My heart is pounding, crashing against the confines of my chest.
My mouth has dried out and my breathing is…

Breathing? I’m actually supposed to breathe?
You must be joking!

How can I breathe when my muscles are tense?
Which causes me to tip forward and bounce.
Which unbalances my horse and causes her to speed up.
Which rattles my nerves.

It’s a vicious cycle, huh?
One that I thought I had conquered through training and practice.
But I guess a fear can never be completely erased.
No, given the right set of circumstances it just rears it’s ugly head.
And again.

So, what triggered my cantering fear this time?
A combination of things: work stress, a very strong, forward horse, the cold and higher expectations. Both mine and the trainer’s.

I also have a vivid imagination.
Yep. As a good, anxiety ridden rider, I’m well armed.
Plenty of ‘what if’ scenarios dance in my head.
This time it’s the ‘I’ll be run away with’ scenario.
Which directly correlates to the very strong, forward horse I was riding.

Which tensed my muscles.
Which caused me to tip forward and bounce.
Which unbalanced my horse and caused her to speed up.
Which rattled my nerves.

Darn, vicious cycle.

I’ve taken the analogy of ‘riding an ocean wave’ to a whole new level.
Something strong, powerful and raging out of control!
Determined to crush me in it’s wake if I can’t balance on the crest.

This Guinness ad sums it up perfectly.

So, I’ll give myself more time to practice.
And recite ‘I’m excited to canter’. Yeah, excited.
Funny how close the symptoms of excitement are to fear.
I can do it! I’ll set up and harness the perfect wave, er, canter.

Join me for a Guinness and we’ll celebrate!