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Overcoming an irrational fear of oxers.

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  • Overcoming an irrational fear of oxers.

    As silly as this sounds, I have an extremely irrational fear of oxers that I can't seem to overcome. Big oxers, small oxers, wide oxers, narrow oxers, you name it, I don't like it.

    I have started riding again, just doing bi weekly lessons. It seems to be a trend that trainers think I am capable of doing more than I feel mentally capable of. The horse I take lessons on is a 20 something gelding who doesn't want to do it unless he has to. When I don't really want to jump the single oxer on the diagonal, he is fine not jumping it. However, this is not a rational thing and whether or not I actually want to jump the fence, it's obviously not a good thing to allow the horse to keep stopping.

    I come to the diagonal oxer, on the right lead. About 5 strides out I panic and see no distance. I either end up getting a terrible spot or the horse stops, which in the end is probably the best choice as opposed to crashing through something. I have ridden on and off for about 10 years; I'm just not sure how to get over this.

    Any suggestions?

  • #2
    Can you set up the smallest oxer imaginable? Walk over if yourself, if you can walk it, he can jump it.

    Here's my first oxer, and my horses first oxer.

    http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d7...nMe/ad-1-1.jpg
    To be loved by a horse, or by any animal, should fill us with awe-
    for we have not deserved it.
    Marion Garretty

    Comment


    • #3
      In the past year, I overcame a completely irrational fear of gates. The kind you jump, not the kind you go in/out of. Long story how I got there, but... the good news is that I've gotten over it. This is what worked for *me* -- A packer to take lessons on. I needed a horse that did not know the meaning of the word refuse -- who would jump anything from anywhere, whether I was nervous, confident, overrode, underrode, got my distance, was off on my distance, whatever. I just needed a horse that would GO OVER the fence no matter what. I also needed a trainer that I trusted completely not to overface me.

      It was such a mind game for ME that I would completely and totally psych myself out. If I had a horse that I really needed to convince to jump, or even a horse that needed me to show him I really wanted to jump the jump, I don't think I'd have come this far. I needed to just actually physically get over that jump. Then I needed to do it about 1,000 more times in dozens of lessons. It took a long time and I still sort of "think" more about the gates than the other jumps in the ring -- but I can ride them now.

      I would suggest trying to find a horse who doesn't need quite so much encouragement to get over the jump and then start SMALL. Build up from there. BTW, I don't mean to imply you're schoolie isn't great. I think many horses will take advantage of an "out" when they see it. I just think that maybe getting on a quiet horse who will pretty much literally jump anything from anywhere may help you get your confidence back over oxers. At least, that's what helped me get over gates.

      And PS, I loved the schoolie who helped me overcome my fear so much, I bought him. So be careful.


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      • #4
        What do people think of my approach? Works for me: look at the top rail on the approach, and pretend the rest of the oxer isn't there. But my horse likes to get close anyway.
        Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.

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        • #5
          Riding a more reliable horse will probably help you tons!! I used to ride a horse who refused oxers, and I as well got very anxious about jumping them. I have since mostly gotten over it- sometimes I psyche myself out, but I always overcome it. I know I can trust the horse I am riding, and that makes a world of difference for me!
          *We tolerate behaviors in human beings that would horrify us if we saw them in a horse.*
          R.I.P El Salvador*
          [COLOR="SlateGray"]

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          • #6
            Ride to the first rail. Do not stare at the back rail of the oxer!!!!!

            Comment


            • #7
              This is so interesting! I was always told to ride to the back rail!!! Wrong???

              Edited to add, I ride hunters and was always told, get close to the oxers, ok to leave a gap at the verticals.
              Last edited by ToTheNines; Aug. 11, 2009, 02:22 PM.
              Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.

              Comment


              • #8
                I have the exact same problem. But, I have learned to just focus on the front rail and ignore the rest. Easier said than done of course, but with some creative squinting of the eyes, it's possible. Also, when the front rail gets a little too high for my comfort level, I ride to the ground line and pretend that there isn't anything above it.
                "Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
                -George Morris

                Comment


                • #9
                  I used to have the exact same problem when I switched to the jumpers. Those big square oxers were quite intimidating compared to the nice ramped ones in the hunter ring. After crashing through a couple jumps me and my horse both went through a long phase like what you're going through.

                  Talk to your instructer about it, and make sure she understands that you want to do things slowly. what worked for me is to just keep jumping oxers, over and over again. Start with them in a gymnastics line, like a simple trot into a verticle and one stride to a tiny oxer, and do this over and over again until you feel comfortable. another one is to do oxers out of a line, just a simple verticle in canter out in six to the oxer, which gives you a count to focus on so the distance isn't as much of an issue. Then when that is alright try just a nine foot rail in front of an oxer, then you can ride to the rail and wait for the jump, that way when you're going to it you don't feel like you freeze up as much looking for a distance. Don't worry, it takes a lot of time and patience but it's an amazing feeling once you get it, good luck!
                  Experience is the worst teacher; it gives the test before presenting the lesson.

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                  • #10
                    Every time I've had a confidence problem, particularly with jumping, a super reliable, super good-natured packer-type horse has been the best way to get me out of it. A horse who will say, "That's okay, silly human. You just sit there, and I'll handle this. See? That wasn't so bad!"

                    If you're having confidence issues, riding a horse who "doesn't want to do it unless he has to" is not the best way to get your jumping mojo back. That kind of horse is great for teaching riders not to just be passengers, and is great for pointing out riding flaws you never knew you had, but is not a real confidence-builder!

                    Talk to your trainer, see if you can be put on an easier jumper for a few lessons

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      oxer fear

                      First off make sure your with a trainer that is willing to help you get over this fear with out being too pushy about it.
                      As a professional i've had a young adult in this same scenario come to ride for me. We took a lot of time just doing single jumps, lots of cross rails, and some fun trustbuilding tasks like cantering poles and small jumps with out reins.
                      we graduated to gymnastics (no oxers) with and with out reins through a shute, and then we added the oxer into a gymnastic where striding and distance were not an issue.
                      This helped her feel comfortable and confident with the oxer. We eventually set up a gymnastic and added a line after it with an oxer and moved on to jumping a single oxer in a course.
                      It was a long process and I think two of THE MOST important parts of helping you overcome this fear is a horse that is VERY honest and will not stop, and a trainer that is not only going to be patient and understanding, but one that you trust completely.
                      If you don't trust the horse under you and you don't trust the trainer trying to work through it with you, it will be very difficult to overcome.
                      Best of luck to you!!
                      Remember it has to be fun, or it's really not worth it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        probably not helpful, but I just make myself think that a jump's a jump- gate, oxer, crossrail, whatever. Ride it the way you need to ride it but tell your fear that its all the same
                        "My shopping list is getting long but I will add the marshmallows right below the napalm." -Weighaton

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                        • #13
                          First off...its not irrational to be scared of something Get that outta your head and just embrace the fact that you're scared of the oxer.

                          Second....if thats the only horse you have to ride, then make sure you and trainer are on the same page. I would START by doing trot poles to a small cross rail. Then add in SUPER CLOSE behind the cross rail...a small vertical... So you have a ramped oxer thats only like 6" wide.

                          Basically increase this until you get to a bothered height. Then go BACK one height.

                          Then really, just have your trainer set up REALLY simple grids that are nearly impossible for you to miss a distance in. Just have super tiny baby oxers. Do them until you don't even think about it. Each time you come back to this exercise, make them a little bigger.

                          The jist of it is,,,,make it so basic and just work up as your mind clears.

                          Are you ok with walls? To me those are oxers because they're wide. But if walls don't bother you, maybe start with those?

                          Good luck! Just stick with it and you'll be ok!
                          Kelli
                          Horse Drawings!

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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Verticals don't bother me in the least, no matter what the height is or what's underneath it. If the oxer is the in part of a line, I have a bit of difficulty with it, but not nearly as much as with a single oxer because there is something else to focus on.

                            I am riding with a fairly new trainer and I have told her about my fear of oxers a few times, but she keeps forgetting. After the 3rd or 4th stop, she moved the back rail in so it was hardly wider than the gate that was the front part of the oxer.

                            As far as being able to ride other horses in lessons, I think that't the plan for the next lesson. However, it may not always be possible since one is a sale horse and the other is a client's horse. Hopefully I can ride a horse other than the normal schoolie a few times to get my confidence back.

                            Thank you everyone for the suggestions.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have a couple of adult students with irrational fear of oxers. I set up a cross rail oxer (two cross rails as close together as possible) at about 18" and have them trot over it until they are comfortable, then we move up to cantering it. The other thing I have done in the past is build a plain vertical right next to the oxer. The student can practice making the turn and finding the distance to the vertical first, and then do virtually the same ride to the oxer next to it.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Your fear is not irrational at all! Your horse doesn't want to do it unless he has to, and has stopped. That is a justifiable fear! Is is based on previous bad experiences. You have good instincts. It's highly likely if you continue with this particular horse, you are eventually going to fall off. I would DEFINITELY find another horse to ride. Unless you are a very experienced rider and are retraining a horse or working on a very specific behavioral problem, you shouldn't be having to convince the horse to jump every time. This is not going to help you become a better rider.

                                Others also said, but she says it best:


                                Originally posted by Cita View Post
                                Every time I've had a confidence problem, particularly with jumping, a super reliable, super good-natured packer-type horse has been the best way to get me out of it. A horse who will say, "That's okay, silly human. You just sit there, and I'll handle this. See? That wasn't so bad!"
                                Forget about jumping smaller jumps, gymnastics or whatever, first get on a horse that wants to get you to the other side!
                                ******
                                "A good horse and a good rider are only so in mutual trust."
                                -H.M.E.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by JinxyFish313 View Post
                                  I have a couple of adult students with irrational fear of oxers. I set up a cross rail oxer (two cross rails as close together as possible) at about 18" and have them trot over it until they are comfortable, then we move up to cantering it. The other thing I have done in the past is build a plain vertical right next to the oxer. The student can practice making the turn and finding the distance to the vertical first, and then do virtually the same ride to the oxer next to it.
                                  I really like this suggestion! I will see if my trainer will let me shuffle some fences around before my next lesson.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Horseymama View Post
                                    Your fear is not irrational at all! Your horse doesn't want to do it unless he has to, and has stopped. That is a justifiable fear! Is is based on previous bad experiences. You have good instincts. It's highly likely if you continue with this particular horse, you are eventually going to fall off. I would DEFINITELY find another horse to ride. Unless you are a very experienced rider and are retraining a horse or working on a very specific behavioral problem, you shouldn't be having to convince the horse to jump every time. This is not going to help you become a better rider.

                                    Others also said, but she says it best:




                                    Forget about jumping smaller jumps, gymnastics or whatever, first get on a horse that wants to get you to the other side!

                                    You are all so right! Unfortunately, I am at a bit of a disadvantage since I only ride the schoolies. I'm hoping that I get to ride the sale horse for a bit. He is a little green, but will jump from anywhere and be totally fine with it.

                                    I will keep you updated on my fear.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      I got to hack the horse I take lessons on today. I built myself a speed bump oxer and found distances to it both ways. It was essentially a glorified crossrail.

                                      Thanks again for all the suggestions!

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