Thursday, December 3, 2009

Getting on the Other Side

Some years ago, a friend of mine was struggling to manage her new horse, a somewhat feisty Argentinian polo pony. It was a challenge for her to overcome her fears and ride the horse with the confidence it required. She rode for a while with a local trainer, a born-and-bred horseman, nearly Midwestern in his approach to horses. He took everything in stride and remained both calm and patient when working with difficult horses.

At one point, when she was frustrated and expressing her doubts, he looked at her and said, “You’ve just got to get on the other side of that horse.”

In addition to being good advice, it’s a great concept. There is, I have found, a tipping point at which nearly every formerly insurmountable problem becomes manageable. Reaching that point requires patience, determination, and a commitment to hang in there until the thing sorts itself out, one way or another.

. . .

I started last summer wondering if Wolfie and I would ever form a workable partnership. He was spooky, I was nervous; not a good recipe for success. But I stayed with it, and rode nearly every day, alone and in company. I rode through spooks and shies, calmed my butterflies, and just kept at it, even on days when I just didn't feel up to it.

By the end of the summer, we had made great strides together: he doesn’t spook at everything now, his spooks are smaller, and I just ride them out and keep on going. No more butterflies. We’re both calmer and our rides are a lot more fun.

I figure I got on the other side of that horse. And I think he probably got on the other side of me.

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