Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Today's riding lesson: Trust

I rode in an English saddle today, which I'm not used to.  It was interesting to see how my anxiety caused me to lose my ability to communicate with my horse.  I asked him to go into a canter, but it took many tries before I could properly ask him.  I was afraid of not being able to stay in the saddle (i.e. fall off and eat sand) and the fear made me tense up and give conflicting commands, such as  asking the horse to go forward while also pulling on the reins to ask the horse to stop.

Interestingly, we humans do the same thing to each other.  We are often afraid to communicate with each other.  We may be afraid that the other person will react in a hurtful manner or, like me, you may be afraid that if you get what you're asking for then you won't be able to handle it.  So how do we build trust?  Well for me, I just kept trying.  I'd timidly ask for a canter, the horse would trot or half-heartedly canter/trot.  I'd ask again and again and again.  Because I didn't give up, I slowly started building up trust that I could handle it.  I tried to calm my anxiety and relax and asked again.  The horse cantered!

It's the same with building trust.  You can't just decide to trust someone and even if you could, you shouldn't.  If I decided I would canter no matter what, I may have ended up falling off and getting hurt. Instead, a healthy way of building trust is to try a little and see what happens.  Did you survive?  Did your feelings survive?  Did your relationship survive?  Okay, try a little more.  Try it again and again.  Each time it is successful, you build more trust and you're willing to try more until you have a healthy and happy relationship-whether with a horse or another human.