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Distance/Confidence issues! Help!

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  • Distance/Confidence issues! Help!

    So I'm relatively new to this threat.... Been reading for a while but finally registered to ask for some help.

    I've been riding hunters since I was ten. Rode up to some pretty decent levels 3ft+ and some medals when I was a junior.
    I currently do not not have anything I can ride of my own and consistently--- 1 retired horse, and 1 young horse.

    I am taking lessons 1+ a week and hacking 2 other times a week on trainer's horses if I'm lucky enough to get out there.

    So here's the situation....
    We have been keeping the jumps small but occasionally when my trainer thinks I'm ready she would put a jump or two up to about 3ft. For some reason every time I ride up to anything bigger I keep getting the WORST spots. I always get a large chip and a couple times even stopped.

    My trainer said it is because I have no confidence. I feel like I ride up with pace and confidence and for some reason I see the jump and I just stop riding up to it! It is EXTREMELY frustrating and I would love to here how you guys over came this.

    I know my pace is my issue but is there anything you guys do that will help me not panic!

    Someone suggested a shot of something strong so I'm more relaxed not a bad idea! JK of course!

  • #2
    put a neck strap on and kick?

    but in honesty do you think you are possibly pulling back on the reins coming up to the jump? Maybe doing some grids that slowly move up to 3' would help.


    • #3
      I have the same problem and what sometimes helps me is counting the stride through the whole course. I'm not necessarily counting the strides to the jump or anything in particular--just keeping an even pace throughout the course and giving my over-active brain something to focus on besides nitpicking to a distance. I just softly count in my head 1,2,1,2 around the course.


      • #4
        my trainer tells the old ladies and little kids as they go around the course "i see it, I see it I see it until they are at the base of the fence then they both say I don't! It works really well (and I've started doing it too) I find it works better than counting because it give a little more guidance.
        My Horse Show Photography/ Blog


        • #5
          Originally posted by raisethebar View Post
          I feel like I ride up with pace and confidence and for some reason I see the jump and I just stop riding up to it!
          I had this exact situation last month. I was jumping a skinny down the hill on someone else's horse and I kept seeing the exact same distance every time. It clearly required a little increase in pace to get to that distance but instead I just sat there. Nasty chips. For me if I get worried I stop functioning. I didn't pull but I didn't kick either. I can get away with this on my own horses because they are TBs and if I soften then their stride increases but this was a warmblood who definitely didn't expend energy without being told. I think some horses lose pace if you tense up or sit down and/or will chip if you jump up the neck. I ride sensitive types usually so I don't have to push them all the way to the base. Its more of a supporting leg if that makes sense. Get a video. It always helps me to see myself. I consider myself someone with a very accurate eye but sometimes I have a particular jump/situation that frustrates the heck out of me. Another good tip is that if you keep finding the same distance then change the track to the jump.
          You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!


          • #6
            I have always found that staying steady and forward is key - if your pace is consistent, the distance will work itself out 99% of the time.

            I dont like to count, I like to sing. The best song?

            Row, row, row your boat
            Gently down the stream
            Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
            Life is but a dream

            Adversity is the stone on which I sharpen my blade.


            • #7
              I know the feeling too.
              I started my coming 5 y/o mare myself and have done all her training, (with the help of some great coaches).
              Unlike my past mounts she isn't confident unless I am.

              If I am showing my confidence in her by setting her up, (pace, rhythm) and then sitting quietly and leaving it to her. I have no problems.
              If I start overthinking and/or fussing, she can be a dirty stopper or take a flyer.

              I find counting to the fence fixes my overthinking once it starts. I focus on the number of strides to the fence and start counting down once I am about 3 strides out or counting up in between fences after we land.
              This really helps keeps me in time with her, I don't jump ahead and I don't hold onto her and chip.
              Singing would likely work too but you would have to pick something you can sing in your sleep.

              It takes practice and you will still get a few mess ups but it makes for a more consistant ride and your confidence will benefit.


              • Original Poster


                THAT is EXACTLY my problem. My old horse was a TB and so athletic. I am now riding more warmbloods who doesn't try unless you ask them. He is super and a great horse it is just a different type of ride.

                I am SO glad that others have gone through this and I greatly appreciate everyone's help. I think I need to be more confident and like most of you said, ride up to the fence with pace and it will work itself out!

                I worry a lot because I'm a litttttle bit of a perfectionist and I think by singing and/or counting out loud will be able to keep my busy busy mind off of worrying and just ride right up to the jump.

                Also working on grids and increase the fences will help! That way I can get confidence over the jumps and trust my horse that I'm riding and myself more


                • #9
                  I think something else that's important to remember is not to change your ride to a fence whether its 18" or 4'. Easier said than done, I know!
                  Adversity is the stone on which I sharpen my blade.


                  • #10
                    Don't worry, I think we've all been in your shoes

                    It sounds to me like you don't really trust your horse is going to get there/be able to help you out if things go a bit south. I know in my experience its hard to feel that your horse can get you out of situations if you're used to the scopey, athletic types who kind of pull you a bit to the fences and then ride ones who either are lazy or back themselves off naturally.

                    So perhaps you can try placing a take off pole one stride in front of the jump. That way you won't really be focusing on the jump, it will just be on a little, measly ground pole. Because then, once you get there its just a matter of keeping your leg on and letting the horse do its job. Then as you get more confident that yes, your horse will jump this for you, you can start working on moving the pole back and then removing altogether.


                    • Original Poster

                      I haven't ridden my own horse for the past couple years. I miss having something that I can work on my ride with. I've been riding lesson horses and my trainer's personal horses and I do think that is why I'm having trust issues because not everything I've been riding has been scopey or athletic and able to get me out of a situation. I've got to have more confidence and that way I won't even be able to put those horses in a situation but sometimes I do not trust the canter step. I think going back to ground poles and canter them while I'm hacking will help with getting a bigger canter step around the corner and then keeping it! Key word = KEEPING IT! LOL.

                      I really like your idea of a take off pole! That way I will always know how far away I am from the jump! That probably will be the key I am looking for!


                      • #12
                        Thank you for posting this...I am going through something very similar!

                        One thing we are trying to focus on is riding the rhythm and not the jump. In addition, I do not look at the jump but past it. As soon as I come out of the turn and am straight, I focus on something down the ring and do not look at the fence at all, otherwise I pick away any distance that might have been there and chip.

                        It's definitely a work in progress but those two things seem to be helping me. The fact that the horse I ride will take off from anywhere is also a big help!


                        • #13
                          Another thing to try is to keep saying over and over "I will keep my rhythm" in beat to your horse's canter.

                          I've also had singing and counting work... it seems that what works for me depends on which horse I'm riding.


                          • Original Poster

                            comingback- you're very lucky to have a horse that will do that for you! In fact, the horse that I was riding this past lesson is the same way but I really want to perfect my riding so that I do not panic when I get in a pickle!

                            Thanks to everyone on here- you guys are great!


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by raisethebar View Post

                              THAT is EXACTLY my problem. My old horse was a TB and so athletic. I am now riding more warmbloods who doesn't try unless you ask them. He is super and a great horse it is just a different type of ride
                              I like the ground rail out like 5 strides from the jump. Keep the jump low and practice adding and doing the steps to a small jump. Chipping 3' for most horses with any talent shouldn't be an issue physically but if it feels big to you then lower it a little and get to understand the warmblood ride a bit more. Try two point and kick; try sitting down and driving... try different rides and approaches to understand how this one ticks. Once you let go of perfectionist (hunter rider syndrome) then you can expand your horizons to new rides. It's all good.
                              You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!


                              • #16
                                Maybe your not ready yet then? Maybe you still need to do a lot more poles, cross rails and gymnastics to work on your eye. Don't be in a hurry..... If you get to a ground pole perfectly it could have been a 4ft jump.

                                I have been riding off and on for a long time and miss distances too. Know you are not alone..... I miss them especially if the horse is something I am not used to riding. Over the years of lessons these words from my trainer are what seem to work more often than not:

                                1) get your pace... make sure your horse has that uphill canter coming from the hind end. A springy adjustable canter with a soft contact on the rein.

                                3) Ride the rhythm... once you get the pace keep it as you look for your approach

                                3) stay straight... Use your legs, hands and seat to make sure your horse is not bulging to the left or right. (I often forget I have legs and to use them)

                                4) Shorten your reins... I hear that in my sleep. Most people jump with too long of reins. Your hands should be in front of the martingale strap and contact on the bit.

                                These are just things that help me.
                                Live in the sunshine.
                                Swim in the sea.
                                Drink the wild air.


                                • Original Poster

                                  equisusan- I love your ideas! I think that is definitely what I would/will need to do. The problem is that they are lesson horses that I am riding. Right now my situation is a little bit difficult but will be solved next week when I am trying a new trainer. I think this person will really help get me to where I need to be and even beyond. I know her horses and I will be able to better experiment with them unlike where I am now which I am pretty limited as to not push the horse too much.

                                  I'm with you doublesstables--- I think I forget my leg sometimes too! I was watching the video of me today and I do think I should have had a teeny tiny spur on to assist in pushing him forward.

                                  Thanks again guys! Keep it coming!


                                  • #18
                                    I have had and still have the same issue. It is a mix of confidence but I have found with myself more about what my focus is on. When trying to find my distances I tried to "see" them and I spent so much time trying to see them I never did. At the end of last year, it finally clicked that you don't look to see okay I'm five strides out so much as feeling the rhythm. If you count the rhythm and focus on it the distances will start coming up and the more and more you practice the more consistent you will get with it.

                                    I will honestly canter around the ring and sing row row row your boat, as it matches my horses stride and play with it over poles.

                                    So don't worry so much about whether you can see the distance so much as focus on your rhythm to the fence.
                                    Calm & Collected, 13, OTTB
                                    Forrest Gump (Catasauqua) , 17, OTTB
                                    Little Bit Indian, 29, TB
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