I have to appologize, because I did not read your whole post - but I am going to post about my own experience. I too had this fear, and still deal with it on a daily basis - to jump higher than my comfort zone.
A few years ago, I had an accident that shook my confidence over fences, where I came off my horse face first into a fence, ending up with a rusty metal jump cup embedded in my right arm, leaving 2 nice scars to remind me about what happened. You see this happen a lot with riders, and it never really effects you, until it happens to you personally.
So it really did shake me, mentally. I couldn't get passed it mentally at all - until I started to read Jane Savoie's advice in the Practicle Horseman magazine, and on Facebook. The one thing that really stuck with me, was when she said "Instead of dwelling on the negatives, dwell on the positives that make the negatives go away" - something like that.
Our minds are powerful, beyond our recognition - and it is about re-training your thought patterns, from negative thoughts, to positive. The more we think about the negativities, our sub concious starts to believe what we tell it. So if we believe we are going to get hurt, then that is what is ingrained in your subconscious mind, and it will become very difficult to not believe it.
Positive affirmations are very important. I bought a little package of recipe cards, where I wrote 1 thing down on each card, about what positives I want to occur when I ride.
- I will ride my horses rhythm
- I will remain balanced over my horse
- My horse knows how to do his job, and does it well
- I am a strong, confident rider
- Stadium Fences fall down
etc, etc, etc - which led me down the road of re-thinking my thought process.
The biggest thing that really brought my confidence back, was riding under a very educated, experienced coach. I moved barns, and am now training under a GP Jumper - who is there every step of the way, who can see my faults and target them, to make me that much more better for the next time we ride together.
The first thing he asked me when I told him my fears was "It's all up here Kim" and he tapped his forehead. He asked me "why are you scared?" I replied "because I don't want to get hurt again" and he said "That's the name of the game, everyone gets hurt, but it is about what you do with that experience that makes or breaks you. Are you going to let this break you?" I responded "But I am scared I am going to fly over Nelson's shoulder again, face first into a fence" and his response was "That happens to many riders, but they get up, brush the dust off their feet and continue forward"
One thing he targeted, was my horses needs. He saw that my horse was short strided, so I needed a more forward impulsion to help him get over fences - that helped greatly! Another thing he targeted, was me - I do not have a natural eye, and by me remaining up in a 2 point throughout the whole course, threw me off visually. Because I couldn't see my lines, nor feel my horse under me, I couldn't decipher our "take off" points - which in turn caused me to micromanage my horse every stride. Where I would decide our "take off" points, instead of allowing him to do his job - I got in his way.
So my Coach has me stay in a two point bewteen fences, but 5 strides out, he has me sitting. Wrap my legs around his girth, sit, tall upper body - and by doing that, I can feel my horse under me, and I can feel his movements and whne he is going to take off - that has helped me DRAMATICALLY. I stopped micromanaging him, and I've left his face alone, and now our courses are more smooth - instead of "sticky".
What he did with me, was starting from small fences, gradually increasing them over time. X rail, to verticle, to small oxer. Next lesson, going up in height, from X rail, to verticle to small oxer. And I repeated this.
Grid work also really helped. X rail, Bounce, X rail, 2 stride to verticle, to 1 stride to Oxer. Cavaletti's also really helped - working on striding, rhythm, tempo, balance, control. So everything has started to come together, and now we are jumping 2'11"-3'3" fences without issues.
Before that, I would look at a fence set bigger than 2'7", and my mind literally saw that fence as 3'6" - big. I would start to panick, I would start to hyperventilate, cry, sweat, heart pounding in my chest - to the point where I would end up in the fetal position, and making any excuse I could to not do it. Anything 2'7" and smaller, was my comfort zone, which I could do easy peasy - but anything bigger......I couldn't do it.
So I had to go back to my positive affirmations, re-training my mind to see those fences for what they really were and training myself to believe that those fences are small.
- I trust my horse
- I have a great coach who wont push me beyond my capeablilities
- My horse can do his job well
- These fences are small
To help, my Husband took a measuring tape, and measured 2'11" on the walls for me at home, drawing a pencil line - which in turn, I would look at it and say "That is small". I told myself over, and over, and over, and over again that "that is small" and now, when I go to the barn and I look at a fence set at 2'11", even 3'3" - I say "wow, that really is small".
It is about not being the victim, and stepping up to the plate to change how you see things, and think. Get rid of the negatives, and replace them with positives.
So, instead of saying "I am scared of jumping" - ask yourself WHY are you scared of jumping. What is it, that makes you revert and turn into a victim? Figure out what exactly is the fear, and target it. FIX IT! Turn it from a negative thought, into a positive.
As quoted by Jane Savoie herself:
"Today is the day! Right now, this moment, is the point where you can change everything you’d like to change. Right now! You have the ability, you have the power, you just have to make the decision.
What would you like to do/be/experience? Are you ready to commit? If so, now is the time! You can do it! Just set the goal and then plan th...e steps you need to take to get there. If you don’t know the steps, find a mentor who can help you. Find someone who’s where you want to be, and ask them to help you make a plan. Then, one step at a time, follow the plan.
Horses live in the moment. We don’t really plan ahead. Living NOW gives us an advantage in that we don’t carry a lot of grudges or baggage. Sure, we can get programmed to respond with fear at something that’s hurt or scared us in the past, but we don’t wallow in the memory. We just react. Because of this, we can be re-programmed to react in a different way. Humans can do this too! But, with people it takes a conscious decision to let go of the past and move on to a new way of being.
You can’t move forward if you cling to the past. It’s like the old saying, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” You have to let go of where you are, to get where you’d rather be.
Are you willing to let go of the pains and fears of the past? What would you lose if you did so? What would you gain? Would people see you the same way? Would you have to give up a certain identity? Would you get the same kind of attention you enjoy now? Is it worth it to you to make the change?
This life is yours. YOU get to choose. Choose wisely."