27 Apr Love is what we are born with, fear is what we learn here.
Love is what we are born with, fear is what we learn here.
It was a beautiful September day, and I was in my final year at Nottingham Trent University (or Trent Poly as we called it then). I was re-united with my close friends after many months, one of whom was called Nigel who was from a family of Northern Irish Show jumpers, competing in the big leagues. Nigel, keen to keep up his horse contact whilst away from home had recently connected with fellow horsey friends from the nearby Nottingham Forest.
About 12 of us took up his invitation to head out on their horses for “a bit of craic” and with a devilish grin, he led us off into the woods, each of us on the back of a new 4-legged friend. Some people had never been on a horse before this point, and whilst I had risen a few times during my childhood, I was far from experienced.
My horse was a beautiful bay, and fairly young at that.
All was going fairly well; how hard could it be right? Nigel and another experienced rider friend, decided to take off for a bit of a gallop and the rest of us ambled along, all feeling varying levels of nervousness.
Waiting for Nigel and Vix to return, the horses possibly sensing our inexperience and the sudden lack of a leader – we found ourselves stopping collectively by the edge of a field.
The only problem was, that in the middle of the field was a stationary tractor, whose engine chose to backfire at that moment. This sent my lovely Bay into blind panic. She rose up on her hind legs and she galloped off with me on top, back into the woods. I remember thinking ‘Oh my god I’m going to die- this is it.” I had never galloped before and so after about 20 seconds, I came flying off, landing flat on my back- miraculously, into a pile of soft moss and bracken. I quickly realised I could move, and although shaken, I was definitely absolutely alive and well, but as I lay there, I had visions of walking back to the stables, horseless – I was sure I wouldn’t see her again. Suddenly, I heard the sound of hooves and I looked up to find her standing right in front of me.
“Are you kidding”? I thought, “I’m not getting back on you not ever”- but then I felt it – I felt her fear, and as she stood shaking in front of me, blowing air from her nostrils, it felt like her eyes told me this – “I’m sorry , I was scared, I couldn’t help it, I ran. I never expected you to fall off, so I’m back – are you okay? I think, I’m okay – so what’s the plan?”
Something inside me shifted, and I realised, that’s what fear can do- it can make you run for the hills, and yet despite her fear she chose to stop running and come back. The realisation that she had come back for me, to get us both back home safely, even though she might still be a bit afraid – changed everything.
It activated some, courage cells deep inside me and taking a deep breath, I got back on the saddle and led us back in the direction of the group. Finally all re -united, and after a few more comedy moments of people sliding off horses and general bad riding, we all made our way back to the yard, or in my case right back into her stable, only then would she stop, home was always the destination. Yes, that was embarrassing!
However, the lessons she was trying to teach me, which would take many years to sink in, is this.
If we are willing to be vulnerable and show our fear to the people we need to, we will all get back home safely- and in my world – home is where the heart is. We are also more courageous than our minds would have us believe. It is deep within us and can be activated by compassion and change everything.
So, if we are willing to tune into our hearts, not our heads in any difficult or scary situations and be vulnerable and show our fear to the right people, our heart is always guiding us home.