My horse never refused a jump until recently. I've just lost all of my confidence, it seems. I can so smaller jumps, but when I raise to jump one hole higher (not sure how high it is, but it is the second hole from the bottom), I shrivel up and I guess he can sense it. He used to love jumping but now it's like he is as afraid as I am.
I guess the main problem is that his refusals scare me more than the jumps, so the more he refuses, the more scared I get, and the more scared I get, the more he refuses.
Has anything simply ever happened to any of you guys? How did you deal with it/solve the problems?
The old pony I would ride had a dirty refusal problem. He was fine with small jumps, but anything bigger he would stop at. At first it bothered me, so I just spent a lot of time jumping small jumps (creating all kinds of interesting and unique fences for him to jump).
My instructor also helped us by building a grid and slowly raising the final jump, to make it an easier transition to the bigger fences. All I can say is, never push yourself farther than you are ready. Stick with the smaller jumps until you feel more confident and get the help of an instructor for the bigger jumps. Don't feel any rush! Your confidence and your horse's confidence are the most important thing.
All I can say is, never push yourself farther than you are ready. Stick with the smaller jumps until you feel more confident and get the help of an instructor for the bigger jumps. Don't feel any rush! Your confidence and your horse's confidence are the most important thing.
THIS! Without you feeling less scared, the vicious cycle is going to continue, so you need to focus now on doing things that you can do easily, to gain your confidence back. And I'm not sure about you personally, but when I was having this issue years ago, a trainer set up a small jump (cross rails) on a circle, so we practiced travelling around the circle and jumping it as part of the 20m circle, so I didn't have any time to focus on the SCARY UPCOMING JUMP! I don't know, it really helped me with my anxiety. And I spent a year just doing jumps that were under the 2'0" mark, just until I got my confidence back...then slowly started to raise the jumps but I did it gradually and stuck to 1 level all summer, then went up 1 more, and so on.
Here's another idea someone once gave me that worked for me There is a 100% herbal remedy out there called "Rescue Remedy" and it's a natural calming flower essence...you just take a few drops under your tongue, and they even have a pet version you can give to your horse, just a few drops on a horsey treat!
I'd also say just jump the smallest stuff you need to until both yours and your horse's confidence comes back. One day you'll start jumping and realize they look really small and you'll be back in business. Properly spaced grids will also help since there is nothing for the rider to do but maintain a balanced position and most horses find them fun.
What kind of refusals are they? Does he run out, or is it a dirty stop right in front of the fence? Could there be a reason that he's doing this now? Ie: Pain, new or ill fitting tack.
When you've lost your confidence it's important to keep everything at a level where you can easily succeed at the exercise. Grid work will help your position, and your pony should be able to navigate that easily without your help. If your horse runs out to the side of jumps you can set up wings to discourage that. Wings are poles that you set out from the sides of the jump the the ground diagonally out, kind of like this:
But with poles. They should help to funnel your horse into the jump, but this will only help with the stops if they're actually run-outs. You can always make really interesting fences at the lower heights to keep you and your horse entertained.
Skinnies will really help you with your steering and control of your horse. I hope that helps a bit.
Try sitting back more and keeping your shoulders back... I had this happen to me but I landed on a jump and hurt my back. Its like a mind game, Try thinking "your are going to jump this you will jump this fence you will jump this fence over and over again". The pony I rode rever refused then after that if it was over 2'6'' he would refuse. Also giving him a squeeze on the approach will help reassure him that you do want him to jump the fence. Hope this helps you out!
If you can, go and have a lesson on a schoolmaster that you can trust not to refuse. Then you can keep that memory in your mind - how you rode, and how it felt. Use that to 'over-write' the refusal story that your mind keeps replaying.
Also, do you have a confident friend, or an instructor that can jump your horse with you watching? It is very useful to see your horse do the bigger jumps so that you KNOW consciously and sub-consciously that he can and will do it.
Then with all this to back you up, do the exercises that the others have described with the goal of you being in charge. Don't attempt the bigger jumps until you are confident that your determination will overcome your nerves.