I’m Thinking About Quitting

Since I can really remember, I’ve been into horses. I’ve ridden since I was 10, which was 11 years ago, and it’s always seemed like a part of me that I couldn’t get rid of if I tried.

But things happen. After the world fell apart with my first trainer, I moved to a new trainer who gave me a reality check. She’s the nicest woman on the planet, but it was blatantly obvious that I was a small fish in a big pond who had been given a confidence boost that was unwarranted and unbacked by any true talent. While I was comfortable in a western saddle, I wanted to jump, and during my time with my first trainer I thought that I was getting good when in fact I was just continuing my very western education in an huntseat saddle. It shook my confidence, but I wanted to do it. I leased a horse, went to show, got my ass handed to be in the form of last-place ribbons, but I pushed on. I wanted to ride for my collegiate team (I was in my senior year of high school at the time) and I was determined. I tried out, did not make the competition team, but rather made “B” team which means I got to show without effecting the teams standings. I was stripped down again, shown I knew nothing about either the show world or apparently the front end of a horse from the back end, but I never quit so I finished out the year. By the time I came back home to my trainer, I was horrified to make the smallest mistake, afraid that any move would be wrong and followed by backlash and ridicule. That’s not the way my trainer works, but it is the way my head does. I’m terribly competitive with myself, and now all I can hear are all of the ways that I’ve ever been wrong.

It started getting better. It took a year of me trying to rebuild my confidence. I’ve now been with this trainer for a total of 4 years and she’s done wonderful things with my leg position and my ability to communicate with the horse, but she can’t get in my head where the real damage is. I leased a horse this summer who is green thinking that I would expect less of her and therefor expect less of myself, but as it seems, I’ve only created new fears. I’m not afraid of the horse or falling off, but I’m afraid of ruining what progress she’s made, or hurting her on accident because I’m just not sure that I know anything about what I’m doing anymore.

Today while jumping her for the first time outside, my fear took over more than I’ve felt in a long time. I tried to calm myself down. We had jumped some single low jumps a few times and she had been fine. Even when she bucked once, I sat up and rode it out without an issue. But then I was asked to trot a line and it was like I’ve never done it before. What if she chipped it and fell? What if I collapsed on her after the first jump and couldn’t regain for the second? What if I caught her in the mouth and hurt her? What if we went through the jump and she tripped? What if I couldn’t keep my legs down and my arms level and my head level and my back flat and my stomach tucked in and my shoulders back and my heels down and my fingers closed while directing her and not squeezing too tight but enough to get her over?

Well it doesn’t matter, because none of those things happened. Instead, I did nothing. Absolutely nothing. I jumped the first jump and landed slightly crooked to the left at which point instead of correcting her, I froze. I know I looked down because I saw the mounting block underneath us as she dove off to the left realizing that her rider had abandoned her to face this jump alone with no guidance. I must have leaned forward as she then shifted right beneath me and I stayed left, flipping over in the air, over extending my leg, landing flat on my back and smacking my head in the pressed sand of the arena.

I have a concussion, a mild abrasion on my shoulder, some pulled muscles and a few bruises. It’s not the worst that I’ve ever had, but it’s an eye opener. I’ve become so afraid that I’m a danger to myself. I’m so afraid of everything that could happen over a jump that I’m causing a worst-case-scenario. And I think it’s time to give it up.

I’ve been thinking it for a while now. No matter how the course goes (if I ever even get to do an actual course) I’m scared the entire time. It doesn’t matter that everyone in the ring likes to tell me what I’m feeling based off of my facial expressions or how the horse is responding, they’re not in my head and they can’t understand just how very horrified I feel every single time. I’ve never quit anything. I’ve never not been able to do something. But it’s been four years now – four years of being scared to do something that I keep trying to tell myself that I love. I’m just not cut out for this.

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