Fear as Incentive

Photo by Cindy Adcock. Photo by Cindy Adcock.

Cindy Adcock, creator of the blog Eventing Granny, describes herself as a “legit” Beginner Novice eventer; her partner-in-crime is Josie, a soon-to-be 16-year-old redheaded Irish Draught mare. “Follow our journey to AECs 2019 in Kentucky where it will also be my 60th year on this earth. I am having a blast as a late to life eventer!” Read more of Cindy’s EN Bloggers Row posts here.

Photo by Cindy Adcock.

I need to start this post with an admission and a realization. I can be a chicken-you-know-what rider. What I have realized by that statement and from my, newly found, search for me is this. That is how I have chosen to define myself. No one else puts that exact label on me — I do. I have been told, by my friends, that I am NOT chicken. My trainer tells me I am my own worst enemy and that when I #actuallyride I indeed, actually ride. The phrase – get your head out of your ass and ride – might have been uttered a few times under her breath and not under her breath.

So, why do I hold myself back in my riding and in other aspects of my life? I am coming to conclusion that it is because of fear. And not necessarily fear of getting hurt or fear of failing. Heck, I have gotten hurt (thankfully not seriously) and I have failed (check out some of my scores). I think, in part, it is fear of fear, fear of the unknown, fear of expectations,  fear of having to do the actual work involved to be successful and lastly, the fear of success and having to maintain THAT. With this realization comes the realization that there will always be some fear. It is not the fear that controls us, it is how much control we give that fear.

My own personal fear comes from lack of trust and faith in myself. The trust in my abilities and faith that I can actually do the things I need to do to become a better rider. I originally titled this “Fear as Motivation” and hated that title. I think the actual word “motivation” is BS. “Waiting to be motivated” has never gotten me anywhere. It has not helped me get fit. It has not helped me lose weight. It has not helped my riding one iota. The only thing I have accomplished by “waiting to be motivated” is to kill time.

Photo by Cindy Adcock.

Here is what HAS helped me. The actual doing of things. The actual making the phone call to a former personal trainer I worked with and saying “I need you back in my life to help me get fit (and white breeches worthy).” The actual going to clinics and taking lessons and pushing my fear envelope just a bit more each ride.

When I think back to the lessons that were not so successful I realize it was not because of Josie but rather me. I realize that our success is governed by me actually riding and not simply being a passenger. When I get mad (at myself, seldom at Josie) I do better. When I call myself out on my own BS I am better. Be it riding or be it life.

When I look back over the past year I realize that the things that cause fear have changed. The fear line gets pushed a bit back each ride or each thing I do to make myself a bit better. Things that would have frightened me a few months back? Not so much now. This is where I circle back to fear as incentive. I am NOT fearful but rather I have the habit of using fear as my – I just can’t (fill in the blank). That  is just BS as well.

When we actually DO things – great things result. When we let fear rule our lives we miss out on so much.

I can remember when I have let fear rule and when I have kicked fear in the ass. Simple grids can cause fear in me. Maybe it is being in front of others and comparing myself and my ride to theirs (never a good idea). At a clinic we were doing grids and it was just bad. Teeny, tiny jumps (poles on the ground if the truth be known) and we just sucked. I took Josie away and we galloped. One friend asked another where I was. The friend said – I think she took Josie out to gallop and get her in front of her leg.  he other friend looked and said – Cindy??  I don’t think so. It was not that she thought bad of me – but she knew me and knew the chicken Cindy. We came back to the group and we did better. That day? I kicked my fear in the ass. My first canter through water? Kicked fear in the ass. My first #actuallycanter the entire stadium round? Kicked fear in the ass.

The other thing that helps is realizing that the sensations we feel with fear are exactly the same as when we are excited. Heart beats faster, breathing gets faster. It is better to use the word excited rather than scared. This is one I need to remember and hold onto. So, moving forward I will use my “excitement” as a way to motivate. I will also think of the awesomeness of the start box. The countdown before we start our ride and the joy of flying and the big ass grin when we cross that finish line. 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 – Have a great ride! When those last numbers are counted down we do NOT hesitate – we just ride.

Three weeks until Josie has last shockwave and rehab begins. Here is to the awesomeness that is ahead of us. Hear is to not being afraid of the hard work ahead to achieve our goals.

Here is to the start boxes of our lives – 5, 4,3,2,1 – Have a great ride!