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Wild Rose

Fear of Riding

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Here is a link to a Julie Goodnight article. http://www.juliegoodnight.com/articles/fear.html

I want to know if anyone has used this technique, how well did it work, or what do you think? Specifically, this paragraph:

"Once you have discovered your comfort zone, you will make a plan to take small ventures outside your comfort zone, with the help of an instructor, always returning back to comfort. Maybe you are perfectly comfortable catching the horse, grooming him, cleaning his feet, but as soon as you go to the tack room to get your saddle, the butterflies start. You have just left your comfort zone. So for however long it takes, you'll come to the barn, groom your horse, put the saddle on, then take it off and put him away. In time, saddling the horse will no longer cause butterflies and you will have expanded your comfort zone. The next step may be to saddle the horse, then take him to the arena and longe him, then put him away. Once that is within your comfort zone, maybe you will mount, then dismount and put the horse away. Then maybe walk once around the arena, and so on as you gradually expand your comfort zone."

I have this terrible nervousness every time I go out to ride Rosie. I can't seem to conquer it. I guess I need some support. I do ride her, but for just a few minutes, and just in the pasture.

I am fine on the ground with her, and saddling her. My fear starts in the house when I just THINK about going out to ride. I guess in my case I have to go out there NOT thinking about riding. I don't know.

ETA: Now if it were CHIEF that was going to go out and ride, there would be no fear whatsoever. Then again, Rosie has not done a thing to make me fearful, either. [Confused]

[ 06-09-2008, 11:52 AM: Message edited by: Wild Rose ]

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I think your case since you're not fearful of riding horses in general, but a particular horse, this method may not work.

Can you pinpoint why you're a little fearful of Rosie? Is she young, prone to be a little unpredictable, lookey or spookey? I think once the reason is targeted a solution can be made. For instance if it's her young age that makes you get butterflies, maybe a month at a professional trainer? If she's spookey maybe some ground lessons sacking her out?

Etc etc.

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Actually, right now the ONLY horse I don't feel fearful of(when I imagine going out to ride), is Chief.

Rosie is 11 years old. Not a youngster. [Embarrassed] I've had her since she was two. I trained her myself, with the help of a gutsy young gal who put the first rides on her (about two months worth).

Rosie is not spooky. She's a dream for me to handle on the ground. I can do all those natural horsemanship things with her on the ground. She looks to me as the leader...on the ground. I think she does when I'm riding, too, until the nervousness gets the best of me. Then she balks, and won't go. Then when she balks, I imagine that the next thing will be a spin and bolt back to the barn, and all is lost. I panic and get off. I scare her by being nervous, I think.

She has never even attempted to buck with me on, or to run off. We walk and trot. No canter yet.

I really believe Rosie would be a great trail horse with more riding. I just can't seem to ride her enough. [Frown]

If I try to pinpoint the fear? I think it's because she is so green. I just imagine the worst...with no basis for imagining it. Man, it sucks to be me.

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I have a similar fear. I get so nervous even thinking about riding anyone but Rain. My hubby went and bought me a new riding mare to use while Rain is being a mom. I have owned her for two months and had not rode her. I had seen other people ride her, and have handled her from the ground with no problems. But as soon as the thought of me getting on her I would freak out.

I finally had a friend come with me and lead me around on her. I would gradually decrease the lead time into ride alone time in the pasture. I finally took her out on an actual trail Saterday with my mom. I was so nervous. But it turned out to be a great day and I feel a lot more confident about riding Ruby.

Mabey you could get a friend to help you by leading you around or riding with you.

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Wild Rose -

In riding a green horse, we can subconsiously psych ourselves out for a few different reasons that might stem back to what I've seen in a few horse owners here - fear of being hurt.

As we get older, we just don't bounce the same, and in my meager experience I've noticed that seems to be the biggest affecting factor in how we ride.

It's not that we're "afraid" to ride a young horse, it's that we're afraid of what might happen if the pony does something goofy and we take a fall - what if we can't get back up? What if we can't go to work, care for the horses, etc..

I know a lady where I board that is in much the same predicament. She owns a horse that she's "afraid" of, and her version of your horse Chief is retired. She feels absolutely comfortable on her old mount, but this new horse (who has relatively few real vices) just scares the tar out of her. She won't get on it unless someone rides it out for her, and even then she's nervous the whole time.

All I can think of to do for her is to keep her riding something until she gets the confidence to ride her own horse. IMO I can get her to believe in her riding skills by continually putting her on a variety of horses til she sees she can stay in the saddle well enough to ride hers..

Maybe that would work for you?

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Missa, yes, I've thought of getting someone to help. Even just to walk along with me while I ride, might be enough. But, I hesitate to ask. I don't know why. I'm sure this one person I'm thinking of would gladly come out. But then, she's kind of pushy and "go, go, go"!

Medicine Woman, I know what you're saying, and you're right. But, the image of me getting hurt isn't really there. It's just the fear. I think I'm afraid of the fear! That awful feeling! Some may call it an adrenaline rush, but I don't like it! Guess I'm not a risk taker at all.

I don't ride my old horse anymore. I could saddle him and sit on him, I suppose, but riding is out. He gets pooped really fast, and his legs get shaky. I don't want to risk hurting him. He'll be 28 in Aug. He would need lots of conditioning.

Besides, I don't think me getting on the old guy would do enough to solve my problem with Rosie.

I went out to the barn today and saddled up Rosie. It was easy, because I knew I wasn't going to ride...so no fear. Maybe I'll just have to keep doing that until I'm so sick of it, I'll take the next step, without fear.

Actually, the fear isn't bad once I get out there. It's when I'm thinking about going out there to ride, and then again once I'm riding a bit farther. I let myself get nervous. Saddling up, lunging, ground work...no problem. Even getting on is no problem.

Once I'm on and walking around, it's OK. I'm nervous, but OK. Just when I get a bit farther away from the barn, it really starts in.

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i have the same problem. i have a 4 year old gelding and i get nervous every time i think of riding him. i have only fell off of him once and that is cause he lost his balance and i went over. but i can ride other horsers with no problem. i still dont know what to do so you aint alone in this

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tampabarrelracer, thanks. I do know that I'm not alone. Fear is a problem for many people. I wish there was a sure fire cure for it.

I was thinking of ordering Julie Goodnight's book about fear, but I'd still have to put it into practice.

This is helping, anyway. I'm actually telling someone.

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it's an application of "advance and retreat", and it works very well for just about anything. you go a little outside your comfort zone each time promising yourself that you can always go back. after a while you start to ask yourself what you were so afraid of in the first place.

i don't know if you ski, but if i took you skiing and just pushed you off the lip of a black slope, i guarantee you you'd probably never want to go skiing again. but if i built you up to it gradually you would gain the confidence you need. i read this in a book three years ago by stephanie burns "move closer, stay longer", a book about exactly this.

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quote:

Originally posted by nick:

i don't know if you ski, but if i took you skiing and just pushed you off the lip of a black slope, i guarantee you you'd probably never want to go skiing again.

YIKES! You got that right! [Eek!]

But, yes, I am going to try the approach and retreat thing. I believe, also, that my nervousness is making Rosie not want to deal with any of this. And I sure don't want her to start developing problems.

She's like an open slate right now. No bad habits have been ingrained. I want to keep it that way.

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Wild Rose, you know my story. How long has it been 2 years? 3 years? And I have been back on Gin only once or twice. It has me so depressed that I didn't even work with my two 2 year olds like I should. Kept finding excuses.

BUT, not anymore [big Grin] . Gin is at a trainer right now. I told the trainer this was for me than it was for Gin. [big Grin] I will be going over there and riding her, and I get plumb teary eyed thinking about it. That is good tears about riding again.

I wish you lived closer to me, we could help each other. But, since Rosie is such a good girl, you need to think about that, and not the what ifs. (hard I know.. look who's talking).

What I did those couple of times that I DID ride Gin was to limit myself to at least 15 minutes. If I felt OK then another 2 will be fine.

[Huggy]

Set yourself a sight, say a tree. Go there, turn around and go back. If you are too nervous get off. Next time same tree. Then maybe next time past the tree.

You will get there. I will get there. [big Grin]

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Thanks, Becaco. Yes, I know your story. That's so good that you are getting there, though. [Huggy]

This whole thing has me depressed, too. I want to ride...all over the place! The thought of just not having horses has even begun to creep into my head! Oh no! But, no, I have to have horses. They are my life!

I need a trainer for me, too.

I'll try the tree thing. I can do this.

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Wild Rose -

You are absolutely right - you *can* do this. You've already taken the first step by admitting out loud that the uneasiness is there.

Now that you've said it out loud, and heard that you're not alone, you can move forward on a progressive path to overcoming the anxiety.

In admitting our fear we take it's power over us. We take the taboo away and we stop thinking that we're irrational or silly. Once we realize that we have an honest-to-goodness issue, we can focus on how to take steps to conquer it.

I wish you the best. You will get there. And I'll be looking forward to your future stories about riding down the trails...

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[Huggy]

Let us know what steps you take tomorrow (Wed.)

I am anxious to see how Gin is doing. [big Grin] She has only been there one day. [ROTFL]

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Thanks, Medicine Woman!

Becaco, I probably won't get to do much tomorrow. Heavy rain is coming in for tomorrow and Thursday. As if THAT'S anything new! I feel like I'm getting webbed feet already!

Plus, I have to work tomorrow. I had yesterday and today off. It's a slow time at work in the spring.

But, we'll see. Maybe if it's not pouring too bad, I can go out and saddle her up in the barn, anyway.

Hope you get to ride Gin, soon!

[ 06-10-2008, 07:58 PM: Message edited by: Wild Rose ]

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I am the same way. I've owner my horse almost a month. I've ridden her ONCE. In the round pen. I *hate* it. I am nervous on all horses except my sister's old mare. It stinks. I really wish I could send my horse to a trainer for a month or so, just so I'd know what she does/how she behaves.

It stinks! I just want to get out and ride. Funny thing is, get a few beers in me, and the fear is gone. HAH.

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When I was running dogs we used a meditation technique of visualizing a perfect run, a perfect obedience pattern. I used the same technique when I was riding a jumping course, a trail class or a reining course. The technique has some fancy name but I forgot it.

What I didn't forget is how well it worked! Try imagining the good of a ride instead of the what if.

I ride with a friend who is a motor mouth. She keeps my mind off the what if and on the positive. If I ride by myself in the arena, the music is on. White noise can be a great confidence booster!

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I occassionally have had to deal w/riders with the same problems as yours. One of the books I found that gave me several things to draw upon is; OVERCOMING THE FEAR OF RIDING.

Interviews from John Lyons, Greg Best, Cherry Hill, Rodney Jekins, Martha Josey, Valerie Kanavy, Bruce Davidson, Carol Lavell, Judy Richter, Greg Ryan, Jeff Teter & Leslie Webb.

1) Never use the word "DON'T" your mind doesn't comprehend that word. ie. Don't spill your milk....you just as well get out the papertowels. LOL

2) Use positive images & phrases.

3) Visualize the kind of ride you want.

4) Start thinking about your ride and or the kind of ride you expect at least 15 minutes before you get to the barn.

5) Replace the "WHAT IF's" with TODAY....I am going to have X kind of ride.

6) Ride where you have control ...build that confidence.

7) Take a few lessons....Communicate with your coach....fears, what you want to accomplish, don't understand.

8) Set goals....keep track, write down the ones you achieve.

9) As you read, get that hightlighter out, & make footnotes in the back of the book too.

Good luck & keep us posted. HTTY

[ 06-11-2008, 03:10 AM: Message edited by: horsewise ]

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akponygirl--it was called "pschocybernetics", and as i recall it was more for success related strategies rather than specific fear issues. (i know, you want to have "success" in overcoming your fear, but a big part of this approach and retreat stuff is not to put so much pressure on yourself in the first place, and always be willing to take the pressure OFF when it's getting to be a bit too much).

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Thanks, horsewise and nick. I have heard about visualizing a good ride. I do try that, and it does make me less fearful, for a minute. I forget myself and it's not as hard to go out there.

But, that doesn't last. By the time I get out the door, the fear is back, and stops me in my tracks. [bang Head]

I just have to keep trying, I guess.

Last summer I didn't ride much at all...maybe three times. But then, I was working at Lowes and my schedule was SO screwy. It seemed like I was never off when it was convenient to ride. Then I quit there, and started another job. This job is better, but I still didn't get out there to ride.

I guess I will have to make riding the priority. Instead of doing what I need to get done, I'll go out and ride first (or try to).

Every spring it's the same way. It takes me awhile to get going with it. Maybe this spring is no different.

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....there is the fear of riding a PARTICULAR horse......and the fear of riding in general.

Fact remains you cannot build ANY sort of confidence in riding unless at some point you actually get on a horse.....any horse.....and ride.

It would give you the opportunity to see what it feels like.........build riding muscles.......work on balance.

And build confidence.

And it can't be just once a month. It has to be on a regular basis.

I just finished reading an article by a working cowhorse competitor who said in no uncertain terms that to get better at it - you have to practice. You just can't show up at a competition and think you're going to bring home a blue ribbon.

The same prinicple applies from entry level sport all the way up to the professional.

* * * * *

I think WR, that you have very much ingrained and conditioned a fear response into yourself over the years.....in pretty much the same way that a horse that is fearful about - say - loading in a straight haul trailer and has been forced and forced and forced to move up and "get in there".....without proper training in an alternative venue. Probably gets to the point where you show the horse a PICTURE of a trailer and he'll break a sweat.

I think that it will be very very difficult to break the trend you are in unless you start doing something completely different.

You know even with a horse, you'd take him away from the trailer and get him to move forward past you......teach him to yield to pressure.....at his own pace.....and THEN introduce loading.

Then there's the uncomfortable feeling that you may have that Rosie isn't getting ridden much and the worry that this might translate into misbehaviour.

And I think you are being unnecessarily hard on yourself about even HAVING horses.

"OMG - I have horses - I should be riding them"

Know what? I think it's 110% all right to have horses and just enjoy the pleasure of their company.

To throw a saddle on their back..........and get out the soap and clean the leather.

Because I currently find myself in a remote location with noone to ride with, I also - and for absolutely NO reason because I have put a bazillion miles on both my horses - am a bit nervous riding by myself.

Maybe part of all of this is age related.

Of course I could be full of poo poo.

[big Grin]

[ 06-11-2008, 08:46 AM: Message edited by: Cactus Rose ]

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Cactus, no you're not full of poo poo! [ROTFL] What you say makes a lot of sense.

I know that if I were to ride another horse, things would get better. I could find someone with a trusty steed, I'm sure. But you know...I don't know for sure why, but I hesitate to ask anyone.

Maybe it's the idea that this is my problem and I should be able to overcome it. I've always been able to overcome things on my own...other things.

Maybe I don't want to "bother" anyone. It would have to be longer than one or two rides, and maybe that person just doesn't have the time.

Maybe I don't want any of the horse people around here to know that I'm such a whuss! Maybe they'd make fun of me. I don't know.

I've been wracking my brain trying to self analyze this whole thing.

Maybe you're right. Maybe I really don't WANT to ride, and am just telling myself that I do. Maybe I should just teach Rosie tricks or something. [Roll Eyes]

But, no, I DO want to ride. I rode Chief everywhere in his younger days. We'd go exploring on our own, and sometimes get into some predicaments. But he always knew how to take care of himself. Heck, we rode past bears! One was up on his hind legs not 20 feet from us! It was such a thrill!

When I was a teen, I rode anything. It didn't matter if the horse was green. I rode. I had a 16.2 hand TB that was green. He ran off with me many times. I didn't care!

I want that back. Well, not the running off, but I want that no fear back.

Do something completely different? Hmmmm...I'll have to come up with something. Maybe driving...

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quote:

Maybe it's the idea that this is my problem and I should be able to overcome it.

"Should" is a quantity that you have invented for yourself in your head.

I can say that - because I do that to myself all the time.

Just know that trying "harder" is not necessarily the thing that brings success.

Oh

Oh

Oh

A story I heard that is so appropriate.

The story about a fly.

There was this little fly inside a house.

And he wanted to get OUTSIDE.

So there he was beating himself against the window.

He could SEE the trees and grass outside - he KNEW where he wanted to go........and he figured "if I just fly into this window HARD enough - I'll get there".

All the while.........there was an open door two feet to the right of him.

[Razz]

[ 06-11-2008, 10:13 AM: Message edited by: Cactus Rose ]

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Cactus, cute story.

Wild Rose, just got an update on Gin. D. just called and said that she rode Gin. Just at a walk in the the round pen, but she did just great... no problems. [big Grin]

Ever since I dropped her off, I have been thinking about riding her. A good ride and not being nervous.

Something that someone said, Cactus Rose I think, about having to ride just because you have horses. It was either on one of John Lyons shows or a tape, he talked about this woman and her horse. I don't remember what problem she needed solved, but after JL showed her .. whatever it was.... She asked him if she had to ride. He told her no, if she just wanted a pasture ornament that was fine. or something on that order.

Wild Rose, I am sure that you can and will ride and without being nervous. Rosie is a good horse.

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I know where you are coming from and you've gotten some great advise! I'll just add my story to help bolster your confidence maybe.

Six years ago last April, we had this mare named Sugar. She was NOT appropriately named. She was a gorgeous palomino mare, but unbeknownst to us at the time, she had some serious issues with training and riding.

She was 4 when we got her, been used in cow camp and around the ranch, we were told. And maybe she was, I don't know. My husband rode her and I rode her but I always felt a little nervous on her. I had an older gelding that I rode all the time, by myself, all over the place but we sold him to a dude string. Sugar was to be my replacement for Riddle.

My husband kept telling me to "just ride her" and "she won't do anything". So I did. No one was home. I was in the 50x50 corral. I use a mounting block, was very careful to not toe her or flank her when mounting. I was up, about to drop my right leg over and she bucked, HARD! I came off on the other side on my right side, on my hip mostly. Knocked me out. I crawled to the fence and hobbled in the house and called a friend to come help me get Sugar unsaddled and turned out. No way could I have gotten back on her if I had wanted to!

I was bruised from above my hip down past my knee and across my kidneys. I had a concussion and abrasions on my arm. And I HURT. And I lost ALL confidence in myself.

Over the course of the next 6 years, we've bought and sold several horses for me. We still have Katie and I WILL ride her this year. But it wasn't until about 1 1/2 years ago when we were given Dreyfuss that I finally was able to have FUN on a horse again.

Dreyfuss is a HUGE Appy/Clyde cross in his 20's, a "been there/done that" type. He's 16+ hands and one "friend" I know chastised me for getting him because all the others I'd had didn't "do it" for me and Dreyfuss is way bigger than the others, blah blah blah.

We got Dreyfuss in January, snow on the ground and ice so no riding for a bit. I got on him for the first time in April of that year, which was almost 4 years to the date from when Sugar dumped me. I'd ridden maybe 10 times in that 4 years. I immediately felt good on him. I only rode for about 15-20 minutes because it was cold and there were little places to ride, but I got on and that's what counted.

A month later, my 2nd ride, was at the fairgrounds the day before a show. I cantered him on my 2nd ride!!! It was scary and exciting both at the same time. He took a bit to go into the canter and I know why now ... he's a protector and he was making sure I was ready. I was ... he's a big, powerful horse and that first stride into the lope was like ... WOW! It scared me but it felt good too. I rode the next day at the show and it was great! Didn't win anything, except a BUNCH of confidence! This is from the show:

-

The following week, I got asked to go help get some cows that had gotten out of their field and into an alfalfa field. I knew Dreyfuss had been a ranch horse and worked cows before, so I said sure!

Oh, what FUN! Wild cows ... VERY wild cows, that did not want to be caught! We'd get them up close and they would bolt. So Corine told me to go to the left and circle around and she would go to the right and circle around and try to cut them off. She wasn't really expecting much from me and Dreyfuss, I know, other than a "body" to deter them. We trotted around so we had flanked the cows and they started to bolt in front of us, away from Corine. I pointed Dreyfuss at them, leaned forward, touched his sides and we took off at a DEAD RUN, jumping sage brush and all! We caught the cows. Corine was impressed ... me too!

Since that time, I've ridden a couple different horses, other than Dreyfuss. I rode my husbands silly palomino in the parade 2 years ago ... he danced and crowhopped and snorted and such but I kept him under control and never got worried. I took a horse that I had borrowed to move cows and had a herd of about 80 head turn and run right at us! The horse freaked, tried to bolt, I got him stopped, did some one-rein stops a few times and finished the drive. But I stayed on him, even though I was a little nervous about the whole spinning and bolting thing ... and he did buck with me a couple times when he was mad and scared. But I stayed with it.

All it took for this to happen is for my wonderful friend Dreyfuss to show me that I CAN still sit a horse. Now he's going blind and I will be taking care of him, but we'll still ride once in awhile. I may not be able to stay on ALL horses but I know now that I can stay on most horses.

I still get nervous before riding, even on Dreyfuss. I still have moments of trepidation about riding when no one is home. I still have issues mounting, since that was when I got bucked off by Sugar. But man, I LOVE to ride and I LOVE horses so I just do it. And it gets easier every time.

It will for you too. Just hang in there!

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Andi, that story gave me goosebumps! It was thrilling! [big Grin] See, now that's what I feel is inside me someplace.

I've even thought what I need is to be placed out...way out..on the trail with Rosie all saddled. And told to get home. Walk or ride, just get home. Then, I think I could do it, because I'd HAVE to.

Dreyfuss is a neat horse! [big Grin]

Cactus, but where is MY open door? And WHAT is it?

Becaco, I've heard that story. I read that someplace. It's true. But, I really do want to ride. You keep thinking good rides on Gin. I think you'll get there.

Well, we have rain, wind, and cold today. I don't think it got much over 40 degrees here! So, I'm not going outside at all. I went out to feed and got soaked.

I was thinking about this topic today, and suddenly felt really whiney and stupid about it all. I just need to keep at it, and quit trying to find an easy out.

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Well, the rain quit. I got off work at noon so I saddled up Rosie. I was not nervous before or during because I knew I wasn't going to ride.

I took her out and we did some ground work and games. I got her to sidepass. Not too well from the left, but she did pretty good from the right. Not bad for not doing this with her for a couple years.

I wanted to ride, too, but I told myself no.

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Funny thing is, get a few beers in me, and the fear is gone. HAH.

jbthatzme, I did ride one evening last week after having a few. I was not as nervous, but it was still there. Rosie couldn't tell, though. At least she didn't say "get off you drunk!" [Eek!]

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