How can I overcome mental blocks and fear when it comes to jumping? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 03-08-2013, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy How can I overcome mental blocks and fear when it comes to jumping?

I have been going to a monthly Jumping Academy lesson at my riding school. I also get a lesson once every weekend with my Mum, which is usually flat work, pole work and some small jumping; it is something different every week anyway.

Before I go into a lot of detail, I'd like to say I've been riding for two years straight, but at my first riding school I only done hacking basically and learned very little - I formed lots and lots of bad habits. After a year of riding there I moved to a different riding school and it was one of the best decisions ever. I have came such a long way and have now been riding for a year at this riding school and I must say I'm a pretty good rider - when it comes to FLAT WORK. But the truth is I want to exceed in jumping and at some points I am improving, but my fear has been getting the better of me lately.

So basically, I have been jumping properly since last June (before that I was getting my riding together and improving on the flat). In November, I joined this 'Jump Academy' lesson that goes on once every month. Why not? I was going to improve my jumping. But, every lesson I have had has been either very bad or 'decent.' I first rode a chubby gypsy cob, who would hardly ever refuse but plop right over the jump and demolish the course or set of jumps. I rode him in two of these monthly lessons and I fell off in both lessons. As you can imagine this is very confidence knocking and I had already fell off a few months before these lessons too and just recovered from that knock. The thing is the riding school doesn't have a huge range of horses that are capable of teaching people to jump properly, and the good ones were already taken (no offence to the cob, he is lovely; he just needs someone more experienced to help him over the jumps). My instructor saw how nervous I was after this and asked me if I wanted to change and we agree'd that I'd move onto this Thoroughbred who is around 16hh, very tall and skinny as you can imagine. He is also in his mid 20's but is pretty good at jumping for his age (just to let you know he is very healthy and was a show jumping horse in his younger age. We were only jumping 55/60cm straights but even at that it was still quite high for me, I felt it was a push). So basically this was my 3rd lesson (Which was in January but it was my 1st on Max - I had previously jumped him in my weekly lesson a few times to get the gust to him). This boy is great and all but it was a huge step going from a chubby, easy-jump cob to an even lazier, skinny-nothing-to-hold-onto horse. He has a 'stretchy' jump which was quite unbalancing for me. Anyway, the first lesson I had on him went well, much better than previous lessons. The next, I fell off after he over-jumped and took off early with a plank. It took me another 15 minutes to jump again after being so upset, but ended up jumping a small 55 and 60cm course, which frankly I was chuffed and proud of... But the horror of my latest lesson which was yesterday just upset me so much. I hadn't rode him since the last lesson and I didn't have the courage to jump. My confidence just came to a stop and my mental blocks came back and it was 10 x stronger. I had to get off after saying constantly 'I am not jumping, I can't do it, I just can't' which I know is no good but I couldn't stop myself. The TB was reassuring and gave me lots of licks and cuddles after getting off him to make me feel better but I was so p*ssed off at myself for not getting on with it but I just couldn't do it! This isn't the first time I've cried over not doing something in front of everyone so I must seem like a pain but I can't help it.

Can you give me some motivational advice for jumping? I know I'm probably not the only person who has experienced faulty confidence with jumping... Help would be appreciated. I'm so angry at myself and can't bare to go to my weekly lesson now, I feel like an utter idiot.


Here's a picture of both the cob and TB I was riding just to make the topic a bit cheerier.

8 year old Gypsy Cob... Safest guy out there, most loveable personality!

23-25 year old Thoroughbred... Grumpy old man but still so loveable and great once you get to know him better. So lazy... haha.

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post #2 of 7 Old 03-08-2013, 06:57 PM
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Hmm. I'm not the world's greatest jumper, but I do know about overcoming fear.

First, I think at your fear level, you are progressing too fast for you. I am hearing that you are jumping at 55-60 cm (high for you) and jumping a course.

My instructor did not introduce more jumps until a great deal of comfort was established with the single jumps, which involve etablishing the proper position for jumping. When jumping a course, some of the jump position should come naturally because doing a course leads to a good possibility of being out of position. (That is also why flat work is so important).

On your own (or with your mother), I think you should do more work on your two-point. I also think you should be going over lower single jumps or cross rails without hands and/or closing your eyes. (Not both at the same time.) Going over with hands on hips improves balance and going over with your eyes closed will prevent you from being ahead of the jump.

I bet your are very nervous which leads to stiffness, loss of balance and anticipating the jump. Going over (with so on the ground as a guide) will prevent anticipation and help you allow your body to be pulled over the jump. The ease of that will also build confidence.

But really I think you are in too advanced of a class.

I hope this helps. :)

Last edited by onuilmar; 03-08-2013 at 06:59 PM.
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post #3 of 7 Old 03-08-2013, 07:07 PM
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I feel like this phase happens to a lot of people who ride (or jump). I had a bad experience when I was learning crosspoles, and with me being a confident ballsy rider, my trainer had me ride 13 hh green o/f pony (I was 17 but, I'm 21 now and 5'0" and weigh 110 lbs, haha). This pony, constantly would spin me off on the flat, refuse jumps, gallop off with me, etc. I even broke a finger during a show falling off of him. Since then, I was riding the TBs and warmbloods and jumping 2'6"-2'9" without any problems, but my previous trainer had a 12.1 welsh pony that needed working with last winter and summer and she really wanted me to work with her. I was TERRIFIED of this pony, just because of the fact she was a pony. I was scared of riding her for months, and I'd almost have panic attacks every time we'd jump a course. But the more I rode her, and the more nothing bad happened, the more comfortable I'd get with her until I wasn't scared to ride her anymore. It was just a matter of facing my fears getting through what I was scared to do.
With that being said, I think you should continue to jump but maybe tell you're trainer you're not ready to jump that high yet or that you just want to do simple courses or single jumps. But continue jumping because even if you're scared, you'll be such a better rider.
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post #4 of 7 Old 03-09-2013, 02:37 AM
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If you were my student, you'd be riding without irons. I have a pretty good hunch that you're not doing that. You should be able to post, canter, and 2 point comfortably with only one iron, and then with no irons. I would have you trotting fences first. No cantering. You'd be trotting the same fence back and forth and back and forth until we were ready to canter it, which could be months for all i care. And then, we'd go right back to the same fence, back and forth at a canter. No coursing. No jump changes. You should NOT be falling off at this stage in the game. If you are, then your trainer isn't doing their job. period.

Life seems mighty precious, when there's less of it to waste.
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-09-2013, 07:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you guys, the help is much appreciated. I've decided I'm not going to this monthly lesson until I feel ready and to be honest, I don't really want to go back to it at all. I already do small jumps in my weekly lessons anyway. In addition I'm going to be doing a self-schooling lesson (After my lesson with my instructor) and focusing on smaller jumps, even going over poles to start with. I used to do quite a lot of non-stirrup work, but I heard posting without them is no good for your seat but sitting is much better. I'm just going to take it easy from now on and jump at the height I feel confident at and then move up. I'm also going to be on a mare that I ride every week as well, she's quite old too but gets so excited with me and jumps like a star for her age (she won't jump 55/60cm straights though, so I'll be focusing on x-rails or cross poles as I call it).

Thanks for all your help guys, it really does help; especially knowing that I am not the only one who has experienced something like this before.

If I experience any more problems at this school I will be moving elsewhere.
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post #6 of 7 Old 03-09-2013, 08:58 AM
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I'd be money you are running all sorts of scenarios thro your mind, all the what ifs. We can't predict the future, unless you have a crystal ball, so you need to try to block these thoughts. Every time one of these thoughts starts sneaking into your mind, hold your arms out, shoulder height. When they begin to ache a little your thoughts will switch from those what if thoughts to your arms. The thoughts will return but not as strong.
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post #7 of 7 Old 05-15-2013, 11:16 AM
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I know this inst a lot. But NEVER look at the jump when your about to go over it, or when your going over it. I used to do hat a whole lot and it would scare me even out on the XC course!
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