What Could Go Wrong?
By April Ray-Peterson
When I first bought my mare, Fire Foot MR5, as a two-year-old, getting on her back was the farthest thing from my mind. In fact, she actually stayed at the breeders for several months to continue to grow up and enjoy being a "kid." Even when I brought Fire home last May, the prospect of getting on her was no closer to the forefront of my mind.
April and Fire Foot MR5 – first ride.
Fast forward about six months and we had successfully negotiated our way through OCD surgery on both hocks and the subsequent recovery and rehab. My plan had been to have someone else get on her first. Admittedly, as I have aged my level of bravery has dissipated, although I like to say it's not that I'm less brave, it’s actually that I'm smarter. So for months I talked myself out of it. I made a million excuses. I was out of shape. I was too old. The last horse I started went really badly. I don't have the skills to do this. I am not good enough. And I said it so many times I was starting to believe it. I found a good friend willing to get on Fire, and started getting her ready to have a rider on her back. One night in the ring after a lunging session, I stood on the mounting block and draped myself across the saddle and she just stood there like a perfect pony. I got out of my brain for a moment and relied on my feel. And it felt as if I could have just gotten on her back. I knew that if someone had been there to hold her, I would have done just that.
The reason I was hesitant to get on.
So a few days later I had a student stay after a lesson to help me with Fire on the ground. I really had zero intention of actually getting on her, but thought I would do more work at the mounting block. After a lunge and with a trusty helper, I put my foot in the stirrup and lay across her back. She barely moved a muscle and with some prompting from my student (can we talk about role reversal?) I put my other leg over. And the world didn’t end. Nothing bad happened. In fact, Fire stood there like a total rock star and was more concerned about the treats on the menu than the person on her back. I got on and off a few more times and even took a few steps, albeit mostly backwards.
Once I was off and still alive and in one piece, I was ecstatic. It’s pretty rewarding when you get to do something you just spent half a year convincing yourself you couldn’t. I spent so much time focusing on what could go wrong that I forgot to focus on what could go right – being the first person to sit on my own horse and a successful first ride with many more to come.
"Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being excited about what could go right." ~ Tony Robbins
Main article Photo: April and Fire, second ride.