You want me to do what? (Gulp!) Oh, God.

My heart’s pounding. Throwing itself against the bone enclosure in it’s quest for freedom. I’m so tense. I can barely move my outside leg back to cue. I can’t breathe.

Those were my thoughts and how my body responded every single time I was asked to canter in a lesson. Why? I’m not exactly sure but I have some ideas.

Maybe it was how I was introduced to cantering? My first lesson a Thoroughbred took off with me.

Or was it merely my age and the realization that I could get hurt? About six months later a different Thoroughbred took off with me and I had to perform an emergency dismount. I was terrified. I still didn’t know how to canter or what an emergency dismount was. Thankfully, I had a soft landing in the mud. Head-to-toe mud.

When the time finally arrived to learn the canter my school horse had other ideas. Trot? Fast trot. My heart’s pounding. Something scary? Spook. Yep, that’s exactly what I told him. Subconsciously through my body tension and position.

I’ve spent years, with several instructors and many horses, learning how to canter. That’s right. Years. During this time, I’ve discovered some things about myself.

I need to trust…
……… instructor. To push me outside my comfort zone with kindness.
………..the horse. I get what I call New Horse Syndrome and forget everything.
………..myself. I know I have the balance and I can do this!

Play mental games
I’m just sitting here. Doing nothing.
Lied to my subconscious. It’s very gullible.
………..“I enjoy cantering. I’m relaxed at the canter.”

Physical fitness
I’ve developed a stronger core that in turn has improved my canter. No more falling forward when I cue the horse to canter. Well, almost. It seems to be my default comfort zone when I’m insecure. And yes, I know that I’m blocking the horse’s forward motion. Instinctively, that may be the whole idea. Hmm, more work needed on this is the mental/physical realm.

So, all of this brings me to last week.
“Thank you for all the canter work. You’ve removed the ‘gulp! do what?’ factor.”
My instructor was puzzled.
“Really? I never would’ve guessed that.”
“Me either!” Chimed in the other student.

Huh, I guess I’m moving on up.