Snippets of my crazy Heebie-Jeebies FEAR journey

Partner Up workshop Logo depicting a horse and human head touching at the forehead with the words Trust, Honesty, Acceptance and Willingness inside a magical crystal ball

The plan to dwindle the heebie-jeebies started when we moved to10 acres in the Blackwater Valley in the middle of no where and yet the hub for everywhere. We are surrounded by large farms, and an abundance of heritage trails, history and beauty in an area that is over 50 km to the nearest power pole. There is no cell service, and Quesnel is 70 km and Prince George via the Blackwater Rd is 95 km from our doorstep.

We moved here for 3 reasons: 1) The necessity to keep Dexter alive. When we got Dexter he was a year old intact Great Pyrenees male who had a mind of his own and was a notorious escape artist. Great Pyrenees do not have car sense! His protection mechanism was so strong that if he deemed a car or truck was coming to fast he would immediately move directly in front of it and stand sideways. While this works great against bears it was a certain death wish from civilization.

2) In my head injury recovery and my desire to get back my life, some of the choices I made did not end up in my best interest moving forward. I had created a beautiful house/yard and saskatoon farm, but I was like a rat on a wheel with not even one second to take a breath although it did provide me with a perfect excuse to avoid coming head to head with many of my fears.

My heebie-jeebies and Gemini. Picture showing my big beautiful bay quarter horse

During this time I was given a 2 year old unbroke quarter horse who had just been gelded prior to being dropped off. Gemini was big and built like a tank with an aloofness that was impenetrable. He was beautiful and my nemesis in so many ways. A year after he arrived my 2 old horses Lady and Mikey walked the rainbow bridge and I was now forced into a dilemma with my heart and honour. Something had to give, my home or Gemini. I chose Gemini.

3) To deal with the huge relentless heebie-jeebies fear issues I had from the head injury I systematically took a long hard look at where I lived and the obstacles it gave me to use as a reason to NOT go toe to toe with my heebie-jeebies. Moving to the Blackwater Valley gave me solitude. I was free from the pace of the outside world. I was free to create a life for myself totally based on the new understanding of who I really was at that point in my recovery. I had no observers or outside influencers and that gave me TIME. Time is the most precious gift of all commodities.

As I mentioned in 3 above I was systematically trying to address all of the reasons I had for fear. Having been around horses my whole life, ridden extensively, and trained many had given me great insight which now was totally against me. The heebies-jeebies fear was so powerful it turned my wisdom into crisis mode where in every turn I was seeing a possibility for a spook and of course turning Gemini into a basket case in the process.

dwindling the heebie-jeebies at Bill Richey clinic. a picture of me and Gemini on the balance beam

When I saw an ad for a Confidence and De-spooking Clinic in Hope, BC I thought ok. I am doing this. I will get to see how Gemini reacts to a lot of stuff, then I can quit wondering and worrying and just maybe get rid of some of my heebie-jeebies. I was doing the clinic for me and my heebie-jeebies, Gemini was along for the ride.

I thought about all the ways I could talk myself out of doing this, and whew it was quite a list! When I called to book my spot I asked for a separate grass paddock for Gemini, I asked for a spot I could park my LQ horse trailer beside Gemini’s paddock, I asked if I could lead my horse if I wanted, I asked if I could have a person lead my horse if I wanted, I asked if I could bring my 2 large dogs lol. If you have ever experienced heebie-jeebies fear you will certainly recognize my tactics to be told they could not accommodate my requests so I would have a good reason for not going.

Laurie gave the “well certainly” to all of my requests, and I offered up full payment before I could find a reason to talk myself out of this attempt to dwindle my heebie-jeebies.

Heebie-Jeebies dwindlers: Confidence And De-spooking Clinic By Bill Richey June 2011

June, 2011  Gemini was just turning 4 years old.

I attended the clinic in Hope, BC at the RED BARN hosted by Laurie and Fred. Great camping and accommodations for human and equine were provided along with scrumptious food. What more could there be??? The clinic instructed by Bill Richey!!!! What an amazing experience – both for me and my horse.

The first day of the clinic I was scared stiff (scared shitless). I have a head injury, balance problems, knee replacements, and did not want to fall off or get injured in any way. My horse Gemini had just turned four and had not experienced any of the obstacles that will be in the clinic.

Well, what the hay was I doing here? I did not know what to do… so I told Bill about my brain injury, heebie-jeebies and all the problems associated with it. He promised he would keep me safe, and he did!! HIs eagle eye never missed much and was always there when needed.

My nervousness( crazy heebie-jeebies fear more like it) over not knowing what my horse would do was creating problems for me and in turn for us. I had just had my knee replaced and it was not bending so I was unable to cue at all on the right side. I figured if I did the clinic even if I was too chicken to ride and just led my horse, at least I would know how he reacts etc.

I do not want to spoil the awe and simplicity of the clinic by going into detail, so all I’m going to say is two things.

1) I have no words to express the feeling of accomplishment for myself and the pride in my horse at the end of the clinic when we were riding over all sorts of obstacles, the noise from sirens, trains, whistles, trucks, noisy backfiring tractors, a Kenworth tractor truck, and a helicopter. Not to mention all of these obstacles surrounding us while riding through fire and smoke safely. what a great way to dwindle my heebie-jeebies.

2) Absolutely, anyone who owns or rides a horse should attend this clinic whether you have heebie-jeebies or not.

Happy Trails,

Heebie-Jeebies dwindlers: Debbie Hughes Confidence and De-Spooking Clinic 100 Mile House, April 28 & 29, 2012

My second Confidence and De-Spooking Clinic!!! A second opportunity to work on my fear in a very safe and supported environment. For me, the fear of falling off and getting another brain injury was crazy, ever coming, never dwindling heebie-jeebies crippling fear. Many days, even with all the work I was doing to help myself and my heebie-jeebies, I would find any excuse to not ride.

Other days I would spend countless hours thinking about what might happen on the ride. Sometimes it would take me over an hour once I had Gem saddled to work up the courage to climb on. Sometimes the entire ride would be a grit and bear it…no enjoyment. Riding had always been a magical moment for me. No matter how shitty my day, 10 minutes on the back of a horse and all was at peace and right in my world.

I grew up riding bareback and that was my first choice… and actually how I rode for most of my life. Post Head injury filled with heebie-jeebies was a different story… now the need for a saddle to keep my balance in check and to help manage my fear.

Attending these clinics helped me get the confidence to work through some of my fear issues. Of course Gem benefited immensely as well. To give you an idea of how well these clinics work for both horse and rider heebie-jeebies I will share what could have been a riders worst nightmare if not for the clinic.

About a month after attending the clinic we were out riding and our 2 dogs bounced 2 young fawns. We were screaming at the dogs, the fawns were screaming like banshees, and the dogs and fawns ran through my horses front legs and under the belly of the horse next to me and then they came back through Gems hind legs and out through the front with the dogs in pursuit kye-i-ing. Our horses did not move or spook, which allowed us to be able to get off after all the action and catch the dogs and say some choice things to them while snapping their leashes back on.

I am looking forward to the day I get my mojo back.

Heebie-Jeebies dwindlers: Debbie Hughes Confidence and De-Spooking Clinic May 11 & 12, 2013

Another great weekend at Foothills in 100 Mile House.  These clinics were great for me first thing in the spring as it set me up for more confidence through out the riding year by helping to rid the heebie-jeebies that had crept back over the winter. At this stage, I was getting my mojo back and the heebie-jeebies were taking enough of a backseat that I was able for the first times while riding to succinctly discern Gemini’s heebie-jeebies form my own.

Gemini is very solid in these clinics, and for him it brought something totally different to our riding year. Gemini feels relatively safe in arenas or in wide open areas. Typically, we ride in the bush, which at times is a really big deal for Gemini as he has an extremely high preservation instinct. He notices everything when we are out on the trail. He is constantly on high alert, and that sometime sets me off……those dam heebie-jeebies!

He still goes where ever I point him as it is not obstacles that cause him problems, but predators or at least what he views as predators. To date I have never seen , smelled or heard what it is that sets him off at times. One thing is for certain his heebie-jeebies fear is real to him. He tries very hard to always be a good boy and that means he ends up carrying too much tension in his body. We are a works in progress him and I—a team. A team fighting the crazy relentless heebie-jeebies.