Taking the power away from fear……


Taking the power away from fear......

Fear is a powerful thing.

Fear of the horse, fear of losing control, fear of not knowing what to do, fear of what might happen, fear of looking stupid, fear of damaging our horse, fear of hurting ourselves, fear of failing, fear of what if we succeed? Fear of not being good enough, fear of being too good.  Fear of change….fear of not changing…..fear of not being able to change….


We give power to this fear by fighting it, denying it.  In denying the fear, trying to pretend it’s not really there, we ignore the whispers of self doubt.  But the self doubt doesn’t go away – it’s there for a reason, and so when we don’t hear it, it has to raise its voice and shout louder and louder to get our attention – and so that slight anxiety we push ourselves through and ignore, grows into nausea, legs shaking and tears when we even think of doing things.


In fighting the fear, we give it power.  The fear is from within ourselves, so it is like fighting a reflection.  Every ounce of energy we put into fighting the fear feeds into the energy the fear itself has to use against us.  We fight ourselves and tear ourselves apart.  The fear grows louder, stronger until there is room for nothing else.

Opposition breeds opposition.

Resistance builds resistance.

Aggression and anger towards our fear is aggression and anger towards ourselves.

We become violent to ourselves:  when we deny the fear, or fight it and try to force it away – we are forcing ourselves against ourselves….


Can you imagine the damage this does?


It is not fear that is harmful to us.  Fear is just our unconscious trying to keep us safe.  It is the fear of fear that causes the harm.  By being frightened of the fear, and denying or fighting it, we give it a strange power over us – a power of control,  of limitation and we allow the fear to stop us from living.

And we are fighting a part of ourselves.  A part that is just trying to keep us safe.


When we fight ourselves, we are not coherent or congruent – and our horses know this.  A horse is a herd animal, and knows when our energy is divided, when our being is fighting – when there is violence around us.


Fighting or denying fear causes our horses to fear us:  when we are not coherent or congruent, how can they trust us?

So what can we do?


What if…..


What if…..


What if we treated ourselves like we would treat our horses?


What would we do with a frightened horse?


Would we fight her?  Tell her not to be so stupid?  Not to be frightened?

Would we deny it?  Tell her she’s not frightened, or shouldn’t be – ignore her fear?


We wouldn’t do that to a horse – -and yet so many of us do it to ourselves.


What if instead of denying or fighting fear, we ACCEPTED it.


What if we said “THANK YOU” to it – for keeping us safe, and stopping us from doing dangerous things….

THANK YOU for causing me to think about what I do, so I take care of myself.

I deserve to take care of myself


I am worth it.


What if we said that?


What if we were THANKFUL for our fear?



What if we welcomed and accepted the part of us that is keeping us safe, opened our arms and invited it in,  thankful that part of our being is so focused on keeping us safe, and making sure we stay intact.


What if we made the fear feel welcome, comfortable – and relaxed and trusting.


Well then we could have a conversation with it.


Like we would have a conversation with a friend.


Hi there, thanks for keeping me safe – I realise you are doing an important job.  I would like to respect the job you do —  I would also like to be happy riding my horse.  How can I set things up so that both things can be true?

You may be surprised to hear your fear answer you.

Give you some ideas.


Usually, it will suggest taking smaller steps, breaking things down into tinier increments, making sure you are safe at one step before going on to the next.


When I felt fear about riding again after I had a bad fall, I recognised that I had fear.  And I asked the question – -what had to happen so that I can respect my fear, stay safe – and ride again?

And instead of just saddling up and riding off, I broke it down into smaller steps:  I stood on a large log and leant over my horse, proving that was ok.  I did that ten times until I realised there was zero fear or worry.  Then I bounced up and down on the log.  Ten times.  Zero worry.  I put my foot in the stirrup – bounced up and down – ten times, no worry.  Watching my horse.  I stepped up and put my hip into the saddle so all my weight was in the saddle but I could slip off easily.  Ten times.

I was talking with my fear, and it was allowing me to make progress.  It was also talking to me in a whisper, not a shout.


By taking these small steps, I proved to my fear that I WAS safe. That I could handle things.

And so my fear became my partner – and worked WITH me on keeping me safe that day, and yet I DID ride, and I WAS happy.




Welcoming your fear, being thankful for your fear – takes the POWER away from the fear.

It makes the fear our PARTNER


It means we are working WITH ourselves, not AGAINST ourselves, and our horses will feel that honesty.


Working WITH our fear instead of AGAINST it –


Gives the power back to where it belongs…..





Yours, in Confidence







22 thoughts on “Taking the power away from fear……

  1. Brilliant as usual, I can relate to this so much. I was close to tears reading this as it is so where I was before starting reading these blog posts. My friends and daughter are helping and going to take my boy out on the roads as that is where my fear is, I fear not being in total control, I fear the traffic – both these are keeping me save as I ride in a field or arena away from this perceived danger. I will walk with them and ride when I feel safe, when my confidence score is below 5, both my instructors work with this too and so ( when the weather improves) I shall be back in the saddle.

    • Wow Gill – that is the fastest response to a blog post I have ever had!

      I appreciate your openness in this comment — I believe that the more we accept fear and worry as simply a safety net in ourselves and others — the more we can all start working with it and making progress vs allowing it to imprison us in our pits of despair and isolation..

      finding others to share and work with makes a HUGE difference


  2. Cathy – I can not thank you enough – you have made it alright for me to be fearful and alright for me to take small steps with my horse – after a horrible accident we are both benefitting from this approach -bonding and growing – keeping within our confidence levels and moving forward – before you no-one said its OK to be scared – its OK to go slow – thank you.

  3. Well said Cathy! “Fear is just our unconscious trying to keep us safe. It is the fear of fear that causes the harm.”..it paralyses me anyway..I become indecisive and I am sure my horse becomes unsure also. I find deep breaths help, also setting my self up for success vs failure. I really love your blog Cathy..thank you for sharing with us and allowing us to ask you questions..as I have mentioned before, I wish you weren’t across the “pond”..
    Best, Chris

  4. This really made me think… I’m so glad I read it, I’m actually feeling really positive about my girl coming back into work soon… Looking forward to being in control of my fear and taking our time 🙂

  5. One of my favorite articles. This is a universal truth, not to abdicate or resist, but to affirm. Especially good with horses, too.

  6. Cathy, I totally believe in this humanistic approach to emotion. I have recently finished three years of sychosythesis based therapy (after my fathers death) and your words above are the same as the conversations that I have learnt to have with myself. It is incredibly powerful. I remember once telling my counsellor Russell, that it felt like my fear was coming towards me on a high speed train. He acknowledged this and said jokingly,” that’s worrying, but the time to be really worried is when it is hovering above you in a helicopter!”
    I went on to explore my fears with him and now have a deep understanding of how much self love is required to build confidence.
    It’s very refreshing to hear this approach published, because so much of the mainstream sports psychology seems to encourage people to battle with their emotions as if it is some kind of win or lose situation, and whilst it sells magazines and entices people to believe they are gaining confidence, it really doesn’t work.
    True progress is made, as you so well describe above, when you learn to love everything about yourself, including the parts that seem unlovable x

  7. another great post Cathy 🙂 In doing what you suggest above, it can also be found that fear has kicked in way before we thought it would. Whether it’s a fidgety horse whilst mounting, or an extra windy day etc. It’s good to be aware of when it starts and why and each time can be different too.

    • This is a great observation Julie — being aware of when it starts is pretty important — one reason I suggest doing things many times is it gives you a chance to recognise when you are tense and when you are truly ok with it


  8. Pingback: In fighting the… – Happyloosa

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