Riding Beyond Fear

Claire riding Mozart

I made a commitment to do 30 days of ClickPublish, which arrived serendipitously at a time when I could really use a jumpstart and some discipline in my own personal creativity, so I’ll be posting every day for the next 30 days. If you’d like notification of when I publish, you can follow me on Twitter, and if you’d like a digest of what I’ve written and the TL;DR, I’ll be mailing that out on Saturdays.

Yesterday, Claire texted me that she had forgotten her water bottle at home, and asked if I could bring it to the barn. Usually, I’m deeply focused in the middle of the day and I don’t have bandwidth to watch her ride. But yesterday was different, and I needed a change of pace. I grabbed her bottle and headed to the barn.

She had fallen a few weeks ago while her horse was cantering (like a gallop for the horse-uninitiated like myself, I’m just trying to keep up over here) and gotten hurt. Usually, a rider will get back up on that horse after a fall, but she was hurt enough where she couldn’t get back on the horse. That happened right before 4th of July, so it made sense to just take a couple of weeks off during the break.

Now, she knows what to do. Claire has been riding since she was a little kid. We’ve known since she was in diapers that she would dive deep into equestrian activities and our job was merely to ensure she had access to do so. In the last few months, we made an agreement. If I was going to pay monthly for riding, she would get serious about her riding.

Claire and Mozart Getting Ready to Ride
Claire and Mozart getting ready to ride.

So, she has. She’s switched riding programs to a more serious discipline.

She knows how to canter, she can jump, she can do a lot on a horse that I only barely understand. I know I’m only along for the ride here, and it requires a certain amount of surrender. Watching your kid flying through a riding arena on the back of a large mammal that spooks at the sight of something blowing in the wind will quickly teach you that surrender as you stand on the sidelines powerless.

After that fall, I have to admit that I had to work towards mustering trust in the face of her decision to keep riding. Maybe she doesn’t need to fly around an arena, if you know what I mean. But the sign on my wall says, “Fortune favors the bold.” I need her to be bold, brave, and chase her dreams if I ever want that gold star in parenting.

So, I show up at the barn with her water bottle and settle in to watch. She trots over a jump, then her trainer asked her to canter over it. She started a canter and stopped, and did that again a few times. The trainer who runs the entire program, Brandon, was in the arena working horses in preparation for a show this weekend. He sees Claire and her hesitancy, and he stops what he’s doing to walking his horse next to hers. I wasn’t able to hear the conversation, but she rounded a corner, started cantering, and jumped. Brandon then said, “I bet you want to do that again.” And she said, “Yes, I’ll do it again,” and she cantered over that jump even more steadily than she did before.

The story sounds simple. But if you put yourself into her shoes, it’s kind of a big deal.

That thing you’re afraid of… you know, that THING. We all have that one thing that we know we need to do but our list of 17,000 reasons why we shouldn’t stops us.

I had that one thing. It’s one thing that my friend Brandy Lawson talked to me about in February of 2020 at a coffee shop. I knew I needed to do it, but I was afraid and had my list of reasons why not. (You should also hire Brandy if you’re an entrepreneur and need to move your business forward in any way.)

I knew. I’ve known.

And here is my kid riding beyond her fear while I am sitting on the sidelines kind of wallowing in it.

If she can move through her fear, don’t I owe it to myself to move through mine? As the grown up, isn’t it my job to read the sign on the wall and be bold? Aren’t I the one that should be setting the example, the one that should be leading, the one that should ride through the fear and do it anyway?

I think so.

Life moves fast, and it moves mysteriously. The serendipity of forgetting that water bottle and witnessing that moment was incredibly important. And I guess the biggest lesson I got from it is that maybe this kid was sent to me to help me ride beyond my own fears.

What are YOU afraid of? And are you smarter than a not-yet-13-year-old kid? I apparently am not. Yet. 🙂

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