Your hands shake. Your heat pounds. Your cheeks flush. Your breath catches.
We have all felt it. Anyone who is around horses, even the very experienced, feel it.
Overtime fear fades- if we empower ourselves with information. If we don’t beat fear by learning, fear simply converts and disguises itself upon you, and lives on you, like a Monkey on your back. Because fact is, you have forgotten to learn from your environment, so you take the fear with you everywhere. Into your home, your relationships, and eventually into your horses.
One of my favourite Horseman, Buck Brannaman, whom I had the privilege to attend his first UK clinic at Aintree International Equestrian Centre in 2015, put it best.
‘Fear is like an animal. The only way you can kill that animal is with information. Imagine being able to honestly say ‘There is not a horse in the world I am afraid of’. Imagine the pleasure of working with horses then? For some people that can seem like a mountain too high to climb. Well, I guess that depends on how much you like to climb. ‘
Lately I have seen fear seep its insidious fumes into stables I frequently visit. Otherwise beautiful, happy places of learning, horses and fun, fear had begun to transform these locations into perverted distortions of what they really were. Splicing reality into something which makes people feel unsafe. I’m hyper sensitive to my environment, my ballet director says it is an aspect of my ‘artistic personality’ that he likes, but it means I become privy to changes in my environment even when the change is small. I can sense it like a smell. I can feel it in my gut. Or see it like a mirage. But, fear is an illusion. It is a construct we choose to participate in, or not.
I have encountered a lot of fear in my life.
When I left home at 18, flew to the other side of the world to start a new life, I found myself alone at a cafe in Singapore Airport at 5am, afraid out of my mind.
When my ballet teacher in Zurich revealed himself to be a domineering, egotistical, aggressive, old school Russian/German Ballet, traumatising nightmare, from 9am to 12 noon 6 days a week, I was afraid.
When I stood at the foot of the largest Opera House in Europe, about to try and become the first Australian to find employment there, I was terrified that I was inadequate.
When I loaded Sanson onto a trailer, and sat in the cabin of a truck that was about to drive across the whole of Europe and towards a totally unknown future for me, I was scared, but excited.
I found my way through the Airport, finished the cafe breakfast, and started a new life which has grown beyond my wildest dreams.
I finished my studies with that teacher, with Positive Psychology assistance from my late, sweet mentor Paulette Mifsud, I graduated with a Swiss Diploma, happy and exhilarated.
I got that job in Warsaw, became the first employed Australian dancer in Poland, and got a quality job that even this teacher himself said he ‘Never Expected I Could Get’
Sanson came back to Poland healthy and continues to flourish under my care. He is my life guide, my compass towards change.
The only way I could face down fear was by learning. Learning FAST! I adapted to my environment faster than anyone else believed I could. I creatively constructed my reality to something positive, and not destructive. If I needed a new skill, I learned it. And it didn’t take me 20 years to do it. If I needed new experiences, I went out there and got them. If I had no money, I made it work somehow and did ‘that thing’ anyway.
Translated into horsemanship, it means that when I stand in front of a horse, like Sanson, who someone tells me ‘Once put someone in Hospital’, I am no longer controlled by fear. I am awake, aware, and learning from what is in front of me. And this is what brought Sanson and I together. ❤
This has given me and un-SHAKE-able faith in myself. I know in my heart, that no matter what, I am going to be ok! Even the good days and the bad days, I am living them. Despite the critics, I am still here. I am not just surviving, but I am thriving. I am not stopping next to the critics so they can drag my down, I bless them on their path and go on my way, leaving them behind. I have proved this time and time again and apparently, still proving it today!
I cannot expect everyone to be a fast learner. Fact is, I learn fast because my life has been scary, on a frequent basis, so my ‘positive-response-to-fear-muscle’ is very strong. But I suspect I make some people uncomfortable, if for no other reason than they see me as mercurial, changing too much. Whether they are able to realise it or not, they know its because I am learning from them, even as they speak to me. This can unnerve people, especially if they have something to hide, are uncomfortable with intelligence generally, or are insecure about being perceived as ignorant.
Probably, my courage was often based upon ignorance. I did not know I had something to fear, so I just did it. There is a fabulous Polish saying ‘If you have an impossible task nobody can do, ask the person who does not know it is impossible and they will do it’, or something like that. I am very comfortable with not knowing what I am doing. I will have a go anyway, a very Australian quality ‘Have a go!’. That is the seed of creativity.
One of my favourite life coaches, Iyanla Vanzant, once said ‘If you want to change your life, you have to be prepared to PISS PEOPLE OFF. Because people will hold you to your limitations. They will become angry when they see you breaking beyond what they thought you could not do.’
Such is the situation in which I am. I am ruthless to the point that I won’t be stopped, held back or restricted by someone else psychological pathologies. If they want my help and support, that’s different, that is the extension of friendship and I will gladly go there with all my heart and energy. But everything else is passive bullying and craziness. When I see crazy, I cross the street. I choose to have zero tolerance for it.
Fear. The shaking feeling in your gut that something is not right.
Well, I might shake the boat, but I always, always make it to shore.