I've been reading the book Nature in Horsemanship by Mark Rashid. (Thanks Mellen and Elliot! Merry Christmas to me!!) He has an entire chapter about the importance of protecting yourself. He talked about a woman who let her horse run her over, because she didn't want to make him mad at her.
I've never been run over by my horse... but... I have been called "fearless" when I didn't move out of his way while he was running at me. He stopped in front of me, and I wasn't hurt. But I was lucky.
I have made grand improvement from my first day on the horse. I was willing to sit on his back, but I didn't dare touch the reins, because I was afraid of hurting him. I didn't want to be bossy or controlling or tell him what to do. I now have no problem touching the reins or asking him to do some things (like not run me into a tree, or to climb a mountain with me on his back, etc.)
Sunny has taught me a lot. That horse has been the best therapist to me, and he has played a huge part in my recovery**. Besides all that he has taught me, he has taken me all over the mountains. There are very few trails that are within driving distance that we haven't been on and all over. We have done a lot together. And lately, I can tell we are stagnating. Reading the book, I can see where we (and by we, I mean me) are stuck. I'm still afraid of hurting him... so I haven't worked with him more.
Eventually, I want to adopt a Mustang. I want to gentle wild horses. I love watching people with their Mustangs, because I know the relationship they have to build with their horses. I know how hard it is to convince a horse to do things like crossing streams or climbing mountains or standing still. I want to do that, but I'm afraid.
I also recently wrote about how my fear of hurting BJ drives me. I definitely never want to hurt him AND I don't want to be motivated by fear.
Sunny taught me that it was okay to trust another being. And now, it's time for me to learn that it is okay to ask for... and to expect... and to want... and to need... from another being. I think Sunny (and BJ) will be great partners for these lessons, but I don't think they can teach me the way I want.
I'm lucky to be surrounded by equestrian centers. I live in a teeny tiny town in Utah, but there are at least four HUGE private arenas with trainers in every area of horsemanship you could want. There is also a public arena and trainers that will meet you there.
This morning, I called one of the local trainers. I've met him before, and I like his style. I can't afford him, but I can afford to be a working student at his place. I told them that I hoped to work with Mustangs one day, but I need experience. I also told them that I am terrified of hurting the horses, or doing something that would make them into bad horses somehow... and that is getting in the way of the relationship I want with my horse. They said they had classes that could help me...
I'm afraid. Even writing about this, my chest feels tight, my throat feels tight, and I might just want to climb under the desk and hide... and I'm excited.
**I was asked today if I had recovered from PTSD. I don't think you can ever recover completely, because the trauma and the abuse are a part of me. I can't go back to when it had never happened. I can't get back the innocence. I can't go back to before I believed all of the shitty stuff about myself because of the things abusers said and did. I think it will always be a part of me. AND I can also keep moving forward, learning new things, and dealing with the old stuff in new ways.