There are a couple different types of courage that you see in the world of horses. There's the basic kind that we all have, the kind that lets us mount a thousand pound animal that may spontaneously decide the sky is falling and take off at any second. We can't actually control horses and anyone that's ridden for any real length of time knows this. We can ask politely, beg, plead, push, and even punish, but there is no chance my little self can force my 16.1 hand mare to do anything is she's dead set against it.
There's also the courage of facing something you're not one hundred percent sure of, like that corner on cross country or the triple bar your trainer just moved up. That's the kind of courage where you are afraid, but you go anyway. It's part and parcel of the sport, to accept the fact that you will occasionally be afraid and that there's nothing wrong with that. It's that edge of fear that gives us the addictive adrenaline rush. In order to grow, we learn to take a deep breath, push the fear into the back seat, and just trust in our horse, our trainer, and our own abilities.
I'm learning about a new type of courage. The kind that comes with dropping off an entry form. It's a surprisingly defined moment. Once you drop that envelope into the mail box, it's done. Sure, you can scratch later, but you've still entered. You've committed to going and doing something that makes your heart pound and your respiration pick up. I'm still early enough in the game that this isn't routine yet. I haven't ridden most of the courses in the area, so they are still unknown quantities. As surprising as it is, it takes a certain amount of courage to affix that stamp and send your paperwork off.
I've entered a sanctioned dressage show and it triggered that same moment. Am I ready to take the princess out and have her judged as a pure dressage horse? They won't care that she devours cross country and skips around stadium, they'll only be interested in the performance in that small square of sand. Am I ready to show what she's learned, and even more heart palpitation inducing, read the comments I get back? It's the only way that we'll grow and progress, so I dropped that envelope in the mail. Dressage has slipped badly, and I need to face down my nerves and fix it.
Odd that I'm more nervous about a couple dressage tests than our next horse trial. Courage is defined a bit different for every person, and right now, it takes more courage for me to go down center line than to drop into water.
I've ordered a new pen for my tablet, so hopefully I'll be able to get caught up on my art starting next week.