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Ashsunnyeventer 12-05-2013 10:17 PM

Competition Attitude
I am an eventer currently showing at novice, but hopefully will be trying to move up in the late summer/ early fall of next year. I rode at the novice level on a pretty experienced horse for about 2 years, but those were the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Now I ride my 5yo OTTB mare and we have done 4 shows at novice.

So starting with dressage. I usually have a wonderful warm up and as soon as we enter the ring, we get stiff, nervous and stuff starts falling apart. Or at least thats how it feels to me, but my scores never reflect that. I often come out of dressage thinking that there is no hope for placing at all, but recieve a score that just blows my mind.

You know how some people are terrified of XC? Well thats how SJ is for me. Im not sure why I get so nervous, but it might have to do with the fact that every round I put in is messy messy messy. Since we have moved up to novice we havent had any penalties though (probably just pure luck and my horse saving my butt). When I walk my SJ courses I usually feel pretty confident about most of it, but there's always one or two things that make me think I can't do it.

My mom has pointed out to me that whenever I walk my XC courses for shows I am very negative. I will say things along the lines of "we can't do this" "no way she would ever jump that" and "I dont even have to worry about that jump because we won't even get past the first jump."

The thing is- I have no reason to say these things because we have never had a XC penalty and I placed first in the last three shows of the season. I love XC- it is my favorite and one of the only reasons I event and it doesn't scare me. So why do I say this? (I didn't even realize I was doing it- it was other people that pointed it out to me)

At home I'm confident with my flatting, but I really don't jump her that often. When I do, it's a hot mess and I usually walk away feeling worse thatn when I started. I also have this thing where I refuse to take her on trail rides because she was wild the last few times and I don't want to give her the opportunity to misbehave again. I like to be happy with her so we just work on things that I actually see improvement in (aka flatting and conditioning).

So I think its time to change my negativity because its not fair to my horse. She has done nothing to deserve my lack of faith in her and I want shows to start being fun and relaxed like they use to with my old guy instead of fun but nerve wracking like they are now. I just felt like I needed to write this down some where and if you guys have any suggestions on how to think positively, let me know!

Sorry for the book :lol:

MyBoyPuck 12-06-2013 06:11 PM

Interesting post. I think a lot of eventers have stadium anxiety. I personally love the dressage phase and grin like an idiot on XC, but I will most likely psych myself out walking stadium. It's funny that two of the phases involve jumping over things but are ridden so completely differently.

A few things come to mind. This only scratches on the very surface of quantum physics, but you really can affect an outcome by the way you perceive things. It really is as easy as saying, "oh my horse can handle that yellow oxer no problem" instead of, "he's going to spook at those flower boxes". The simple process of a positive thought over a negative one rewires the brain and produces the different outcome. Next time you walk a course, try to find something positive with each fence as it relates to your horse. You already know you can get around the courses albeit in a messy way, so ignore the negatives and make like you're riding Superman, or in your case, Superwoman.

I notice you say you don't practice stadium much. I don't either. The trails and open fields are always so much more appealing that cantering around a boring ring, but hey that's why we got into eventing, right? I get that she gets hot when you jump her, but the fact that you are not working on a solution for getting her jumping quietly is most likely contributing to your messy SJ rounds. You either have to work the problem or put up with the messy rounds.

That's all I have to say about that.

Saddlebag 12-06-2013 07:46 PM

As we were waiting on the trail class, I was the 7th to go, a gal rode up and asked how my mare could sleep at such a time, that her mare was fussing. I told her that I was relaxed so my mare took it as a signal to snooze. The gal analyzed each obstacle and came up with a reason why her horse wouldn't do it and that's exactly what happened even tho her mare had won numerous trail classes under her previous confident owner. My mare had never seen half the obstacles but she was confident with my guidance and we won.

Ashsunnyeventer 12-06-2013 07:56 PM

MyBoyPuck- I use to hate dressage. Then I figured out that if you do it right, it's actually fun. Now I flat every time I ride. During the months with good weather I dedicate one day a week to hills and trails, but now in the winter it is dark when I get to the barn most days. I haven't had a jumping lesson on my mare since June except for one XC clinic. My trainer is largely a dressage trainer, although she events too, and I have had jumping lessons with her in the past. I do all of the jump training myself and my mare's tension jumping in a ring is just one thing that no one has been able to figure out. We decided to go back to the basics and work on trotting over poles, but she still got nervous, so we went all the way back to dressage. Thats what started me on liking dressage and I guess I never really went back and fixed the jumping. I don't find stadium boring as much as just unproductive. She is tense and hot no matter what we've tried or who has taught me.

I did take her down to the jumping ring yesterday since it was so nice and we walked over poles. I saw in a William Fox Pitt clinic that he had them walking jumps because it was easier to control every step and it teaches the horses to be honest. I set up a teeny tiny crossrail to walk over and she did it nicely about twice each direction. Then she started doing a hollow, braced canter away so that she could start running again. It was really wonderful. We just ended up doing hill work instead.

I got off topic- so I'm going to fix my negative thinking this winter and I guess that means I have to fix my SJ. On the other hand- Why is stadium so scary for us? The jumps fall down- it really shouldn't be a big deal.

MyBoyPuck 12-06-2013 08:02 PM


Originally Posted by Ashsunnyeventer (Post 4253194)

Why is stadium so scary for us? The jumps fall down- it really shouldn't be a big deal.

If you ever figure out the answer to this question, let me know what it is! :-P

Bagheera 12-12-2013 08:11 PM

I used to get so nervous for my jumping classes that I'd forget my course halfway through. It took me till I was 17, I did my first horse show when I was 15, to realize that I was freaking myself out. You have to ride into that arena and tell yourself you will do the best that you can. It doesn't matter if you don't win. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. It only matters that you try your best. Don't stress about the combination or the long bending line. Just get on, have fun, and let you/your horse do the job that needs to be done.

Ashsunnyeventer 12-12-2013 09:35 PM

We worked on our stadium a bit earlier in the week. I started with no expectations at all other that going over trot poles (which is still sometimes a challenge). On my good jumping days I go in with the attitude "She's going to be awesome and everything is going to go great!" and I end up disappointed. Starting with zero expectations left me pretty satisfied with her. Yeah the jump was probably 2ft tall, but she respected the placing poles for the most part and stayed sane for the first three quarters of the ride. Then we just ended with flatwork.

MyBoyPuck 12-12-2013 09:40 PM

Wow, is all that tail swishing in the second video the direct result of the fact that she is jumping? If she gets that jacked up just for a single grid, you certainly do have some homework on your hands!

Ashsunnyeventer 12-12-2013 09:59 PM

Yeah. She loves to jump, she just likes to do it her way, not my way. She is a lot worse going to the right for some reason. You would think it would be opposite because she was on the track. Towards the end of the ride she started getting really worked up (as usual) so I made the jump a cross rail and walked over if a couple times and then ended with flat work.

I honestly think she gets tired from using herself correctly when we jump, and her solution is just to go faster. The jumps when we start are so relaxed and nice, but the more we do, the worse she gets.

MyBoyPuck 12-12-2013 10:03 PM

Yeah, I can see how quickly she works herself up. I can see where that would be frustrating. My horse is exactly the opposite. If he's acting like a lunatic, jumping actually calms him down because it gives him something to focus on.

Sounds like you're on the right track with doing the jumping exercises working kinda backwards with trotting and walking the jumps to calm her down before finishing. Have you tried that exercise where you just set up on fence on a large circle and just keep circling over it? It's hit or miss on a horse like yours. It will either amp her up each jump or calm her down. Only way to find out is to try it.

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