Happy Saturday everyone! We had an amazing day today at the barn. It was our spring cleaning day, and with the help of the boarders, students and parents, our barn got a deep cleaning it desperately needed.
The cleanup started around 10 and didn’t end until 2, so during the cleanup process things were moved all over the barn. Our entire grain room took up residence in our barn aisle so everything could be cleaned and reorganized. During this time, lessons were happening and all the horses took things in stride, except…Copper. It’s been just under 10 months since Copper joined my family and the two of us are more alike than I first realized. Neither one of us do well with change, even when that change is temporary. As I walked out the barn to head to the field to get Copper, I felt my anxiety rise and I started to sing to get my anxiety down a bit before I got to Copper’s field.
I was feeling more calm by the time I get to the field, and I try my best to reassure my boy that all is OK, even though the barn is in a bit of disarray. As we walk towards the barn, he snorts at the shelves that are outside drying, he snorts at the wash stall that is being scrubbed cleaned, he quickly darts passed the large garbage can that normally isn’t in the aisle, and when he sees all the stuff from the grain room piled around his eyes get super big and he rushes into his stall. I point him towards his hay and tell him it’s ok. Before my lesson I helped put things back into the grain room which immediately made my anxiety go down.
I groom Copper, singing softly which keeps me calm and focused and makes him super relaxed. I’ve suffered from anxiety most of my life, I just didn’t know what it was that I was feeling until I was in my 30s. I mean, honestly, why should I have anxiety because our barn is getting cleaned? Stupid right? I tend to not question the why anymore, but I focus on getting through my anxiety as best I can. I’ve learned over the years that when I’m anxious, my horse is going to be anxious. I’ve worked so hard to try and bury my anxiety only to have made it worse – that didn’t help my riding when it came to Alfie. So I’m trying to approach things differently with Copper. If I just let the anxiety happen and not try to bury it, and work through it, he will feel the difference in the energy I’m putting out there and our ride and our trust of each other will be better. Well guess what folks, it’s working.
Our lesson starts and he’s pretty relaxed, but still slightly on edge from all the activity happening around the barn. But I kept my focus on our ride and lesson and did my best to be the confident, non anxiety controlled rider he deserves. We worked on the exercises we will be doing at our first off property horse show we are going to in May. I managed to complete our poles course, all at a trot, complete with 2 circles at a trot. We worked on our pleasure and equitation exercises, had some fun with our sit trot and when our lounge was getting vacuumed and he tensed up, I gave him a reassuring squeeze that all was fine, no one was going to vacuum him lol.
As our lesson finished, and I was cooling him out, I gave him a lot of reassuring pats and I even patted myself on the shoulder.
My first off property horse show with Alfie happened after several years of being partners. My first off property horse show with Copper will happen in month 11 of us being a team, less than 1 year together. I realize just how much courage I have these days. I was anxious today, yet I didn’t fight the anxiety, I just put it to the side so I could be there for Copper, who still needs some reassurance at times. I was extremely anxious a few weeks ago when our barn welcomed a new pony and Copper was super excited to get to know her, and he ignored all my instructions when he wouldn’t stop his forward prancing walk because he was trying to impress her. But I managed to stay in control and eventually won by getting him focused back on me and not on her lol.
Anxiety. It’s real, it stinks, it comes at the most random of times, over the most random of things. It’s a part of me, but I refuse to let it control me. If it insists on being a part of me, than I am going to continue to learn to co-exist with it. My hope, actually it’s more than hope, my GOAL is to be able to shove it so far to the side that it falls away for good. Copper is helping me achieve that, each and every time I put my foot in that stirrup and sit in that saddle.❤️🐴