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You can do anything you set your mind to... except the A/O jumpers...

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  • You can do anything you set your mind to... except the A/O jumpers...

    I'm writing under an alter because it's been hard enough to admit this to myself, let alone anyone I may know.

    After the last few days of horse showing, it finally hit me like a truck today that the goal I had set for myself and my horse (the A/Os) is never ever going to happen. It seems like we've been getting closer and closer to getting everything ironed out and it just keeps unravelling. My horse is wonderful and has the athletic ability to jump 5' easy, but is by no means an easy horse to ride. But I just keep slipping into anxiety attacks before I ride, the product of having a sand foundation for my jumper career from a bad and clueless trainer and a weak will to go somewhere else. My current trainer and previous trainer have both been wonderful in working with me and helping me with technical/mechanical things.

    I'm just so sad and frustrated that the A/A jumpers is probably where we will stay due to my own shortcomings as a rider. I don't know what exactly I want to hear (I've waffled between wanting others to join my pity party and wanting someone to tell me get over it/stop being a whiny brat and keep plowing through), but if you could share your stories of similar situations, maybe I'll become ok with this new idea. I just had all these lofty goals of A/O classics and maybe a mini-prix or blackjack competition and I think that's been half my problem - focusing on where I want to be/could have been instead of what actually is.

    Any words of wisdom?

  • #2
    Perhaps you can give yourself a little more time, before throwing in the towel?
    I know what anxiety can do to a rider in the show ring, maybe you're expecting too much too fast.
    Take a deep breath and think about what you need to do.
    It sounds like your horse is capable of doing the A/O jumpers, but your negative thinking is holding you back.
    Why are you anxious, is it the fear of failure, safety, or perhaps you want it so badly that you're putting undue pressure on yourself?
    How do you ride at home, are you as anxious?

    Comment


    • #3
      See a sports psychologist?
      Blog: The Continuing Adventures of an (ahem) Mature Re-Rider without a Trust Fund...but, finally, A Farm of Her Own!!

      Comment


      • #4
        I've been working on my confidence issues for 3+ years. It's gotten better, but not better enough.
        At home I'm ok, less pressure, but it's not like a night/day type of thing.. it's a constant source of anxiety. I don't think it's a safety issue, I definitely think it stems from a fear of failure type thing...

        Mortebella - I've been working with a psychologist since Oct. because as you can imagine, this definitely isn't just a riding thing

        Comment


        • #5
          You have to decide what is most important to you.
          If it's doing the a/o, there is probably a horse out there on which you can do it semi-successfully. There are plenty of people out there with a great horse who are just happy to complete the course. Or you can go to shows where the a/o is set so darn low that it's the same height as the adults at the bigger shows. You can go home and tell everyone you did the a/o and not mention that all the jumps were 3'9".
          But, if what is important to you is enjoying the horse you have, or riding better, then you need to focus on being as good as you can possibly be in the division for which you are most suitable. Being the constant winner in the a/a division says more than being a constant also-ran in the a/o division.
          There is absolutely no way you can do that though if you're constantly trying to prove something to yourself about being "good enough" to move up. You will consistantly choke instead of riding consistantly. When you've been winning for a long time, and beating everyone is becoming embarrassing, then you can consider moving up. Until then, focus on winning. This is a lifetime sport. You may not be ready at this time with this horse, but chances are you're not so old that it's "never going to happen".

          Comment


          • #6
            Have you thought about leasing a BTDT horse to build your confidence?

            No matter how athletic/great/amazing a horse is, until they have shown at that height, they are green at that height. The A/O jumps are nothing to sneeze at, and until you get a feel for that size of a jump in a competition you are also a green rider. The combination of a green horse and green rider is enough to make anyone have an anxiety attack.

            If there was any way to get a pro to ride your horse at that level, while at the same time leasing a horse that has successfully shown well beyond the A/Os (maybe something coming down off the Prixs), I bet you'd find yourself in a much better place in 6 months.

            It's definitely a stiff investment to go that route, but now would be the right time to do it. Give it 6 months to a year and you might find yourself feeling much more comfortable in the ring with YOUR horse.
            My adventures as a working rider

            theworkingrider.blogspot.com

            Comment


            • #7
              What’s the rush? This isnt your last year riding as a Jr, right? This is your goal as an adult.
              Could you spend a few months doing the Modifieds and then try doing the A/O's at smaller shows? There are plenty of small A shows that offer A/O jumper classics that aren’t set at the real height. That might help you settle into the division and get over the feeling of "OMG, I am riding in the A/O jumper classic". Maybe a year of smaller classics will help calm your nerves and get you used to the "feel" of the class without jumping the actual height and answering the questions of a real level 6 course.

              Doing the A/O's might take longer then you expected but that doesn’t mean you should give up...Also, try not to beat yourself up, if you dont believe in yourself then who will? Remember, you have gotten this far and that alone is an accomplishment

              Comment


              • #8
                I've gone back and forth myself with this very same issue. Except I'm stuck in the 3' jumpers and I will never be a REAL rider until I've competed at 3'6". That's what everyone says right? There shouldn't even be classes at the A shows under 3'6". Well the nagging voice in my head appears to agree with them. If you're like me then putting all of that pressure on yourself is NOT HELPING. Here's my story...

                I did the 3' jumpers fairly successfully for 2 years with my older horse who wasn't physically able to do the 3'6" (well at least not while having to make up for all the mistakes I would inevitably make). I sold him and got a 3'6" jumper who I didn't realize at the time was WAY TOO MUCH HORSE for me. She did the polite thing and carted my butt over a 3'9" oxer when I tried her, but then promptly ran away with me at 2'6" after a month at my barn when she realized I didn't have the skills to stop her!

                I ended up taking a summer off from showing and getting her some pro rides while I figured her out. The next summer we were ready to go...in the 3' jumpers...as usual. While I could school 3'6" at home I wasn't consistent enough to dare try it at a show. I beat myself up about it a lot until I realized I was ruining riding for myself. So what if I don't show 3'6"? Who am I trying to prove myself too? I was so stressed out about HAVING to jump 3'6" that I was literally making it impossible for me to attain.

                Now I'm not sure how you're going to feel about the ending of my story, but here it is. As it happens, things change in life. I made a career change that resulted in a pay cut and won't allow me to have the funds to show for several years. So now I've taken my "fancy" show horse that I bought to move up to the REAL jumpers and put her in a more low-key non-showing barn for the prime of her showing years.

                Will I ever show the A/A's? I don't know. All I do know is that at this time, with this horse, for whatever reason, it didn't work out. I do know that I love my horse dearly and I have learned so much from her that it cannot possibly have been time wasted on the road to my goal. I also know that we are incredibly fortunate to be participants of a sport where age is not necessarily a limiting factor and because of that I have many many years to make another run at it.

                Take a step back and evaluate why you want to do the A/Os, do you want it for yourself or to prove yourself to others? Are you enjoying your riding and your horse or does every ride end in frustration at your own short comings? We spend far too much money on this sport to be made miserable by it. Find a way to enjoy it again and everything else will fall into place.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The first step to getting through something is admitting it's there.
                  I have been going through something similar after I shattered my wrist 2 1/2 years ago.
                  Wasn't even jumping when I did it (but was galloping/foxhunting at a pretty good clip)
                  but after too many years riding problem horses and dirty stoppers it was the straw for the poor camel and totally shattered my confidence.
                  I used to show in the AA's and Childrens Jumpers in the late 80s early 90s and had never had an issue with jumping as far as fear or confidence, but for me to admit that I was actually afraid of a small vertical now was very very very hard, as i have always been a never let 'em see you sweat kind of person.
                  But at the risk of ruining my then coming 4 year old's confidence I had to face the dragon, admit my fear and start working through it, after I was healed.
                  Admit your fear or whatever you want to call it, stay where you are comfortable for awhile, til you are bored as someone else said, and winning consistently, and then it is time to move up. Start moving up at home and see how it goes, when you're ready, and then move up at shows.
                  You have nothing to prove.
                  Work through it at your own pace, enjoy your horse and have fun. Honestly, AA's are nothing to poopoo at. That is very respectable. And really this is all about having fun.
                  I think once you stop putting so much pressure on yourself the problem will begin to resolve itself. I know it has for me.

                  You CAN do anything you set you mind to. Anything worth having is worth working for, you can do it. Maybe not right now, or exactly when you want to, but you can do it.
                  Now get to work
                  "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ColorMeAlter View Post
                    I'm writing under an alter because it's been hard enough to admit this to myself, let alone anyone I may know.

                    After the last few days of horse showing, it finally hit me like a truck today that the goal I had set for myself and my horse (the A/Os) is never ever going to happen. It seems like we've been getting closer and closer to getting everything ironed out and it just keeps unravelling. My horse is wonderful and has the athletic ability to jump 5' easy, but is by no means an easy horse to ride. But I just keep slipping into anxiety attacks before I ride, the product of having a sand foundation for my jumper career from a bad and clueless trainer and a weak will to go somewhere else. My current trainer and previous trainer have both been wonderful in working with me and helping me with technical/mechanical things.

                    I'm just so sad and frustrated that the A/A jumpers is probably where we will stay due to my own shortcomings as a rider. I don't know what exactly I want to hear (I've waffled between wanting others to join my pity party and wanting someone to tell me get over it/stop being a whiny brat and keep plowing through), but if you could share your stories of similar situations, maybe I'll become ok with this new idea. I just had all these lofty goals of A/O classics and maybe a mini-prix or blackjack competition and I think that's been half my problem - focusing on where I want to be/could have been instead of what actually is.

                    Any words of wisdom?
                    OMG... I was totally in your shoes last year. I kept asking for flatwork lessons and asking HOW do I get better at this. Mostly I just heard "when you learn to use your leg, when you learn to do xyz" All the blame went on me and it was excruciating! I even burst into tears at a show out of frustration.

                    What changed you say???? Well... I found a dressage trainer who is helping me to ride correctly. Teaching me how to use my seat and my leg and how to control all 4 feet of my horse! It's fantastic. We school over fences in my dressage lessons and the difference in my riding and my horses is astounding, no one would believe it unless they'd been there with me all along. I can control his entire body, his track, his pace, the length & rhythm of his stride.... now the size of the jump is inconsequential. I've always known he was a good horse and had a ton of jump but I couldn't get it all together.

                    Don't give up, just look to make some changes!
                    Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      you know TR, that's funny! I did almost the same thing. In addition to my hunter trainer (who is great and has helped me tons) this summer I started also working with an eventing trainer. I've had several lessons with her, all flatwork and dressage stuff, not even much cantering really. But I have learned so much from her and the difference in both of us is amazing. It surprises me that after my lessons with her I am exhausted, but I learn so much. And it has really helped.
                      So sometimes you don't have to give up, you just have to take a turn in the road.
                      "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jaegermonster View Post
                        you know TR, that's funny! I did almost the same thing. In addition to my hunter trainer (who is great and has helped me tons) this summer I started also working with an eventing trainer. I've had several lessons with her, all flatwork and dressage stuff, not even much cantering really. But I have learned so much from her and the difference in both of us is amazing. It surprises me that after my lessons with her I am exhausted, but I learn so much. And it has really helped.
                        So sometimes you don't have to give up, you just have to take a turn in the road.

                        Ya, a turn in the road... you've got to enjoy the road your on, cause that's all you got.....

                        I'm sure if I didn't keep my horses at home, and wasn't such a no talent hack, my road would be different.... but I'm having fun! And ultimately, that's what matters, isn't it?
                        Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          You should read the book "The secrets and method of a great champion" by Michel Robert. It is fantastic, and deals with a lot of mental issues as well as riding/training issues. It has really changed the way I think about riding in competition and training!

                          Edited to add: I know reading a book can't "cure" mental issues, but it might help a little.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You know, there's nothing like a broke horse to make you confident in the jumper ring. Jaegermonster and Tidy-R are really onto something here.

                            Make sure your trainers' standards are high for your flat work. The goal is not to jump bigger faster, right? Make sure you all agree.

                            Learn to enjoy the flat work. You will feel like you can really ride, and perhaps get that bored "let's DO SOMETHING" attitude that will help you progress.

                            This was how it worked for me. I had lots of anxiety about moving up because I don't own an ambitious and athletic one. I was also always on my own, so I tend to feel responsible for making sure that my one horse never gets hurt. If he does, it will be all my fault and I'll be SOL.

                            But I had a great time moving up and was sure I had done the right thing when I went into came out of a round saying "Damn. I can put this horse anywhere I want, just like I can on the flat."

                            So make that your goal-- having a rideable horse in every ride, then at every level and every show. Sooner or later, you'll want to bring all that to the A/Os, too. And you know what? This is your horse, your hobby, your project, so its entirely your call.
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Ditto the above.

                              I had a similar issue as a kid after owning a very dirty stopper. Went from doing the 4ft jumpers to being afraid of a novice hunter class. Bottom line is that you have to change your self talk. Look into a few sports psychology books (many are specifically aimed at riders) and start implementing their visualization/self talk techniques. I thought it was kind of silly when my trainer first had me do it but it really worked. I did my first high jr jumper class at the end of that same year and although I still have anxiety issues I know how to compartementalize them now and ride as if I don't. Another thing that helped (and still helps with certain horses) was keeping a riding journal so that I could look back on it when I was feeling discouraged and see that we HAD made progress in the last week/month/x time despite a rough patch.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I wish I had your situation. I get nervous/anxious when I do the .8 meters and I've been at that level for about 5-6 years. If I'm ever ok with doing 3' or 3'6" classes I'll be doing cartwheels.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  And jump on Jane Savoie's bandwagon! She has some amazingly helpful stuff' on her website/newsletter/etc.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Wizard of Oz's View Post
                                    I wish I had your situation. I get nervous/anxious when I do the .8 meters and I've been at that level for about 5-6 years. If I'm ever ok with doing 3' or 3'6" classes I'll be doing cartwheels.
                                    HAHA!! i am so proud of my newly-mastered CANTER WORK with my tb!!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      How long have you been doing the 3'6" for? I did the 3'6" for four and a half years before moving up, and trust me, I definitely thought that I would never jump anything bigger than 3'6" after doing it for that long. By the time I did move up, I had a very solid foundation, so the bigger jumps were not much of a challenge. I ended up jumping some large international-level GPs.

                                      Focus on what you're doing now, and how you can become the winner in the A/As (and to be the consistent winner at that level, you have to be able to ride well-- it's not about running around as fast as possible, as I'm sure you know). Learn how to ride the technical bits of the course, and how to make the good turns. When you're cruising around the hardest courses at that level, start jumping a bit bigger at home. It's good to have ambitions and goals, but you also have to be able to focus on the task at hand, which is doing the best you can at what you're doing right now to establish a solid foundation that you can build upon later.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        It's good to have ambitions and goals, but you also have to be able to focus on the task at hand, which is doing the best you can at what you're doing right now to establish a solid foundation that you can build upon later.
                                        Agree.

                                        This is supposed to be FUN.

                                        If you're overfacing yourself, or worried, it's quite likely that it isn't fun. Remind yourself of that - your horse doesn't care if she never does the AO jumpers, she wants a sympathetic ride, proper care, and good food. Goals are fine, but if we focus too much on "achieving a BIG goal" sometimes we forget about whats in front of us, or we look at the big picture (AO jumpers) without focusing on the micro-goals (successfully and correctly jumping the 4' course in front of us).

                                        For me, I try to enjoy the "process" as much as I enjoy meeting a goal. I remind myself that I'm here to have fun, and my horse doesn't care when we get there, so I set some easily attainable goals and some hopeful goals each season. This way, I can mark some progress, but I don't beat myself up if I can't meet the ones that were a bit of a stretch anyway. And if I do get there, I'm really happy!
                                        ---
                                        They're small hearts.

                                        Comment

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