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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Renouf

From the Archives:.. Are You Brave Enough?

‘There is no try, just do’

Have you ever heard that before?

Sometimes though, doing is not enough. Being brave, is not enough.

Sure when I worked on the infamous No Contact Impulsion Module Assignment in our Quantum Savvy Foundation Program, enduring my horse to many a high speed circle while I got good at a gallop... we were able to work balancing on the precipice of my comfort zone and sometimes I’m sure, chaos! But we got it done!

There many things I’ve done by being brave that haven’t helped me to learn.

Let me share a story with you....

A few years ago Adam (the man in my life who is always stretching my comfort zones!) and I decided to become Certifed Divers. This was a bucket list thing for me and also something that I knew would stretch me to the limits of my claustrophobia. Reprogramming your brain to breath under water even with scuba is definitely a mental challenge, defying all your natural instincts. With some great support and coaching from my Dive Instructor I was able to work thru the challenges along the way. We got all our skills down pat in the pool and then in shallow depths off the beach. Then came the big day out in the boat. We were to dive out of Port Phillip Bay into the ocean off Piont Lonsdale, in about 13 m of water. Let me tell you how far that is when your on the sea floor, It’s a long way up! This dive stretched me way beyond my comfort zone, it was hard work holding myself together mentally! Because of the battle with panic that I had during the dive naturally I ran out air and had to share (buddy breath) with my instructor on the way back to the surface, including at our stop at the 5m piont. My whole body was screaming for the surface but I had to be calm and stay put! This dive was successful and ran smoothly, I was a cool cucumber on the outside but you know what... I am yet to go for another dive to complete the course. That experience put me so far into my chaos zone that I didnt actually achieve any confidence and certainly can’t notch it up to a learning experience. My Instructor was amazing and he didn’t do anything wrong however I pushed myself to do something that was too big a step, if I had perhaps put a few smaller steps in, been less brave, I’d probably be diving more now.

How did this help me with my horsemanship? It’s certainly helped me learn that just being brave is not enough, and that just by doing you won’t overcome fear.

Moving forward to the jumping homework cards and the stick riding, finding some finesse in Level 3…

Well, having completed Level 2 by just getting on with it and doing it I applied the same lessons here, that would work wouldn’t it? - ahh nope. Clearly I hadn’t learnt enough from my diving experience yet. I flapped around with the jumping for a long time, putting my anxieties onto my horse as well as myself and made a mountain out of a mole hill! For a long time I did ‘doing’ programs to try and get myself over my jumping phobia but each time I still felt as sick in the stomach as I did the very first jump. I was being a make monster to myself!! Each time causing my horse to be tight and braced through the jump with no opportunity for release to help her out on the other side. I’ve had loads of feedback telling me Im doing great and I’m ‘almost there’... oh how I longed just to move on and get it over with, most likely never to jump my horse again! Sound familiar??

I’m looking back now with a new perspective, a slightly different approach in my education for myself and my horse and learning how to help my horse out in the tough spots so they learn its ok. And believe it or not, I am grateful for those ‘almost there’ moments that didn’t let me off the hook. My mindset has definitely changed, the higher horsemanship levels will do that to you.. if you want to progress!

I've also learnt the importance of consistent conscience practice, how much my horse learns through patterns and the release you put into it.

My awareness is better of how to help my horse out, and my confidence is growing all the time, you never know, maybe one day we might just complete that cross country course.

So at this piont I am reminded of the butterfly story and it’s struggles to break free from the cocoon. As much as I’d desperately like to move on, I am so grateful to the tough love of my coaches allowing me to become an even better horsewoman.

So I guess my motto here is to embrace your fear. Of course avoiding it won’t get you anywhere so learn from it, rather than pushing through, just take that one step at a time, and bit by bit you will get there. You’ll grow much more by working through the fear and coming to terms with it, than you will by short lived bravado, just to get the task done, even though you may get praised on how brave you must be! Bravado is the surest way to knowing every time you do a task it will hold all that anxiety you felt the first time, Overcoming fear one step at a time is far more effective and far less dramatic! And most importantly, you will have lasting change, sounds a little like horse training to me.

Happy riding folks, and be sure to live in the moment and enjoy it while you do xx

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