I was thinking today that I used to be much more bold in my riding, from the time I was small - by the time I was 7 or 8 I was riding pretty much anything available bareback - right through college when I did some eventing on some pretty unsuitable school horses, and then when I came back to riding as an adult I was doing competitive showing in the hunters. I would get on anything and ride it - it didn't matter if it bucked, spooked or bolted, I rode it and pretty much stayed on, minus the occasional lost stirrup. I don't attribute much of this to skill - I did have a pretty good seat from spending years riding bareback on all sorts of horse that did all sorts of things, but I also rode in those days with a lot of hardware - big bits, martingales, etc., so if you had the arm strength and some determination, loss of control wasn't really an issue. My personality then, partly due to the work environment I was in, was also much more competitive and even combative, which meant I was always up for a challenge.
Once I retired and also started rethinking how I worked with horses, things changed a lot for me. I've consciously worked on dialing down my competitive and aggressive instincts, and I also now try to work with my horses using finesse and skill and not just control. This feels much more like working without a net than the way I used to ride, particularly with the hotter horses that we have. I'm also older now, and had some inner ear trouble about 7 years ago that compromised my balance, often in subtle ways, for a while. As a result, I've developed a somewhat cautious attitude towards my work with horses - and having Dawn accidentally kick me in the jaw last fall didn't help my confidence any. To be frank, I do a lot of pussy-footing around, which doesn't hurt the horses much - we don't just repeat the same old exercises but invent new ones, which they like. But I don't just get on and ride like I used to - this is partly good and partly bad - good in that I pay more attention to what the horse is saying to me than I used to, and bad because the horses could probably progress more effectively if I just rode.
This year, I plan on just getting on and riding more. Sometimes this may work well, and sometimes it may not, we'll just have to see. Do you ever have these issues in your horse work?