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Dream to Do the Jumpers But I'm Mentally Impaired

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  • Dream to Do the Jumpers But I'm Mentally Impaired

    Hello fellow COTHers :] I joined here a bit ago but couldn't figure out for the life of me how to start a thread! (Yes, yes, technically challenged is an understatement!) So in the meantime, I resorted to hard-core lurking.

    I'm not sure if this quite qualifies to be here since I am not legitimately physically impaired but I am mentally impaired. I was born with a substantial portion of my brain being inactive. My memory, ability to do math and other related things, as well as not being able to process information via hearing as opposed to visuals, has been pretty compromised. I don't want to give you the long drawn out version of what's it's been like. No one quite wants to hear that! But I will say that I have been coping to the best of my abilities and have retrained the writing portion of my brain to do math. Which, in all honesty, is pretty incredible.

    One thing that has been extremely discouraging though is my extremely hard time in memorizing a course of jumps that is more than 4. It does help to give the jumps names, like "cornsnake" "october jump" "electric 1", etc. Stuff that probably wouldn't make sense to anyone but me. Even with this, it is still really hard to memorize the patterns! My parents, bless them, have been very supportive throughout this. After an extensive search, we found an amazing horse (just to be clear, I am an experienced horse owner!) who is very patient, forgiving and a good schoolmaster. I was looking for something that could do his job very well so I could focus on memorizing the jumps and then maybe we could move up to the higher levels of jumpers together :]

    Please do not tell me to do hunters because it has less jumps. My previous trainer called mentally retarded, tried to convince my parents I had no future except for showing in the hunters. So while I am all for anyone else who wants to do hunters, I have no inclination to follow that path.

    I guess my reason for posting this is that I was wondering: are there any other people out there that have this sort of situation? Do you have any tips for memorizing the jumps? Any confidence building exercises? I really am determined to make 2013 be my year and surround myself with supportive people. The past years have been really degrading and even with my impairment, I just have to believe that doing the jumpers is possible.
    "This is a strange, new, and different world we are stepping into. In order to keep walking forward, we must learn to cope. And not only cope, but thrive. So take big, bold steps." - Myself

  • #2
    Can you memorize a short poem? Maybe you could have a course on paper and turn the pattern into a poem then when you walk the course you could recite the poem (or even a silly song) to get you through the course.

    Patience and Consistency are Your Friends


    • #3
      What works for me (most of the time anyway) is drawing a map of the course on paper after I walk it and then visualizing it over and over. I will also "draw" the course in the air with my finger while I'm on my horse waiting to go in. You will probably just have to experiment to find out what helps you-- try not to get discouraged because this is a problem for plenty of people.

      I'm pretty dyslexic and I can't tell you how many times I have screwed up-- it's worse in lessons when my trainer tells me the course, and sometimes I have to repeat it back to her 3-4 times and still go left instead of right or jump the green rails instead of the green ladder! Worse yet, I sometimes have lessons with my mom when we have horses at the same level, and she is just as bad as I am. At least at events the jumps are numbered.


      • #4
        Courses have gotten harder for me to remember as I've gotten older. I try to memorize any elements that go together as an element (so rather than fence 4 to fence 5 as a bending 8, I just call it "the bending 8). I also try to remember turns instead of jumps since that often puts you in the range of the fence and you can look for numbers from there.

        At big shows I take a picture of the course with my phone in the morning and then spend the whole day visualizing it and looking at my phone when I need to refresh my memory. I also watch as many horses I can possibly watch doing the same course (and pay attention to elements that are in my course if they're doing a different one). And then I'll head out to walk the course many classes before mine, so that it helps cement it in my mind. You have to pay attention to what they might move (and it doesn't usually take the place of doing the actual course walk at the correct time), but it can help you picture the course through the rest of the time you have to wait.

        But if I had to pick one thing, I would say that the cell phone trick has been my lifesaver for the last few years.
        Flying F Sport Horses
        Horses in the NW


        • #5
          I feel your pain! I have mild dyslexia, and I have a heck of a time retaining things that are said verbally to me, and not drawn etc. For me, I have to really look at the pattern – make the course into a winding shape on the paper. Walk it as many times as I can (if that is possible) – watch as many horses as I can go through the course. When I am walking the course, I try to really remember which way I am going to be looking after each jump.

          That said – I would still end up off course from time to time – which is a total bum out!

          In the end, I have done more eventing (back when they were three days, only ONE course to remember per day!) than jumpers.

          Flash cards always helped me a lot through college – maybe make a quick flash card for each jump – then put them in order in your stack and try to work through memorizing them that way? (Yellow oxer / green vertical / blue in and out.. etc?)
          APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


          • #6
            Can you learn the course in sets of three or four jumps connected like the numbers in a phone number? I have no experience with your type of disability but I applaud you.
            Surrounding yourself with positive, encouraging people is a smart thing to do.

            You go girl!
            My mom didn't raise no jellybean salesman!


            • #7
              Ditto the suggestions above.

              Another thing is to go to shows with an experienced course designer. I find that the lower level shows tend to have jumper courses that are a series of unrelated singles with a few combinations thrown in. Those courses often don't make a lot of sense, or have a 'flow', and I find it's a lot harder to memorize where you are going. It's easier to ride a course where one fence seems to follow from another. A good course designer can make a big difference.

              Another thing that might be helpful is to attend a course designer clinic or read up on course design. If you can verbally make sense of a course, it might help you to ride it.

              Good luck!


              • #8
                I have the same problem, and it extends to memorizing dressage tests as well. I commented to someone on that difficulty, and she said, "Well, you really only need to memorize half of it, since the second half is a mirror of the first". I had never noticed that! And, it's discouraging to watch a 12 yr old on an ancient gelding ride the training level test from memory, while I, a middle aged novice, can not.

                I'm glad to know I'm not alone, though, and appreciate all the good suggestions which others have found helpful.
                It's never too late to have a happy childhood.


                • Original Poster

                  I am so excited to see all of these helpful responses!

                  Every single one of you gave incredibly helpful responses. I never thought of taking a picture of it on my phone and trying to memorize it! Flash cards sounds like a very intriguing idea. So would it be like 1. "green jump" 2. "bending line" 3. "yellow oxer"? Like that?

                  Sometimes I say things in a "head shoulders knees and toes" sing songy voice. Especially to remember vocabulary for class!

                  I can hardly remember your screen names to thank each of you but if you read this, I really appreciate all of your advice! I am also very glad to know that I am not alone.

                  I am curious as to how I would memorize the course jumps in sets of threes and then connect the dots. Could you elaborate on that a bit more?

                  I am attending my first jumper show with my horse in February. I do believe it is a schooling show although for me, it still feels really awesome! Assuming all goes well, my trainer has high hopes that I will be able to move up to the big A shows this summer. I was wondering, in terms of course design, how do the courses differ from A & AA shows to schooling shows? Is there really a flow?

                  Currently, to keep my mind in practice (at school they only really do hunters. They do jumpers but basically if you're like me, there's not much hope!) I have a friend make up a course and then I spend about 30 minutes trying to memorize it and then recite it at the end of the day. Including jump off course. How do you remember jump off courses on top of your regular course?

                  Thank you for all your kind responses and I'm sorry for all the questions!

                  P.S. I have shown jumpers once before, with my previously mentioned old trainer. She basically abandoned me and didn't come back until it was ribbon placement time. Some really nice trainers that I didn't even know helped me memorize my courses!
                  "This is a strange, new, and different world we are stepping into. In order to keep walking forward, we must learn to cope. And not only cope, but thrive. So take big, bold steps." - Myself


                  • #10
                    This going to sound a little silly but maybe try relate the course to something you know well.

                    For example picture your kitchen at home. The first line is from the cupboard where the glasses are to the dishwasher . Then picture the jumps as actually being there.
                    Or make up a story about the jumps or relate them to a song.
                    Visualizing riding the course in your head might help too.
                    I'm pretty dyslexic and can never remember a course from looking at the paper or having someone tell it too me. I have to ride it in my mind and then give the jumps names (Atlantis to Ancient Greece (i.e. green and blue oxer to jump with white pillars or something silly like that).

                    The basic idea is to try to use a different type of memory that might work a bit better to write the course into your brain to make up for the type that maybe does work very well .

                    I think you will find a way to make this work. It sounds like you've overcome a lot already and are obviously intelligent and capable regardless of any disability.


                    • #11
                      Maybe memorizing a whole path rather than individual jumps will work.

                      Perhaps three jumps form a "half circle" at one end, or maybe there are found elated jumps on a path that looks like a "5". Try to draw the course to scale and make "constellations." If you can see six of the jumps as one constellation, maybe you only need to learn a couple constellations.
                      The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                      Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                      The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


                      • #12
                        Engage as many sensory modalities as you can. Walk the course, take a picture with your phone, find a quiet spot where you can "ride" the course on foot, looking at your phone and calling out the fences as you "jump" them ("Green vertical..... rollback to blue oxer..."). You can even build in your strategy in these practice rides "sit up, package the canter...".. Honestly, the only way I remember dressage tests is to practice them in my family room! (My family has learned to ignore me as I "canter" 20m circles, muttering to myself.)

                        Congrats to you for overcoming these obstacles!! I'm horrible at remembering courses and I don't have a physical impairment to blame it on!
                        I don't mind if you call me a snowflake, 'cause baby, I know a blizzard is coming.


                        • #13
                          How well do you think on the fly while riding? One of the best exercises a trainer did for me is she would call out a course (at home) while I was riding it. So she would tell me the first jump, then just before that jump the second, then just before that the third. After a couple, she wouldn't call the next fence and I would have to choose and go to an appropriate "next jump."

                          What this helped me do was land from a fence and think "what's the logical next step?" It made me think about things like: what direction we should turn, what jumps we've already jumped, and where ground lines or numbers are. This is no substitute for memorizing your courses, but it could help you if you get in a sticky situation and blank on course. I know it's saved me more than once.

                          I know you're against hunters, but I still have to throw this out there: if you're really having a hard time memorizing courses even with the advice here, I wouldn't discount a few schooling shows in the hunter or eq (a little more challenging and closer to jumpers course-wise) rings. Their courses tend to be shorter, simpler, and you don't have a jump off to memorize. This will also allow you to get used to memorizing courses in the pressure of a show environment. You can absolutely learn to memorize jumper courses, and I'm not saying give that up by any means, but if you're really struggling this might be a way to help you get to your end goal better and faster. (Like running a 10K before you run a marathon.)
                          Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique


                          • #14
                            I use color pens and draw the course out. I do the same and name the fences usualy by color or element. Like blue rail to the coop to the two fence line.As long as it makes sense to you that is all that matters. I will walk a course several times including the jump off. Once I think I have it down I will go check on my horse then come back and see if I remember it. Yes I am one of those people who get to the show really early.


                            • #15
                              Something that some of my dressage friends do is lay a bed sheet on the ground as your "arena" and then they dance around on the sheet performing their dressage movements. I'm sure you could put rulers or pencils on the ground as the jumps and you can "jump" your course on the sheet!


                              • #16
                                I second what Alpha App said. I had to memorize a pattern for an equitation class once. My instructor had me "trot" and "canter" the pattern in the barn aisle. I felt a little bit silly doing it, but it really did help me to remember it better.

                                Just have confidence in yourself! And even if you mess up, who cares?! There's always next time!
                                http://www.youtube.com/user/NBChoice http://nbchoice.blogspot.com/
                                The New Banner's Choice- 1994 ASB Mare
                                Dennis The Menace Too- 1999 ASB Gelding
                                Dreamacres Sublime- 2008 ASB Gelding


                                • #17
                                  Not sure if anyone said this, but in addition to all the great tips people have said what about having your trainer yell out the jumps? This might only be feasible at smaller shows where its less frowned upon but might help you ease into the longer courses.

                                  I have a TERRIBLE short term memory for patterns (I'm ADHD) so when I started doing the jumpers I was worried about remembering courses. Even when I knew I knew it, I'd get so nervous about forgetting that I would panic and my mind would go blank. Knowing my trainer was yelling it out (in and out! skinny! swedish!) as a last resort made me less nervous and more able to remember where I was going.


                                  • #18
                                    It sounds like you've gotten good suggestions. I find walking the course multiple times really helps me. Good luck!


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by ashjumper442 View Post
                                      Every single one of you gave incredibly helpful responses. I never thought of taking a picture of it on my phone and trying to memorize it! Flash cards sounds like a very intriguing idea. So would it be like 1. "green jump" 2. "bending line" 3. "yellow oxer"? Like that?
                                      For the flash card (seriously a life saver for me in college) I was thinking that you could make a card for each jump in the ring (do this in the morning!) - maybe a little drawing, with (or just) a simple description “Red and white vertical,” "blue bending line" or “Brown gate” and then stack the cards in the order which you will jump them. Read through the cards several times to try and remember their order – yellow vertical, red oxer, green gate…. Sign song-y is great! Helps me as well.

                                      Flip the first card – Okay, first fence, yellow vertical – then try to remember what is next, red oxer? Flip the card and see if you are right – if not, start over!

                                      I haven’t used this method for memorizing courses – but it worked well for me when I had to do things like memorize the names and orders of the various geologic periods!

                                      I also used to draw the course in the sand and trace over it with my finger. Whoever said to try to engage all of your senses was right.

                                      Good luck, and good on you for keeping positive in the face of adversity!
                                      APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                                      • #20
                                        I have often wondered how anyone can remember jump courses...I know that I would fail.
                                        Forgive my ignorance...I am just a dressage person...is it against the rules to request the jumps be numbered?