Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fear and the Business Plan

When I start thinking about what I am doing as a breeder of Arabian horses and the decisions I need to be making, I can't help but think about my fear. Not my fear of the unknown in this scary economy but the fear I acquired as a result of my accident with Reflection. That fear has had a powerful effect on this business of mine.

I had actually gotten to the point I had given up on getting a young horse into the show ring under saddle this year. My plan last fall was to have both Storm and Reflection being shown this spring. At the time of the fall, I immediately put the goal for Reflection off for a year. Sometime later I gave up on Storm as well. It was amazing how easily that goal got pushed aside when the fear reared it's ugly head.

Sometimes there appears to be some parallel plane out there in the blogosphere. While I was thinking today of the effect that fear has had on my business plan this year, Nuzzling Muzzles was writing a series on Addressing Fear and posting it on her blog today. Our two incidents may be different but the end result is the same. Fear can be crippling if you let it.

I've known since that fateful day that I was frightened. But I wasn't just frightened of the horse that hurt me. Suddenly I was frightened of riding all young horses. I guess I'm lucky that I wasn't frightened of them on the ground as well. I was doing regular groundwork the whole time.

It didn't help that I got sick before I was able to get back up on that "horse" and ride. In this case the "horse" would not have been Reflection but any of the other three just started horses that I was working. That two months sitting at home allowed that fear to build and grow a life of it's own.

Despite the fact that I'd made arrangements for Reflection to be re-started by someone without any fear of getting thrown and the other three horses had done nothing to scare me, I couldn't make myself get back on any one of the young horses at the barn. I had no problem riding the "broke" horses, even when they buck or are naughty but climbing aboard the unbroke ones has been a different matter.

I did manage to get back on Vee but just a few weeks ago. I did that only with help from Colleen at first. Then I would only ride if someone else was there. The fact that Vee is really "green" broke and not totally a beginner helped give me the courage to ever try. Then there's a little thing she does called "bucking" that pushed me to the point I wouldn't begin without that help.

While this probably makes sense for safety sake, in the real world I would rarely ride if I had to wait for someone else to be around. It's just a fact of life that if I want to make any progress I train horses on my own. If I want to ever get horses shown and sold, I can't afford to be waiting for another person to be available.

As the fear of my business situation began swirling around in my head, it mingled with the thoughts of how this new found fear of mine is affecting my dream. The fact that not riding makes the prospect of getting horses marketed much slimmer means my fear must be addressed.

For me finally realizing the problem helped get me over the hump and begin riding Vee on a regular basis. Today she actually loped four complete laps of the arena without stopping. She managed to do that even her "hard way" and she's pretty proud of herself.

Over the last few weeks I have ridden Storm here and there when Colleen was available. Today I rode him for the first time since the accident with no one else around. I also got on Hope and rode her as well. I am able to ride without tension in my body but I know that fear is just a heartbeat away.

If there is any kind of startled movement by a horse, I'm going to be toast and that fear is going to erupt. While I'm riding,I think about my course of action in the event of a problem. I just can't seem to shake the worry that I might be hurt again so I'm taking it slow. All I did with Hope today was walk her around the arena.

The good news is that I trotted Storm around the perimeter of the arena today. He was so good, I'm thinking if I keep riding regularly maybe I can have him ready to show at the Daffodil Summer Show in August. I don't know if it would be possible to get enough points to qualify him for nationals but I think I'm going to try. I'm not going to push beyond the limits of what is smart but I'm sure going to see if I can push that fear to the point it is no longer dictating my business plan.

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  1. I'll do all sorts of ground work when no one else is around, but I save the riding for the first time for the horse or for my first time on that horse, for when someone else is around. It does mean waiting a lot, but there is only one me and I don't like being broken lol.

    As a result, my horses get so much ground work done that they tend to be completely calm no matter what you do to them. I mix it up alot with obstical courses and leading them blindfolded and stuff like that.

    I'm just too scared that I'll go to ride, something will happen and my kids will be the ones to find me when they come home from school. Not something I want to have happen... Ground work can be just as dangerous, but for some reason it's different to me than riding... So, I wait until someone is around for backup.

  2. Fear. I know it personally. I know many people who have a relationship with it. We manage it but never seem to overcome it.

    and that makes me far far more sympathetic to the horses that are fearful than I would be if I was less familiar with it myself. At least I can reason it out, and take baby steps to overcome it. They can't. That makes me .very. careful to do proactive work so they don't become fearful to begin with.

    you said: That two months sitting at home allowed that fear to build and grow a life of it's own

    oh yeah. Got that too. Keeping my fear at bay is something I have to actively work at. I have to recognize it and work at it. I'm often envious of those who take spills or get injured and it seems to leave little long lasting effect. I've never been that way with anything, I'm a one lesson student....one bad experience and I never forget it.

    ....just like some horses.

  3. It sounds like you're pushing forward in a way that's both addressing the fear AND staying safe. Good luck!

  4. I have ridden for 30 years. I've landed in the dirt and been bumped and bruised. I was never afraid and in hindsight can't imagine how I survived some of the stunts I pulled on horseback as a child.

    Then 5 years ago I fell off my current horse. Nothing major, I thought. Got back on and seemed ok, not scared at all. By the time I was forced to go to the ER the next morning my belly had swollen and I was in pain--I was bleeding internally from a lacerated spleen. Getting back on my horse 6 weeks later was very scary, but I did it.

    Then, last year I crashed again. I remember putting my foot in the stirrup and then nothing else until I was in the hospital hours later. I had a helmut on, but landed so hard I knocked myself out. I was physically ok, but really scared. Now there are days that I can not force myself to put my foot in that stirrup. Days when the fear gets to me and I just untack the horse and go home.

    I keep hoping that with the passing of time, the fear will get lighter. I can not imagine being in your shoes with a clock ticking on my business and feeling a very real need to get over my fear quickly. My hope is that your horses are kind to you and work with you to eliminate your fears.

  5. I'm happy that you are recognizing how fear is coming into play in your decisions and that you are making progress past it. I was hoping that series of posts on addressing fear would open up some discussion. It is weird, but not surprising to me, how we bloggers get into sync on thoughts before we even post anything.

  6. Fear is so hard to work through. Sounds like you're making progress. Kepp it up, be brave, and be careful.

  7. lady of chaos, well, I was wanting someone around for more than just the first ride. My horses get lots of ground work as well and I was feeling pretty smug about it keeping me safe until Reflection knocked me off my perch. Guess he didn't get the part all that groundwork was supposed to make a difference. That really has messed with my thinking for sure.

    holly, I hadn't thought about relating my fear to the horses but I am understanding of their fear pretty well to start with so maybe that's why.

    The woman who has Reflection to work through his fear, has no fear of her own about getting tossed onto the ground. I can't say I wish I was that fearless. At my age it probably wouldn't be wise but I am amazed at her lack of concern. I'm grateful to have found someone like her to help me with this problem, I can tell you. I don't know what I would have done if I had to work through it myself. Even the thought of getting on him after she has things fixed makes me quake.

    billie, ya, staying safe is pretty important to me. I have to think about what would happen to all of my horses if something happens to me. That's a pretty sobering thought in itself, not to mention how my family would feel.

    katee, those internal injuries are dangerous. You're lucky that you are alive.

    I can't even imagine being injured twice by the same horse. It's easy to say that would be it for me and the horse but I know in all honesty that might depend on the horse and how important he was to me.

    nuzzling muzzles, it doesn't surprise me about the parallel planes either. Life is funny that way.

    I'm hoping that exposing that fear to the light will help to put it into perspective and tone it down some. I hope it works the same for you and everyone else dealing with this demon.

    dressagemom, careful is my middle name these days.

  8. Way to go girl!!!!! You have more courage and energy than me thats for sure. On the perspective thing, yeah I should talk LOL.

    I am glad you are gaining confidence again and know that you will succeed. It must have been a great feeling when you achieved all those benchmarks.

    I am also in your situation with no-one to be around when I start with the young horses and my fear of being hurt, but this year I am just gonna have to do it or we will never sell any of these horses.

    Always in my thoughts (((Hugs)))


  9. How brave to address those fears, articulate them, and still go on to conquer them. I'm still not 'au fait' with your world, but it is fascinating to read about what you do. M xx

  10. It seems you are progressing in a safe way to overcome your fears. We have all had them, especially me. I have had a few good wrecks in the last couple of years, but even though I was fearful at times, I tried to work through it by always taking it slow, one step at a time, with someone always there. Like a trainer or someone from the barn who knows what they are doing. It helps to have someone on the ground telling you what to do. I know it is worse for you being in your own business, but I am sure you will work through it after all these years of good riding. Good Luck, Be Safe.

  11. MiKael - Fear can spread through many aspects of one's life like a wildfire. I know that when my confidence is badly shaken, it affects almost everything I do and causes me to doubt my ability to do things that were easy and second nature to me. There are no emotional deadlines - You're strong and you will work through all this in however long it will take. Persevere but please, be safe. Having another person around - especially if there's someone you know who has also worked through their fear - is smart. As you can see, you're not alone. Once trust has been broken, it is a slow process to rebuild it - whether it's between two people or a person and a horse.

  12. Since my crash in June'06, I'm much the same and have Steve out there with me. I don't have the problem with Misty, but with Kola I take it slow, even though she isn't the same horse that I crashed on, she's reletively new to me where as Misty is not, so I keep Steve with me and have her on a lead line until I'm confident to take her on my own. But I'll have Steve out there with me.

  13. lori, I don't get on the first time with no one here and I'm not sure I could or would bring myself to do that.

    These horses I have been struggling with I have been on to different degrees before my accident but then after the accident that riding came to an abrupt halt. Now I find myself frightened in situations I wasn't concerned about before when these horses have done nothing to make me doubt them at all. It is very frustrating.

    kahless, thank you! As usual, your support is appreciated.

    a nother's place, I think we all have fear in different aspects of our lives. It's just easier to identify the indecision being fear in our relationships with horses.

    grey horse, I'm hoping it will get easier as I ride these horses. Getting through this will them I'm hoping will make it easier to deal with my fear around Reflection. It's going to be important to keep him going once he comes back from that trainer. If I can't do that, I will have thrown that money away and this horse might never get trained.

    victoria, you are right about fear that's for sure. I'll be doing whatever it takes to stay safe and still work through this.

    callie, I totally understand how you can feel safe with one and not another. That's how I feel about Dandy and Legs, I have no problem with them. It is just the young horses who are not fully trained that are scaring me. Then there's Reflection and I'm terrified of him. Not on the ground though, but just the thought of getting in the saddle makes me quake. I'm hoping that once I see him being ridden safely that will start to disipate.

  14. It seems like most people who have been riding for very long have had to deal with this issue of fear. There are certainly enough books and articles on the subject. I have experienced it and thought at the time that my riding was over. We all deal with it differently, but most of us let our love of horses and riding help us. It also helps to remember that the horses are frequently dealing with their own fears and can sense ours. The calmer I can make myself, the calmer my horse seems to get.

    Hang in there! I think about you daily and your struggles and wish I could help you with your business plan. We all want you to succeed as your successes and/or failures are felt by all of us who are having similiar experiences. I hope that knowing that we all support you helps make you stronger and able to continue!