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  • oxer-itis

    I have a really bad case of oxeritis as my coach calls it. I've been riding for 10 years and am more than capable of the oxers I'm doing, but they scare the heck out of me, and I don't know what to do! I've always been nervous about jumping bigger jumps (anything over 3' for me) but I want to move up. When I head for an oxer, I get nervous, and then my naturally nervous horse gets more nervous, and it doesn't usually turn out well. I guess I'm scared of getting a bad distance and doing something stupid. How can I get myself over this fear?

  • #2
    Just look at the front rail. Ride it like a vertical, but give an extra squeeze on takeoff.

    I have gone through every sort of phobia over the years. Triple combinations, skinnies, square oxers....I finally learned that for my brain, I just need to ride at everything like it is a vertical, then add whatever riding adjustment I need once the distance is in the bag. Hope that helps!


    • #3
      There is a case of oxeritis in your barn? I would be scared if the oxers in my barn were swollen, too!

      ...only kidding! I think some degree "oxer phobia" is pretty common. What about them scares you? Just that they look big and scary, or is your horse not handy enough to help you out? If the former, perhaps practicing over grids ending in big oxers will give you a little experience and help you gain some confidence? Practicing them in grids can allow you to jump the oxers without worrying about finding a good distance, which might help you relax when you jump single oxers during a course.

      ...Oxeritis, on the other hand, would probably scare just about everyone!


      • #4
        oxers at the 3' level, arent too wide and even if you chip your horse should be able to get over it....

        for me I know that my horse is more than capable of bailing me out, so you have to be able to have confidence in your horse that he/she will do the same. Just think what is the worst thats going to happen? your gonna chip? maybe knock a rail?

        just stay calm and think about how it really isnt that much different than a single, horses dont have to jump that much differently especially over a 3' oxer

        practice doing wider singles, as in singles with coops under them (i have a coop/panel Phobia haha) or flower boxes that make them wider and maybe scarier singles too, like big Xs then when you do an oxer youll see that it really isnt that scary

        good luck (:


        • #5
          I had a case of triple bar-itis once...which is silly considering they are probably the easiest fence to ride. It happened when I moved up to the 4'...those triple bars look MUCH bigger at 4' then 3'6"!

          My trainer at the time just set an all triple bar course for 3 lessons in a row (very simplistic hunter type course). I was really nervous the first few times and then just got over it. Hasn't been a problem since. It was 100% psychological like yours, I just needed to prove to myself that I could reliably ride them.


          • #6
            I have the same thing sometimes. I just ride it like it's a single. I agree with the coops/boxes/panels, It gave me confidence. Do you get nervous on the long approach as well? I usually do, it gives me more time to think about what distance I'm going to get. Short, long, deep? ahh what the heck i'll just go for it.


            • #7
              I had a trainer once tell me to ride the front rail and let the horse worry about the back one. Lucky I was on a packer.
              F O.B
              Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
              Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


              • #8
                I would say it helps to ride forwards to them. Having more power gives you confidence I've found. It sounds counterintuitive but for me stepping up the pace helps a lot because then i'm riding at the pace i'm thinking.
                "If we we couldn't laugh we'd all go insane, if we weren't all crazy we'd all go insane." ~Jimmy Buffet
                "Pursuing the life of my high-riding heroes I burned up my childhood days..."-Willie Nelson


                • #9
                  I have that too. I've always had more of an issue with width than height.

                  I think you've gotten good suggestions-- gymnastics are great for practicing oxers because there's no worrying about distances. And like someone said, always ride to the front rail, and your horse will give you the extra "oomph" to get across it.

                  Some other things that worked for me were working on developing your eye and your confidence to get the striding exactly right, every time. Set up a 5 stride, then do it in 5, 4, and 6. Once you're adjustable, ride it in 5 a lot. Feel the 5, and know that you've schooled your horse (and you) well enough to be able to adjust. Your eye will be better developed to see by stride 2 that you need to push or hold to get to the perfect spot in 5, and you'll have confidence that your horse will respond when you ask at stride 2, and he won't wait til stride 4 to catch up, when it's too late to change anything.

                  Another thing that settled my stomach a little was working on jumping a low but wide jump. My trainer would set up a short, square oxer, and would gradually increase the width. It's not any higher than 2 feet, so you don't get anxious about crashing, and you'll see that it's not difficult for your horse to stretch out and jump wide. Once you jump a 4 or 5 ft. spread, and you see that your horse doesn't struggle as much as you think he would, the oxeritis gets much better!


                  • Original Poster

                    I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one! I like the low and wide idea. I'll ask my coach if we can try that. Also, my horse is almost 17 now, and even though he used to be able to jump bigger, his age is starting to show, so we've decided to keep him at 2'9"-3'. So if I'm going to a 3' oxer, I'm freaking out that if I get in a bad spot, my horse can't bail me out. He's not a stopper, and I know that he would try to bail me out, so I guess I'm scared that I'll hurt him. And I'm going off to college next year, so I'm not bothering to get a new horse to move up on, just trying to fix my oxer problem with my current horse.


                    • #11
                      I love two ideas-- putting an oxer in a grid so that finding a distance isn't your problem, and jumping low, wide ones.

                      Riding with more pace than you would over a course of verticals will also help. Sometimes oxer-itis creeps up at this time of year for those of use working in small indoors. We jump verticals for months and also don't ride on the same open stride we would outside.

                      But perhaps you (or your body) is a little freaked by all the time you spend in the air over an oxer. After you leave the ground, a deep part of you says "Wow, we're in up here for a while. Why haven't we landed yet?" Then, upon landing when you have your mind back, you blame the oxer and have an explanation but also a phobia.

                      One way to deal with this is to teach your mind to go slower. Build an inviting, rampy oxer. Perhaps put a "cheat rail" 9 or so feet out to set your distance for you. Then just enjoy the ride. Pay attention to what it feels like to stay airborne a tad longer than you like. Think about "posing" like the fanciest eq rider who would make George weep. Enjoy the fact that you have so much time to look fabulous in the air! When you replay this tape in your head after landing, the oxer because your buddy, nor your foe.

                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Linny View Post
                        I had a trainer once tell me to ride the front rail and let the horse worry about the back one. Lucky I was on a packer.
                        I don't know what being on a packer has to do with it. If you really think that your oxer-riding technique is what gets a horse over the back rail, you need a horse with more scope.


                        • #13
                          try to focus on the rhythm. not the jump.
                          you have to look at the jumps but try to not look at them so much. like with so much focus. if i think a course looks too big, i dont really look at the jumps. that way i dont really see how biiiiiiiig that oxer is. this helps alot. so your just riding to an obstacle, but not really focusing on how big it is.


                          • #14
                            TSWJB, great advice.

                            OP, I'd start with baby oxers and work your way up. Perhaps even include them at the end of a gymnastic where you're letting the horse do his job and you just focus on the rhythm. I'd also try imagining yourself doing it successfully.

                            Good luck-oxers are fun!!


                            • #15
                              Am I the only one who thinks oxers are easier than verticals? Sorry - no helpful advice from me because if anything is going to worry me it is a big old vertical - but now I'm thinking I'm odd.


                              • #16
                                me too!

                                Actually I am more of a roll-top-phobe but as every trainer has ever told me, the width actually makes it easier for the horse to jump since it gives them some sense of the depth of the jump.

                                Or was that all B.S. to get my chicken butt over the jump?

                                My theory is just sit quiet, grab some mane and let my talented and much smarted than me horse do his job!


                                • #17
                                  [QUOTE=trooper345;3910457]Actually I am more of a roll-top-phobe but as every trainer has ever told me, the width actually makes it easier for the horse to jump since it gives them some sense of the depth of the jump.

                                  Or was that all B.S. to get my chicken butt over the jump?


                                  Not BS at all! That is why I like oxers, roll tops, any jump with width much better than a vertical - especially as the height goes up!


                                  • #18
                                    i have oxer-phobia too... my old guy didn't have the scope, but had the heart. He'd bail me out of 2'9 BUT it was the most awkward hard to ride jump that scared me more than the oxer

                                    I'd get worried about effin up his stride and having to ride that horrible jump lol It only happened sporadically, but still scared me.

                                    We did eventually work out of it... when i got strong enough to ride that horrible jump
                                    Carol and Princess Dewi



                                    • #19
                                      It may be helpful for you to know that for your horse oxers are much easier to jump than verticals, this of course qualified by the size of the oxer.

                                      Any fence that has visible depth is more appealing for a horse to jump. It may seem logical that the less fence the easier it is for a horse to jump, which may be true, but it is not necessarily easier for them to gauge.

                                      An oxer has an inherent trajectory or bascule built into it, and consequently is an easier fence for a horse to gauge and ultimately to jump. Whether a horse gets short or long to an oxer the, especially at 3' - 4', they can gauge the flight pattern better than say a 4' vertical which really has variable trajectories.

                                      So perhaps if you look at the oxer as a fence your horse feels more comfortable with naturally, you can relax, and think of it as a fence on a course that your horse is glad to see and eager to jump.

                                      Also try to remember that the horse jumps you don't, so no matter how big the fence is once his feet leave the ground it is out of your control, and the horse probably would not leave the ground if he did not believe he could jump it. So sit back enjoy the short break, and enjoy the gift of temporary flight.


                                      • #20
                                        I agree with Seven-up's suggestion of trying a few low, wide oxers. In his clinics, Jimmy Wofford often uses low wide oxers both alone and in grids. I think he's using them to work on the adjustability of the horse but I don't see why they couldn't be used to help the rider's confidence too. Just make sure you have your trainer set a pole diagonally across the spread to fill it in a bit so your horse doesn't think it's a bounce. Once you've jumped a few of those 2' fences with a 5' spread, you'll see how easy width is for a horse!