I think too much when I ride.
 
 

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I think too much when I ride.

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  • Don't know how to ride him
  • Correct half seat for warming up horse

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    01-21-2012, 03:55 PM
  #1
Weanling
I think too much when I ride.

I swear...if I could just disconnect my brain from my body when I rode, I would be SO much better.

I had my first lesson last night since my last thread (Super frustrated with myself...). I've been riding 2-3 times a week since that thread, but I've just been working and hacking horses, no actual lessons.

But last night I was back on Scooter.
I don't know what it is about that horse.
Or, I guess I do.

I don't have any confidence on him. I don't trust my eye when I ride him, which leads to me not being able to make and stick to a decision. I don't trust him to actually jump, even when I've set everything up right. It's been this way since I started riding him again, almost two years ago.

I guess it's understandable that I'm a little less comfortable on him - after all, I did have a pretty bad fall four years ago that more or less changed my life. (I actually just got Botox & am heading back in for yet another bout of physical therapy to try and fix what that fall did). Scooter is the only horse who has EVER been able to get me off from a refusal. I KNOW that he's not the dirty stopper that he was when I first started riding him, over 4 years ago, but it's still enough to make me kind of hold my breath and freak out every time we head to a jump.

But it makes me mad. I can deal with other horses - Gunner bolted and bucked with me so badly a few weeks ago that my trainer was shocked I stayed on, and I just laughed after I got him back to a walk. Billy can spook and do his silly little baby things and I'm completely fine. And yet...one refusal from Scooter, and I melt for the rest of the lesson. I hate it. I get tense and start overthinking things and then I lose whatever shred of confidence I may have had in my eye and it gets even worse.

This is what happens after a refusal (this was actually after I fell off and it's from 2010, but I still get tense like that and then my hands go to **** and it...bad)

Last night was...bad. Or good. I don't even know. We started off pretty well, until the jumps got bumped up to 2'6" (not sure why I have the mental block of 2'6" with him - I'll do that no problem on the green pony I work with, and I've done up to 3'6" on other horses without even thinking about it). We had a stop at the first jump because it was an oxar and I psyched myself out, and then once we finally got over that, we had waay too many refusals at the other end of the bending line, a skinny jump (you know how I feel about skinny jumps, haha)

Once I stopped focusing on the first oxar (I kept thinking to the skinny that I had to get over next), it was beautiful. I stayed with him and didn't plant my hands at his withers and we got a good distance every time. And then, once my trainer distracted me enough, I got over the skinny (though it was super awkward - we were supposed to get 7/8 strides down the line and got 9). So I mean, it was good that I finally manned up and rode him enough to get over all the jumps in one piece (also, I didn't fall off. Success?), but I'm still kind of frustrated that I get so worked up on him.

And the worst part is - he's not even THAT difficult of a ride. It's all me. He has his naught moments and does tend to back off on the approach, but he's a total sweetheart and will jump anything from anywhere as long as you tell him to go. The fact that he's blind in one eye doesn't deter him one bit from being a quick, agile jumper. Our refusals, our awkward distances and bad courses...they're all completely my fault.

Does someone want to teach me how to stop thinking when I ride? Haha. But seriously...I don't even know what to do, aside from ignoring my fear and continuing to ride him in the hopes that I don't a) fall off again, or b) have a panic attack.

On the plus side, my seat has gotten loads lighter in the past few months! I've been spending countless hours cantering Billy, this little green pony, around in a soft half seat and I think my increased core strength and balance is definitely transferring over to the rest of my riding. I'm feeling more secure over fences and have even taken to warming up in my lessons in a half seat, something I never used to do because I felt like I was tipping and perched quite precariously. So. That's good, I guess.
     
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    01-22-2012, 06:33 PM
  #2
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by juniormylove    
On the plus side, my seat has gotten loads lighter in the past few months! I've been spending countless hours cantering Billy, this little green pony, around in a soft half seat and I think my increased core strength and balance is definitely transferring over to the rest of my riding. I'm feeling more secure over fences and have even taken to warming up in my lessons in a half seat, something I never used to do because I felt like I was tipping and perched quite precariously. So. That's good, I guess.
Focus on this :) You're doing great, just learn to breathe and let go. It can be hard but it's what you have to do.

Chin up, don't be so hard on yourself!
     
    01-22-2012, 06:47 PM
  #3
Trained
Honey I know how you feel...I overthink too. I'm more of a total perfectionist though, my trainer gets SO mad at me because I'm always figeting with my hands and legs, trying to make every last tiny little thing perfect with the hrose and thus causing the horse to get frustrated too. I'll be the first to admit my OCD is my biggest flaw.

This may sound wierd, but maybe you could try sort of a synchronized drill type thing with a couple other riders. Set up a pattern to music (Include some jumps? I did it on the flat but if jumping is where you get anxious, maybe do it there) and just rehearse that pattern over and over. This excersize has helped me a lot, because instead of worrying about my horse I'm worrying about where I need to be in the pattern to make the drill flow. My trainer does it a lot with people who tend to overthink and/or lose their heads/focus when riding....It's done wonders for me, and I never would have even thought about it until she made me do it one lesson.

This is the kind of drill I'm talking about:


But, I don't see any reason why you can't make a pattern with some jumps. Make it like an art project! It'd probably be really fun for everyone to get together and do something like that. I know I LOVE drill lessons, even though I don't do a drill team anymore.
DraftyAiresMum likes this.
     
    01-22-2012, 09:40 PM
  #4
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skyseternalangel    
Focus on this :) You're doing great, just learn to breathe and let go. It can be hard but it's what you have to do.

Chin up, don't be so hard on yourself!
I'm trying to, but when I get nervous then I start reverting to my old habit of sitting ridiculously deep in the saddle and getting behind the vertical with my body and..yuck.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SorrelHorse    
Honey I know how you feel...I overthink too. I'm more of a total perfectionist though, my trainer gets SO mad at me because I'm always figeting with my hands and legs, trying to make every last tiny little thing perfect with the hrose and thus causing the horse to get frustrated too. I'll be the first to admit my OCD is my biggest flaw.

This may sound wierd, but maybe you could try sort of a synchronized drill type thing with a couple other riders. Set up a pattern to music (Include some jumps? I did it on the flat but if jumping is where you get anxious, maybe do it there) and just rehearse that pattern over and over. This excersize has helped me a lot, because instead of worrying about my horse I'm worrying about where I need to be in the pattern to make the drill flow. My trainer does it a lot with people who tend to overthink and/or lose their heads/focus when riding....It's done wonders for me, and I never would have even thought about it until she made me do it one lesson.

This is the kind of drill I'm talking about:

Corvallis OHSET Drill 2009 - YouTube

But, I don't see any reason why you can't make a pattern with some jumps. Make it like an art project! It'd probably be really fun for everyone to get together and do something like that. I know I LOVE drill lessons, even though I don't do a drill team anymore.
I'm not sure how that would work jumping. Our arena has a full course set up in it like this (I think you can see it):

So I'm not sure how easy it would be to choreograph something like that. Plus the group I ride with (there are 4 of us) ride either slightly insane or unfriendly horses, haha.

But that is definitely an interesting idea, and would certainly keep me from overthinking!
     
    01-23-2012, 01:18 PM
  #5
Weanling
I sing. :)

Row Row Row Your Boat is a wonderful song! The beat is the ideal hunter pace for a course and it helps you to keep your mind off your "riding" and on the pace!

My trainer taught this too me since I overthink EVERYTHING. Ever since I started to sing during my courses, I've never got a bad distance or weird jump since! People may think your crazy, but I swear it works!!
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Skyseternalangel likes this.
     
    01-23-2012, 01:50 PM
  #6
Foal
I have the same issue. I broke my back 7 years ago in a fall and after beginning riding again, I find myself lacking a lot of confidence at certain times and on certain horses. I could care less when Jester acts up, but if Charlie so much as looks around, I'm a quivering mess (maybe that's an exaggeration). Charlie's just not in my comfort zone yet (getting there).

Similar to SorrelHorse's response with the drill team, I have someone read a dressage test aloud to me. That way I have someone there telling me I need to trot or canter at a certain time, and that's what I focus on. Because if you leave it to me, I won't ask for an increase in speed. That helps a lot.

Another thing I do is video tape it. Whatever your horse is doing is always going to maximized when you're in the saddle. I remember when I made such a big deal because Charlie was scooting around and my husband was like, "umm, no he's not" and showed me the tape. It really looked like nothing to be afraid of so the next time he did it, I didn't overreact.

Singing is always a good idea- or riding to music, or both! I do both when I'm alone. Singing keeps you breathing and riding along to the music helps clear your mind.

Keep plugging along, it'll get better!
Skyseternalangel likes this.
     
    01-23-2012, 05:12 PM
  #7
Weanling
I've actually thought about singing before - I'll definitely have to try that on Friday!
     
    01-23-2012, 05:31 PM
  #8
Showing
I always have music on when I ride. I do sing along but I'd imagine my singing without the music to drown it out might spook the most bombproof of horses

Working on the hubby to hook up my ipod dock to the p.a. Sytem in the arena so I can have more volume, though my neighbors may not like some of my music choices. I have playlists set up for different kinds of rides, start out nice & slow to warm up, faster paced for more intense work, etc. The background noise is also an added bonus for the horse as they will be exposed to that away from home at shows.
     
    01-23-2012, 06:16 PM
  #9
Weanling
In the summer we have like, three radios (one at each end of the barn and then one in the arena) but they're generally not that loud and don't really play in the arena when it's cold.

Perhaps I'll just take up singing, hahah
     
    01-24-2012, 12:09 PM
  #10
Trained
A lot of us overthink and override. My issue stems from being a perfectionist.
My mantra is don't try - just do it and get in and get out. Trying leads to weak aids, niggling and a pissed off, dull horse. My coach has me visualize how I want the horse to feel and where I want him to be in 5 meters and get it done. If I want more stretch in the neck I have 4 strides to ride the horse forward into a supple hand and ride the neck out. My next 5m I want more bend, so I get it done, etc, etc.

The other thing is that the warm up is also for the rider. As you are doing your 10 minute marching warm up walk, start in your seat and bring the focus towards the limbs, slowly tweaking your position and aids as you go. By the end your legs should fall like wet rags on your horses side, your seat solidly in the tack with an engaged core, shoulders down and back, head stretching up and no tension in the forearm and a soft hand gripping the rein correctly.
Then move to trot, same thing, canter, same thing. If you say to your body "relax" and it does not listen, go back to the walk, force your breath to be deep and slow and go back to the first step of focussing on your body.

Good luck!
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