This sentiment, whether I said it out loud or internally, was a big influence in shaping the work I do. I remember one of the first times I found myself working with someone and being amazed at the level and intensity of fear they were facing.
I was giving a lesson to someone who shared that she had fear issues. She owned three or four horses, and ran a boarding business, and wanted to enjoy riding again. She shared some of her prior experiences with me, and then we lunged her horse together. Then, the time seemed right, and she said that she was ready to get in the saddle.
She had a portable mounting block, so I brought it over to where she stood with her horse. We got it situated just right, and she slowly and purposefully climbed up the three steps and gingerly got on. When she settled in the saddle, I led her through some breathing exercises to help her relax. After she seemed to be comfortable, I turned to move the mounting block.
I heard her say, “Don’t leave me”. Needless to say I stopped what I was doing and looked at her. That was when my whole being said that nobody should have to be that scared. I put my hand back on the reins, and gently led her through another body centered focusing exercise to relax her mangled nerves. When she started breathing again, she asked me to lead her horse for her. We slowly started walking around the arena, with lots of checks in to see what this brave student was thinking and feeling.
After a few times around the arena, she asked me to walk with her, but let go of the reins. I knew this was a big step, and took things slow and gradual. Then, she asked me to stay still so that she could circle around me. Occasionally I would remind her to breathe, and help align her body into a more balanced riding position. Her smile grew bigger and bigger.
Although I have witnessed many others take similar bold and courageous steps, this first instance stands out the most vividly. I think it is because I knew how much it means to people to be able to wear those big smiles, and I decided I would sign up over and over again to watch those smiles (and their confidence!) grow.