"Whatever you do, don't fall off"
Fear is such a powerful emotion that it can render the most rational person to making irrational decisions.
I wasn't always so afraid of riding, I would try different things putting my trust and faith in both the horses I was riding and the instructors that I had. I didn't really think about the consequences. On 25th September 15', 6 weeks before the biggest day of my life, I went horse riding and was put on one of the latest horses to arrive at the school, Maxine. We had worked for about 40 minutes in the arena, she was quirky and went to do one final jump before cooling down. We popped over the small cross pole and Maxine bucked, dropped her shoulder and I was off, I fell to the floor with both my hands out to brace for impact, I got up and my wrist was really hurting. I said "should I get back on?" and the instructor said "No, I didn't like the way Maxine has just done that, I'm going to put her back in the stable, you can get on Chino for a jump if you want?". In the time it had taken her to say that my wrist had swollen up, I decided that was the end of the lesson. I got an ice pack from the front office and tried laughing it off. My Mum drove my car back to her house, we parked down the street so Dad couldn't see (he would not have been impressed!). I text Celso and he came in his car to drive me to A&E, not a word was said to my Dad. When I went into the consultants room I think I already knew the answer, he said 'it's broken, it needs to go in a cast for 6 weeks.'
"But I'm getting married in 5 and a half weeks?"
I remember two quotes from my 'supportive' friends. Vicky: "Only you Kate, could break your wrist 5 weeks before you get married" and the other one from Louisa "Kate, you absolute twat, what is your Dad going to say?".
So that was it, all the wedding preparation out the window, my hen do, my dress fitting, I couldn't drive anywhere for 6 weeks, I couldn't do some last minute weight loss HIIT workouts, I was stuck in a cast. I begged the consultant and I was very fortunate to get it taken off the night before my wedding. I ended up throughout the wedding having to wear a wrist support. Not that this was too much of an issue, I rocked up in my flip flops and there was absolutely nothing wrong with my feet!
Anyway, the reason why I am saying this, is that it has all contributed to the fear that I have today. Although I laugh about it now, every time I get on a horse the fear grips me, what if I fall and break something? The smallest of cross poles can click on the 'fear' button and render me incapable of riding. I have let that fear button take over on a few occasions and given up. Fear creeps up on us like a shadow and you either let it consume you or you rise above it.
'Someone' I know had a rotational fall when going cross-country, I'm sure she will admit herself that she was lucky to come out relatively unscathed. There were weeks of muscle strain and possibly some tearing, even now I don't think she is back to 100%, but the most incredible thing about her, is her ability to get back on board. I'm sure she wouldn't admit when she feels nervous, she comes across brave, unshakeable and tends to push it to the back of her mind and cracks on with things. On the scale of things, my minor cross pole buck, compared to her rotational fall are worlds apart, I have no doubt that if the boot was on the other foot, her experience would have kept her on Maxine, there was very little that could be done in terms of prevention for that rotational fall, it was just unlucky. However, the thing that is consistent in both scenarios is fear.
As humans we are hard wired for self preservation, this means that our brains will click that 'fear' button to prevent danger occurring and it can be really hard to turn it off. The lady who had the rotational has dealt with that fear, put it in a box and moved on with great success. The way I have dealt with fear is to hold on to it, catastrophise it and fill my head with self doubt. When I walk into an arena and if the jumps are higher than a 30cm cross pole, fear takes over. I am still very much learning about how to best cope with my fear and also to learn about my own capability. I have learnt that jumping a cross pole at 30cm (however silly it looks), is the best way I can crack the fear and build my confidence up in a session. I don't think I will ever get rid of the fear demon, but it's just about finding a happy medium where I can still be effective and provide support to my horse.