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  • Heather Woehrer

Sometimes a Step Backward is a Step Forward



We had a wind advisory today and although I have an indoor, the doors were rattling, broken twigs were hitting the building and roof, and a tarp flapped endlessly outside the arena door. My plan was to ride my 5 year mare who I have had 7 months. She was “up” while grooming and aware of each and every noise. Her friends outside whinnied to her, she whinnied back. As a rider who has ridden quite a few “airs above the ground” on another horse of mine, I was starting to question whether riding was such a good idea. I get anxious when I think of all the “what ifs.” But anxiety was not going to win, nope, I had to ride. I had goals to meet. As a rider (and only as a rider) I am a type A personality. I am tough on myself and constantly strive for perfection, although I know it does not exist. My goal for today was to work on roundness, 20 meter circles, and smooth transitions. However I realized that a new goal was needed and that was to relax…both of us. So we walked. And that is all we did. We walked until it was boring. We walked so the giraffe head she held eventually was lowered. We walked until she showed relaxation through sneezes and I exhaled deeply. I found myself saying to my darling Dumpling, “You are okay, you are alright” and then I found myself saying, “We are okay, we are just fine.” I needed to relax just as much, if not more, than she did. My reins began to lengthen as she lowered her head as we fell into a steady, relaxed walk. We were indeed okay, very okay, but then I thought to myself I am not meeting the original goal I set out to do…that is awful…I need to attain today’s goal. Then the other part of me telling myself it is okay to just walk, let her realize the wind won’t sweep her away, let me acknowledge that I can trust my horse. I had this back and forth conversation with myself over and over again. Until I was truly okay with just walking. As we were ending our ride, I reflected - I realized that today’s ride was more important than the goal I originally set. Learning to trust each other and to relax with each other when conditions aren’t ideal was setting a foundation that we will build upon. The next time it’s windy, storming, heavily raining, we will both remember today’s “boring” walk and realize just how important it truly was.


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