I am terrified of heights.
Once I stood absolutely still, stranded at the top of the empire state building for almost an hour before I was able to ‘unstick’ my feet and bolt for the exit.
So, when the opportunity arose to hike through one of the most dangerous mountain paths in Europe, I politely declined and instead booked myself a trail ride, which I assumed would be through stunning Andalusian forest on relatively FLAT ground, and Yes, I do know what they say about the word “Assume”
I was given a beautiful Mare to ride whose only issue seemed to be the reluctance to step into/over other horses poo. It was a hot morning and I was looking forward to the shade of the forest.
During the trail we came to a narrow path my guide affectionately called “The Adrenalin Run”, while entirely appropriate this name does not quite do it justice.
The trail began to wind higher up the mountain and the ground began to get steeper and narrower, sloping away dramatically and revealing stunning forest views and old ruins, or so I’m told as I dare not look, my eyes staring steely ahead.
I began to feel a familiar sense of rising panic, clearly we could not turn round and even if we did, we were at least half way along the trail. The only way was forward.
My beautiful, trustworthy horse chose this precise moment to stop moving.
I held my breath.
She took 2 steps backwards.
I tried to push her on. She took half a step forward and another 2 backwards. There was a huge pile of horse manure on the path in front of us, I really hoped this was not going to be the source of our problem.
Any horsemanship I had learnt over my entire life was in danger of flying out of the side door along with my common sense. Fighting the urge to utterly panic I knew I had to take a very deep breath and relax. I needed to trust that although I was terrified, my horse was sure-footed and knew this terrain well.
I gave my trust over to her completely to pick her own way along the trail until we reached the top.
It was worth it, the view was breath taking and I felt elated that I had managed to complete the upward part of the trail.
The Unexpected Lesson of this story?
The path you are travelling may feel unsure and scary, you may feel the urge to go backwards, but backwards is never a great idea. Don’t be distracted by other peoples s**t, keep going because the view from your destination will be amazing. Take a deep breath and go…
Enjoy your journey!