Had another breakdown in my lesson tonight, but it was small and manageable. Stalker was full of beans since he’d had no turnout and was pawing the floor with his left front hoof as I groomed him and tacked him up. So that made me tense and Leah could really tell. Leah could tell exactly what was up because Stalker would go faster when I got an attack of claustrophobia which made me more tense which took me some effort to calm down which lasted for 10 seconds until we got near the next jump (this is just getting near the jump, mind you, not jumping) and I got my phobia back and Stalker sped up again in response and on and on.
Leah asked me to talk about it, to talk about what was bugging me. She told me this the last time I had a melt-down and stressed at the time (and tonight) how important it is that we talk about what bugs me. I mean, I believe her — but I just can NOT believe that someone actually wants to know what’s upsetting me and isn’t going to judge me as stupid, weak, wrong, etc, when I actually open my big yap and talk.
Well then! Aren’t you glad I told you that?
OK. So, I was having spooking issues. “The jumps,” I said, “are too close to the wall.” Hey, they were! Well, too close for my taste BUT the correct distance from the wall/rail. Hmph. “And my leg is moving around and my foot’s sliding back and forth in the stirrup!” I wailed.
“And what do you do about that?” asked Leah.
“Um . . .put weight in my heels?”
“Exactly. Remember: You are in charge. You’ve got the reins, the bit — you are in charge of what Stalker does. He doesn’t know you’re afraid of him. When he feels your fear, then he figures there’s something to worry about. They can smell your adrenaline.”
So I came clean about what was upsetting me. At the lesson prior to mine on Monday, I watched girls go over jumps. Small ones, but jumps. Several horses bumped a front leg and stumbled and everyone (except me) would laugh or joke or make light of it — but when I watched, I thought, “That’s not funny. That’s terrible.”
This has happened to me before; I see something in a riding class that makes me nervous and I don’t talk about it (because who wants to know about that for God’s sake?) and it makes me nervous for days or even quite a bit longer. Years maybe even. So I hang onto it inside but let on like everything’s fine – ha ha! – and meanwhile my glasses are steaming up from unshed tears.So I got to shed them and just talk about the problems and the fears — and Stalker, good old Stalker, dozed off underneath me. Then I came home and downloaded “Drive” by Incubus: “Sometimes I let Fear take the wheel and steer.” Yeah.