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ColorMeAlter
Jun. 28, 2009, 07:24 PM
I'm writing under an alter because it's been hard enough to admit this to myself, let alone anyone I may know.

After the last few days of horse showing, it finally hit me like a truck today that the goal I had set for myself and my horse (the A/Os) is never ever going to happen. It seems like we've been getting closer and closer to getting everything ironed out and it just keeps unravelling. My horse is wonderful and has the athletic ability to jump 5' easy, but is by no means an easy horse to ride. But I just keep slipping into anxiety attacks before I ride, the product of having a sand foundation for my jumper career from a bad and clueless trainer and a weak will to go somewhere else. My current trainer and previous trainer have both been wonderful in working with me and helping me with technical/mechanical things.

I'm just so sad and frustrated that the A/A jumpers is probably where we will stay due to my own shortcomings as a rider. I don't know what exactly I want to hear (I've waffled between wanting others to join my pity party and wanting someone to tell me get over it/stop being a whiny brat and keep plowing through), but if you could share your stories of similar situations, maybe I'll become ok with this new idea. I just had all these lofty goals of A/O classics and maybe a mini-prix or blackjack competition and I think that's been half my problem - focusing on where I want to be/could have been instead of what actually is.

Any words of wisdom?

Queen Latisha
Jun. 28, 2009, 07:47 PM
Perhaps you can give yourself a little more time, before throwing in the towel?
I know what anxiety can do to a rider in the show ring, maybe you're expecting too much too fast.
Take a deep breath and think about what you need to do.
It sounds like your horse is capable of doing the A/O jumpers, but your negative thinking is holding you back.
Why are you anxious, is it the fear of failure, safety, or perhaps you want it so badly that you're putting undue pressure on yourself?
How do you ride at home, are you as anxious?

mortebella
Jun. 28, 2009, 07:49 PM
See a sports psychologist?

ColorMeAlter
Jun. 28, 2009, 07:50 PM
I've been working on my confidence issues for 3+ years. It's gotten better, but not better enough.
At home I'm ok, less pressure, but it's not like a night/day type of thing.. it's a constant source of anxiety. I don't think it's a safety issue, I definitely think it stems from a fear of failure type thing...

Mortebella - I've been working with a psychologist since Oct. because as you can imagine, this definitely isn't just a riding thing ;)

CBoylen
Jun. 28, 2009, 08:03 PM
You have to decide what is most important to you.
If it's doing the a/o, there is probably a horse out there on which you can do it semi-successfully. There are plenty of people out there with a great horse who are just happy to complete the course. Or you can go to shows where the a/o is set so darn low that it's the same height as the adults at the bigger shows. You can go home and tell everyone you did the a/o and not mention that all the jumps were 3'9".
But, if what is important to you is enjoying the horse you have, or riding better, then you need to focus on being as good as you can possibly be in the division for which you are most suitable. Being the constant winner in the a/a division says more than being a constant also-ran in the a/o division.
There is absolutely no way you can do that though if you're constantly trying to prove something to yourself about being "good enough" to move up. You will consistantly choke instead of riding consistantly. When you've been winning for a long time, and beating everyone is becoming embarrassing, then you can consider moving up. Until then, focus on winning. This is a lifetime sport. You may not be ready at this time with this horse, but chances are you're not so old that it's "never going to happen".

Nickelodian
Jun. 28, 2009, 08:03 PM
Have you thought about leasing a BTDT horse to build your confidence?

No matter how athletic/great/amazing a horse is, until they have shown at that height, they are green at that height. The A/O jumps are nothing to sneeze at, and until you get a feel for that size of a jump in a competition you are also a green rider. The combination of a green horse and green rider is enough to make anyone have an anxiety attack.

If there was any way to get a pro to ride your horse at that level, while at the same time leasing a horse that has successfully shown well beyond the A/Os (maybe something coming down off the Prixs), I bet you'd find yourself in a much better place in 6 months.

It's definitely a stiff investment to go that route, but now would be the right time to do it. Give it 6 months to a year and you might find yourself feeling much more comfortable in the ring with YOUR horse.

BNTHUNTER
Jun. 28, 2009, 08:13 PM
What’s the rush? This isnt your last year riding as a Jr, right? This is your goal as an adult.
Could you spend a few months doing the Modifieds and then try doing the A/O's at smaller shows? There are plenty of small A shows that offer A/O jumper classics that aren’t set at the real height. That might help you settle into the division and get over the feeling of "OMG, I am riding in the A/O jumper classic". Maybe a year of smaller classics will help calm your nerves and get you used to the "feel" of the class without jumping the actual height and answering the questions of a real level 6 course.

Doing the A/O's might take longer then you expected but that doesn’t mean you should give up...Also, try not to beat yourself up, if you dont believe in yourself then who will? Remember, you have gotten this far and that alone is an accomplishment

MistyPony
Jun. 28, 2009, 08:25 PM
I've gone back and forth myself with this very same issue. Except I'm stuck in the 3' jumpers and I will never be a REAL rider until I've competed at 3'6". That's what everyone says right? There shouldn't even be classes at the A shows under 3'6". Well the nagging voice in my head appears to agree with them. If you're like me then putting all of that pressure on yourself is NOT HELPING. Here's my story...

I did the 3' jumpers fairly successfully for 2 years with my older horse who wasn't physically able to do the 3'6" (well at least not while having to make up for all the mistakes I would inevitably make). I sold him and got a 3'6" jumper who I didn't realize at the time was WAY TOO MUCH HORSE for me. She did the polite thing and carted my butt over a 3'9" oxer when I tried her, but then promptly ran away with me at 2'6" after a month at my barn when she realized I didn't have the skills to stop her!

I ended up taking a summer off from showing and getting her some pro rides while I figured her out. The next summer we were ready to go...in the 3' jumpers...as usual. While I could school 3'6" at home I wasn't consistent enough to dare try it at a show. I beat myself up about it a lot until I realized I was ruining riding for myself. So what if I don't show 3'6"? Who am I trying to prove myself too? I was so stressed out about HAVING to jump 3'6" that I was literally making it impossible for me to attain.

Now I'm not sure how you're going to feel about the ending of my story, but here it is. As it happens, things change in life. I made a career change that resulted in a pay cut and won't allow me to have the funds to show for several years. So now I've taken my "fancy" show horse that I bought to move up to the REAL jumpers and put her in a more low-key non-showing barn for the prime of her showing years.

Will I ever show the A/A's? I don't know. All I do know is that at this time, with this horse, for whatever reason, it didn't work out. I do know that I love my horse dearly and I have learned so much from her that it cannot possibly have been time wasted on the road to my goal. I also know that we are incredibly fortunate to be participants of a sport where age is not necessarily a limiting factor and because of that I have many many years to make another run at it.

Take a step back and evaluate why you want to do the A/Os, do you want it for yourself or to prove yourself to others? Are you enjoying your riding and your horse or does every ride end in frustration at your own short comings? We spend far too much money on this sport to be made miserable by it. Find a way to enjoy it again and everything else will fall into place.

Jaegermonster
Jun. 28, 2009, 08:31 PM
The first step to getting through something is admitting it's there.
I have been going through something similar after I shattered my wrist 2 1/2 years ago.
Wasn't even jumping when I did it (but was galloping/foxhunting at a pretty good clip)
but after too many years riding problem horses and dirty stoppers it was the straw for the poor camel and totally shattered my confidence.
I used to show in the AA's and Childrens Jumpers in the late 80s early 90s and had never had an issue with jumping as far as fear or confidence, but for me to admit that I was actually afraid of a small vertical now was very very very hard, as i have always been a never let 'em see you sweat kind of person.
But at the risk of ruining my then coming 4 year old's confidence I had to face the dragon, admit my fear and start working through it, after I was healed.
Admit your fear or whatever you want to call it, stay where you are comfortable for awhile, til you are bored as someone else said, and winning consistently, and then it is time to move up. Start moving up at home and see how it goes, when you're ready, and then move up at shows.
You have nothing to prove.
Work through it at your own pace, enjoy your horse and have fun. Honestly, AA's are nothing to poopoo at. That is very respectable. And really this is all about having fun.
I think once you stop putting so much pressure on yourself the problem will begin to resolve itself. I know it has for me.

You CAN do anything you set you mind to. Anything worth having is worth working for, you can do it. Maybe not right now, or exactly when you want to, but you can do it.
Now get to work :)

tidy rabbit
Jun. 28, 2009, 08:31 PM
I'm writing under an alter because it's been hard enough to admit this to myself, let alone anyone I may know.

After the last few days of horse showing, it finally hit me like a truck today that the goal I had set for myself and my horse (the A/Os) is never ever going to happen. It seems like we've been getting closer and closer to getting everything ironed out and it just keeps unravelling. My horse is wonderful and has the athletic ability to jump 5' easy, but is by no means an easy horse to ride. But I just keep slipping into anxiety attacks before I ride, the product of having a sand foundation for my jumper career from a bad and clueless trainer and a weak will to go somewhere else. My current trainer and previous trainer have both been wonderful in working with me and helping me with technical/mechanical things.

I'm just so sad and frustrated that the A/A jumpers is probably where we will stay due to my own shortcomings as a rider. I don't know what exactly I want to hear (I've waffled between wanting others to join my pity party and wanting someone to tell me get over it/stop being a whiny brat and keep plowing through), but if you could share your stories of similar situations, maybe I'll become ok with this new idea. I just had all these lofty goals of A/O classics and maybe a mini-prix or blackjack competition and I think that's been half my problem - focusing on where I want to be/could have been instead of what actually is.

Any words of wisdom?

OMG... I was totally in your shoes last year. I kept asking for flatwork lessons and asking HOW do I get better at this. Mostly I just heard "when you learn to use your leg, when you learn to do xyz" All the blame went on me and it was excruciating! I even burst into tears at a show out of frustration.

What changed you say???? Well... I found a dressage trainer who is helping me to ride correctly. Teaching me how to use my seat and my leg and how to control all 4 feet of my horse! It's fantastic. We school over fences in my dressage lessons and the difference in my riding and my horses is astounding, no one would believe it unless they'd been there with me all along. I can control his entire body, his track, his pace, the length & rhythm of his stride.... now the size of the jump is inconsequential. I've always known he was a good horse and had a ton of jump but I couldn't get it all together.

Don't give up, just look to make some changes!

Jaegermonster
Jun. 28, 2009, 08:37 PM
you know TR, that's funny! I did almost the same thing. In addition to my hunter trainer (who is great and has helped me tons) this summer I started also working with an eventing trainer. I've had several lessons with her, all flatwork and dressage stuff, not even much cantering really. But I have learned so much from her and the difference in both of us is amazing. It surprises me that after my lessons with her I am exhausted, but I learn so much. And it has really helped.
So sometimes you don't have to give up, you just have to take a turn in the road.

tidy rabbit
Jun. 28, 2009, 09:17 PM
you know TR, that's funny! I did almost the same thing. In addition to my hunter trainer (who is great and has helped me tons) this summer I started also working with an eventing trainer. I've had several lessons with her, all flatwork and dressage stuff, not even much cantering really. But I have learned so much from her and the difference in both of us is amazing. It surprises me that after my lessons with her I am exhausted, but I learn so much. And it has really helped.
So sometimes you don't have to give up, you just have to take a turn in the road.


Ya, a turn in the road... you've got to enjoy the road your on, cause that's all you got.....

I'm sure if I didn't keep my horses at home, and wasn't such a no talent hack, my road would be different.... but I'm having fun! And ultimately, that's what matters, isn't it?

broughton_sporthorses
Jun. 28, 2009, 09:32 PM
You should read the book "The secrets and method of a great champion" by Michel Robert. It is fantastic, and deals with a lot of mental issues as well as riding/training issues. It has really changed the way I think about riding in competition and training!

Edited to add: I know reading a book can't "cure" mental issues, but it might help a little.

mvp
Jun. 28, 2009, 09:32 PM
You know, there's nothing like a broke horse to make you confident in the jumper ring. Jaegermonster and Tidy-R are really onto something here.

Make sure your trainers' standards are high for your flat work. The goal is not to jump bigger faster, right? Make sure you all agree.

Learn to enjoy the flat work. You will feel like you can really ride, and perhaps get that bored "let's DO SOMETHING" attitude that will help you progress.

This was how it worked for me. I had lots of anxiety about moving up because I don't own an ambitious and athletic one. I was also always on my own, so I tend to feel responsible for making sure that my one horse never gets hurt. If he does, it will be all my fault and I'll be SOL.

But I had a great time moving up and was sure I had done the right thing when I went into came out of a round saying "Damn. I can put this horse anywhere I want, just like I can on the flat."

So make that your goal-- having a rideable horse in every ride, then at every level and every show. Sooner or later, you'll want to bring all that to the A/Os, too. And you know what? This is your horse, your hobby, your project, so its entirely your call.

WorthTheWait95
Jun. 28, 2009, 10:04 PM
Ditto the above.

I had a similar issue as a kid after owning a very dirty stopper. Went from doing the 4ft jumpers to being afraid of a novice hunter class. Bottom line is that you have to change your self talk. Look into a few sports psychology books (many are specifically aimed at riders) and start implementing their visualization/self talk techniques. I thought it was kind of silly when my trainer first had me do it but it really worked. I did my first high jr jumper class at the end of that same year and although I still have anxiety issues I know how to compartementalize them now and ride as if I don't. Another thing that helped (and still helps with certain horses) was keeping a riding journal so that I could look back on it when I was feeling discouraged and see that we HAD made progress in the last week/month/x time despite a rough patch.

Wizard of Oz's
Jun. 28, 2009, 10:13 PM
I wish I had your situation. I get nervous/anxious when I do the .8 meters and I've been at that level for about 5-6 years. If I'm ever ok with doing 3' or 3'6" classes I'll be doing cartwheels.:D

2boys
Jun. 28, 2009, 10:13 PM
And jump on Jane Savoie's bandwagon! She has some amazingly helpful stuff' on her website/newsletter/etc. :D

2boys
Jun. 28, 2009, 10:15 PM
I wish I had your situation. I get nervous/anxious when I do the .8 meters and I've been at that level for about 5-6 years. If I'm ever ok with doing 3' or 3'6" classes I'll be doing cartwheels.:D

HAHA!! i am so proud of my newly-mastered CANTER WORK with my tb!!:rolleyes:

Words of Wisdom
Jun. 28, 2009, 10:24 PM
How long have you been doing the 3'6" for? I did the 3'6" for four and a half years before moving up, and trust me, I definitely thought that I would never jump anything bigger than 3'6" after doing it for that long. By the time I did move up, I had a very solid foundation, so the bigger jumps were not much of a challenge. I ended up jumping some large international-level GPs.

Focus on what you're doing now, and how you can become the winner in the A/As (and to be the consistent winner at that level, you have to be able to ride well-- it's not about running around as fast as possible, as I'm sure you know). Learn how to ride the technical bits of the course, and how to make the good turns. When you're cruising around the hardest courses at that level, start jumping a bit bigger at home. It's good to have ambitions and goals, but you also have to be able to focus on the task at hand, which is doing the best you can at what you're doing right now to establish a solid foundation that you can build upon later.

Trixie
Jun. 28, 2009, 10:57 PM
It's good to have ambitions and goals, but you also have to be able to focus on the task at hand, which is doing the best you can at what you're doing right now to establish a solid foundation that you can build upon later.

Agree.

This is supposed to be FUN.

If you're overfacing yourself, or worried, it's quite likely that it isn't fun. Remind yourself of that - your horse doesn't care if she never does the AO jumpers, she wants a sympathetic ride, proper care, and good food. Goals are fine, but if we focus too much on "achieving a BIG goal" sometimes we forget about whats in front of us, or we look at the big picture (AO jumpers) without focusing on the micro-goals (successfully and correctly jumping the 4' course in front of us).

For me, I try to enjoy the "process" as much as I enjoy meeting a goal. I remind myself that I'm here to have fun, and my horse doesn't care when we get there, so I set some easily attainable goals and some hopeful goals each season. This way, I can mark some progress, but I don't beat myself up if I can't meet the ones that were a bit of a stretch anyway. And if I do get there, I'm really happy!

JustJump
Jun. 28, 2009, 11:33 PM
You have to decide what is most important to you.
If it's doing the a/o, there is probably a horse out there on which you can do it semi-successfully. There are plenty of people out there with a great horse who are just happy to complete the course. Or you can go to shows where the a/o is set so darn low that it's the same height as the adults at the bigger shows. You can go home and tell everyone you did the a/o and not mention that all the jumps were 3'9".
But, if what is important to you is enjoying the horse you have, or riding better, then you need to focus on being as good as you can possibly be in the division for which you are most suitable. Being the constant winner in the a/a division says more than being a constant also-ran in the a/o division.
There is absolutely no way you can do that though if you're constantly trying to prove something to yourself about being "good enough" to move up. You will consistantly choke instead of riding consistantly. When you've been winning for a long time, and beating everyone is becoming embarrassing, then you can consider moving up. Until then, focus on winning. This is a lifetime sport. You may not be ready at this time with this horse, but chances are you're not so old that it's "never going to happen".

Agreed 100%!

norcalammie
Jun. 28, 2009, 11:41 PM
I can understand where you are coming from totally. I bought my old horse as the 3 foot hunter and we moved through the hunter ranks and he was a star with a trainer at the second years - champion or reserve at every show and we were consistently placing in the AO hunters and equitation classes. My trainer at the time did not think my horse could move into the 4 foot hunters so we decided to try to little jumpers. I rode them as hunter rounds and got quite confident. We moved up to the AA jumpers and were quite successful. My horse did not have a big step and while he was successful in the 4'6" jumpers with a pro, I always knew he could get my out of any trouble I may get him into at 3'6" or 3'9". Tried to move up and was never successful. Kept him at AA jumpers for several years and we were successful and always had a goal in mind - better time, better turns, whatever while still riding in the Adult Medals. As my horse got older we moved back down to the AO hunters and then AA hunters until he retired.

So set goals for yourself at the AA level. The bigger shows have better competition and once you are successful there you may be more confident moving up as the classes are set at maximum height and the technical aspects are greater. With so many in the AA classes getting a top ribbon is an awesome goal and one to be proud of.

Enjoy your horse, enjoy the ride and learn something from each course you ride. Try a harder turn or something to challenge yourself and learn more each time you show. Have fun and don't beat yourself up over not doing the AO jumers - AA is oftentimes more of a challenge!

juststartingout
Jun. 29, 2009, 12:25 AM
You have to decide what is most important to you.
...Being the constant winner in the a/a division says more than being a constant also-ran in the a/o division. .... When you've been winning for a long time, and beating everyone is becoming embarrassing, then you can consider moving up. Until then, focus on winning. This is a lifetime sport. You may not be ready at this time with this horse, but chances are you're not so old that it's "never going to happen".

Not so sure that winning says more.... I think this is about personal satisfaction. It may be that you can readjust your goals and be happy where you are. It may be that you cannot. If you can terrific! Compete at the level you are comfortable and enjoy. If you cannot, maybe there is another path to where you want to get. Maybe you need to forgo showing until you are comfortable at home schooling at the AO level..... maybe you can lease a horse that can pack you around the AO til you are comfortable.

I think for an adult its about finding your comfort zone on multiple dimensions. Good luck

cantercutie
Jun. 29, 2009, 01:34 AM
Don't worry so much! Obviously, this is much easier said than done and you've taken the correct steps to deal with your anxiety, but riding is FUN. You LOVE your horse, even if he does frustrate you sometimes, and you know there's no better feeling than a good ride and a clear round. Don't forget this.

My goal when I go in the jumper ring is to leave all the jumps up, but if I have time faults, four faults, eight faults, or twenty or go and chip every jump, that's okay, too, because (hopefully) I have more clear or four fault rounds than any of the latter. Of course, if I screw up I'm going to be mad at myself, but it's not the end of the world; there will always be another class, another day, and another show where things will go better.

And, truly, you will get there. Just maybe not as fast as you'd like. Also, maybe take a step back, like take a break from showing (a month should be good) and go on trail rides, work on whatever basics you're uncomfortable with, and just do pole and gymnastic work. There's no rush to do anything. And maybe in the meantime your trainer could school or show your horse over bigger jumps to build his confidence as well as yours?

Finally, don't stress -- take deep breaths before you get on and before you go in the show ring. And the A/A jumpers is not the end of the world!! Just have fun, the A/Os will do you no good if all they do is stress you out!

ColorMeAlter
Jun. 29, 2009, 01:35 AM
Thanks so much for all the replies!!! So many of you are spot on: I really do need to focus on the here and now; I just keep thinking of where I should be, what I could have done, blah blah blah, things that really don't get me anywhere.

My horse that I have now is wonderful, he does his best to save me and will just about jump from anywhere. There've been a few that I've had to cowboy him over because he has his emotional moments too, but for the most part he is athletic and has a good brain.

Believe me, I definitely haven't lost sight of how much progress I've made over the last few years. The trainer I used to be with before I left for college just really didn't help me at all. I would come out of the ring to "Why did you screw up? everyone here is watching" whenever there'd be a BNT around, like I intentionally did something bad, or I'd come out and get "well, that was unfortunate but I don't know what happened or how you can fix it." So it was a) unhelpful at best and b) humiliating because I learned during my formative teenage years to care what the ring birds were saying about both me and my trainer.

Then I had a wonderful coach in college who gave everything she had to get my confidence back - I went back to the baby jumpers with her wonderful jumper mare and came back up through the ranks. So now I can get around a course (it was a lllooonnnggg period of time where my horses were stopping due to injuries/brain issues/my timidity), and I'm at the point where 80% of the time I can let go of a mistake and focus on what's ahead and not go into "Well, shit there goes the whole round" panic mode. I also have stopped giving up the ride when things get difficult, which is something I was absolutely famous for.

So we've made considerable progress. Except that the panic attacks are so sudden and so debilitating. I start obsessing over every single detail that I can't just ride like I know how to do; I completely miss the forest for the trees. That's the frustrating thing. Is I know all the technical pieces: I can tell you exactly how to ride the course, where the questions are, where the sucker fences are and how to avoid being tricked. My current trainer is great and gives me big picture pieces to focus on (rhythm! straightness! path! don't let his stride get 15' long!). I just get so debilitated in the ring.

I've been working very hard on flatwork: getting my horse round, working on leg yields, turns on the forehand/haunches, half passes, etc.

I love the book/website suggestions. I also need to do some serious soul cleansing and just let go of "what could have been/where I should be/oh god, we're just not good enough," and to stop comparing myself to everyone else at the horse show - I mean really, the 16 year olds doing the Open Jumper classics just depress me they're so talented ;)

Thanks so much for helping me see things from a rational place instead of "OMG my riding career is over!" Please keep it coming if you have more stories or more advice based on this novel of new info!! Thank you also for sharing your own stories!! :) I knew I could count on COTH for perspective!!

French Twist
Jun. 29, 2009, 01:38 AM
But I just keep slipping into anxiety attacks before I ride.


Riding should be enjoyable. If you're having anxiety attacks, then it's not enjoyable, in my opinion (and I've had riding-related anxiety attacks). Find a different goal or avenue. Once upon a time, I also wanted to do ao jumpers, and even had a horse who'd done the open speeds and was proven at 4'+. We did the children's jumpers, but I developed lots of anxiety after a bad fall on him. I turned to equitation instead, and it became a new, enjoyable path for me. Maybe instead of focusing on a height goal, you should focus on a competition goal, like to win a classic at a certain horse show, or qualify for the WIHS adult jumper classic, or to save up and compete at some big horse show like Spruce Meadows in the adult jumpers. I hope you're able to find a way to make it really fun and not anxiety-ridden.

No pun intended, haha!

Lucassb
Jun. 29, 2009, 09:36 AM
I think it sounds like you've done very well so far, and are being pretty hard on yourself. Moving up to the A/Os is a big step and trying to do that on a "talented but difficult" sort is really quite an undertaking. Cut yourself a little slack ;) If you can get some rides on a solid, confidence building packer, by all means take advantage. If not, well... keep working on your skills and your horse's rideability and put the miles on.

I will echo the advice you've gotten so far to try to enjoy the process and celebrate where you are now on your way to your other goals. I would work reallyreallyreally hard on lots of flatwork to get your horse more rideable, and I would ride technical tracks at home over lower fences until you can do them with *zero* anxiety. In riding as in training for the horse, slow is fast. Move up when you are not just competent at your previous level, but winning all the time and actually getting bored... and then step it up in the smallest increments you can find. If you are still getting really anxious in the ring, you aren't there yet, but if you take some of that mental pressure off, you'll get there eventually. Remember - there was a time when cross rails loomed large and jumping a "real" course at 2' looked tricky, right?

Moesha
Jun. 29, 2009, 10:50 AM
You have to decide what is most important to you.
If it's doing the a/o, there is probably a horse out there on which you can do it semi-successfully. There are plenty of people out there with a great horse who are just happy to complete the course. Or you can go to shows where the a/o is set so darn low that it's the same height as the adults at the bigger shows. You can go home and tell everyone you did the a/o and not mention that all the jumps were 3'9".
But, if what is important to you is enjoying the horse you have, or riding better, then you need to focus on being as good as you can possibly be in the division for which you are most suitable. Being the constant winner in the a/a division says more than being a constant also-ran in the a/o division.
There is absolutely no way you can do that though if you're constantly trying to prove something to yourself about being "good enough" to move up. You will consistantly choke instead of riding consistantly. When you've been winning for a long time, and beating everyone is becoming embarrassing, then you can consider moving up. Until then, focus on winning. This is a lifetime sport. You may not be ready at this time with this horse, but chances are you're not so old that it's "never going to happen".


This is a great post Chanda and really says it all, you have gotten great advice on the replies and the only thing I'd add has already been said...don't get so hung up on moving up or jumping bigger or doing this division or that one that you loose sight of the important goals of learning and always improving and doing it right and above all having fun and enjoying your wonderful horse :)

findeight
Jun. 29, 2009, 11:07 AM
Great advice so far...

I'll add stop worrying about the horse jumping 5' by himself...there are no classes for that-all require a course of them that demands consistent and strong flatwork skills and confidence in both horse and rider. High A/O's is no joke either, MOST riders cannot get around a High Jr/A-O within the time allowed with the rails staying up and niether can most horses. That is a goal near the very top.

I suppose the best way would be to break this down and take one thing at a time...focus on the here and now not the coulda, shoulda, woulda and might be. Stop worrying about what isn't and concentrate on what you are doing right now.

I am dead serious when I recommend you see a therapist, I'd bet you have some other confidence issues. Have had several friends who went thru similar. It came out in the show ring but the root cause was dealing with stress. Complicated family relationships, broken homes and inappropriate coaches/teachers who destroyed self confidence as a child carry over into troubled emotions as an adult. That CAN be worked out, even without meds.

Get some help. You may not be able to get to the root of this and fix it yourself. And you do not have to tell anybody.

ColorMeAlter
Jun. 29, 2009, 11:21 AM
I am dead serious when I recommend you see a therapist, I'd bet you have some other confidence issues. Have had several friends who went thru similar. It came out in the show ring but the root cause was dealing with stress. Complicated family relationships, broken homes and inappropriate coaches/teachers who destroyed self confidence as a child carry over into troubled emotions as an adult. That CAN be worked out, even without meds.

Get some help. You may not be able to get to the root of this and fix it yourself. And you do not have to tell anybody.

About to head out the door to my standing weekly appt ;). I can already tell you what my wonderful shrink is going to tell me (can you tell we've talked about this before?)
*Get on your horse and enjoy it. Not everyone gets to do what you do, so you should just enjoy the ride and stop expecting it to be perfect*
Doc is learning too... last time we talked about this, he asked me if McLane Ward rode his jump off round perfectly in the Olympics. ;)

I'm out of "OMG the sky is falling" mode... Slightly calmer. Already created a list of things I need to do today and tomorrow to start to get over this "must get there NOW and must get there PERFECT" attitude. Yes, a list. When did I get this anal retentive/need to be perfect? (I know what we're talking about for an hour today...)

You guys are wonderful!

LH
Jun. 29, 2009, 11:24 AM
Having done the A/A jumpers and the A/O jumpers myself, please don't beat yourself up. There is a HUGE difference between these two divisions, where only the first factor is 6" in jump height. The width of the fence is the real scope tester - not the height - and the courses are much more technical. You can make a mistake in the A/A jumpers that might not cost you a rail but could be calamitous at the 4'.

Instead of "throwing in the towel" set yourself goals and challenges that are real for someone in the 3'6" jumpers. First, do you do the classics? Often they set those at 3'9" or will set the jumpoff in the classics a hole higher. If you are consistently getting in to the jumpoffs in the Classics, then start looking for shows where there is a "modified" A/O jumpers - there are a few of them that have a 3'9" junior/amateur jumper division that would be a good test. Second, are you really successful in the A/A jumpers? Some of those folks who win run so fast that I wouldn't want to beat them, but are you consistently double clear, no time faults, and in the hunt for the top ribbon? If not, then you are not consistent enough to go in the 4' ring.

Keep working at it.

Also, you can't lease a horse for the A/O jumpers - it's Amateur OWNER. CBoylen makes another good point - I had a horse who won in the A/As, and did him in the Low A/Os, but he was scoped out, so we had many, many wonderful trips in the Low A/O jumpers with 4-8 faults. It was fun and exciting, but frustrating to put in a good ride but always be out of the ribbons. When you are riding well, it is encouraging to be rewarded with a good ribbon and a little prize money on occasion!

findeight
Jun. 29, 2009, 11:30 AM
I'm out of "OMG the sky is falling" mode... Slightly calmer. Already created a list of things I need to do today and tomorrow to start to get over this "must get there NOW and must get there PERFECT" attitude. Yes, a list. When did I get this anal retentive/need to be perfect? (I know what we're talking about for an hour today...)

You guys are wonderful!


There ya' go. halfway there already...just be patient and let time work it's magic.

And always remember when you hear that clunk behind you...it IS only a rail. NOT the sky falling. MW has heard plenty of them and accompanied a good many all the way to the ground. So has everybody else.;).

myvanya
Jun. 29, 2009, 12:36 PM
I am so glad for this thread! I am so sorry you are feeling the way you are but glad to know my brand of insanity is not unique (but wish it wasn't inflicted on others). This whole last week I was struggling with similar issues (except lower jump height of course). I jump 3'6 and was just starting 3'9" at home and yet struggle with 3'-3'3" at shows because I get so panicy and stressed. My new horse, though he can be a tough ride and he is green, is so wonderful to not totally spazz out with my ridiculous stress levels at shows and he has so much heart. I have been beating myself up over not moving up faster and riding better and winning more. I keep hearing my old trainer in my head telling me what a screw up I am :cry: She was really the only trainer I ever had and I realize now she did more harm than good. I am working on finding a trainer I can ride with consistently and even the few lessons I had with a nearby eventing trainer made me feel amazing- like I was somewhat capable and like I could get somewhere finally. I really wanted to get to the AA jumpers (in the local shows so 3'3" 3'6") this year and have been beating myself up for not getting there by now and for not riding better....so THANK YOU so much for posting this. I had been trying to remind myself of how far my horse and I have come (and believe me its quite far) but it just wasn't working; reading this thread is helping some shred of sanity return. I want to go ride and just have a good time- which I haven't felt like in a while I have been so motivated to push myself to constantly jump a certain height or work on a certain issue. (Which doesn't mean I will throw it all away- but I realize now it is ok to have an easy day when you are not pushing yourself like crazy)

Chef Jade
Jun. 29, 2009, 12:50 PM
LOVE this thread! I know just how you feel. I have been competing in the Modifieds for 2+ years now. I see all these people moving up to the Low's and I know I can ride just as well. I feel like I am competing against everyone else to "get there" versus competing against myself to improve and do well in the division I am riding in. I also feel like I am racing against time... I am not getting any younger, want to soon maybe have a family if that is in the cards for me, and there is pressure for me to "cash out" of my horse, as there are several people interested in buying her. :sadsmile:

ETA: I think that is why I have loved riding the greenies so much. There was never the pressure to be perfect or move up. However, my 5 year old "greenie" is now an 8 year old powerhouse that tries her heart out for me and all our shortcomings are definitely mine alone.

naters
Jun. 29, 2009, 12:55 PM
If you need to feel better instantly about your progress read on:

At this point I would die and go to heaven if I could even do a simple crossbars class...

No joke. My horse is great, but he is learning how to jump (which does not combine well with a rider-re-riding, after not jumping after an accident years ago).

So if you want to take a look at someone more pathetic, and more woeful, come watch me ride!!!

(but I am perfectly ok with this....) :)

Donkey
Jun. 29, 2009, 02:03 PM
Once was said to me before a cross country school - "some bits are going to be ugly, it's going to be awful, it's going to messy, it might well be terrifying. You are just going to have to start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable."

I find it very helpful to validate and acknowledge my feelings of pre-ride terror and I work very hard at being comfortable not being perfect - everyone else seems to do just fine with it ;)

Equilibrium
Jun. 29, 2009, 02:43 PM
I use to have terrible anxiety problems during my last year galloping horses. The only difference for me was, as it was a job, I couldn't just relax and get my crap together so to speak. And I am talking anxiety attacks in which I couldn't breathe, limbs went numb, and I felt like I was having a heart attack. Slightly scary and actually very embarassing to show up at the emergency room yet again and knowing your endless tests would show up fine.

Obviously I had to start seeing a psych but his only interest was me taking anti-depressant meds, which I refused to do. I did the accupuncture route and a therapist who didn't supply drugs. All which helped tremendously as I was able to continue working in a normal fashion.

When I quit galloping to move to Ireland things really got much better. Of course I had a break and a whole new world to explore. Now all I ride are younsters. I've dabbled in some minor eventing and showjumping while here but am now bringing my 3yo filly along and know next year I will have to be responsible for not messing her up while trying to accomplish what I intend to do. I've pretty much started myself on the road to failure with that comment! No seriously, I will just have to take things slow, work with someone good for both our sakes, and get on with the job.

I think just concentrating on all the little things that go right along the way will be a big help to your confidence. And it seems if you are doing so. There's been some great advice on here already, most of which I was going to add.

The very best of luck!
Terri

ColorMeAlter
Jun. 29, 2009, 05:25 PM
Myvanya: Oh honey, you are definitely not alone!! It's absolutely amazing how much we internalize trainers who make us feel bad about messing up, and finding a coach that fits your mental state as well as your athletic ability is so, so important.

Chef Jade: haha yeah, the greenies are a pass to ignore perfection! Unfortunately, my greenie has since passed that stage... years ago... :)

Naters: Oh hush!!! if you're taking a greenie and teaching him, you're riding just fine! :) (did I mention I'm great at encouraging everyone else around me?)


Once was said to me before a cross country school - "some bits are going to be ugly, it's going to be awful, it's going to messy, it might well be terrifying. You are just going to have to start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable."

I find it very helpful to validate and acknowledge my feelings of pre-ride terror and I work very hard at being comfortable not being perfect - everyone else seems to do just fine with it ;)

I love love love this quote!!! I definitely need to internalize it!

Equillibrium: oh, the anxiety attack... yeah, it's absolutely terrifying.. If I can't control it, it results in the heart attack feeling, can't breathe, body temperature fluctuations within very short time spans... It's amazing what a mental state can do to you, physically.

After talking with my psychiatrist today, we've determined that taking a very very very small dose of xanax each day during the show will slow things down enough, mentally, and stave off the actual panic attacks so I can think. And he gave me homework that I can only matter-of-factly say "I stood up over that jump and got a rail" or "I pulled my right rein and got him off balance" but then I have to come up with 3 things I liked about my course for everything I thought went wrong. I have to work on changing my attitude from "it wasn't perfect" to "It was pretty darn good, except fence 3, and I know what went wrong there" and "it's a beautiful day and I get to ride."
Like Myvanya, I'm so glad to hear others' stories and know I"m not alone and also I'm so glad this thread can help not only me,but others of us who freeze up. We should have a COTH support group where we can talk about what we did well and the progress we've made!

mbmarsh
Jun. 29, 2009, 05:35 PM
Couple of thoughts, as someone who tried to do the A/A's on a very bad but talented horse, then got there on an amazing horse who is now doing Mini-Prixs, and now has a 5 year old who still needs to learn to wait for a 2'6" fence.

First, the horse makes ALL the difference! That's not to say that the horse is all the problem, but when you have a horse who has a balanced canter and can hold it together, it's amazing how you can suddenly see distances 6 strides out! I never understood that, even with my last horse, because he was also a youngster, and although he was incredibly talented, it was either "go" or "whoa", not "let's extend a bit" or "let's compress the stride just a titch". But NOW, I have these moments, these "flashes", where my current horse can hold his stride together, and it's like wearing glasses for the first time - you really can see EVERYTHING 5 or 6 strides out, and when you see it, all the anxiety goes away!!!! So, if your horse is a difficult ride, if you're always fighting him to slow down or speed up, that will hugely affect your confidence, since all that mucking with him to get him to settle down completely jacks your ability to see distances (I have a similar problem right now with my greenie, who doesn't yet understand straight - trying to keep the canter together, and trying to stop the shoulder bulge, and trying to get to the fence = stress for rider!).

So, after starting on a horse who was a scrambler, and if you didn't let her scramble, she'd stop, or run out - I was told I had 12 horse shows to actually make it around all 12 fences - how's that for confidence-building!!! But I finally got a horse who didn't know how to stop, and then the second part kicks in - you have to do it until it's no big deal...that's I think what I got out of my one series down in Florida. Every day, every weekend, you go down to learn at least two, if not three courses. It becomes routine. And finally you get to the point where it really does seem boring, and then you start to think about moving up. Florida is great for that, since you can do maybe six A/A courses in a weekend, and then I was there for four weekends - I think that's really when I started to get out of my panic about showing - it just became another course to ride, not really a show. (Mind you, this was Ocala, not WPB, which helped!)

But later, when I was in WPB, I tried this AMAZING horse - for me, one that had that big lopey stride, easy lead changes, very balanced canter, the works. Had already done the A/Os and was placing successfully in them. If I'd had the cash, and could have bought that horse, I know I could have moved up to the A/Os after a relatively short period of getting to know each other, because he had the talent, and the temperament, to handle my flubs, and still get things right.

What I'm trying to say - there really are two parts - you HAVE to have a horse you have confidence in, and maybe yours isn't it right now - the lease suggestion was a great idea. And secondly, you have to go do the smaller stuff over and over until it's no big deal, until the panic subsides. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying go jump 2'6". I am saying, go do the BIG 3'6" courses, with the maximum spread - if you're comfortable there, keep doing those, until learning the courses becomes routine, and you don't think about the height anymore.

Then you'll be ready to start stepping up.....believe me, I FEEL YOU!!!!! I want the A/Os so bad it hurts, but with a 5yo horse, that won't be happening any time soon. Always that tradeoff between money and experience......*sigh*

myvanya
Jun. 29, 2009, 05:52 PM
Color Me Alter- Thanks, and I really do appreciate your putting this out there more than I can say. Whether caused by outside issues, bad trainer issues, overfacing, whatever- I think it is so easy to look at other riders going around a course and think they all have it all together mentally, when, as this thread shows- there are at least a few of us out there that struggle a lot with confidence and not going into panic mode looking at our courses.

Maybe we need our own part of the discussion forums- the Support group side :winkgrin:

jambalayya
Jun. 29, 2009, 07:25 PM
Just adding in my sympathy, FWIW. It's a hell of a lot different riding the A/Os than the AAs. The horse's balance is so much more important, and the flatwork required to get it is so much more intense. It's not as simple as pointing your horse at some 4'6" jumps and just practicing over higher fences to get used to it. It's way different than the move up from 3' to 3'6", because those 4'6" jumps require a horse to be rocked back solidly onto his back end, and to be adjustable and rideable within much shorter spans of time, and at a much stronger pace. It's a completely different education than what a rider has learned so far.

IMO, a trainer needs to know what kind of ride a big jumper needs, and how to teach a rider to *feel* what the horse needs. Anyone can stand there and look at you and tell you what to change in the picture, or critique it. Heck, I can watch my own videos and conclude: I don't yet look like a grand prix rider. ;) I can tell myself generalities like "ride better," "get your heel down," "sit up higher," but if the horse isn't coming to the party and responding appropriately, then it's all moot and so much harder for a rider to understand and actually ask the horse for "more."

Hence, it's the trainer who's key to the program. And, like it's been said, the horse, but it's the trainer's job to make sure your horse is useful to you. If the rider hasn't been there before, someone's going to have to show the horse what's expected of him in flatwork, and show him the way, and maintain it.

If you look at the people who are winning in the A/Os at the top, usually they have more than one horse they're showing. So they're getting at least double the experience (not complaining, but it's a fact of reality and for those of us with only one show horse, it's a much slower process). Then, they almost always have a trainer setting the horse up in a class or two before they themselves start showing. And that program continues at home too, with someone helping to set the horse's flatwork up, and continually building the rider to handle the challenges in balance that the A/O courses present.

No one wants to ride badly; we all just need to be shown the way, in a manner that builds upon the skills we already have in place, and with a program that demonstrates *why* XYZ position/decision works in ABC situation. :)

Whisper
Jun. 29, 2009, 08:28 PM
Once was said to me before a cross country school - "some bits are going to be ugly, it's going to be awful, it's going to messy, it might well be terrifying. You are just going to have to start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable."

I find it very helpful to validate and acknowledge my feelings of pre-ride terror and I work very hard at being comfortable not being perfect - everyone else seems to do just fine with it ;)
I love love love this quote!!! I definitely need to internalize it!

For me, I really found that even when I'm not at all scared, and I'm working on fixing a position problem on the flat, that same quote is extremely helpful! It feels really weird, awkward, and uncomfortable at first to change what we're doing, and sometimes it feels like we're going to the other extreme. I have to give it a chance, *memorise* the weird feeling once my instructor tells me it's (more) correct, and replicate it, in all its strangeness, until it gets into muscle memory and doesn't feel odd at all anymore. :lol:

ColorMeAlter, another factor to keep in mind, though I'm *NOWHERE* near as good as you are, is that freejumping a single fence or a gymnastic is much easier than jumping a technical course with a rider. You have to help him find his distances a little more (or at least not make him mess up), he has the weight of the rider affecting his balance (no matter how light you are, and how good you are), and a gymnastic sets him up to find his way through it easily, without any tight turns, worrying about compressing or lengthening stride, and so forth. I've only gone up to 3' max, mostly 2'6". Even when the horse has plenty of scope and knowledge for him to pack me around at that height, he still needs me to be confident and stay out of his way. If I get nervous, I get tense, and that really communicates itself to him on a lot of levels. I might jump ahead, which throws his balance and stride off, or be a little restrictive just when I should give (even if I don't catch his mouth at all), or not give enough support with my leg, or just give him the feeling that I'm unsure and unready, so should he still do it, or take care of both of us by stopping gently?

I found gymnastics super helpful in working on "me." Perhaps you can jack the height up at the end or inside of a gymnastic beyond the level you'll be showing at, so you'll be in your comfort zone, and work on compressing and lengthening (ie. do this part in 4 strides, then shorten for the three, then lengthen for the 5), letting him find his way through it a little more independently, things like that? Once you're comfortable, put a couple of your fences in your practice course just one hole up from your current comfort level, then put all of them at that height, then jack up one or two to the next hole, and kind of sneak up on it gradually?

HunterJumperGin
Jun. 30, 2009, 02:47 AM
It sounds impossible at times, but enjoy where you're at! It will make it so much easier to take the pressure off, and just move up slowly. I freaked out so much about being able to do the 3'6 stuff, and never realized that my horse was actually peaked, and would soon not be able to compete any further. I wish I had just sat back and enjoyed the ride instead of always looking for "the next thing". Appreciate the ability you have. The rest will come in time.

naters
Jun. 30, 2009, 09:03 AM
CMA:

Thats my excuse too, but really I have gotten to be a huge chicken.... seriously.