I've lost all my confidence with jumping. Please help?
I'm 18 and I've been riding for 5 years now and have gone to 4 different riding schools and have once a week lessons. The one I got to is amazing and I have the best instructor ever but that's not the problem. When I was a proper beginner and learning to ride the second riding school I went to was brilliant and I learnt how to do basic riding there and even had 1 jump, just 1 jump, to let me get the feel of jumping, but then I had a break for a couple of months. When I started riding again that school had unfortunately closed down so I started going to another one which my old riding instructor had recommeneded. I used to think it was a really good school but now that I look back I realises that it definately wasn't the best school to go to and is probably the reason why I'm having issues now. When I went there basically all we did was very simple dressage moves (basically 20m circles and paried dressage) and then jumping. Now I know that it was good for me to learn the dressage moves, but I was never taught how to leg yield there and get the horse to curve etc. and all the horses and ponies were really old (No offence but they were completely dead to any sort aid whether leg or whip). The real issue is that basically on my 2nd or thir lesson there there was this small (like 1ft) course of jumps and I was told to go round it. At this point I had never been taught to canter and basically the horse I was on took me around it and I would say I had moderate control but I was also thankful I had amazing balance then. This litlle trip around the jumping course happened for another couple of months. About 5-6 months after I started riding there I was finally taught how to canter, but all I was basically told was to sit deep, without any explanation of what that actually meant. (At this point can I also point out that this school had no school just a field with letters and a jumping course at the back. About 2 months before this though I was told to have a small canter up this small path. I was in control but I had no idea what I was meant to be doing and was bobbing everywhere. After a dreadful winter where all we did in the lessons was walk around a snowy Ice cold field (poor horses, I wish I had never done it now), my parents thankfully decided to move me to a new school because I wasn't learning everything. The school I went to was the one where I had first learnt to ride (I had left it after about 2 months because my parents weren't keen on it) and basically I told them that I could canter just not well. They definately did a slightly better job at teaching me and I also improved my riding in other areas and learnt how to leg yield aswell, but as for cantering I got to a point where I could sit the canter FAIRLY ok but the pony I had been on from the beginning and me just didn't get on. I really wanted to try something else but they kept me with that pony for about 3-4 months until I really just had enough and wanted to leave that place. ( I didn't strictly leave because of not getting to try out new horses it was just that my progress was slowing down). So then I moved to my current riding school, and from my first lesson I was able to canter properly and have actually now been taught what my body should be doing and how to steer properly etc. I'm improving every single day and when they were sure I could canter properly they let me start jumping again. I was on the same pony for about 2 months just so they could see what I was like riding, and that pony took me on my first CONTROLLED canter out in the open countryside and I must say even though that was over a year ago, it was one of the best rides of my life and I will never forget it. I was then moved onto another horse who was like a true school master and he taught me some things about jumping that only a horse could teach. On him I also had my first non stirrup canter and even though I fell off (and hurt my hip and back abit) on my first go I got back on and did it again even though I didn't do it again for about 2 months because I didn't want to do it on him again it felt great. From that horse I rode loads of different types of horses, lazy and quite awake and I learnt from each one of them, but there was one horse who I know is the kind of horse I want. He was 10 years old and the first time I rode him was out on a hack and he botled and I didn't want to ride him again, but the next lesson I rode him again because I didn't know it was the same horse (I wasn't told his name the first time round and there was another horse that looked exactly like him) and it was one of the best rides ever. He was so responsive but gentle and the same time so I kept riding him regularly throught winter and also jumped him and so far he is the best horse I have ever ridden and my ideal horse. I even went on 2 more hacks with him the first was so much fun, the second however he became abit fresh and apparently it was because one of the other people who rode him let him get into a really bad habit with his bit so he kept on trying to buck people off (his physical health was fine) so now it has been about 4 months and I haven't ridden him but all the other horse I have ridden are no way as good as him. The problem is now that my intructors are focusing more on my jumping because I've had all my other flat work issues sorted out, it seems like I'm getting worse and worse at jumping even though I thought it was the thing I loved doing. In 1 month I've fallen off twice first time the horse bucked as we went over the jump and ducked from underneath me( about 2'6) and the second time the horse had a really weird stride that I wasn't used to and I basically got slingshot forward because I think he pulled his head down(about 1ft). The thing is both these times were like after I had already jumped the same height twice, but then I couldn't help thinking I was going to fall and I did. Obviously I got right back on both times and jumped again, but now whenever I see a jump that isn't a cross rail, even if it's just 1 ft off the ground I get nervous. I could confidently jump any height up to 2'6 and I do think I do it well but now... When I'm out in the field and jumping I feel much more relaxed, but in the school I just tense up. I seem to tense up the further I go into the lesson, and the really strange thing is that now, more than ever, I want to ride that horse that spooked on me, but am also at the same time scared to ride him even though he is the best horse for me in my opinion. Can anyone help me? And also do you think this is happening now because I wasn't taught to canter and jump properly from the beginning?
lol, i don't have much time now, so i didn't read it all... my suggestion for people who are scared of jumping is to slowly gain confidence. Ride a sane horse, one of those, "been there done that" types. Start really slow and never progress until you're 100% certain you're ready. It will take a really long time, but its worth it. I was scared to canter, and it took me two years to get back to normal... now i'm training a jumper...lol.
If you're already having doubts then go back to the basics. Cantering takes a long time to fully learn, so try to find a good horse to learn on. Good luck and keep us posted!
this ^^ x2. never be scared to take a step back and regain your confidence.
I've just starting riding again(just over a month ago) after a 9 year brake (please don't ask me what on earth I was thinking cause I really don't know). I started with trotting poles, grids with small fences moved on to small fences with a trot pole in front and yesterday after just over a month of working my butt off. I jumped a 3ft canter in, no poles, nothing but fence :)
we all have set backs and we all at some point have gone back to basics. Don't feel bad about the falls either. there is an old saying "99 falls makes a rider" right now, thinking I'm sitting some where around 20,000 :lol:
It is hard to read one big block of text so sorry if I missed some detail that makes my post not make sense.
You like where you are riding now but are afraid to jump.
Sit down with your riding instructor and explain this. Work out a plan for your riding instructor to help you get your confidence back so you can enjoy your riding again.
We all go through stages were things that we have done before suddenly seem scary.
Please use paragraphs and punctuation to help us readers, ok?
I have to appologize, because I did not read your whole post - but I am going to post about my own experience. I too had this fear, and still deal with it on a daily basis - to jump higher than my comfort zone.
A few years ago, I had an accident that shook my confidence over fences, where I came off my horse face first into a fence, ending up with a rusty metal jump cup embedded in my right arm, leaving 2 nice scars to remind me about what happened. You see this happen a lot with riders, and it never really effects you, until it happens to you personally.
So it really did shake me, mentally. I couldn't get passed it mentally at all - until I started to read Jane Savoie's advice in the Practicle Horseman magazine, and on Facebook. The one thing that really stuck with me, was when she said "Instead of dwelling on the negatives, dwell on the positives that make the negatives go away" - something like that.
Our minds are powerful, beyond our recognition - and it is about re-training your thought patterns, from negative thoughts, to positive. The more we think about the negativities, our sub concious starts to believe what we tell it. So if we believe we are going to get hurt, then that is what is ingrained in your subconscious mind, and it will become very difficult to not believe it.
Positive affirmations are very important. I bought a little package of recipe cards, where I wrote 1 thing down on each card, about what positives I want to occur when I ride.
- I will ride my horses rhythm
- I will remain balanced over my horse
- My horse knows how to do his job, and does it well
- I am a strong, confident rider
- Stadium Fences fall down
etc, etc, etc - which led me down the road of re-thinking my thought process.
The biggest thing that really brought my confidence back, was riding under a very educated, experienced coach. I moved barns, and am now training under a GP Jumper - who is there every step of the way, who can see my faults and target them, to make me that much more better for the next time we ride together.
The first thing he asked me when I told him my fears was "It's all up here Kim" and he tapped his forehead. He asked me "why are you scared?" I replied "because I don't want to get hurt again" and he said "That's the name of the game, everyone gets hurt, but it is about what you do with that experience that makes or breaks you. Are you going to let this break you?" I responded "But I am scared I am going to fly over Nelson's shoulder again, face first into a fence" and his response was "That happens to many riders, but they get up, brush the dust off their feet and continue forward"
One thing he targeted, was my horses needs. He saw that my horse was short strided, so I needed a more forward impulsion to help him get over fences - that helped greatly! Another thing he targeted, was me - I do not have a natural eye, and by me remaining up in a 2 point throughout the whole course, threw me off visually. Because I couldn't see my lines, nor feel my horse under me, I couldn't decipher our "take off" points - which in turn caused me to micromanage my horse every stride. Where I would decide our "take off" points, instead of allowing him to do his job - I got in his way.
So my Coach has me stay in a two point bewteen fences, but 5 strides out, he has me sitting. Wrap my legs around his girth, sit, tall upper body - and by doing that, I can feel my horse under me, and I can feel his movements and whne he is going to take off - that has helped me DRAMATICALLY. I stopped micromanaging him, and I've left his face alone, and now our courses are more smooth - instead of "sticky".
What he did with me, was starting from small fences, gradually increasing them over time. X rail, to verticle, to small oxer. Next lesson, going up in height, from X rail, to verticle to small oxer. And I repeated this.
Grid work also really helped. X rail, Bounce, X rail, 2 stride to verticle, to 1 stride to Oxer. Cavaletti's also really helped - working on striding, rhythm, tempo, balance, control. So everything has started to come together, and now we are jumping 2'11"-3'3" fences without issues.
Before that, I would look at a fence set bigger than 2'7", and my mind literally saw that fence as 3'6" - big. I would start to panick, I would start to hyperventilate, cry, sweat, heart pounding in my chest - to the point where I would end up in the fetal position, and making any excuse I could to not do it. Anything 2'7" and smaller, was my comfort zone, which I could do easy peasy - but anything bigger......I couldn't do it.
So I had to go back to my positive affirmations, re-training my mind to see those fences for what they really were and training myself to believe that those fences are small.
- I trust my horse
- I have a great coach who wont push me beyond my capeablilities
- My horse can do his job well
- These fences are small
To help, my Husband took a measuring tape, and measured 2'11" on the walls for me at home, drawing a pencil line - which in turn, I would look at it and say "That is small". I told myself over, and over, and over, and over again that "that is small" and now, when I go to the barn and I look at a fence set at 2'11", even 3'3" - I say "wow, that really is small".
It is about not being the victim, and stepping up to the plate to change how you see things, and think. Get rid of the negatives, and replace them with positives.
So, instead of saying "I am scared of jumping" - ask yourself WHY are you scared of jumping. What is it, that makes you revert and turn into a victim? Figure out what exactly is the fear, and target it. FIX IT! Turn it from a negative thought, into a positive.
As quoted by Jane Savoie herself:
There's no shame in saying, "actually, can I jump a bit lower" to your instructor.
If you're scared, then you have to tell your instructor, by being scared, the horse can sense it, and thinks there's something to be scared off, I have a perfect example;
My sister had a bit of a low confidence in her riding (she doesnt ride any more) and when she was cantering, she let out a mini squeal when the horse spooked a little bit. Then, we she cantered that corner again, the horse thought there was something to be scared of, and spooked again.
I hope this helps :)
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