When I ride, 50 things happen simultaneously: My shoulders fight to stay back, my heals down, thigh pressure on, rein lengths change, ankles turn. I make sure Essie is in the right position as well as constantly check in with myself. But these are never conscience thoughts. This all happens while my mind wonders to the fear of the height of the jump, whether I look good in the saddle, if Essay is moving straight. A good rider makes everything look easy, but on the inside they are constantly thinking ahead, or maybe they aren’t thinking at all. Sometimes when I have my best rides, I do not have any thoughts; everything is simple, working in order to get to the next thing. There is no need to think. As bizarre as it is, the minute I actively think about the right way to do the next turn or if I have the right stride length, I over-think and then it all goes to hell in a hand basket. While riding taught me to live in the present it also taught me that instead of logically planning out my steps I just need to react, and react effectively. This isn’t quick thinking; it’s your body doing what needs to be done with your mind focusing on not falling. My only true brain-voiced thoughts are those of “Can I make it over? What happens if she stops but I don’t?” Anyone who tells you there isn’t an ounce of fear that runs through them when they see a jump is lying. I believe that to be a successful rider, one’s fear has to work hand-in-hand with one’s confidence. If your confidence reigns supreme then you’re cocky and your riding is shit, if your fear takes over then you wouldn’t ride. But if they move together then they act as checks on each other to make for a good ride. The fear makes me feel alive and aware of my movements with my horse. I need that fear to remind me that this animal under me can do whatever she wants and if she doesn’t want to listen, if she wants to unseat me, then she can do just that. The confidence that I know what I am doing makes me get on my horse every day.