I have been amazed at the number of people who think either:

a) Billy is my first horse, or

b) That he is the first young horse I have started under saddle

Is this because I got hurt? Do people with lifetimes of experience not get hurt with horses? I’m guessing they do because I, myself, have a lifetime of experience with horses. And I’ve started quite a few young and older horses under saddle. And I got hurt.

I have found it interesting how much this bothers me. It prompted me to look up the word “ego” and get to the bottom of this. It’s made me wonder what does ego have to do with it? How does my ego get in the way of my healing?

Interestingly the first definition of ego is:

  1. The self, especially as distinct from the world and other selves.

So my ego helps me to separate ME from YOU. That can’t be a bad thing… I am different than you or you or you. I feel differently. I look different. I think differently. To understand that can only help me find my true self. Right?

Okay, onto definition number two:

2. In psychoanalysis, the division of the psyche that is conscious, most immediately controls thought and behavior, and is most in touch with external reality.

Wow. This one is complicated. So my ego is the part of me that keeps me in touch with reality. My ego helps me to control my thoughts and behavior. This definition helps me to understand how reality can get so muddled sometimes. We all perceive things differently, so what was scary and upsetting to one person can be just a little blip in the radar of another.

It wasn’t the falling off of Billy that was so hard on me, though it did break my arm and fracture my eye socket… it was the fact that he was so violently out of control. The fact that when he got scared he did not look to me for even a single second. After all we have done together and all the scary situations we have been through together and all the times he DID look to me… when it really mattered, he didn’t have a second thought for me, or bending to a one rein stop, or disengaging his hind end. Nothing. Zip. He left me in the ditch bleeding and broken and ran home. Once home you would have never known anything happened. He was happily grazing in the yard when Handsome Hubby drove me into the driveway. The only indication of any violence was the fact that his bareback pad was hanging off his side.

So. There you go. My ego’s perception of the situation, the external reality.

Now onto the third definition of ego:

3. a) An exaggerated sense of self-importance; conceit

b) Appropriate pride in oneself; self esteem

I think it’s very interesting that these two definitions are linked together. The top one is about believing you are better at something than you really are, or are more important (to your horse let’s say) that you really are.

The bottom one is talking about believe IN yourself. Having a good sense of self esteem. Not something I have much of on a good day. To group these two together is a bit confusing for me. How do you know when you are being conceited versus just having a healthy belief in yourself?

This may be the question I need to answer to help me move past some of the ugly thoughts in my head. To help me silence the mean voice in my mind that tells me I am no good and should not be around horses. The voice that tells me I’m just going to get hurt again and again and again because I’m so stupid.

This goes back to people thinking Billy is my first horse or the first horse I’ve started under saddle. Apparently I’m so stupid that it appears I’ve never done this before. Sigh. At least that is how I perceive their comments. Which I have been taking completely personally. Again this is my ego’s perception of reality, but it is most likely not the perception of reality people mean to make when they make their helpful comments. In fact I’m sure they are just trying to be supportive and help me.

I KNOW that Billy is a green horse. I KNOW that he needs more time under saddle to be a steady eddie. I KNOW that accidents can happen, even with the most well trained horse. It’s because I know and understand all these things that I was putting so many hours into him. I was riding him 3-4 times a week. I was taking him out on walks and hikes. I was spending undemanding time with him and playing at liberty with him in our little playground. Because I know and understand how important preparation is I was introducing him to anything and everything that could cause trouble down the road; tarps, dogs, blowing plastic bags, blowing paper bags, cows, gun fire, cars passing us on the road, ATV’s passing us on the road, trucks pulling trailers on the road, kids, umbrellas, walking on mattresses, crossing water, walking through thick sage brush, climbing over downed trees, blazing our own trails through heavy underbrush. All of these things and much, much more.

And yet, he spooked and bolted at “nothing”. Ultimately it was nothing that took us down.

So how is my ego handling this? How can I change my perception of events so I can move past them? Those are the questions I am now answering for myself. I do believe I have to take a good long look at the fact that Billy didn’t look to me for help when he became frightened. For whatever reason, maybe I pushed him past a threshold and didn’t realize it, he didn’t look to me for leadership when the shit hit the fan. So now I need to find out how to be the leader he needs  in all situations. No matter what. That is going to take some studying and lots and lots of time in the playground studying Billy and what makes him tick at a deeper level than I have been. Sigh.

I look around me and see all these people who are happily riding their horses all over the mountains and they don’t think for one minute about how to the be best leader for their horses. When I was young and training and riding horses every day I never really thought about that either, but just enjoyed riding and training and had a blast. All this thinking and studying is taking a little bit of the joy out of horses for me I think. Sometimes we just need to BE with our horses in a way that brings joy. Without all the worry of “What is he thinking?”, “How is he feeling right now?”, “Am I MAKING him or ASKING him?” UGGG. So. much. second. guessing.


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