Getting over fear of jumping - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 06-04-2014, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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Getting over fear of jumping

While I ride at a hunter/jumper barn for the past six to eight months I have been focusing on dressage. I love it. However I want to improve my skills over fences and since I successfully competed in the dressage show I had been prepping for its time to move on to hunt shows.
I am not a confident jumper. I'm only jumping 2 ft but I get very nervous. I ride a horse that I love but she isn't the most trustworthy and will take advantage of an un confident rider (read: me).
Does anyone have any tips for me? I don't want to be scared every time I see a course. Thanks. :)
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post #2 of 10 Old 06-04-2014, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by TheQuietGirl View Post
While I ride at a hunter/jumper barn for the past six to eight months I have been focusing on dressage. I love it. However I want to improve my skills over fences and since I successfully competed in the dressage show I had been prepping for its time to move on to hunt shows.
I am not a confident jumper. I'm only jumping 2 ft but I get very nervous. I ride a horse that I love but she isn't the most trustworthy and will take advantage of an un confident rider (read: me).
Does anyone have any tips for me? I don't want to be scared every time I see a course. Thanks. :)
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would you feel more confident jumping a cross rail course? I feel like if you're not confident you need to back up and get confident at the steps right before where you are. So like, when I fell for instance I was not confident over the jump (as it's when I fell!) so I started over poles and we very baby stepped them up to a small cross rail. Did that for a bit.. but the point is find where you ARE confident and then slowly move towards the new goal.

Another alternative might be to build your confidence on a more trustworthy horse who won't take advantage of you while you're building yourself up.

Although all that dressage work must have gotten you stronger over jumps... I think it's such an important investment to make, rather than just rushing to jump!

Re: any of my advice - Happy to give my two cents, but not an expert... just a girl who loves riding horses!
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post #3 of 10 Old 06-04-2014, 05:10 PM
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Agreed with Gossalyn. Jumping 2" is big if it's not what you're comfortable with. A crossbar can be big if it's not what you're comfortable with. Go back to a pole on the ground if you need to and just work on your position over it. Then build it up to a crossbar and then when you're comfortable with that make it 18 in. Add lines, singles, etc. Slowly and surely until you have your confidence back. It's important to go back and be comfortable, but it's also important to make yourself just a little uncomfortable too so you're always stretching yourself. The key is to know how much is too much. And you've got to do this on a horse that will build your confidence, not take it away. If this isn't the horse that will do that ask to ride a different horse.
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post #4 of 10 Old 06-07-2014, 05:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice. :)
I like the idea of going back to the basics. Not only for confidence, but to work on my equitation too. It's have for me to concentrate on my position when Im worried about just making it through my course. And with my poor position comes my poor balance.
I can't switch horses, one because 98% of our screw ups are caused by me and two, because there is no one else for me to ride.
I actually have a show tomorrow and unfortunately during our show prep and final practice I fell twice. It's the first time I've fallen in about two and a half years so it was bound to happen some time, this was just every in convenient :/ . The first time I fell it was because I lost my stirrup after a line and then didn't pick it up in time before the next jump. I wasnt going to quit since I had jumped without stirrups before but I didn't put enough weight in my free leg and when my mare took a really big, nice jump I wasn't ready and flew off a stride after.
I got back on and ran the course again and had issues with that same jump. Did it again and I fell off landing on my butt. At this point I was freaking my mare out (who was trying her best but was giving hesitant jumps as she worried about me popping off) so my friend who is a far better and more experienced jumper hopped on to get her over before I screwed up all the training the mare went through. In the end I got on again and after my instructor told me to stop trying to sit like a hunter and sit deep and back like in dressage did I finish the course.
So I'm happy, because I did it. However if I have to ride like that I certainly won't do well in my equitation classes. Oh well.
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post #5 of 10 Old 06-09-2014, 01:12 PM
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aw man.. I had that - fell off after a jump, and then got back on like a champ only to fall again. (it's been my only fall thus far... and I still hate counting it as "two falls". :))

Hope your show went good! Probably a successful show for you having just fallen is just getting through it... I can't imagine showing after a fall, you need a little to regroup!

If you're loosing your stirrup after a jump, definitely flat and pole work should help, working on heels down, two point etc. but yeah, don't let anyone ever pressure to you do more when Jumping is ALL flat work. I've heard that a lot of times. And the better you are at flat, the better you are at jumping. I've been riding almost 2 years and my instructor still has me practice jumping over a slightly raise pole. I practice everything I need to and it's just as fun for me. (The horse jumps the slightly raised poles at times too - particularly when cantering - so I get a little kick out of that. :))

I CAN do 2 feet. I have before, a course of two feet jumps. But I didn't NEED to. I could tell I was stepping up the risk factor. And when I could practice at a smaller level and still get everything I needed out of it, it just seemed like a no-brainer.

And you know what? Just because my friend is still doing those 2 feet courses doesn't mean she's a better rider than me necessarily.. I'm perfecting my equitation and she's more just having fun. My mentality Slow & Steady (and correctly) wins the race...! (and falls less!!)

Re: any of my advice - Happy to give my two cents, but not an expert... just a girl who loves riding horses!
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post #6 of 10 Old 06-09-2014, 01:16 PM
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Baby steps :)

It took me two years to be able to jump higher than 2' and two more years to break the 3' mark. My confidence had taken some nasty hits because I fell every time I tried to up the height for quite a long time. 2' is huge if you're nervous. I still won't jump horses I don't know higher than about that, and I've jumped nearly 4' on a horse I trusted!

Go back to crossrails if you feel like you aren't ready for 2'. If that still makes you really nervous, then go back to raised trotting poles. I had a student who only wanted to jump but didn't want to jump more than 18" in the two and a half years she rode my showjumping schoolmaster. And that's okay. I occasionally pushed her to try a jump that was just a couple of inches bigger but never made her do it more than once if she didn't want to. When Monty had to retire she was just building herself up to go up to the slightly bigger height as a standard thing, but I don't have a horse she can jump on anymore [my young mare hasn't been started over fences yet and is too sensitive for her anyway].

Everybody progresses at their own speed. When I was 14 I met a 12 year old girl who was competing at national level showjumping. I was only jumping 2'. I felt incredibly inferior! I'm nearly 20 now and going back to the very basics because I haven't jumped at all in over a year and I need to make sure I'm solid before I start asking my young mare tricky questions. She and I are going to work up very slowly together - she probably won't be jumping higher than 18" for another year yet!

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post #7 of 10 Old 06-09-2014, 10:15 PM Thread Starter
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So my show was yesterday and it was eventful to say the least. Since this is my mare's first show everyone at my barn was just hoping that she wouldn't flip out. We brought her there early when it was too busy and she was doing pretty well. When it came time for schooling my friends rode her first to school for their classes on her as theirs were earlier (also bc I was silently panicking about jumping and didn't want to do first). She was being pretty bad - ditching, couple sliding stops, and she clipped whatever she went over. At this point I was watching and was about ready to vomit as I was pretty positive that if I had been the one on I'd be eating dirt already. Eventually she went over a few jumps and we figured that's as good as she was going to get.
My friends classes began and I have no idea why but she became a different horse. She took every fence and did so absolutely beautifully and she actually had her ears pricked up for once. It was nice to she her have lots of fun. After being at the show for about 8 hours there was another schooling break and I got to ride for the first time that day. I was petrified. I sucked it up the best I could and did what my instructor told me to do in the busy schooling ring. My mare took everything although she was a bit more hesitant probably bc she could feel my heart about to burst. I was messy as usual and after a sloppy line I fell forward, couldn't catch myself, and fell off (it was barely a fall. I slid down her neck and I landed standing on both feet.) I got back on went over the line again and called it quits.
Before my actual class I had a literal panic attack. For hours my heart had been racing and I was feeling sick but at that point I burst into tears. I don't even know why. I know I won't get too hurt with a fall from that height and I know that as long as I pretended to be confident my mare would be confident too and take everything for me. But I guess I just knew I was going to be awful and I didn't want to mess up my mare's great day.
I finally pulled it together a d did my three courses. I'm happy to say I made it over every jump. :) However two of them were pretty bad. The first one I temporarily forgot where I was going and had to circle around after realizing I passed my jump. Oops. The second one I lost my stirrup and was so scared when I couldn't pick it back but before my next jump that I actually went to a walk and got it back and continued. That was embarrassing. But my last course I was very happy bc I didn't do either of those mistakes and had a relatively decent round.
So I'm happy bc I completed my first official course and bc I didn't ruin my Marie's enthusiasm for jumping by making her nervous. However I'm pretty sure my instructor is really disappointed in me. I know I messed up the first two but I'd thought that she'd be happy with the last one but she wasn't. I really don't understand how she could expect me to do better or be as good as my friends who had been jumping courses for two years while I've had four weeks.
Sorry for the long post. :/.
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post #8 of 10 Old 06-10-2014, 12:19 AM
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However I'm pretty sure my instructor is really disappointed in me. I know I messed up the first two but I'd thought that she'd be happy with the last one but she wasn't. I really don't understand how she could expect me to do better or be as good as my friends who had been jumping courses for two years while I've had four weeks.
This says more about the instructor than it does about you. A good instructor will be proud of her students for doing their best- it should be about achieving your personal goals and continually improving. Showing experience can make or break a rider's confidence, and it sounds like you gained confidence from this experience but your trainer's reaction may have "burst your bubble" a bit.
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post #9 of 10 Old 06-12-2014, 12:27 AM
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Take a deep breath. Trust your mount. If you mess up, breathe and try again. You don't have to be confident at first. You just have to be calm. Jumping is fun, even crossrails. Don't push yourself too much. Just make a small goal, such as jumping 18" once or twice a week for a month, and build on that. You'll do fine. If you fall, it's okay. It happens to the best. Yes, it is scary and painful to fall, but don't beat yourself up over it or let it break your confidence. Just brush yourself off, check for any injuries, and try it again.

You got this. You can do this. It's not the jump that you have to get over. It's your fear. Good luck, and have FUN!
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post #10 of 10 Old 06-12-2014, 02:42 PM
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remember how I said a successful show when your confidence is low is just getting through it?? You did it. You got through it. Half way through reading your paragraph I wasn't sure you were going to complete your courses, and that might be for the best... but you sucked it up, regrouped, got out there and got over every jump.

If I was an instructor and you fell in the schooling ring and were so nervous you burst in to tears - I would look you dead in the eye and say "You know, you don't have to do this if you don't want to." That's not to say one should quit - but you don't need the extra scariness of a show to pile onto all your other concerns. I'm happy you decided you DID need to do it, and got yourself together and overcame it.... But don't ever feel pressured to do something if you truly do not feel ready.

Now that you've made it though, definitely work on building your confidence. You shouldn't be falling this much, and a good part of it is probably because of your head space. Work poles pretending they are jumps, work flat, do small cross rails, one or two at a time. Break it down and build yourself up. Don't worry about others pace, this is supposed to be FUN. :)

Also, maybe invest in a protective vest. It might make you feel a little less scared (and reduce your chance of injury.)

Wishing you the best of luck! Remember: this is for fun! Breath and find your happy place and progress from there.

Re: any of my advice - Happy to give my two cents, but not an expert... just a girl who loves riding horses!
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