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Overcoming fear after fall in 1.25's

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  • Overcoming fear after fall in 1.25's

    Im a JR/AO rider and I had a fairly bad fall while competing during the spring. Now, I'm lucky if I can do a modified or low jr class without mentally having a meltdown. Any suggestions to overcome my fear and regain my confidence?

  • #2

    Seriously. You're just going to have to go back to the level where you feel safe and do that until you're bored and can't wait to do more. Then just do a bit more and so on.

    And you may have days when you aren't comfortable doing 2'. On those days, just decide not to torture yourself and don't jump. I had a meltdown this weekend doing 2'9". I was injured almost 4 years ago over a 2'6" jump and have moments when I am literally cantering down to a tiny 2'9" jump with my brain telling me this is the one we are going to crash on. Most days I can ignore the inner voice. When I can't, I stop.
    Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
    Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"


    • #3
      personally i would back down to a level that you are comfortable with and stay there until you feel your confidence come back. there is no shame dropping back levels. even if you have to jump in 3ft jumpers for awhile. eventually if you give yourself time to heal physically and mentally you most likely will forget the crash. it just takes time. some people more time and some people bounce back with less time.
      confidence to me is the most important thing of all and when you lose it, you need to regroup and develop your confidence again.
      good luck!


      • #4
        I had a non-serious but still terrifying crash through a one-stride in the 1.10m jumpers a year and a half ago. I understand why it happened, and how to prevent it from happening again, but now I have a mental block on that same horse when it comes to one strides off a short turn or bending line. I showed him in the 1.00m for a year and we just did the 1.10m again this last weekend and it went much much better.

        It is terrifying to realize that you are participating in a dangerous sport because most of the time it goes well. Just go back to what you are comfortable doing and maybe even try a different horse. Show at a couple levels lower until you're comfortable again. But that first time back into the same class after an accident will probably make you nervous but that's okay. Even if you pull up half way through and call it a day, that's still progress. Riding is dangerous but fun, don't do anything you're not confident doing.


        • #5
          Talk to a sports psychologist (who is familiar with equine pursuits).


          • #6
            Oh yes! And what a mental fart that is. I have the same issue. I went off when my hunter chipped in a line 2 yrs ago. Working through it. Love the journey!! It will pass.

            So greatful to get to ride!


            • #7
              You ain't riding if you don't come off every now and then--

              Yes it was a bigger height ---- but----
              whatever went wrong could have been done at any height .
              I know of a pro who got really hurt jumping a crossrail .

              Truth is the sport is about risk and it is verrrrrrrryyyyyy mental.

              That is what makes us strive to get better. You made or the horse made a mistake.
              Do you know why it went wrong??????? Cause if you don't then yes you should move down for your confidence. Otherwise take it easy on yourself and ride!!


              • #8
                Hang in there! The ideas yuo have gotten are spot on. Definitely talk to someone who can help you work through this and give yourself time.

                This type of situation goes differently for diffferent people....Take a deep breath and do what is right for you....but a little push on yourself might be needed.

                Sometimes you push and go to a show, or practice at home at a height that ends up not being pretty but you get it done without hurting yourself or your horse...but like has been said the mental nature of our sport is so vital and if you need it please talk to someone who can help you through that barrier.
                "All life is precious"
                Sophie Scholl


                • #9
                  I agree with what others have said, especially that it just takes time.

                  I have had many nasty falls, but one in particular, where my horse came off a jump in a field bucking like a bronco, and I went over his head and was knocked out/got a concussion, stayed with me for a couple years. Years! It literally took that long for me to get to the point where it didn't affect my riding -- long before that I THOUGHT I was okay, but I had become very defensive in my riding, especially when things didn't go as planned or the horse was being difficult. It took time for me to mentally understand how counterproductive this was, and physically let go of the habits created from the instinct to protect myself. So even after you start to feel okay, I would say continue to take it slow and occasionally go back to little stuff that you are very comfortable with (I found myself cringing even over crossrails and 2' after my fall).

                  I've had a number of falls since then, but last fall I had a particularly scary one at a jumper derby where I hit a log jump with my shoulder/back and then flipped/rotated and walked away thinking I was lucky to be alive. The sight of my damaged helmet and the bruise/bump/scratches on my head in spite of the helmet created a pit in my stomach (I skidded to a halt on my head). I've started jumping again in the ring on my tried and true gelding, nothing very big, and I don't feel nervous, but I think if you put me in front of one of the big coops that I didn't give a second thought to last year, I would be trying to calm myself down. Point being -- I'm not even going to bother to try anything at that height until I put in a good few months of weeny stuff Just be patient with yourself. When you're ready to move up, you will WANT to and be excited about it, not stressed. If you're stressed, drop back down.
                  Gentleman J - "Junior" - My been-there, done-that jumper

                  Send Your Love - "Serena" - Aug 10th 2009, Rest in Peace


                  • #10
                    Little stuff until you're bored, and then maybe a gymnastic line to work the height back up.

                    Once you're back to height in the gymnastic line, make a regular line (so you still have a known distance) starting with both jumps at the height you're still comfortable with, then slowly work up the second jump in the line to the height you want to be jumping.

                    I had an issue with in and outs for a while after a crazy schooling incident where there was someone else on the other side of the same jump TWICE in the same day when I was trying to jump it. After that, both my horse and I had serious confidence issues with two and one stride lines. Honestly, what worked best was bringing them back down to cavaletti poles! Then cavalettis with flowers, then a cavaletti to a crossrail- we built our way back up.

                    So my point is, confidence issues take TIME. Rushing or pressuring yourself too much can make things exponentially worse as you continue to associate jumping higher with stress/fear/etc.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sweetpea View Post
                      Yes it was a bigger height ---- but----
                      whatever went wrong could have been done at any height .
                      I know of a pro who got really hurt jumping a crossrail .

                      Truth is the sport is about risk and it is verrrrrrrryyyyyy mental.

                      So very true!

                      A lot of the pilot error mistakes I find myself making, are due to nerves. I don't jump at the OP's level but I would imagine that the same considerations apply.

                      We often forget how much our tension in our position influences my horse. When I look nervous, you can bet my horse feels it and sense my lack of confidence (just had this convo with a trainer after a crummy lesson last night). I am somewhat anxious Type A personality and I struggle to achieve the necessary relaxed and confident state you need to have to ride successfully.
                      Love my "Slow-T T B"
                      2010 OTTB, Dixie Union x Dash for Money


                      • #12
                        Well here's my story - adult re-rider who had multiple falls last year. I jump very small jumps - 2'6" the highest ever. Well ever since the falls, jumping anything, especially while cantering would make me panic. FINALLY had a breakthrough. There are three things that have helped enormously. First, Jane Savoie's book - "That Winning Feeling" - fantastic - full of great mental exercises which I understand is 90% of this sport.

                        http://www.amazon.com/That-Winning-F.../dp/1570760497 .

                        Second, watching a video of myself over and over and over again doing a nice course (well for me!). I'm finally getting to a point where I'm not panicked. And lastly, getting out of my head and really listening to my trainer although that's not always so easy. Good luck - this too shall pass!!


                        • #13
                          For me, it's riding in the rain. I'm well into my thirties, but had a bad crash when I was about 12 or 13 when my horse slipped on wet grass as I asked him to take a long distance to an oxer. To this day, I obsess over the weather going into every horse show, and if it rains I'm definitely off my game a bit -- because my inclination is ride very conservatively.

                          I can say that it gets better, though, and it is certainly a mental game -- that you're playing only with yourself. I try as hard as I can to focus on what I can control NOW, in the moment -- which, for me, getting a good pace so that I can find a solid distance and a safe jump.

                          The other posters have offered some good advice -- and I would definitely suggest consulting a sports psychologist for some additional mental "tools" if the fear keeps lingering. Good luck and hang in there!


                          • #14
                            Get bored and gymnastics

                            Jump little until you get to that feeling of "Really? This is it? C'mon!"

                            You don't know then that day will come, but it will. If you normally jump alone, then do that. If you only jump with your trainer, continue but make sure it's your decision to jack 'em up a bit. So long as it's your call, you'll get to that day when you horse feels responsive and broke, and the lower ones feel good.

                            If you are in more of a hurry, ask your trainer or a ground person to build a simple gymnastic. Their job is just to put the poles where you say, and to make the last element bigger in stages until you are back up to where you'd like.

                            For the gymnastics exercise to work, you need to concentrate on what you feel. If the fear is "trapped in your body" then it may help you to concentrate on your eq, feeling what it's like to stay centered, following and pretty during your horse's arc. All this is mentally very slow, as if you are replaying that feel/kinesthetic video tape in your mind after each fence. What you'll notice is that the time spent in the air over a larger fence feels good and very slow.

                            You might also put a smaller, inviting vertical on the opposite long side of your ring. Canter that one slowly to a quiet distance in between your trips through the gymnastic. Again, you are concentrating on the feel of a single fence-- the same slow effort, but just one for your body to compare to the feel of the bigger oxer in the gymnastic.

                            The trick is to put your body into a repetitive situation where it's systematically never a big deal.
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat


                            • #15
                              been there/still there

                              Originally posted by benedev View Post
                              Im a JR/AO rider and I had a fairly bad fall while competing during the spring. Now, I'm lucky if I can do a modified or low jr class without mentally having a meltdown. Any suggestions to overcome my fear and regain my confidence?
                              i know exactly what your going through! i had an awful fall last july/aug. was taken to the ER and was dealing with back problems all winter.

                              I was doing the JR./usef/maclay and all that, and after my fall i was scared and still am a bit.

                              it really just takes time, and yeah your gonna get pissed and keep thinking about where you were and how you should be there now. but really takeing the time out and doing the lower ones will be best.

                              TRUST me ive been jumping 2'9-3'3 all winter and my eye has gotten soooo much stronger, i jumper my first 3'6 course a few weeks ago and it was great.

                              it may suck now but going back down for a few months a just getting your game back is best

                              youll always have some fear but once you get into the groove of things again it can only go up from there


                              • #16
                                time, time, time. and a kind horse, if you have one available. is it the actual level of the fences, or is it showing in general, or the horse in general that makes you nervous?

                                if it's....

                                - the level of the fences: go do weenie jumpers. seriously. you're going to say "wow, this was too easy." and then you'll work your way back slowly and try pre prelim. again, you're probably going to say "this was nothing." eventually, you're going to get to the levels that are just short of what you fell at, and you're going to work with that for a while. you're probably going to do well but question yourself about moving back up. eventually, you're most likely going to say "self, it's time to man up" .. at least this is my mentality for when i am afraid of something. i just tell myself that i'd better prove myself if i cant convince myself of something, how will i convince anyone else, you know? i hope that makes sense

                                - if it's the competition itself: don't go to a show for a while. i don't know how often you show, but if you are used to going to a fair amount of shows, fairly often, then i think you will start to miss it rather soon. if you're used to going to bigger shows (i dont really see 1.25 meter classes at schooling shows that often, anyway) then go to a really little show when you are comfortable with it and show in something small. like i said above, you're probably going to get bored fast.

                                - if it's the HORSE: this is probably the toughest situation, because we can't always do much about it. if your barn or trainer owns a nice safe bombproof type jumper, ask to ride that horse for a while. maybe if your barn does a lot of lessons (if your horse is considered safe for advanced lesson kids) maybe you could make a little deal with your trainer to "trade" for a little while? (if she has a bombproof type who can jump around a decent sized course) have her use your horse for lessons and you can ride that horse for a little while until you are comfortable and build up enough confidence to ride your own horse again. this would require a strong relationship with the trainer or owner of the horse, of course, but that's not something uncommon. so, if you're close enough with the trainer, feel free to ask her/him about something to this extent. or, if you've got the money, try leasing a bombproof horse that you may be able to find locally for a month or two, or however long until you can build yoursel fback up. overall, month-to-month leases are not common, but they are fairly common with lesson horses.

                                good luck another option is to see a sports psychiatrist. finding one that caters to riders as well (which i have seen) would probably make the most sense, because you might find a non-rider-catering type to be 'unknowledgeable' (of course they would be in horse world) and that you would end up spending too much time trying to explain common horse knowledge to them rather than talking about how you really feel. at least i know that's how i'd probably feel if i had to talk to a non-rider. but as far as the riding part goes, i think it's important to go down to very small things until you get SO terribly bored that you CANNOT TAKE IT ANYMORE! haha this is usually when i know that i'm ready to move up

                                Blitz <3 & Leap of Faith <3


                                • #17
                                  I'm currently working on rebuilding my confidence (though at a much lower level ) I find it helps to start with ground poles during my flat work and working over them. Then I move up to cavellettis on their side. Then I move them up to their full height. Then I progress to flower boxes. Then smaller jumps and slowly raise the height. My trainer is great lugging all that stuff around for me Do I get bored with the smaller stuff? Sure but it helps build my confidence when the jumps go up and for now that's the way it helps me
                                  No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill
                                  For Hope, For Strength, For Life-Delta Gamma
                                  www.etsy.com/shop/joiedevivrecrafts Custom Wreaths and Other Decorations


                                  • #18
                                    Just stick to it, and since you fell during jumpers, maybe do some smaller eq./hunter classes or tiny puddle jumper classes to regain confidence. I've had three bad falls on the same pony the first time I didn't check her saddle pad and it had a thorn in it well she threw a fit reared up and flipped over, it took me three days to get back on, but three months to realize that not every horse will do this.
                                    On the same pony I was going around a 2'6" jumper course (Said pony is only 13.3hh was green over fences and I'm 5'7") well she came off the turn well and went to the jump well but I rolled my shoulders and we flipped over taking down the whole jump down with us, I hit the ground first and she fell on her face to avoid landing on me. Trainer had us both get up put me back on, asked us to walk then jump a cross rail and do the line again and my lesson was learned never ever roll your shoulders.
                                    Same pony and I were at a USPC games rally and were schooling the night before. We had picked up our flag and were headed to hand off to my captain when pony decides to ignore her brakes I pull right she decides to go left. I see her going down kick me feet free and we flip and roll well I pop up (flag still in my hand) give it to my captian who is sitting on her pony with her mouth open my pony has got up and enjoying a nice gallop around the ring. I caught her and hopped right back up. And we played games with brakes.
                                    The last one made me so scared when my horses started going forward. I couldn't ride right for weeks I was a darn good at western gaits though. It took me getting sent out to condition a OTTB that had been a turf horse to get over really letting my horses go forward. Sent out into a long cross country galloping lane and told to let him canter then let him go. Horse was sent from heaven did a beautiful collected canter before I relaxed then shot out from under me but came back as soon as I said whoa. (In a nice simple snaffle too)

                                    So take your time and try to remember why you started riding in the first place, take a break from the ring go for some trail rides and relax.