Discouraged rider, please help!
I've been riding on a regular basis for about 2 years. I've taken lessons on and off since I was 13 though. I've spent the past 2 years with a trainer that I thought was great, until a few months ago. I moved further away and changed barns. The barn I'm at now is awesome and I love this trainer even more. However, I feel like I'm starting all over again. My old trainer never said a word about core muscles, or tightening the abs, she also never told me WHAT part of the leg to use etc. I guess it's better late than never! I want to be a hunter/jumper so bad. I've wanted to jump since I was a kid and saw it on t.v. The horse I ride now is awesome. He's an honest jumper and has yet to do anything wrong, yet I am sheer terror when jumping. I somehow get in my head that if we canter over jumps I won't be able to bring him back to me after. Today we cantered over a pole/jump/pole. It went great in one direction. The other direction I just couldn't do. I don't get it! I've become my own worst enemy. Does anyone have any advice on how to just relax?
Don't worry, it happens to the best of us. Just take a deep breath, concentrate on the movement of the horse, feel him in your hands, feel him in your seat and legs. I don't know if you have the same problem as me but it isn't so much "something" happening that scares me, it's that fear of not knowing what to do when "something" happens. You might visit with your instructor about teaching you how to do the one-rein stop (if you don't already know) and that might give you a bit more confidence, just knowing how to stop a horse when they are ignoring your cues.
I really hope you are able to find something that can help you because having fear in the saddle just tends to take all the fun out of riding.
Welcome to the forum :D.
Take you time. Practice, practice, practice. It'll come. May be not overnight (and never does :wink: ) but it'll be there. I was in similar situation as you: wasted over a year on taking lessons with trainers without progressing. Now switched to the new trainer (very recently) and just have a new look at everything I do. Just be patient, relax, and keep working. Think this way: what if you'd just keep doing it wrong? Now you have a great trainer and you are learning and progressing! And to those 2 years... Even with not so great trainer you practiced, rode probably different horses, etc. You still learn something. Every time you are on horse! :-)
I hate it when this happens! What I do is just make myself do it! Bear in mind, I only do this IF I KNOW I AM READY, AND MY TRAINER AGREES! Don't do it if you know that you can't or aren't ready! Sometimes it's just your menality. Once you force yourself to do it, and realize that you're alive, it becomes fun! Have faith in yourself and your horse. But please only do this in a controlled environment with somebody else with you in case the unexpected happens.
I know that feeling of 'starting over again' with a new trainer, every year I have a new trainer because they are always leaving, and yep at times I feel like stopping because I feel completely useless and I feel like I know nothing but over time that fades especially as you like your new trainer more. You need to just make the best out of someone new as they will have new techniques to help you and can have different ways of teaching you which you understand better.
Like haleylvsshammy said your trainer is there to look out for you but don't be afraid to say if your worried about something, your trainer could help you to rationalize things which will put you more at ease with the jumping. I also know that feeling about jumping and thinking the worst but have faith in yourself and your horse, you obviously have control of the situation if your trainer is allowing you to jump at the heights you are, so think of the positive (i know easier said then done) rather then dwell on the negative to help make you more confident. Also don't beat yourself up over it, we all feel this way its only natural. Also if it helps to motivate you then watch jumping competitions on t.v. and remember exactly why you wanted to start, those feelings are still there and you can do it! Good luck ^^
Definitely motivating yourself, and reminding yourself why you are trying, and where you want to get is a powerful thing. I spent years apparently being taught how to ride based on how I LOOKED on a horse, not on being an EFFECTIVE rider, so when I started working horses for a different dressage trainer, I did have to (and am still) relearning how to be an effective rider, and look good while doing it. It explained a lot of things to me, and made me feel better in one way, but it also made me feel a bit like I was going to lose control of the horse, because I wasn't relying on the bit to stop the horse, I was using my seat and legs.
My old trainer also didn't really have a lot of respect for me as a student, and pushed me at times when I think taking a step back would have been better. Because of that, I am now a chicken when it comes to jumping, though I do love to do it, but my TB coming back from a few weeks off because of an infected leg wound, was immediately put over 3' fences, with no work up after being off, (I was riding her), and she started having problems, and refusing fences, because she was being pushed herself, and I had to rely on the trainer, as she was supposed to know what to do, and ultimately ended up with, what was a grand prix jumper when I got her, a horse that no longer loved jumping, so I am definitely leery, but I know myself, and with a good trainer, great horse which sounds like you have, I think we both can make leaps and bounds in our confidence over time, you just have to stick with it. Taking a step back when needed is not a bad thing by any means. Keep your chin up, and just remember how free you feel when your horse is flying over those fences.
Just like you are right handed or left handed, we all have a side that is better than the other. This goes for horses as well! you will always have, and so will the horses you ride-have a side that is a little more difficult to do things on. What you need to do is give yourself time to build that strength and improve your riding. Even the best riders can from time to time, have more difficulties doing something in one direction over another. It's a very common issue for all riders.
Give yourself time to get better, because you will-and be nice to yourself! you're doing just fine.
I know what you mean about changing instructors. When I moved my horse from a big barn to a private barn my parents hired a new instructor. I am having to relearn a lot of stuff that my former instructor let slide. The good news is that it's working! I am getting rid of bad habits and my horse and I are both happier.
Oh yeah, been there...done that. I took lessons on and off for 8 years without ever learning a thing about collection or working a horse on the bit. I ended up finding out about the art of correct riding from a freakin' book!! I was so pissed. All that money and time spent spinning my wheels and never learning a thing. Yes, we all go through stuff like that.
As for the jumping nerves, what works for me is to just keep things ridiculously easy until I'm bored out of my mind. That way I'm pretty much begging for the jumps to be bigger when I finally go back to them.
I went through the same thing you are going through now. New trainer, new horse, new trainer correcting all kinds of things old trainer was teaching that was wrong (and I knew in my head was wrong). I became terrified of jumping. My new trainer had me on an awesome horse, that was as honest as the day is long. He will easily carry you around at least a 3'6" jumper course (I'm not sure, but I think he'll do 4'). We had no issues on the flat. Overfences, the single cross-rail could be an adventure at times, and in July I was having complete and total melt downs over a trot in canter out line, max height 18". No reason for it at all. Would stop, pull out to the side, add two strides down the line (16.3hh tb), grab his mouth, etc. Worked through it, took time, trust my trainer, and this weekend for the first time in about a year I jumped a 3'3" Eq course on him successfully, and more effectively that I coud have imagined. And now, I can't wait until Friday until I can go back. But this took time for me, and it started at the beginning of this year, like February, and it took until Sept for me to get over it. And I've schooled the 3' eq before.
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