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Afraid to event?

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  • Afraid to event?

    A back story first...

    Last year my horse and I had a mini rotational fall over a small fairly easy novice fence. It was however, raining and going down hill. My loving horse did nothing wrong, but me being the nit picky rider I am tried to tell her to slow down a little more before we jumped. She skidded, I half halted and we flipped. Ended up with a tiny fracture to my back. Nothing bad. Was out of the saddle for 2 months (of course me being me, I got on and was walking around when I shouldnt have been on my beloved pony who clearly tries to take care of me). After the two months we did a clinic with Kyle Carter (where I ate dirt) and have gone XC schooling over Prelim jumps and was fine. Now that I am starting a new job that is going to allow me to compete again, I am not sure I can go back to eventing. Something about being in competition and going over the XC jumps is starting to freak me out. I hate to drop my horse back down to starter classes, but even thinking about running BN is freaking me out... I am not sure what to do... Maybe I am just done eventing for good? Jumper world here I come? And for the record, in stadium, my horse and I are back to jumping 4' with ease... so its not height or anything that scares me... just XC

  • #2
    Well, given your COTH name, I think you were BORN to be an eventer!

    If you're hesitant to do XC, it's reasonable! A rotational fall is nothing to sneeze at at ANY level!

    Do what you feel comfortable doing for now; if XC is meant to be, it will be.
    Riding: The art of keeping a horse between you and the ground.


    • #3
      Not everyone is the sort of rider who happily "kicks on" over hill and dale, reveling in every obstacle they can find on the landscape.
      The fall you took was by your own admission, a taking back when you should have trusted and ridden on. Schooling with good instructors who can explain the how's and why's of the obstacles you meet, and are willing to work with you on understanding the technical side of things are where you should be. If after a few months of schooling you still find the thought of CC daunting, laugh turn away and find a comfort level elsewhere.
      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


      • #4
        Having a brave, wonderful horse who LOVES XC really helped me.

        But stay small until you're bored. I stayed at BN for three years!
        --Becky in TX
        Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
        She who throws dirt is losing ground.


        • #5
          There is really nothing wrong with how you feel. I and others here have had incidents where we were sure we would be killed. In the end, coming back comes down to your core. There is nothing wrong with thinking and feeling that survival is pretty important. There is nothing wrong with moving on from eventing.

          In my case, I came back very quickly because it seems to be an inherent trait in my nature. At the same time, I worked with a sports psychologist to get my mind fully back into gear. It took about a year after the accident to be fully operating on the innate level again.

          I honestly believe that part of why I enjoy XC is because of the risk. I like the transcendent nature where, as a former olympian told me, "Accept that this is the last 5 minutes of your life. Enjoy it." Of course that was over 10 years ago and the the sport was different. I love the possibility I can be injured or killed and yet I have to function very effectively at a high level. Of course good solid training is where I mitigate the risk.

          Not everyone shares this view but I think that is what helped me come back from my bad wrecks.



          • #6
            jumper ring for now. you will stay in shape and build the relationship with your horse. even the HUNTER ring (gasp!) will teach you to relax and do less.

            fear can be your brain's way of making sure you survive. when you are sure you are ready to move on, I did EMDR to "banish the demons" of some bad falls. I had the pleasure to do this with a psychologist specializing in riding, but other sports psych folks might offer it.....

            glad you are OK!


            • #7
              Shoot you can do 4 foot jumpers???? wow you are ready to riot ! I am not qualified to give you any advice, but.........enjoy jumpers, hunters, hunter paces, etc, until you feel okay to do XC again. No reason to feel stupid starting over at a low levels. Give yourself a break and work with a trainer who is good at "mental" stuff. I have a feeling you will get over it. Bore yourself with hunters for motivation!


              • #8
                coach? medical motion;/p.t.

                Get the best quality safety equipment you can afford; do as many cross county schools ( with a sympathetic coach/ instructor; if, after that you still feel "stuck" I would look for a sports psychologist; I wish now that I had consulted one at certain points in my eventing career , it might have made it easier to sort out my issues from my horses' who had, fallen, too;btw, get yourself thoroughly checked out by a doctor, not only for the healing of the vertebrae, but, also the flexibility and motion in the rest of your body; if there is a "block" anywhere, that will be transmitted to your horse
                Last edited by Carol Ames; Jul. 6, 2012, 09:41 PM. Reason: typos
                breeder of Mercury!

                remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans


                • #9
                  good advice.

                  I am only now reading the other posts, excellent advice;time in the jumper ring is always helpful, then, in the fall try foxhunting your horse
                  breeder of Mercury!

                  remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans


                  • #10
                    I had a friend who suffered a similar experience, and it rattled her so much that she completely lost her nerve and ended up crossing over to the jumper ring. It does happen.

                    However, if eventing is what you want to do, I am confident you can do it again! Like everyone else said...start small. Build your confidence up! Don't worry about how long it takes. Make trips to school cross country where you can go slowly and stay at your own pace and comfort level.


                    • #11
                      A lot of it is just spending more hours in the saddle. Having good instruction helps too. I've also heard that consulting a sports psychologist can really help.

                      I have evented up to Training. Could I do that now? Hell to the no. I'm too much of a chicken. I don't even want to go over a beginner novice jump right now. I had some negative experiences before I took a break from riding that really did me in. I was afraid to even be on a horse in an arena alone when I started riding again. Being out in the open (an outdoor ring even) terrified me. I was convinced that every horse was a spooky horse that would bolt on a whim and have no regard for the rider and do any dirty trick they could think of. Now, I am still more timid than I used to be, but I am looking forward to getting out on some trails soon and starting back over fences. I'm excited. I know it is something I want to get back into. What has helped me the most is just spending more hours in the saddle. I took some lessons as well. I used to seek out the green horses because I liked a challenge (and may again in the future) but now I'm looking for well schooled mounts with some miles on them to ride on. I have myself in a pretty good riding situation now.

                      I would get back into regular lessons on a reliable mount whether it be your own horse or a school horse. If you're more comfortable in the jumper ring, that's a fine start. Heck, you may get bored with that eventually and want to get back on the XC course. Don't rush yourself because that will just burn you out more and won't help any fear issues. Just enjoy riding your horse, take it day by day. Everyday that you're in the saddle is a good day. Going back to basics is never a bad thing in my opinion.


                      • #12
                        Remember that whatever decision you make now can be just that - the decision you made now. You are allowed to change your mind in 5 years - or 5 months, or heck, 5 decades perhaps. Stick a fork in a long time rider and you're likely to find they've done a bunch of different horse sports along the way to or back to wherever they are now.

                        One route could be to set a one year "plan" of returning to eventing which includes small steps. Those might include simultaneously cantering through a field and breathing in and out fairly easily, going on a jumps optional hunter pace, going out to tag along and watch an XC schooling, riding in an area with some XC jumps and popping over a few of them from the trot, entering a combined test with an XC schooling day affiliated and heading out XC if you feel like it -and so on. At any point, or after each milestone, you can check in with yourself and see if you want to carry on, repeat some steps, or puke and take up strolling thru the woods on foot and keeping your horses in the ring...

                        Good luck, and remember - we do it for fun!



                        • #13
                          I had a very similar situation. My 14.2hh eventer took off way to early for a jump.I didn't signal this at all! Her front legs hit the jump and get flipped over. A little bloodly but we were both okay. I didn't go cross country for 2 years after that! I grew out of her and looked for a hunter/jumper horse to buy. Well, I ended up buying a morgan. And we went cross country the other day. And im ready to do it again. But I was really freaked out for a while. I just can't stand the idea that my horse could get injured because of the sport im doing. So if that means I don't compete again thats fine. But I still do really love the feeling of cross country. So my suggestion to you is go have fun with jumpers. Maybe you will come back to eventing some day or maybe you won't. Either way, fear is a bad thing to have when going cross country!


                          • #14
                            While you want to push your comfort zone every once in a while, sometimes it's good to stay in it. Eons ago I used to groom for a woman who was doing ONLY dressage because jumping (any jumping) was freaking her out for some reason. I never really probed why, but she had done jumping and told me she was sticking to dressage only for the rest of her life because it was safer.
                            Long after I moved and lost track of her I noticed that she won her division at AEC's.
                            Sticking to jumpers only for this year, or even the next couple of years, does not mean you can never go back. Do what you enjoy and have fun! And really, there's nothing wrong with doing "only" jumpers... still lots of fun, right?


                            • #15
                              I have been fortunate to not have a serious incident. But my coach had one(helicoptered out, etc), and when he was ready to go out and compete again, he asked a lot of other riders who had bad falls and came back their advice. We'll skip the inherently professional bits of wisdom ("ride as many horses as you can!").

                              Two things come to mind for you. One is, you have to get far enough away from the pain that you don't remember what it felt like. You don't say if you're fall was terribly painful or not, but this may be something to think about. You may not realize it, but you might be fearful of the pain of your injuries, and just need more time. There is no time table. Just give yourself time to heal mentally, too.

                              The second thing to consider is to develop a system that you will do at EVERY FENCE. Every fence you jump, do the same thing (whatever that thing is that works for you and your horse). You may need to work closely with a coach you trust to find the right system. Then, practice, practice, practice. Do it in the ring (even over teeny fences every day). Do it on xc. But do it until it is just natural. Your horse will trust you, and you will find that you will have more confidence because you do everything the same, every time. Especially at the level you are talking about, there is no reason you can't ride the same at just about every fence (and, even if you have something you need to come quiet to, you can still do the same system...just quieter).

                              I do think it may be worth looking into a few chats with a sports psychologist. And, I do think there is nothing wrong with not doing xc until you miss it. And I do think there is nothing wrong with going all the way back until you find where you are comfortable again. Everyone heals (mentally and physically) differently, so do what you need to do.


                              • #16
                                What do you mean by 'do the same thing at every fence'?


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by ellebeaux View Post
                                  What do you mean by 'do the same thing at every fence'?
                                  As in, you try and set up for each fence with the same aids in the same order every time. And/or, you think the same thing on the approach.

                                  For example, I try to about 10 strides out soften Toby's jaw, half halt, make sure we are both square to the fence, deepen my seat, open my shoulders, keep my leg working PAST my "dead zone" (about 3 or 4 strides out I have a tendency to coast for a split second, which routinely trashes my rhythm and my distance that was RIGHT THERE), and then just close my leg and jump. I'll also start counting my rhythm probably around 10 strides or less. If I remember to do this at every fence, we are VERY smooth and Toby jumps in terrific form.

                                  I did pretty much exactly this at every fence on xc at his prelim move up a few weeks ago, and, up until he made a big, bold, green mistake without my input, I was having probably one of the smoothest, nicest rides I had ever had at that level. And it works at the technical stuff (I just half halt bigger and maybe sooner to get, say, a coffin canter). The more I do it, the more second nature it will become, the more rideable Toby will become, and the better and more confident we'll both feel. (Now if only I can get myself to stick with a system in SHOW JUMPING!).

                                  Hope that makes sense. This seems second nature to me because it is what I have been taught. Develop a system that works on your horse, and do it. Every time.


                                  • #18
                                    Every person is different....so what works for one will not always work for another.

                                    I had a very bad accident years ago....just riding on the flat. But when I came back...I had nerves jumping that I'd never had before. I hit the ground pretty soon after and to be honest, that helped me. It reminded me that I will not always be seriously hurt every time I fall. It took about a year for the additional nerves to subside completely. I just kept riding and jumping as much as I could--and controlling those nerves just like you do with competition nerves. I didn't let them stop me from doing anything...and most watching me ride had no idea I was fighting nerves.

                                    But by nature...I am a pretty bold rider and very good at dealing with stress (I work in a high stress job). I do think that makes a big difference....some people just naturally handle stress more easily.

                                    But you have to do what you feel is right. I do think it helps to just stay small but jump often. Sometimes if you avoid what you are afraid of....it makes it harder to face. I wouldn't bother competing until you can school comfortably. You need to stay with a good trainer who can help you but if you decide you don't want to event....that is perfectly fine.
                                    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                                    • #19
                                      Great advice from everyone and some will work for you now, some later and some not at all.

                                      Best advice is to give yourself time to heal from pain and 'worry' about "the next time." Like BFNE I have benefited from that 2nd fall without injury. We need to be reminded that we are can take a hit without falling to pieces.

                                      One suggestion is to set a goal of trail riding. Even at the walk it is good to remind you how to adjust to unlevel terrain, deal with low hanging branches, stepping over fallen trees, etc. Basic skills that we all need to ride XC.

                                      Just learn to remember that you enjoy riding horses.
                                      "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
                                      Courtesy my cousin Tim


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                                        you have to get far enough away from the pain that you don't remember what it felt like
                                        I am so sorry to hijack, but this is essentially why women have second children. They forget how much the first one hurt.

                                        Back to your regularly scheduled thread, and the excellent advice that you have gotten.