The danger is different to the fear | An Eventful Life

The danger is different to the fear

Yes, Andrew Nicholson stayed on "Don't just practice things going right, practice things going wrong all the time"


Eventing is one of the most dangerous sports in the world. Accidents happen in the blink of an eye, sometimes resulting in outcomes that would stop most normal people even contemplating doing it again. And yet most of us keep coming back for more

William Fox-Pitt and Andrew Nicholson were both lucky in 2015 to survive falls that could have killed them. They both came back to the sport. Olivia Inglis was killed during competition in Sydney in 2016 but her sister Antoinette still evented after that tragic day

“But why would we take that risk? Why would you do something that dangerous?” asks astronaut Chris Hadfield, who knows exactly what the most dangerous things he’s ever done is ‘because NASA does the math’.

“You look back to the first five shuttle launches, the odds of a catastrophic event during the first five shuttle launches was one in nine. And even when I first flew in the shuttle back in 1995, 74 shuttle flight, the odds were still now that we look back about one in 38 or so — one in 35, one in 40. Not great odds, so it's a really interesting day when you wake up at the Kennedy Space Center and you're going to go to space that day because you realize by the end of the day you're either going to be floating effortlessly, gloriously in space, or you'll be dead”

Our passion or inspiration drives us to do something we love but the danger involved in executing it can sometimes quench that spark. A bad fall creates doubts about our abilities or those of our horse and, although usually the danger in eventing relates to physical dangers, the fear that it creates is psychological

However “The danger is entirely different than the fear”

In the video below Chris Hadfield talks about the key to looking at the difference between perceived danger and actual danger.

He asks you to assess what the real thing is that you should be afraid of rather than a generic fear of bad things happening. He also points that being prepared for many eventualities will reduce not only the risks of danger but also help you if things do go wrong. For him, it did go wrong on his first space-walk when he went blind in his left eye but he'll tell you all about that

For eventing riders, nothing is more valuable in preventing accidents than correct training to ensure that you and your horse are up to the task, whatever that may be. And once you know you can handle everything thrown at you and your horse when things are going right, it’s time to start training for things going wrong

“We don't just practice things going right, we practice things going wrong all the time, so that you are constantly walking through those spiderwebs”

Spiderwebs from a spaceman? You’ll soon find out (maybe just skip the singing at the end.....)


Read the first of our 'four golden nuggets' True Grit and why failure is good