In the last year, I have told lots of friends about how I am using positive reinforcement to train and ride Zum. Most of them are outright skeptics. When I told the horse trainer that I met in August that some friends criticize me when we ride together, the horse trainer told me to get new friends. A bad friend takes my energy away from me and makes me feel a decrease in my sense of wisdom and self-direction. A good friend will make me feel his or her loving and supportive energy and emanates warmth. I only want good friends in my life from now on!
Anxiety transforms healthy comfort zones into rigid protection zones that become boundaries that shield away situations that are fearful. When Zum is anxious, he perceives that an increasing number of things are unsafe and need to be avoided. My job is to change his wall of anxiety into an open gate of new opportunities and possibilities.
In August, I met a horse trainer outside of Santa Fe. I asked him what his style of training is but he was evasive. I asked him if he hit horses and he said “if they hit me.” I told him “I don’t want to do anything fancy with my colt….I just want to trail ride.” He told me that trail riding is the most difficult thing a person can do with a horse because there are lots of variables and nothing secure out on a trail. I was not aware of this. I always think of trail riding as easy, relaxed and fun!
Zum feels anxiety and is always looking for potential danger. When he feels a threat, he switches to fight-flight-or-freeze mode. My job is to be vigilant to Zum’s mind-set and to be prepared to address Zum’s feelings as they arise. When he freezes, I wait patiently. When he panics, now I get off and walk him around. And I never give him a reason to fight me.
I want to heal and grow so I know that I must address and understand the deep root causes and meanings of fear. True healing is not about fixing or getting rid of a problem. Selling Zum is not true healing for me. Healing for me is about remembering and reinstating my wholeness. I am remembering how I love to ride Zum on the trails. This is my sense of communion.
I am afraid that Zum will buck me off again. Zum is afraid of scary, moving objects. I want to understand our fear to overcome it. I am reading a book about fear. Fear is associated with specific situations and concrete threats. It is not a rational problem. Modern society has little patience for feelings. But we need feelings for guidance and to bring meaning to our lives. Zum and I are all about feeling.
I feel like I won the million dollar lottery! I rode Zum for two hours yesterday for the first time since my accident. I had a friend ride Huszar with me. Zum marched along with his tail high and his ears forward. I am addicted to the rapport of the relationship between Zum and I. I just want more rides together!
I take Zum on ‘Courage walks’ almost every day. He is being introduced to new objects in the neighborhood. When I see a scary object, I say “This scary object is a challenge. We can do challenges!” I ask for Zum’s attention to the object. After I wait for Zum to examine the object, Zum becomes brave and I feel great!