One day Denny and I were talking, I can’t quite remember what started the conversation, but I said I do not think of myself as being that brave. He looked at me like I was nuts, I think he even said, but you went advanced! My response was that I am brave enough, but I am not crazy brave. I am not the type of person who would hop on anyone’s horse and just go intermediate with it or hop on a horse I was just watching rear and rear. I know some people who are totally confident and would do those things, but I am not one of them.
I think bravery means different things to different people. I also think that your level of bravery will differ doing different activities. I know there are some people who are just adrenalin junkies, the scarier the better. These people are amazing, and have complete confidence in themselves and their abilities.
Personally, I find that my bravery stems from being educated and prepared. I have also found that the more experience I get, the more brave I become. Also, the more technical skills I acquire, the more confident I am that I can do the job I need to do. I find tremendous confidence in being able to see my distance. That is probably the greatest skill Denny has taught me. When I leave the start box and I am confident that I can get my horse to more or less the right take off point, time and time again, why wouldn’t I feel brave?
Of course there are many other factors that come into play, for me, having a ‘relationship’ with the horse makes a big difference too. I like to be the person who rides the horse everyday, even the days that the horses just go for a walk. I like to know everything about them, their quirks, what the like, and how they react to things. I really like to be able to start them as young horses and bring them along myself, I think this helps you have a really good understanding of each specific horse. Tackling a big course on a horse I have ridden for years, makes me feel the most confident.
I think confidence and bravery are funny, I may be more nervous about jumping a wild young horse over a 2’6” course than jumping a horse like Rosie around a 4’ course. I think it entirely depends on what you are sitting on and your skill level. What is great is, these are things you have control over! If you are scared to jump 18” because your horse is going to take off, get someone else to do it to teach the horse, or maybe you need a quieter horse. If you aren’t confident because you don’t know how to see a distance, that is a learnable skill. If you don’t have a solid position and you get nervous because you lose your balance, that is something you can fix, with the right help.
Just because you are not as brave as you want to be, does not mean you won’t get there. If you are willing to be honest with yourself and figure out what makes you nervous, or figure out what specifically makes you confident, then you can work to cultivate your own bravery. Don’t ever think you could never do something that you really want to do, just because the idea of it makes you nervous right now. You can set small goals and with the right help and motivation, eventually you get where you want to go.