Way back when, when I rode professionally, I learned a deep, deep lesson about trust, even though it didn’t really register until recently.
I had been assigned a reclaim project. Bird could out-jump anything in the state (when he wanted to) but at one point in his life, he’d been badly frightened. If anyone stood by a jump as he approached it, he’d stop, rear and go over backwards. Although I never knew for sure, I’m pretty sure that a tack-pole figured largely in this, since those were the days when touch-and-out classes still ran.
Anyway, Jimmy Cantwell (may he rest in peace) came up to do a clinic, and Bird put on one of his displays. After the second time he’d gone over on me, the owner sent her star rider (and this girl really was an outstanding rider) back to the barn for chaps and a helmet, but Jimmy talked me through the whole business and made me ride it out. (The horse eventually settled to the point where we could, in fact, show him.) This gave me a great deal of faith in Jimmy. Which led to:
Several years later, I was riding for him in a clinic on a horse I’d never seen, much less ridden, before. Now, I’m not the bravest person in the world when it comes to strange horses, even though I’d catch-ridden most of my life. I tended to take a conservative approach until I knew the horse. In this clinic, Jimmy warmed us up, then took away our stirrups. He then put up a course (I went back later to measure it because I didn’t believe it) that started at 3’6″ and grew from there. And he sent us over this one without stirrups. And we did it successfully. Granted the horse I was on was a very nice horse, but still …
I realized much later that this was real trust. Jimmy knew me, and told me to do it. He knew I could do it, and therefore I never questioned whether I could because Jimmy said I could and therefore I could. And did. I call that trust. Some people might call it insanity, naivete or just plain nuts, but it reads to me like trust.
What do you think?