American icon, John Wayne aka The Duke famously said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyways.”
I’ve rode horses my whole life and for many, many years my entire world revolved around them. Every day of the week you could find me doing different activities with my horses. From ranch sorting to barrel racing to drill team, jr rodeos, rodeo queen pageants and even the occasional horse show or play day, I literally was always doing something on horseback.
I was the daredevil of the family and was always the one having an accident with my horse but it never stopped me, never created any fear in me. However, somewhere along the way when I got older, probably around my mid twenties, I lost my confidence as a horsewoman and, instead of confronting it, I just quit riding as much. I made up excuses not to ride and when I did I didn’t enjoy it as much anymore because of all my insecurities. I found myself acting like a beginner and pretending not to know things, to match my lack of confidence, (if that makes sense). Yes I am sure this sounds so silly. Trust me - I am completely aware of that now. My lack of confidence cost me a heck of a lot, and over the course of the last year and a half, I developed a whole other set of issues while riding. It was more like feelings related to my lack of confidence and what it had cost me. I would get mad at myself and not ride to avoid those feelings.
A few years ago, I distinctly remember meeting someone who I would eventually grow very close to and highly respect as a horseman, asking me if I was a cowgirl. Keep in mind, this was a couple years into my unexplained lack of confidence. I stammered around and tried to think of the correct answer and I think I eventually answered with something along the lines of “well I don’t know if I would consider myself much of a cowgirl but yes I ride horses.” You see, after years of this lack of confidence I eventually came to the conclusion that I wasn’t a cowgirl at all because, while I’ve done many different things with horses, I’m not a trainer. I’m not handy with a rope and I’m not the most perfect rider.
You know what I’ve come to realize though?
Being a cowgirl actually has nothing to do with those 3 things I just mentioned. When googling - because that’s where all the real answers are HA - I found one definition that really stuck out to me.
“Being a cowgirl goes beyond riding a horse and working with cattle. A cowgirl is a woman who is strong, confident, and not afraid of a hard day’s work. She is polite, sharing kindness with all the folks around her, and she doesn’t shy away from getting dirt under her fingernails. Each cowgirl is an inspiration to us all.”
It said nothing about roping, training or being the best. To me it was focusing on courage, attitude and work ethic.
So - it turns out I am a cowgirl after all.
Last summer, I admitted this fear and what I feel like it’s cost me to my sister. I’ve literally never told anybody any of this before. Like any good sister she reminded me of some of the accomplishments I’ve had with horses throughout the years. Just sharing that with her and hearing her remind me of what all I have done instead of haven’t done, gave me the confidence to 1) change my thinking on all this and 2) to get back to doing what I love. The past few months I have spent horseback doing things I previously loved to do and have goals to push myself even further in 2022 by trying some new things, things far beyond my comfort zone. For the first time in years, I have truly enjoyed riding because I gave myself permission to just have fun and not worry about trying to be something that I had made up in my head that I needed to be. Of course, I still want to do good and better myself every time I saddle up, but I am done with being too hard on myself and just not even trying.
My main point I wanted to make here and the whole moral of the story is, don’t let your lack of confidence take away things you love doing. What if I had never gotten my confidence back and just completely gave up on something that has been such a huge part of my life? Well I might have found a cheaper hobby for one, but on a serious note, I would have been letting my dreams die just because of a silly insecurity. I encourage you all today to take a look at your life and ask yourself if there’s anything you’re not doing because of a lack of confidence. If yes, go admit that to somebody and then saddle up and get back at it cowgirl! Every person’s journey and skill level is different but if you keep at and keep learning and growing and doing what you love you’ll be a success my friends!
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