My startle reflex has provide countless minutes of amusement to the kind of mean people in this world who suck. Folks who don’t suck get the idea after they see me jump out of my skin after they addressed me when I was engrossed in something and then make it a point to give me a heads-up by coughing, shuffling, whistling, etc. I appreciate such consideration because being jumpy isn’t exactly a virtue. It’s more on the Big Old Nerd end of the scale.
It’s finally kicked in that I’m going to have to lose the startle reflex when working with Gabby. No, nothing bad has happened bu I see how my nervousness over her nervousness feeds back into her nervousness which (ta da!) makes me . . . nervous!
What helped the most was spending some time with another student when we were both grazing our horses after a lesson. Her horse Dusty started at something. I was grazing Sadie and Sadie started also. It was a noise of some kind or another; car door slamming, motor starting, whatever. What really impressed me is that while both horses flinched, my co-student did not. Not a bit. We were having a discussion about confidence and ability and she displayed both right there in front of me.
Putting that lesson together with what I’ve read, experienced, and heard, I am now concentrating on Not Acting Startled. It’s not easy, especially when you’ve been acting like that for a long time. As a Professional told me the other day, it’s an opportunity to retrain myself physiologically.