, establish routines. Fourth, do what you're able to do and what you're comfortable with, and keep doing that until you feel able to do more - do some work arounds: is there someone else at the barn who could ride your horse when you can't?

  3. You are definitely not alone. I fight fear and anxiety every day in almost everything I do. I don't know when I got to be such a worrier but often the only way I can overcome it is to "just do it". I hate that. I have severe anxiety about driving (and my horse is 70 miles away) and I always worry about getting hurt. But I always feel so great after I go out to the barn. Nothing can replace that joy I get from spending quality time with my horse.