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You've found the Mary-Dixon page about horsemanship.  Horses are my passion and my obsession.  They have helped me become a kinder, more confident, more patient person.  What they have taught me about them and taught me about myself is immeasureable.  I now try to teach folks about the nature of horses and how to understand each other which leads to a more confident human and a more confident little darling.
Adventure Horse Riding in NYS

3/19/12

#61 Riding Alone - How I Finally Did it


#61 Riding Alone - How I Finally Did It !   
 by Sue McGuigan (she is 43)

My good friend, Sue, wrote this for me - I had asked her to write what her experiences were to get to the point of solo riding.


I hope this is okay.   I am not a writer like yourself so if you need to tweek it feel free.  I am so sorry for this being so long
Riding alone was so scary for me I couldn't think straight.  My hands would start sweating and my nerves would make me shake, literally.  I woke up one day and asked everyone I knew if they wanted to go for a ride and everyone had other plans.  The first thing I did was start making excuses for myself and thought of Raine doing something  like jigging or spooking went right in my brain but it was just too nice out not to go. So the next thing I know I am texting Mary and saying I am taking Raine out by myself today and I am scared @#*^less and will text her when I got back to let her know how I did.  The next thing I knew she called me.  Mary gave me pointers on what would help me during my ride and told me it was okay to be scared and even if I went a little ways that it was okay just to go away from the barn even if it was a couple of feet.
As I saddled up my horse I was shaking thinking of all the things that could happen out there.  So I started singing to myself.  Stuff like saddling I am putting the saddle on now, I am going to do this then just saying stupid things really peanut butter and jelly yes that is right singing about the sandwich.  Of course songs I love would just not register to my brain. 
Smart ass Sue standing on Raine

I did what I always do before I go out on the trail making sure I could move her feet backwards, forwards, left and right and the most important is walking forward calmly and stopping when asked.  So there I am one step away from the barn by myself with my horse.  Going away from the barn was easier then I thought it could of been I didnt think of where I was going to end up but what I was doing at that time one step at a time and singing about peanut butter and jelly.  I did alot of walk, stop. walk three steps then stop.  I counted out loud and needless to say had to walk more then three steps because Raine appartenly knows how to count and right after I would say three she would stop.  Too funny when I think about that now. 


 The next thing I know I am away from the barn about 300 feet and no problems but believe me when I realize this I start thinking bad things like oh god what happens if I meet a deer or something could come out from the tree up ahead or just anything stupid so I starting singing about yes you said it Peanut Butter and Jelly.  I dont have woods to ride in but I do have fields and one of the things that always scared me about that is open fields, not good she could take off with me at any time so I did alot of walk stop again and circling keeping my mind on my tasks and nothing else I would say okay we are going to the right or going to the left or walk, stop, walk stop, okay turning to the left again no I think to the right this time saying these things as I did them.  The one thing that mary said to me was if you need to stop do not face her to the barn so when I did stop her or even circle I would always face away and even let her graze a little.

Sue & Raine
 I didnt go really far that day but I did go away from the barn and the horses to where neither of us could see them and that was worth a million dollars to me.  That day I found my courage, confidence and a closeness to my horse that just makes my heart soar and the feeling that I was one step to going out by myself and not making excuses that are so easy to make and never waiting around for days on end for someone else to ride with me. 
I did this 3 days in a row by myself and everyday got easier for me I still get nervous but not half as bad as the first time.  When things creep in my mind I start circling and talking out loud or singing about peatnut butter and jelly and doing alot of walk stop exercises.   I am lucky to have a special bond with my horse that has now gone to the next level and when I get nervous I know what to do and it helps alot.  I am able to walk and trot and as spring is approaching and the fields start drying up my next step is to canter and yes I will try even if it is just a couple strides.

I wrote Sue's age because so many folks think they are just too old to do any of this !  NOT ! !!   


Adventure Horse Riding in NYS            Smilla13@gmail.com  (Mary Dixon)         www.RideNYS.com