Yesterday I went for my first little hack in the lanes around my riding centre. I rode Danny, a new horse for me, and was warned before we set out that he’s “a bit spooky”, a statement I would indeed agree with.
During our little trip out on lanes which are familiar to him, Danny took exception to:
2 dogs (one of them twice),
1 drill (with accompanying workmen),
1 horse (ridden),
3 horses (in fields or other stables),
a large assortment of trees and bushes which moved in the wind.
After all this he was exhausted, which I didn’t find a bit surprising.
The way Danny faced that hack is exactly the way I used to live my life. I was so busy going “Oh no, a car!” “Oh no, a tree!” that I spent all my energy on spooking at nothing instead of enjoying the ride. I still do, to a certain extent, but it’s something I’m trying to get away from and get over. These days I question my “Oh no, a …!” response and let myself just react, and not overreact. I was not accompanied on the hack by my usual instructor, who I had been expecting, and my instinctive response was “Oh no, a big change!”. A year ago a similar departure from my expectations would have thrown me into a big Danny-esque spook that would have spoiled my hack and the rest of the evening because I would have spent all my energy on something that didn’t matter. Because I didn’t freak out about it I had a lovely time with the lady who took me out in my instructor’s place and it was actually rather nice to hear someone else’s opinion on how I was riding.
So whenever I find myself exhausted in the future I’ll be thinking of Danny and checking my behaviour against his to see if I’m sliding back into “Oh no! There’s a tree!” thinking.