Today when I got to the barn, Zelda was standing in front of what remained of the electric fence. Heavy snow had brought the tape down to a height of about 18″. Still, she stood patiently behind it. After all, it is a fence and she knows what that means. It didn’t matter that she could have walked over it. (Just to clarify, this is an internal fence used at night so she wasn’t in any danger of getting out of the paddock).
It struck me just then that sometimes the barriers we see in our mind are not as insurmountable as they seem. We all get fixed ideas of what we can — and cannot — do. In the case of your horse, sometimes it’s better that they believe in absolutes. For the rest of us, it’s important not to be constrained by our preconceptions or our perceived limitations.
I know that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more conservative in my riding. Some people might say it’s about time. I’ve got too many responsibilities now to push the envelope. But I miss the younger me sometimes. The me who jumped bigger fences, galloped faster and rode any horse. Denny Emerson wrote on his Facebook feed last year that if you always jump little fences, eventually they start to look “normal” (forgive me, Denny, for paraphrasing). I remember at the time thinking how true that was. The fences in my ring were looking larger. They made me pause.
The next day I went out with a tape measure and confirmed that they were tiny. Nothing at all to be concerned about.
This year I’m going to push my envelope a little. Not just in my riding, although I’m going to stop being such a wimp about the fences I jump, but with a lot of things in my life. I’m going to remember that just because it looks like a barrier, it doesn’t have to be. Thanks, Zelda, for reminding me that sometimes that big fence is really just a speed bump.