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If you meet someone who rides horses they are generally brusque, loud, overbearing, and full of self importance. I'm generalizing, obviously, since this is only the people that I meet who are like that, but mostly, people who ride horses think they know everything. About horses. This idea of complete knowledge can spill into other areas of life, but people who work with horses also have brains and know when they need to learn something. They also are, generally, amazingly self-confident. You need to be. When you attempt to control a half ton ball of muscle that thinks it knows everything, you have to get some sort of God-complex to get over your fears that you're doing it wrong.

When I started riding I was a small, scared little girl who thought everyone despised her. Typical little-kid-being-bullied syndrome. I couldn't talk to strangers unless they spoke to me first. I couldn't talk to friends unless they spoke to me first. Everyone was cool and popular and loved, except for me. I was looked down upon. Even though I wasn't, I thought I was. When I met Gee he was a giant. A huge horse. Really, he was just a little welsh thing, probably not pure, just an old man living out his days teaching kids. I was scared shitless of everything. And that included his 12 hands of gray hair.

Rule of Horses: If you're going to do it, be absolutely certain that you are doing it absolutely perfectly. Even if you are doing it horribly wrong, be confident that it is right. If you aren't, you'll end up with broken bones.

When you catch a horse from a paddock of three or more horses, you have to be able to push the others around. To get out the gate with only one, and not several, you need to bully the horses into getting out of the way. Even just grooming a horse you end up with issues if you don't have that air of certainty about you. If you don't know, you won't push hard enough, won't brush hard enough, and you won't get the horse out of your space.

It sounds as though I'm being awfully mean, telling you to bully the horse. But too many people step on the bad side of caution and act like a fairy around the horse. Whisper some goodness, plead for niceness, hope that it all works out. It won't. You have to get confidence. Confidence is not hoping. You have to get the confidence that lets you believe that this beast will obey you. You have to actually do something.

Being around horses makes you get this confidence, because they don't listen to half-hearted pleas and unsure begging. I've seen shy kids turn into kings, controlling the world. I've seen people who wouldn't open their mouths for fear of being scorned make a jump-hating horse go over a jump. Riding horses turns you from the grass that blows where the wind wills, into the wind, into the person who controls the wind. You end up walking a little taller, speaking a little louder, caring a little less about what everyone thinks.

These days I have a lot of friends. I talk to nearly everyone. I still have the idea that other people have a different social standing then me, but I don't care any more. I have an essence of superiority about me. I am better than them because I know who I am. I speak my mind and am not afraid of what they think.

Riding teaches you the fear of falling, it shows you the fear of failing. It lets you know what will happen if you screw it up. And when you learn how to ignore that, how to be, not the controlled, but the controller, you will learn to gallop over mountains.

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