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Jumping fear (Me, not the horse!)

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  • Jumping fear (Me, not the horse!)

    I know this issue has been brought up a lot, and I have read all the old threads but I am having major issues regarding fear and jumping height.

    I have been a rider for 10-15 years, on and off. As a teenager I had a horse I took up to about 3 feet at home, but didn't really show. Had some time off 6-7 years, and came back into jumping again, this time with a large pony. I have never been a confident rider, but pony was awesome, took me from xrails to 2'9" hunter in one show season, taught me to sit up and ride. Now I have a new horse, a young warmblood mare I started riding in early January. She is very willing, our first show one month after I got her was up to 2'9".

    Recently I had a few mental issues that are affecting my riding in a huge way. Once I start thinking too much, my brain goes out the window, I can't see a distance, I look down and my shoulders go forward. I am having major issues, especially at oxers. My mare has a very lofty jump and getting an awkward distance to an oxer higher than 2'9" tosses me out of the tack sometimes. If I can't see the distance I just go limp and grab mane. This usually leaves us with a stop at this point.

    It's definitely a mental issue, just typing this post I am getting palm sweats an light headed thinking about it. Same thing with watching youtube videos of other people jumping, my hands start sweating.

    Jumping up to 2'6" is okay. I think if I had a great 2'6" round I'd probably be fine to go in and do 2'9", but for some reason jumping it on the warmup ring freaks me out, just going up to a single fence, especially an oxer. Last weekend I had a meltdown at a show, pulled out of all my 2'9". My final 2'6" hunter round was great, if I could have gone into a 2'9" after than I would have.

    I am frustrated with myself, in my mind doing 2'6" is baby stuff. People around me tell me that I am a good enough rider I should be doing higher. The girl who had my horse before me was a semi-pro, but she was jumping her 3 feet the first day this horse jumped. And showing 3'3" jumpers at her first show.

    Any advice? I am thinking about going back to my therapist (I've been there before, the techniques she taught me are working a little bit), and am listening to a 'jumping with confidence' self hypnosis track. It just seems like my issues are getting worse rather than better. I SO BADLY want to be that person that just goes to show and does 3'6" jumpers but at this point I'm considering a career change to dressage.

  • #2
    Just some thoughts...

    Why can't you just do 2'6" until you are sick of it? You need to be rock solid at 2'6" before you move forward, for confidence reasons. Do you have trouble jumping the 2'6" oxers? (It doesn't sound like it from you post, but I figured I would ask, just to clarify)

    Or, have your trainer start putting one jump up to 2"9" in your lessons (and maybe not tell you)?

    And, why all this pressure to move up?!?! I think one poster said something like, in another thread about this very subject, riding is fun for her and it is her outlet. If she is not having fun pushing herself and her confidence is waning, then she is missing the whole point. If I am not mistaken, this poster didn't even jump anymore, but I think her take on things was poignant.

    We do this because it is fun and we enjoy it. Some people enjoy pushing themselves and like a challenge. Some like the comfort and safety of doing what they know. Some like to show and would not ride if they couldn't show. Some people could do without showing altogether.

    You need to do what is good for you right now and if that is 2'6", then do it proudly!! Good Luck
    ALP
    "The Prince" aka Front Row
    Cavalier Manor

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by PoniesAndUp View Post
      I am having major issues, especially at oxers. My mare has a very lofty jump and getting an awkward distance to an oxer higher than 2'9" tosses me out of the tack sometimes. If I can't see the distance I just go limp and grab mane. This usually leaves us with a stop at this point.
      I SO BADLY want to be that person that just goes to show and does 3'6" jumpers but at this point I'm considering a career change to dressage.
      why are you obsessed with 2.9ft when you obviously cannot handle it at this time? why not drop back to 2.3ft and get yourself comfortable and gradually move up when you feeel safe and secure.
      do you think something is wrong with you that when you get launched over an oxer it makes you hesitant and scared? no its your bodies way of saying you are not ready for this.
      i was jumping my horse confidently some 3ft mixed in with 2.9ft fences. we were doing great! i had brought him along myself in lessons and had no problems. then i broke my leg walking my dog and slipping on ice. this set me back a ton. at first i was okay when i started jumping indoors. but when we moved outside my horse was leaping in the air and he knocked me off a couple of times. i did not wonder why i was scared! i was scared because i wasnt sure when the next time i would be launched out of the tack would come!
      so what did i do? i got a pro rider on my horse! she jumped him around for me and yes she can jump him 3ft or higher. then i would get on and jump the jumps after she lowered the poles. at first i was nervous but when i realized that he felt great my confidence grew and it was fun.
      then i started lessoning with the other trainer there. and although i was jumping 2.6ft after the pro, i was afraid to jump 2ft+ on my own. i just kept lessoning with a great trainer who knew how to gradually push me higher. would i have liked my progress to have been quicker? of course! but i am having alot of fun. and when something happens that becomes hard for me to handle, my trainer gets on and fixes it for me. my horse doesnt stop, but if he gets behind my leg he will pop high and hard! that is what gets me off. and the trainer will get him jumping flatter again.
      confidence in my opinion is more important than talent! you may be a talented rider but if you lost your confidence, you are not going to get around very well. you have to develop your confidence again and then try to preserve it! you can have fun if you go at your pace, not the former owners pace, or the pace you feel you should be at.
      good luck!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by LoveJubal View Post
        Why can't you just do 2'6" until you are sick of it? You need to be rock solid at 2'6" before you move forward, for confidence reasons. Do you have trouble jumping the 2'6" oxers? (It doesn't sound like it from you post, but I figured I would ask, just to clarify)
        This.

        I get jumping nerves, too, and the only thing that works for me is to do it regularly at a height I'm comfortable with until I'm so bored silly that I'm just dying to make the fences higher/more challenging.

        And riding a school master who'll keep going when I grab mane get out of the way and more or less stop riding can really help too. After doing that a few times, the fences don't look as big
        "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
        -Edward Hoagland

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        • #5
          Sometimes I feel like people think that if you don't jump 3' or over, you can't ride. I am one of those riders that is totally content jumping around a 2'6" course because that is what I feel comfortable with. I know I know how to ride and honestly taking a year of dressage lessons and not jumping during that time makes me much more interested in perfecting my flatwork with jumps thrown in here or there. It doesn't matter to your horse if you are jumping him at a higher height or not. This sport is too darn expensive to not do what you are comfortable with. You'll probably get bored at the lower heights eventually and want to start moving up but don't put a timeline or pressure on yourself and you'll find things will be much more enjoyable. Gymnastics are great for building your confidence and his and the trainer can sneak in some higher fences towards the end of the grid which can really pump you up!!!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by LoveJubal View Post
            Why can't you just do 2'6" until you are sick of it? You need to be rock solid at 2'6" before you move forward, for confidence reasons.:
            This. You need to want (need) to move up in your own mind.

            Originally posted by PoniesAndUp View Post
            I am frustrated with myself, in my mind doing 2'6" is baby stuff. People around me tell me that I am a good enough rider I should be doing higher. The girl who had my horse before me was a semi-pro, but she was jumping her 3 feet the first day this horse jumped. And showing 3'3" jumpers at her first show.
            You are not the previous rider. You can take comfort that the horse will be there for you when you are ready. Be glad that others are confident in you, but don't overface yourself. Yes, you should push yourself...try more challenging 2'6" courses (eq or jumper types). We have lost too many good riders in this sport because they try to do too much too soon. And, after all, it's too freakin' expensive not to be having fun.
            "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Douglas Adams

            Comment


            • #7
              When this hit me I switched to dressage
              Interestingly I was bored w/ concept of showing hunters BEFORE the jumps started looking bigger. Was doing Adult Amateur at the time, and wasn't likely going to take the next step to Ammy Owners for a bunch of reasons. So it was a no-brainer decision and I never looked back.
              We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........

              Comment


              • #8
                I agree with the poster who said stick with 2'6" until it bores you to tears. Have an instructor start raising just one or 2 jumps in each course at home, until you feel comfortable moving up a bit.

                I can relate, having fear issues myself. When time comes to move up, if you are fearful, you need to focus on breathing deeply, count your rythm and maintain your canter and don't overthink/try to hard to see your distances. I think most of us tend to pull on the reins when we are afraid, disrupting the canter and the jump!

                Comment


                • #9
                  You know in a lot of sports where people worry or are nervous about moving up, people say just go do it and once you do you'll realize it wasn't so bad. Whats the worst that can happen?

                  Well unfortunately in our sport you can move up, have a terrible or dangerous experience, and never want to do it again. So stick at 2'6'' until you're bored and then try inching the fences up. Its not going to do you or the young mare any harm to focus on things other than height.

                  Try working on other aspects of your courses than just height. Do harder and more technical courses at 2'6''. Do gymnastics, roll backs, practice adding and subtracting in the lines. There is SO much you can focus on an improve at a height you're comfortable at (especially with a young horse!), and then when YOU feel like you're reading to try it a little bigger you might be surprised by how easy it comes. And when you do, try making the jump out of a line or the last jump in a gymnastic bigger first. That way you get confidence over the height without worrying so much about the approach.

                  If you're jumping super hard technical courses at 2'6'', a hunter course at 2'9'' is going to be easy!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I agree with what Serendipity Hunter said. I ride at a barn with some very accomplished jumpers and some who jump 3'6 like it's nothing at all. I've been made to feel by the 3'6" like because I ride 2'6-2'9 courses that I don't know what I'm doing at all. It really irks me that people can't see the merits of jumping 2'6-2'9. Safe height to work on a lot of things without worry.

                    This is really great advice. The more used to riding a super technical/demanding course at a lower height you are, the easier a Hunter 2'9" course will be. Have your trainer throw in a 2'9" fence as part of a nice easy line, the end of a gymnastic etc, and gradually start adding more 2'9" fences into your courses

                    Originally posted by Rel6 View Post
                    You know in a lot of sports where people worry or are nervous about moving up, people say just go do it and once you do you'll realize it wasn't so bad. Whats the worst that can happen?

                    Well unfortunately in our sport you can move up, have a terrible or dangerous experience, and never want to do it again. So stick at 2'6'' until you're bored and then try inching the fences up. Its not going to do you or the young mare any harm to focus on things other than height.

                    Try working on other aspects of your courses than just height. Do harder and more technical courses at 2'6''. Do gymnastics, roll backs, practice adding and subtracting in the lines. There is SO much you can focus on an improve at a height you're comfortable at (especially with a young horse!), and then when YOU feel like you're reading to try it a little bigger you might be surprised by how easy it comes. And when you do, try making the jump out of a line or the last jump in a gymnastic bigger first. That way you get confidence over the height without worrying so much about the approach.

                    If you're jumping super hard technical courses at 2'6'', a hunter course at 2'9'' is going to be easy!
                    ~Over or Through~

                    A Blog of Percy's Journey!

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Thanks all for the tips, it makes me feel better just knowing that I'm not the only one experiencing these feelings. Someone who doesn't ride asked me if I was ONLY jumping the little jumps the other day and I just about wanted to pull my hair out!

                      I did forget to mention in my original post that I have done lots of jumping really technical courses at 2'6" - 2'9" at home, doing lots of jumper work since that's what I really wanted to do before I lost my nerve competely. Seems like I am way worse at shows than at home. I had a long talk with my coach during the weekend and the current plan is to keep doing what I'm doing at home, hopefully get higher and keep schooling the technical stuff and going higher on days I feel good about it. At shows I am stuck with the 2'6" hunters until I'm bored silly, maybe post enter a single 2'9" course if I'm feeling good. She doesn't want to see me entering any jumpers until I'm doing hunters at 3 feet solid, since having to remember a jumper course seems to throw me off and worry me. Sounds like this is a good plan for me. Oh, and I'll be entering every dressage show available here as well

                      I did find a helpful alternative resource the other day that I wanted to share for others having the same issues. Laura King does some very specific riders hyponsis cd's that I found to really relate to what I was feeling. I tried one last night and I'm hopeful it will quell that rotten little voice in my head :P Might be a good option for those looking at alternative ways to help their mental game.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Take on what you enjoy and feel comfortable with and damn trying to impress other people! Why in the world do you think it is a cop out to stay at 2'6? If that is your comfort level and you can be GOOD at that height, that's all that matters. Unless you are listed for the next Olympics, this is all about fun.
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                        • #13
                          I recently posted a thread stating I had the same problem. Since then I have done several things that have helped me improve and the one thing I found that worked the best is to stop thinking.

                          First thing is to remember to breathe. While warming up or taking a break and you feel anxiety starting to set in breathe in through your nose slowly (around a 5 second breath), hold it (again for around 5 seconds) and slowly push it out through your mouth. Repeat until you feel more relaxed. I usually do this several times before going into the ring at shows.

                          Pole work is probably the best thing to train your eye. Place poles on he ground in random places and dedicate a couple rides a week to just going over these. Set up a pole course with combinations, and easy turns. Count down the strides to the poles. Start with 3 strides away 3-2-1 and as you start seeing the distance 3 strides, count down from four, then from five and so on.

                          Another very important thing to do is to go for the long one rather than getting in deep. You want to teach your horse that going over is the only possible option to take. Stopping is not allowed. Ever. To do that add more leg every time you feel like you are going to freeze up or even if you second guess your distance. Sit up, sit deep and add leg. Practice this over the poles initially until you get more comfortable with it.

                          Once you can easily see 5 strides away from your fence, move up to 2 adjacent jumps set on the track of a 20m-30m circle. Keep the fences low and use your counting to help with rhythm and to keep your brain focused on something else. Again, make sure that if you start second guessing you add leg. Work on this until you become more confident and you find your horse 'pulling' you to the fence more. Next time you jump, raise the fences a couple holes, get comfortable with that. Then the next time make them into small oxers. Then raise them. Widen them. Raise some more. Only move up if you're confident.

                          Grabbing mane is a good reaction, especially if you feel like you're going to get the long spot. I find that a stirrup leather wrapped around the horses neck is also good because it allows you to still release over the fence.

                          Lastly, look for a reputable hunter coach in your area. Use then to help you get off the ground, so to speak. They will encourage you to push to your distance and help you gain confidence.

                          I wish you the best of luck! You're definitely not the only one with this little setback, in fact you are one of many. Remember that even the best riders don't get the perfect distance 100% or even 70% of the time! Have fun!

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