Confidence help/suggestions - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 08-20-2010, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Pennsylvania
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Unhappy Confidence help/suggestions

To make a long story short, the last horse that I owned completely wrecked my confidence! I brought him along as a baby, paid a lot of money in training, showed him successfully, but throughout the 5 years that I owned him, he always had an edge to him. He could be ridden through a windstorm and all the crazy commotion of horse shows didn't unnerve him, but if we moved a brick in the landscaping he would come unglued. So, last June I sent him to a new home because riding him had become more of a fearful chore than anything and I hated that. When I sold him I was not planning on getting another horse of my own right away, instead I began to school all of the lesson horses at the barn for the trainer in an attempt to gain both my confidence and enjoyment of riding back. It worked. I started to look forward to riding and I could feel myself beginning to trust horses again.

In late September of last year I received a phone call from my trainer about a horse that he had heard of that was in a really bad situation and was in need of rescue and rehabilitation. He knew the horse and knew that if I would take her under my wing and get her back up to weight and health that she would be an excellent horse. So, although I wasn't planning on owning another horse, I went to look at Phoebe and couldn't say no to those big, sad brown eyes. Over the fall and winter we put weight on her, filled in the gaps in her history with info we gathered, and began to work her under saddle. Turns out that sad mare was, at one point, an imported Irish TB who was bought and trained to be a very accomplished hunter jumper and the school master I had been looking for to gain my confidence back. She truly is a point and click jumper, has been there done that, and will jump any fence you put her in front of without batting an eyelash.

Here is where the problem comes in...even though I know this about her, I still choke up before fences because of the confidence that I lost on my old horse. I think too much and it messes her up. I don't know how to solve this. Sometimes I am able to be the confident rider, and, on those days, we can jump courses without batting an eye and it is effortless. But, on days like today, my mind starts running, my body language chokes up and it causes her to wiggle down the lines, messes with her tempo, and makes her anxious. Even though she still goes over all the fences still (God love her) I know that I'm messing her up by causing her to be anxious. We have absolutely no problems doing flat work, equitation or very low crossrails. It's the combo lines and verticals that get me.

Anyone have any suggestions to offer or any similar stories to share that will make me feel like all hope is not lost?
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post #2 of 5 Old 08-20-2010, 03:47 PM
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Hm, it will probably take quite a while before you are back up to where you were before. My only suggestion is that when you feel yourself start to get nervous, take a deep breath and maybe take a couple laps of the arena at a lope (avoiding the jumps) until you relax and then try again. I don't know if that would help, but it probably couldn't hurt.
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post #3 of 5 Old 08-20-2010, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Pennsylvania
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Thanks! I did that today during a lesson. We were going to jump a new fence (a two foot gate with big flower boxes on both sides) and I started coming down the line and knew that I needed to take some deep breaths so I verbalized this to the trainer and we worked a little on cantering some circles in two point and then I got her to a good, easy tempo and we popped over. As soon as I get over it once I'm good with it and we can jump it all day if we need to. The first cut is the deepest I guess?!?!
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post #4 of 5 Old 08-20-2010, 07:39 PM
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The only thing that I would suggest is if you don't feel comfortable, take the jump down a notch. Say you're nervous jumping something that's 2' with flower boxes, then jump it when it's 1' with the flower boxes. Then 1'6", then 1'9", then 2'. This way, you can get used to the jump before you add the height. If the heights make you nervous, ask your trainer not to tell you what the heights are until after the lesson. This works with a lot of people, and soon you'll be so comfortable you won't care. Good luck, I hope this helps!
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post #5 of 5 Old 08-21-2010, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Pennsylvania
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Thanks. After your post I went and rode and I was trying to decide if it was the decor or the height that I had the most problem with and I think it is more the height than all the embellishments because I know she doesn't mind the decorations but the height I worry about things like speed, timing, or my release and then all that fidgeting gets her wound up.

I had a friend of mine who is a very competitive jumper get on her and ride her through some stuff and she was trying to show me just how easy and safe she is by putting her on the line and then just going on the buckle and as soon as the mare spotted the jump she was aiming for she self corrected her speed and over she went without the rider even doing much of anything but perching there. It was actually pretty cool to watch it from the ground and made me happy.

I guess it will just take longer than I thought to realize that she isn't my old horse and to develop that trust/bond with her. And, I need to learn that sometimes it's ok to just be the passenger and let her pick where she needs to be because when I try to pick where she needs to be we end up chipping in or she jumps early because as an experienced jumper she knows the distance is wrong.
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