Now there are definitely times to let fear guide you, if your gut is strongly telling you "be afraid!" I'd advise listening to it. But here I'm talking about those little niggly fears, the ones that either freeze you or force you.
Over the last few years I had a fear creep up on me, I'm not sure how or why it developed, but I started to really dislike getting on strange horses. By strange I mean ones I hadn't been on. I could have seen the horse and knew what it was like, but ask me to get on and I just could not. At first I was talking myself into "oh it's just green horses" or horses that I thought maybe had some holes somewhere.
I can tell ya, that made my first few rides with Frosty interesting lol I KNOW that LT is a helluva hand, that he was broke, and that I was as safe on him as I was on Lefta or Voodoo (maybe more depending on the situation lol) but it was still a bit of a struggle those first few rides.
That's when I realized that my fear was getting on any horse that I hadn't rode before. With having three young horses coming up in the next few years that was going to be a problem!
Then this past fall I got asked if I would help start a friend's horse on barrels in the spring. And then another friend asked.
I said yes to the first one on the condition that she send it to a real trainer for basic training (she had started it herself).
The second person is JL, one of my closest friends and knows the whole deal about my fear, I told her I would start her filly after she had put a bit more time on her.
I don't know where this fear came from. I do think it ties in with some of the confidence I had lost, with second guessing any of my instincts or abilities. I do know that working with Shine has helped both of those.
In December I decided to take my fear in the other direction, I let it force me. When given the option to get on a horse I didn't know I said yes, I forced myself to do it even though my nerves didn't want me to.
I rode 4 strange horses in 5 days! (and on two of those days I didn't ride at all)
At a club's Christmas ride I asked JL if she wanted to switch horses toward the end.
Then JL and I went on a trip to visit a friend of hers and work horses. I brought Shine, and we made a lot of progress! But when T found out I hadn't brought a horse to ride he told me to get on Meredith Grey. And yes he laughed when I told him I was nervous because she's soooo broke, but after talking about it he was good about it and let me take my time. Later that day while JL was having a bit of trouble he went to work with her horse, when things settled down I asked if I could get on Mr. Darcy.
The next day I rode Meredith Grey again - and part way through T called me over and took her bridle off then sent me on my way with just a neck rope. I wasn't scared but I did say I'd probably only get up to a trot. We ended up loping circles, spinning and doing deep, hard stops.
And that same night I asked to get on JL's filly, the one that she wants me to start on barrels.
Gotta tell ya, there was a bit of ribbing about me and my fear that last night over drinks lol
So not only did I get on "four strange horses" I asked to get on all but one. However if at any time my gut had told me to be afraid I wouldn't have been ashamed about not riding or stepping off if I had been on already. But this hasn't been a gut based fear, it's been a pesky little fly buzzing around that drained my confidence more and more. And dealing with it has been so freeing!