As I mentioned previously, I’ve spent many years in the saddle. On and off horses, I’ve also previously assumed various positions of responsibility. Very little about horses or responsibility has weighed as heavily with me as combining the two currently does.
The passage of time has often caused me to reflect differently on situations I have held a strong opinion on, but rarely so much as it does now. Perhaps the worst thing is that I see both sides: I know what it’s like to be the excited child on the pony, having a limited sense of danger but a strong desire to push the boundaries as far as possible. But I also know what the thoughts and opinions of the adult in charge of – but not related to – said child are. And how it is now my duty to keep children, staff and animals safe.
It’s juggling whilst on a rollercoaster – often literally. I’m in the front seat of the carriage, staring down the rocky slope and choosing the path which the others – the children and horses who aren’t mine – must follow. My own fears and doubts have to be cast aside in favour of guiding everyone else safely along the trail, and as well as riding my own horse, I am riding the horses behind me, and correcting the riders upon them.
I have always been aware – and weirdly proud – of how dangerous my chosen sport is. As a friend in a different department recently put it, “Your sport’s crazy – it maimed Superman”, a rare recognition by a non-horse person that serious injuries in equestrianism are far from uncommon and don’t just happen to amateurs. There have been times in the past when riding a horse has scared me: I’ve “lost my nerve” twice, plus there have been moments – usually when learning something new, pushing myself further, or working with a different horse – when I’ve doubted my ability or been frightened of what I’m considering. But now I understand what it’s like to feel the fear of watching others attempt to control a horse. It’s far scarier than anything I could do myself.
Any advice on how to stay calm when watching and advising the offspring of others straddle a sentient being with varying degrees of experience and competence would be greatly appreciated!