By: Heather Wallace
Publisher: Water Horse Press
Publication Date: June 2018
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Author Heather Wallace delivers a book that is part memoir and part self-help as she shares her experiences and offers helpful advice in her newest book, Confessions of a Timid Rider.
Author Wallace begins her memoir with a brief chapter describing her internal struggles with being both an introvert and an extrovert - in essence, an "ambivert" (showing tendencies of both). This conflict has played a large part in her struggles to overcome her fear of "what ifs" while spending time with horses. Next, she begins the recounting of her childhood obsession with horses. She would do anything for a pony ride or a few moments with a beautiful steed at birthday parties or when the circus came to town. While on vacation when she was nine, she convinced her parents to take the whole family on a trail ride through the desert. As soon as she was mounted on her gray pony, the author started falling in love with the adorable animal. But then the sweet equine shifted its weight while quietly waiting for the other riders, and Ms. Wallace panicked. She was taken off the pony and thus began her lifelong love/fear affair with horses.
While Wallace's fear at times seemed overwhelming, she didn't let it stop her from taking riding lessons as a teen. Things went well...until they didn't. She loved riding and spending time at the barn, but always, in the back of her mind, were her "...own insecurities and vivid imagination..." that kept the thought of accidents and "what ifs" always present.
Wallace briefly discusses her college years when horses were not part of the picture, then on to motherhood and the eventual need to "get out of the house," where she again found herself in the company of horses. She began with a "schoolmaster" (a safe, older horse), and worked her way up to a younger and somewhat less predictable equine. Always in the back of her mind were the "what ifs" and her struggles with confidence. Still, her time at the barn was an important part of her life and soon she was bringing her children along with her to experience the joy of riding. Watching her girls ride helped Wallace pursue her own dreams of riding, as well as realize just how wonderful spending time at the barn was for all, while still, at times, fighting the fear of getting hurt.
Horses, and the time spent riding was, and is, a constant battle for Heather Wallace. In her memoir, she bares her soul and admits to the struggles she has faced throughout her life. Horses, being around the barn, and the sheer joy of galloping through a field have brought her indescribable joy, but also frequent bouts of fear. She openly discusses all, and how she dealt with those issues. Every chapter is named - for example: For the Love of a Thoroughbred - and below many of those chapter names are "Confessions" - such as: the fear of something is usually worse in your head than in reality/it's not easy getting back in the saddle after you've been hurt - so true! These confessions were a great part of the book and let the reader know exactly what Wallace would discuss in that chapter. If you're a horse person, then you have undoubtedly experienced exactly what the author has, but if not, you've still likely experienced times of doubt and fear that may become overwhelming. Wallace shares many ideas and techniques in this easy reading memoir that helped her work through her issues, and these strategies will likely help the reader as well.