99.9% of errors that occur while riding *This goes for all disciplines* is rider fault. I learnt this from a phenominal GP Jumper back in my Pony Club Days - Ian Millar when I was priveledged enough to clinic with him.
I also learnt from "Captain Canada" that a good rider blames themselves, and a poor rider blames their horse.
Lets talk facts here. Spruce Meadows put on a studdy on what horses really see when they are jumping. Their results were that horses jump blindly. They cannot see the fence at all when they are 1 - 2 strides out from the fence. When they are about approaching a fence, about 5ish strides away, they see the fence in two's. Then when they get even closer, the fence becomes 1 in their line of vision - then it completely dissapears.
Another studdy shows this result:
Regardless, that is why it is very, very important to remain solid through your form in tack, and body language to remain confident so that your horse can follow suit and get their job done.
Now, alot of horses know their job and do it, regardless of their riders errors - but when we are on horses who say "no way, if you aren't in the game, neither am I", that is when we learn. So be thankful that the horse you are riding, is making you aware of your faults, so that you can learn from them, and become a stronger, more solid/confident rider for in the future.
I had a nasty spill a couple of summers ago. Shook my confidence drastically. I was preparing for an Event that was approaching and my Coach had me jumping an oxer.
She set it up low, about 2'6" and then gradually increased it over time, to Novice's max at 2'11". My horse and I were doing wonderfully and I was confident about our compeating.
Until my last time around - my Coach raised it even higher than expected. Over 3'0". I was approaching the fence, in 2 point, tall upper body, legs around my horses girth, hands carried - looking at the fence. I forgot about riding my horse, and started to ride the fence.
I was thinking to myself "gee, that looks much bigger than 2'11" and kept thinking "That's bigger" as we got closer and closer and closer. I was more worried about the height of the fence, than I was getting over it.
Well, I dropped my horse. My shoulders dropped, hands dropped, head looking down at the fence. My horse stopped. He said no way. I kept going. Flipped over him and smashed through the fence face first and ended up on the other side.
I lay there for a moment and my coach ran up to me asking if I were ok. I got up and said "yeah". Then I saw blood. I assumed I broke my nose because I went face first into the jump - and after closer examination, we discovered a rusty metal jump cup, that was embedded in my right arm.
My coach pulled it out, we headed up to the barn, washed it off with bedadine scrub and iodine. Wrapped it with horse bandages and secured it with hot pink vet wrap.
I got back on my horse and finished my lesson. I compeating with a hot pink arm band too - it was oober hot - lol.
What happened at the event? My horse and I won 1st place for our devision against 15ish other competators. Today, I have the scar to remind me - to remain solid and confident over fences.....does it help? Not aways - I have confidence issues over stadium fences now.
My Coach gave me a great bit of advice yesterday at our lesson. It is mind over matter - if we think of all the wrong that could happen, we react physically to it, and so do our horses because they feed off of our energy. If we worry about what could go wrong, we lose the fun, the enjoyment of the sport we love - and then what's the point?
Don't let it beat you. Change your mindset. Easier said than done, yes I know this because when I am approaching a 2'6" oxer I start sweating and replaying my accident in my head, but that is when I fail - because I allowed it to over come me.
When I think about how much fun this is, and how much I trust my horse and how I know how to get this bloomin' job done correctly, I do better.
It is a mental fight, but if I let my mind get the best of me, I fail.
I have pictures and videos of my horse and I doing Training Level Eventing Fences with ease and fluidity - and I realize how silly I am being when I freeze going over an xrail.
I have to keep reminding myself that I can do this, and I have nothing to fear but fear itself.