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Can a nervous rider do this? (New and nervous!)

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  • Can a nervous rider do this? (New and nervous!)

    How many of you would say you're nervous riders, or were nervous riders?

    I've just started jumping again after many years off. I got my horse in October, planning to do dressage. He's finally come around to accepting contact and flat work (mostly, walk/trot nets us 70%+ scores, canter isn't so great!), and while he can be a stinker about flatwork, he has been VERY forgiving jumping in the ring.

    Twice I've taken him out over small xc jumps. He is interested, wants to go over them, but after slams on the brakes and bounces and gets silly. Our most recent outing (yesterday) was the first time I did some flatwork out there as well, and he started the post-jump bouncing early. I tried coping by pushing him forward a few strides, then settling him or making him do a bit of flatwork before reapproaching a fence. As our ride went on, we had a large group of trail riders go trotting down the hill (their appearance wound him up), and understandably, he spooked when a few hikers popped out of the bush. But even after we had finished jumping, I could not get him to settle, and as he gets riled up, I get nervous.

    I've finally mastered my nervousness in the ring (he is evasive and bouncy and sometimes bucks when it comes to canter work) and learned to just "sit in the back seat" and push, and I'm not as nervous about jumping at home now either... How do I overcome being out?

    Ideally, I'd haul to the park once or twice a week to expose him to big open riding spaces and trot him over the little stuff, but I am at the mercy of others for a ride (and they are very generous as is).

  • #2
    I used to event alot when I was younger...and I was always nervous. But I never would acknowledge it. My horse however, was not nervous and that helped at the time.
    I quit for 15 years and started again in 2010. I am still nervous, but for some reason, I accept that as the way I am, and will even talk about it. It has helped me over come alot of it, just by accepting it.

    Comment


    • #3
      I am nervous now, although I never used to be. I am now completely obsessed with dressage, and can almost never muster the courage to jump. I suppose my previous experiences have contributed to this... About a year ago the horse I was riding took off farther away from the jump then I thought, and I was thrown off balance. I ended up falling underneath the horse, who (although it was absolutley not his fault) proceded to step on me. I am happy with dressage, but im really trying to get over this fear so I can start jumping again...
      Tack Cleaning/All-Things-Tack nut
      ~DQ wanna-be~

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      • #4
        I am a very nervous rider, always have been. I need my horse not to be.
        To be honest, this does not sound like the best horse for you if he is a "stinker" on flatwork and gets riled up jumping.
        The best solution would be for you to be doing this on a laidback experienced packer.
        As he is your horse, that's a problem that I don't have advice for.

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        • #5
          I did hunters for years until I got to college, took a break for 2-3 years, and have been back in the saddle for 3 years again. I used to jump 3'9 without question and now I get nervous going over 2'9! You aren't the only one. I'm going to leave the hunter world for eventing and am a nervous nelly about it but it just seems so fun and exciting. I guess the older you get the more you realize that things are scary and can hurt. Oh to be a kid again!

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          • #6
            You're doing the right thing by making him work after the jumps. Eventually he'll figure out that jumping doesn't mean yee-ha'ing away after the jump, but more work and he'll start to listen to you much better in all stages outside. As that happens, you'll get more confidence and braver, so just keep on keepin' on!
            Was this at Campbell Valley, or Island 22?
            Are you going to take the eventing clinic at Island 22 next weekend? Both coaches there will have excellent ideas and exercises for you to keep your guy settled and boost your confidence.

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            • #7
              You need a qualified instructor to help you focus your nerves and recognize the right and wrong things to do under saddle. Many times we think we're doing the right thing but we actually are not, especially when we are nervous.
              http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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              • #8
                You're working with a fantastic trainer... just keep reminding yourself that neither she nor your very experienced barn owners (who I suspect you're shipping out with) are going to let you ride something you can't actually deal with.

                Best words I ever heard from a trainer - "you HAVE the skills to ride through this!". I sometimes repeat it to myself through gritted teeth, but they're right, I can deal with it...
                "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."

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                • #9
                  I would only trailer out with other experienced horsey friends or, ideally, your trainer. I suffer from nerves too. At the last place I rode I wasn't taking lessons (no one to teach me) and was suffering from it. I wasn't actually nervous but was being asked to ride quite challenging/green horses and knew my skills weren't up to it. Instead of getting better with every ride I felt like I was getting worse. I have since moved onto taking lessons once a week, and though its only been 2 weeks I'm already noticing a difference. I'm not dreading going to the barn or riding more difficult horses.

                  The thing is, if your horse is tense/nervous out of the arena he's likely reacting to YOU being tense/nervous outside. Treat jumping, even cross country, as dressage with fences in the way. If you have to circle before or stop after a fence or even stop in the middle of a line to maintain control and the horses attention, then do. Remember your horse doesn't need speed to get over a fence, he needs momentum & impulsion. He can probably jump most of the fences your aiming for at a walk. Thinking half halt before every fence helped me a lot on the horse I was riding today in my lesson.

                  Good luck! And to answer your question, there's no reason you shouldn't do this but make sure you have the support you need.
                  Last edited by Event4Life; Apr. 3, 2013, 07:46 AM.
                  "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                  "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ibex View Post
                    You're working with a fantastic trainer... just keep reminding yourself that neither she nor your very experienced barn owners (who I suspect you're shipping out with) are going to let you ride something you can't actually deal with.

                    Best words I ever heard from a trainer - "you HAVE the skills to ride through this!". I sometimes repeat it to myself through gritted teeth, but they're right, I can deal with it...
                    ^^This is great^^ - if you are already working with a great trainer that believes you have the skills and an appropriate horse, then have faith that you will work through this and eventually your horse will settle and focus on his job. It's ok to be nervous, it means you are aware, it's when the nerves paralyze you.

                    I am a nervous rider, and I have to remind myself I have the skills to work through it. Sometimes I forget to do this! But I have a good instructor that reminds me all the time that I am capable.

                    I went through a similar situation last year with one of my horses, he's green, young, athletic, and playful - I could manage through the ring work, but out in the fields, and cross country schooling with other horses was different story, he rattled me a few good times. So last Fall when it was time to make or break the relationship with this horse, I forced myself to take all of my lessons out in the fields. My instructor was there to talk me through it and reminded me to use the same tools we use in the ring to get him to focus on me...and things got better and better. And while we still have some challenges ahead, I don't feel quite as nervous about the big open fields with this horse.

                    Anyway, I just wanted to share that you are not alone in the nervous department. Take some lessons out in the fields with an instructor that knows your stengths and weaknesses.

                    Absolutely, you can do this. Good luck!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      For sure get an instructor to help you! I've always been nervous. As an adult/mom it has gotten worse but riding a safe packer type has helped a lot. If the horse is not always a solid citizen, make sure you've got a good instructor to help you through any challenges that might pop up.
                      The rebel in the grey shirt

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by FatDinah View Post
                        I am a very nervous rider, always have been. I need my horse not to be.
                        To be honest, this does not sound like the best horse for you if he is a "stinker" on flatwork and gets riled up jumping.
                        The best solution would be for you to be doing this on a laidback experienced packer.
                        As he is your horse, that's a problem that I don't have advice for.
                        I should clarify -- by "stinker" I mean he's got a pony brain. Opinionated, but generally safe. Also, he thinks he's always right. Prior to me, had never worked in contact so while the trot work is there, he protests to canter. However, add in a small x rail and he'll canter lovely all around and do lovely changes, etc. He's actually got a great brain but can also be incredibly sensitive too, so he's safe with a decent challenge. He's also never done xc. He has shown that he will trot to the base, but prefers to be a bit more forward, but isn't galloping anywhere or being wild. He just wants to root for grass as soon as we land. He sees that opportunity where I'm still recovering and where he can yank me down for a quick bite! In the ring, he's as forgiving for a stadium school as a horse can be, and the dressage has come a LONG way. Prior to me owning him, he had been to ONE show. When we went to our first show to school in February, he was a nutbar. Since that show, he hacks around on a loose rein and acts like an old pro (even at the biggest show grounds here). He just needs to experience things a couple times and then he's all old-hand about it... I just need not to worry those first few times when he reacts, and need to buck up

                        Originally posted by fanfayre View Post
                        You're doing the right thing by making him work after the jumps. Eventually he'll figure out that jumping doesn't mean yee-ha'ing away after the jump, but more work and he'll start to listen to you much better in all stages outside. As that happens, you'll get more confidence and braver, so just keep on keepin' on!
                        Was this at Campbell Valley, or Island 22?
                        Are you going to take the eventing clinic at Island 22 next weekend? Both coaches there will have excellent ideas and exercises for you to keep your guy settled and boost your confidence.
                        Yesterday was CVP, just a couple of little ones. Today, I got a last minute to Island 22 to hack around and maybe pop over a few -- with the trainer.

                        I am not doing the eventing clinic -- I didn't have a ride going. I MAY still get to go to Johvale, but small chance. Instead, we're doing the 2 phase and xc schooling (with the trainer) afterwards, so it'll basically be just like doing a mini event in one day (we are doing the May MREC)

                        Getting to Island 22 today was great. I didn't join any of the official lessons, just hacked around to get him some mileage over the terrain and let him relax and see everything, and we did get to do a few small PE logs and benches (not much at all, we probably went over those 3 or 4 jumps 10x total, plus the water). Trainer made me work through the yank-down-bounce post-jump issue, and it was the first time she's seen him jump xc. The problem is NOT the jumps, he's eager to jump. The problem is his pony appetite, after he lands he thinks he can eat! Or if we go up a hill and we're not "working" the grass gets closer and he tries to take advantage. Little bugger

                        Originally posted by Ibex View Post
                        You're working with a fantastic trainer... just keep reminding yourself that neither she nor your very experienced barn owners (who I suspect you're shipping out with) are going to let you ride something you can't actually deal with.

                        Best words I ever heard from a trainer - "you HAVE the skills to ride through this!". I sometimes repeat it to myself through gritted teeth, but they're right, I can deal with it...
                        Thanks so much -- you know the group I'm with and I agree, nobody would let me get in over my head. The YR we both know helps me out with tips or schooling pony when I get nervous, and trainer can address his issues with one or two tips and we're back on track. Today trainer took us to Island 22 and while I only schooled a few fences but otherwise hacked, we had his naughtiness sorted out really quickly. I felt way more confident after today, and for pony, it's just the exposure to getting out and riding out more. Today we had 4 horses mounted, so if one galloped off it wasn't a big deal either. He was way more chill!

                        To everyone else -- thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I'm already feeling less nervous, and it is becoming less of a big deal. I am always hauling out with my trainer (who I have seen recommended here) or a talented YR, both of whom have handled me and my confidence well and have schooled the horse.


                        I just start to overthink when we get a little off track or something isn't perfect, but all it took was a handful of jumps with trainer's eye today, and confidence is back to being sky high (or as high as it gets!). Pony previously had limited exposure and has only done xc 3 times (all with me), and I have to remind myself that the first couple times out are new for him. He is clever and once he's done something, he generally is great. Our first schooling outing at a show 2-3 months ago was a wound up mess, we could barely trot without a few bucks. Since then, we've done schooling shows every few weekends and he acts like a season show mount. We have a starter level CT this weekend, and if it stays dry, will school xc there afterwards as well (which for me, doesn't mean a long lesson, we're good to keep it short and simple and happy). Now pony gets a well deserved day or two off!

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