How Does Fear Spread?
Watching the horses graze, soaking up the sun, sharing the calm all around them, I realized that calm and fear cannot exist in the space.  There are of course exceptions but in general, this is true.  So how does this calm scene turn into a place of fear?  How does the fear spread and why is it important for riders?

We had a tree fall in our pasture and I didn't know directly since I couldn't see the tree, I knew from the horses' panic that something was wrong.  I felt fear.  I felt their fear and added my fear to it.  All three horses were running, fleeing for their lives in their mind.  There are so many examples of this and watching a herd can be a tremendous learning opportunity.

Let's back up and look at this closer.  The tree probably cracked a bit, which would have had the horses looking.  One horse may have lifted their head first, and then the others followed.  Then, as the tree fell and made noise, they ran away from the noise.  This is a great thing; it kept the tree from falling on them.  It truly was a matter of life and death, and they chose life.  When they no longer heard the noise, they stopped, turned and looked at the tree.  Very quickly, their heads went down, and they returned to grazing.  Nature at its finest.

I talked a little bit about the fear behind me, when I thought Michelle was going to run me over.  She reacted by thinking something was behind "US" that was going to eat us, so she tried to run me over.  Once I realized the nonsense and filled up with confidence, she walked along behind me quietly and looked to me to lead.  There is so much of this in riding as well.  If we are looking around for what might scare our horse, guess what they are looking around for?  This is why the police clinic teaching was so important.  FOCUS 100 feet ahead on where you are going and completely ignore everything else.  They have to ignore all the rioting, bottles being thrown at them, etc and they never know what that thing is going to be so they can't desensitize to everything.  They have to FOCUS on what they want, where they are going, and what they are doing and the horses feel that confidence.

It can be so hard at first to feel that confidence and have that focus.  I had to use a few tools to help me out (you can check them out here if you would like), and that got me over the hump.  Once I had a few confident rides, I had more confidence, and it was like an amazing snowball of becoming the leader I used to be.

If you enjoyed this, here are a few exercises to help build that confidence so our horses can feel it!  Ghosts of Anxiety - Past, Present, Future


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