Whenever we ride in public or are involved in group situations with our horse, there are always so many different dynamics that we need to contend with. If we consider ourselves in isolation, we have the various concerns or thoughts about what riding in a different environment can bring.
On top of that, we have to tend to our horses and make sure that their needs are being met and they aren’t being placed in a situation where the any discomfort they face outweighs the skills they have to be able to emotionally self-manage.
And then we have the instructor or clinician (should that be the situation) who, for better or worse, adds to the dynamic depending on their intention, style of teaching and/or focus.
There’s a lot of moving parts.
One thing that I’ve always anchored myself to on the various adventures I take myself on with my horses is this principle or thought:
At the end of the day, I’m the one who has to keep showing up for my horses.
Not my instructor. Not the people watching or those around me. Not my critics or supporters.
Tomorrow, it’s me and me alone, that catches my horse, saddles up and gets on.
And as a consequence, I have to take full responsibility for the situations I place both myself and my horse in, and advocate for both of us.
If I ignore my intuition; if I push past our capabilities in the moment in an effort to keep up with others; if I shapeshift to fit the situation instead of being there for my horse, it’s easy to find yourself in a situation where you and your horse lose confidence, or worse still, get hurt.
And pushing on in spite of myself is something that I’m no longer willing to do.
Of course, there are those times when we know that we are ready and it’s time to step up.
But there are equally those times when we need to use our voice and simply say, not today.
Not today as a means to keep showing up tomorrow. Not today as a means to advocate for yourself and your horse.
Bravery exists both in the doing and the not doing.
And sometimes it gets practiced in the simple words of Not Today.