It's funny, because if I had to pick, I'd say I shy away from verticals more than oxers! I don't know why... I think my horse tends to jump better over oxers so I've never had a problem with them. There's something about the innate upright-ness of verticals that freaks me out. I like round fences! Must be why I love cross country...
Anyway.... to help you get your confidence back I suppose the best thing to do is start small. Jump a ton of little bitty oxers until it becomes super easy and comfortable. Perhaps put them in gymnastics as well, where the exercise itself sets you up for a nice, even distance into each.
I was going through the same thing end of last summer. The problem was that I was looking for a distance and was not seeing it, freezing in the saddle and my horse said, ok we won't do it.
My trainer just told me not to look for the distance, look way out, keep my leg on hard, and my horse would figure it out. (This was at training, not prelim.) We would set up a related distance, vertical to oxer, about 5 strides. The oxer started out very inviting with the first rail on a half x. Then raised the first rail, keeping it lower than the back rail. We did this awhile before doing the same thing and making it square, then slowly widening it. This has worked for us.
Ultimately, I think the reason why it worked for us, is that I began to trust my leg on him. That when I squeeze, he goes, when before I didn't really trust it.
This also assumes we are at the right pace, right canter, etc., and that the horse has the scope to do it.
i agree with dappled that you need to take it down a notch, and just rock and roll over the easy stuff. move the jumps up during a school where you are already pinging, and if you are off your rhythm, then you can always jump the big ones another day.
Also, for me at least, the width of an oxer makes the height seem bigger. a square 3' oxer that is 4-5' wide can look more impressive than a 3'7 vertical. i suggest really stretching out your lower oxers and getting comfortable with that ride. then when you pop the holes up a few notches, it really won't feel so intimidating.
I'm the same as dappled, it's verticals without a groundline that catch me out.
Just count your strides, keeping your eye on the back rail. Also, doing a little grid with the last fence set to a small oxer (building up the size you're jumping) will help you get your rhythm back.
I do not look at the back rail - I find when I do this, I really miss my distance because I am "seeing" it from a rail that is ~3ft away from the base, therefore missing the distance by at least 3ft.
I love oxers so am not much help, but I picture the wide square oxers as verticals that I need to keep my leg on to. Works for me. I also count out loud (sometimes 1,2,3,4 or 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 depending on the frequency the jumps are coming up) like bornfree said and that really helps me keep my rhythm and keeps me from losing focus.
Last edited by CatchMeIfUCan; Feb. 25, 2013 at 03:36 PM.
No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill
I had this same problem, also when moving up to prelim. What worked for me was to build a line (usually 4-5 strides) vertical to small oxer, which will set you up for a distance. Start low (3'-3'3") and not very wide (2'). Gradually increase height of oxer, then start increasing width. I'd have this line set up, then a couple other oxers out by themselves that I'd have to ride off my eye. I'd build those up a little bit slower than the one in the line so I'd always have ridden a bigger oxer right before the ones out by themselves.
Every time I went down the line, I'd focus on supporting with my leg and staying soft in my hand, since those were the two things I'd lose when I panicked if I just couldn't see a distance. Then try to repeat that type of ride to the single oxers.
Eventually, I was to galloping up to a 3'9" by 5-6' oxer in the middle of a field. That's what I needed for my confidence. My eye also got a lot better for seeing a distance to the wider stuff off a longer stride.
I also needed to make sure I did this exercise at least once a week. I might jump less than 15 fences the entire ride (including warm up), but I had to have enough repetitions to keep me feeling confident. But that was just me.
Thank you so much everyone! It definitely helps to know I am a not alone. I think I am going to try some low wide oxers first, and gradually build that up as raave05 and Janet suggested. I think that will help a lot.
I think after I started having problems, the width was what intimidated me. I started to get the feeling that I wanted to just gun him at it because that was the only distance I could see, but I knew that wasn't what I wanted to do.
I will also try the four stride line as well, but that may need to wait until I can jump outside. I'm fortunate enough to have the indoor to ride in, but its on the smaller side, and I think a four stride line at any substantial height is going to push it.
Any more suggestions, please feel free to contribue!