An Update from Violet or Managing Fear

I received this text from Violet’s mom the other day.  I believe Violet is bonding with Santo and learning to deal with her fear:



“……First thing this morning when Violet opened her eyes she said ‘ mom when am I going to ever have a horse lesson again?? I miss it so much.’  I obviously told her it is too cold now but we will as soon as it warms up – I thought it was cute and would make your day ;)….”

I saw Violet and Santo this past weekend.  He looks gorgeous!  His coat glistens, and there was a sparkle in his eye.  He and Violet get on very well.  The footing was terrible, but we did a bit of groundwork.  I’m looking forward to working with the two of them when we get a thaw.

I had an interesting insight for dealing with fear in the book Solo Schooling. Do you “play a movie” in your head and continue to relive your fear?  Do you stop the movie as your heart begins to pound and your stomach hosts a swarm of fluttering butterflies?

First remind yourself that fear is future thinking; it is not reality.  It is your imagination projecting what MIGHT happen, not what IS TO COME.

Second, when you stop the movie at the scariest past,  your brain feeds the fear, creating a monster that will threaten to overwhelm you.

Here is a step by step strategy based on this insight and other approaches to dealing with fear:

1. Stop imagining disaster, breathe deeply.

2.  Imagine how you can deal with this situation to resolve it safely and successfully.

3. Now restart the movie from where you stopped it; use your new ending.

4. Play this movie with the revised ending over and over until your fear becomes neutralized. This is what we do when we desensitize our horses, helping them deal with scary stimulus.

5. Be with your horse and play the revised movie.  Test your desensitizing strategy while you also stimulate your 5 senses.  Be aware of how your horse smells, how his coat feels, the quality of the look in his eye, the sounds he is making; maybe you want to skip taste….Keep playing the movie and focusing on your horse until you relax and regain confidence.

6.  Saddle up and replay the movie again.  Remember to breathe deeply when you begin to panic; then play your success movie  as many times as it takes to erase the panic reaction.  Be patient with yourself and celebrate approximations until you have complete success.


2 comments on “An Update from Violet or Managing Fear

  1. Shantel says:

    We can’t wait to continue to work with you and Santo – he and Violet seem to be bonding really well!

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