Friday, July 6, 2012

Finding My Courage

Me and Pacem, my first horse
In my books, Jessica is a bold and rather fearless rider. I, however, am not. In fact, when I was fifteen I had a riding 'accident' that resulted in me deciding that I wanted to own horses, but I would never ride again.

I did ride again, of course, but I stayed in my trotting comfort zone for years.

As a nervous rider, I actually had a huge calming effect on the horses I rode. Someone once said that I was so nervous, and spooked at everything so much, that a jumpy horse had to go bombproof in self defense.

With a series of falls an accidents in my past, it took a very special horse to help me get my nerve back.

A Clydesdale something cross of of a Navajo reservation, Atlas only topped off at about 14hh. He was stubborn, level-headed, smooth to ride, older, and he was very picky about his riders. If his rider didn't cue him impeccably he wouldn't do anything.

I didn't own Atlas, but he needed exercise and I loved him, so I got to ride him quite a bit. I would throw a bareback pad over his ultra-boney spine and we would go on little trail rides, along dirt roads and through the wash (a dry river bed). Before I knew it, he had given me wings. I was galloping around bareback on Atlas before I ever even cantered my own horse.

Atlas was that special horse that reached out and touched my heart. We bonded in a way that was unique to the pair of us. The confidence and courage he taught me, the ability to trust in my horse, carried me forward. There is something of him in every horse relationship I've had since.

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