Ok I need help. I have two questions.
1) the first may be kind of controversial. I'm not trying to start a debate, but just want what you've been taught and why. The question is this: How often should you jump a horse?
I have a fairly green jumper. We have been working with jumping semi-consistantly for a few months now. I typically jump her 1-3 times a week but usually only over a few jumps. For example, we will warm up, work on flat work for a bit, and towards the end pop over a jump about 4-6 times and end the lesson. It has only been in the past few weeks we've really been working on our jumping. My trainer seems to think that I should be jumping consistantly, like full on jumping lessons 2-3 times a week. Her reasoning is that professional jumpers can't just jump once a week. I would focus on a full jumping lesson once a week and pop over a jump 3-4 times in between the lessons. But this question also plays into question two, which is why I'm not making them separate threads...
2) I'm not a confident jumper and I can't even tell you why. I'm a heck of a rider, I have excellent balance and a fairly solid jumping position. (I've been complimented on how my legs stay still and don't move back). Sometimes I get to forward and lean on my horse's neck which causes problems, but I've been working with it and have finally figured out how to get up and back easier. So it isn't for lack of ability. It isn't for lack of wanting. I LOVE to jump. It is so thrilling. I have fallen off a time or two jumping but, luckily, have never been seriously hurt. And those falls were many years ago.
But I just can't seem to find confidence. Maybe it is that I don't trust my horse to do it. She will sometimes crop-hop after the jump or sometimes run out and not jump at all. I figured out she usually crow hops when I'm to forward and on her neck. The running out is super random and I always get after her with a crop. I try not to let her actually pass the jump and make her do it eventually. On the flat, I'm a great rider. I took first and second in everything at our last show, minus jumping classes. I'm not afraid of a bucking horse and can typcially ride out just about anything--on the flat. Jumping, though...I can't figure out my fear. And since I can't pinpoint it, I can't master it. I just get scared. I can just 18" and even 21" just fine. two foot is still scary, but I can do it if I really really try. Today my trainer wanted me to do a 21" oxer. It was wider than it needed to be-intentionally. I agonized over it for almost 15 min, even tried doing it two or three times and just going widely around it or stopping about 10 feet from it. After much fear, I finally did it twice and it was a BLAST.
The question truly is, why do you think I might be afraid and how can I get over it?! She feels if I jump more i'll improve more. Which may be true, but I don't want to sour my horse or overwork her legs. She is 15 y/o Arab who is quite fit and truly has a hunters' form and seems to like jumping. I've jumped her on the line and she does better with bigger jumps and seems to like having something to do. I just lose faith in her AND myself, sometimes just one of us, (Me making excuses she can't do it) sometimes just me (saying I can't get a good position). I just don't know how to overcome this fear. Like I said smaller jumps I can take no problem at all. It is anything over 2' that scares me and my trainer really wants me to try and master 2'3 this week. I just...yeah. HELP!!!!!!!
As someone who had been stuck at the 2'/2'3" height for two years, I can only say what I've discovered about myself. I was trying to play it safe and get everything perfect before moving up. All I ended up doing was keeping myself stuck and boring my horse to death. Recently, I decided a different approach. Instead of 6 or 7 fences all at the same height, what I did was set a few as cross rails, a few at 2', a few at 2'3" and a few at 2'6". I start with the small stuff, get a few good jumps in, that then sneak in the bigger stuff as my confidence improves. By the time we get to the bigger ones, they look rather small and my horse is having a ball now that he can finally jump real jumps.
I think the only reason you're nervous is because you're psyching yourself out. We all do it. Something about 3 silly inches really messes with our heads. You know you can ride, your had fun over that oxer, so you know you can do it. If you can jump outside of your lessons, try the sneak up method. It really seems to be working for me.
I've worked with several upper level horses and jumped over 4ft regularly up until a year ago when I switched disciplines. I jumped my horse once a week max. All of the Grand Prix riders I know also jump their horses a max of once a week as well, unless they are tuning a horse up or correcting a problem. If that's the case, they jumped their horses two to three times a week, for short periods of time, and only over a handful of fences. That is a rarity though. The more you jump your horse, the higher the risk of injury, and the faster they break down. That is a fact. All horses break down eventually. Just like with us, micro damage is done to the body every day and arthritis will eventually develop. As for your confidence, that comes over time. Incorporate a slightly higher fence every jumping lesson. Maybe just a hole higher. Then next time you jump, have two fences a hole higher until you are able to do a full course at the higher height.
I really don't jump that often. I do WAY more flat work than fences. I will school big jumps once a week (maybe) and school tight turns/distances/ or XC with smaller jumps MAYBE once during the week. The rest is flatwork and conditioning.
Flatwork - maybe some trot-poles thrown in - teach both you and your horse some pretty critically important skills that you both need for jumping - tempo, timing, seat, balance, discipline, approach, solid position. I don't think I've ever seen a rider or horse excel at jumping who didn't excel even more at flatwork. I've never jumped real high. I've never competed much in jumping. But I did learn some pretty solid jumping technique "back in the day", and we jumped once a week and flatworked the rest. The flatwork was WORK - hard work. The jumping was fun -our reward for learning something on the flats.
I was able to do 2'3 today! It was really really fun and gave me alot of confidence, enough that I'm ready to work towards eventually doing 2'6 (maybe in a month). On top of it, my mare loves it. She is such a cute little hunter. I don't think I'm going to be afraid anymore, I'm ready to focus on getting better and lesson, well, dying over jumps haha.
So should I still only be jumping once a week even tho the jumps are pretty small?
I probably would say don't exceed three. I do two and I ride competitively.
If you don't want to jump, likely neither will your horse. Confidence is a huge part of it, and it takes time to develop. And another thing, you mentioned you often lean on your horses neck when jumping. Try to avoid that. It really hinders the horse when they're trying to get up off the ground. Wait until your horse is in the air. Horses want to be supported and they can't get that support when your leaning over them. You have to sit up, leg up, and keep rein contact. Don't throw your reins at them at the base(I still do it occasionally, it's hard not to do sometimes).
It does happen to even the most experienced riders at times when nerves get the best of them, so it seems to be something that riders are always working on.
Thanks everyone!! I was able to do really well this past week and now I feel totally confident. I have NO idea what that fear was or where on earth it came from. But since I did it, I feel completely unstoppable. Yesterday we did a 2'3 oxer. My first time over one that high. It was AMAZING. I've attached a photo. Please, guys, PLEASE no critique. I'm posting this pic cuz I'm super super proud I was able to overcome this fear and move up. I'm hoping to try 2'6 soon. (Tho maybe not quiitttte yet, haha)
Great job! It's nice to get a surge in confidence, isn't it?
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