Help! I've lost my confidence. How can I get it back?

(37 Posts)
frenchfancy Wed 16-Jan-13 19:02:50

I was riding DPony in my group lesson on Sunday. She is normally not very forward going and needs to be convinced into a trot or a canter (she is fine once she is going though). I'm only a novice really (well 3 years but advancing slowly).

The trouble is on Sunday the instructor decded we would do some jumping. I got over the bar on the floor alright, but could tell DPony was starting to get agitated. Once the bar went up proper and it was my turn she just went for it at full throttle. I lost all control and bottled it. I didn't fall, but I cracked and ended up getting off in tears and spent the last 5 minutes just walking her round whilst the others jumped. Instructor was NOT impressed.

DD has been jumping with DPony today, and she was flying over the jumps. Basically she just loves jumping and gets over exited when she sees the jumps. DD hasn't jumped with her since the summer due to a broken arm.

I was hoping I could ride another pony next Sunday but I've just found out that I have to ride DPony. I am bricking it. I've never been so scared on a horse. How do I get over this?

I can ride tomorrow and Saturday for a bit on my own, that doesn't scare me, but jumping again does. Help!

Floralnomad Wed 16-Jan-13 19:35:31

If jumping worries you so much why do it . I doubt there is anything anyone can say that will help you regain your confidence and your nerves will be transmitted to the pony which will only make it worse. Personally I'd tell the instructor that I didn't want to jump. Is it your pony?

Floralnomad Wed 16-Jan-13 19:37:02

Forgot to say , who cares what the instructor thinks , you're the one paying the money !

frenchfancy Wed 16-Jan-13 19:41:12

Yes it is my pony. The problem is it is a group lesson, and we have all become friends. If I don't want to jump I think I will have to back out of the group for a few weeks at least.

Quite a small community here, and the instuctor is part of our social circle.

Floralnomad Wed 16-Jan-13 19:46:08

Perhaps speak to the instructor before the lesson and see if she could put up a jump for the rest of the class and a pole on the ground for you .

horseylady Thu 17-Jan-13 08:28:40

If you don't want to jump. Don't jump!!! Who cares?! Riding is all about enjoyment, not scaring yourself to death and injuring yourself.

If you do want to jump, I'd suggest a very low key, private lesson where you can go right back to the beginning.

If you want to carry on your group lesson (and I see no reason why you shouldn't) just miss out the jump and ride round to the back at your turn or ask the instructor to do a pole.

Good luck!

Callisto Thu 17-Jan-13 10:10:25

Well firstly I would be bloody unhappy with the instructor. What a stupid attitude to take and hardly likely to encourage you to try again. Personally, I would probably have got you to do some gridwork and kept the poles on the ground. When DD has group jumping lessons the istructor never makes the children do anything they are not comfortable doing and is happy to put jumps up and down, run with the child or just let them sit out.

If you are lacking confidence jumping and your pony rushes the jumps then you need a much steadier pony that knows it's job and looks after you. If you want to jump why not book some private jumping lessons?

ponydilemma Thu 17-Jan-13 10:26:06

Don't jump! I don't. Luckily nor do most of my friends (apart from the ones that hunt at the front!) so we just hack out and chat :-)

N0tinmylife Thu 17-Jan-13 12:01:10

Why can you not ride a different pony next time? Something that was a bit steadier would be ideal if you are nervous. I would not be happy at all with the instructor, and would change to a different one, although it sounds like that could be difficult in your circumstances.

Maybe avoiding the group for a bit would be a good idea, if the instructor is likely to try and get you doing things you are not ready for, then get cross when it doesn't go well! I would say the problem was with them really, not you.

frenchfancy Thu 17-Jan-13 12:17:12

Thanks for all the messages. I admit I'm not keen on jumping and would prefer to just do walk/trot work. I have jumped before though, we did a few sesions about 6 months ago and I had no problem. It isn't the jumping that scares me so much as the horse rushing.

I'm going to go up and ride tonight and see how I feel. I might put a pole on the ground and try on my own. I always get on much better with DPony when we are on our own and not in group class.

Pixel Thu 17-Jan-13 18:48:31

What if you ask your dd to help you with this?. It's lovely that the pony enjoys jumping and can 'fly' round the jumps with your dd, but in the long run it would be better if she could take them more steadily when required. If dd schools her to be more settled then you could start jumping her again if it is only the rushing that worries you. Or maybe the instructor could help you to calm the pony down? Trotting circles next to a small jump and only popping over it once the pony is calm will probably help you both.
I agree with others who say they would be annoyed with the instructor though. They are supposed to encourage you and boost your confidence, not humiliate you!

frenchfancy Fri 18-Jan-13 09:56:58

I did ride yesterday, and wasn't as scared as I thought I would be thankfully. Unfortunately I was hoping for a bit of time on my own to work, but 4 other owners had the same idea which meant I couldn't be as calm as I would have liked (everyone else riding is at a much higher level than me). There were jumps set up in the middle, but thankfully the others didn't start jumping them until after I had finished. I managed the bar on the floor a few times though.

pixel that is exactly what I would like to happen. Unfortunately the instructor has told DD to let DPony go if she wants to go. Up to this point he has been very good with both of us, but he is not great when people take a backwards step like me.

Floralnomad Fri 18-Jan-13 10:00:21

Is it possible to get a different instructor? Does she come to you or do you keep your pony at a riding school? TBH she sounds a bit mad.

frenchfancy Fri 18-Jan-13 10:11:32

The stables is a one man band. DPony is in livery - along with about 5 others, then he has the riding school. Stables is about 5 mins from home, the next nearest is 25 minutes, so not really feasible to change.

catsharingmychair Fri 18-Jan-13 15:58:43


It doesn't matter a jot if you don't want to jump - and the instructor (friend or not) shouldn't make you feel badly in any way!

I suggest one of four things:

a) Offer your fast jumping pony to someone else for this section of the lesson - let's see how they cope! You sit is out, holding theirs. Someone else may find this fun/a challenge.

b) Ask the instructor to jump on board yours and 'show you all how it's done'- flattery gets you everywhere- let's see how easy she finds it to sit a gallop towards a fence. Good learning experience for all to observe excellent speed reduction/pace & balance maintenance skills n'est-ce pas!

c) Swap ponies during the class with anyone who has a short fat hairy Cob (like mine) who ambles up to a jump and plops, which is really non terrifying..

d) Do as everyone here suggests and abstain from classes- perhaps mooting dressage as the class focus over the spring?


Floralnomad Fri 18-Jan-13 16:03:25

Does your pony get used in the school ? I've only ever met one male instructor , he was a complete tosser and thought he was gods gift , he thought he could cure my TBs issues with being ridden round in circles, he didn't and he looked mightily stupid in the process.

frenchfancy Fri 18-Jan-13 21:53:32

Thanks guys you are making me feel much better.

The instructor does very occasionally get on a difficult pony. Unfortunately he is a horse whisperer type, and as soon as he is anywhere near the horses turn into ideal specimens and do exactly as he asks, so I have no doubt that if he got on DPony she would be perfect.

There are definitely others in the class who could not cope on mine, but I feel they would not keen on the chance to try.

DPony only gets ridden by me and DD2. We normally exercise her 5 or 6 times a week, but it has dropped down to 4 times a week with the bad weather.

50BalesOfHay Sat 19-Jan-13 10:03:51

Sounds like she's a teenager dream for jumping and a nice Mum's pony for flat work. So let dd jump her and you do flatwork. The instructor need to respect your wishes

frenchfancy Sat 19-Jan-13 11:04:31

You are right she is great pony, she has a good balance of calm vs speed. She is 20 this year, so no spring chicken.

Zazzles007 Sat 19-Jan-13 11:26:34

Hi there OP, I have read your thread and am coming to this a bit later than others. I have a somewhat different view. I see that you have said you would rather do walk/trot work at a more sedate pace. However you might find that learning to ride this pony at an even faster pace might help you.

Several years ago, I got a loan horse whose ability was far beyond mine at the time - taller, more educated, and with much bigger strides than I was used to. After a while, I realised that he was putting me off, as he knew so much more than me.

So I approached my instructor about this, and we did an exercise which helped me ride this horse's bigger pace. You start off in trot on a 25m or so circle, and then ask pony for as big a trot as it can manage - in this case, my loaner could do a proper medium trot. Then you do transitions from big trot to normal trot, ad infinitum. This exercise not only gets you used to the faster motion, but also it teaches you the control you need within one pace. In medium trot with a 16.2hh TB, we were flying, and it turned out to be the best fun. grin

And of course once you are used to doing this exercise in trot, you then progress to big canter/little canter ad infinitum. I did these exercises for 2 months, and in the end, I was absolutely addicted to the speed and the pace that this horse could do. It was great fun for me, and the horse really enjoyed it as well. This exercise is more about resetting your level of comfort with the pace that a horse/pony can go at.

Hope this helps.

Zazzles007 Sat 19-Jan-13 11:28:19

PS I also agree with others though that pony should not be allowed to rush when jumping, however the above exercise will help you with your confidence at faster paces.

frenchfancy Sat 19-Jan-13 14:17:10

Thanks zazzles. I agree I need to get used to a bit more speed. I think my problem was the lack of control. It wasn't me that asked the pony to gallop, she saw the pole and went for it. I much prefer a small canter on the flat, and want to work more on that and build up the speed.

I think I may need to back out of the group lessons. I'm going to go tomorrow but I'll talk to the instructor and tell him I absolutely don't want to jump at the moment. If he insists I will stop the lessons.

DD rode her today, and she was still rushing the jumps even though DD was trying to keep her calm. Even watching her stressed me out, even though I could tell she was having a great time. I ride for pleasure and because it is a way of relaxing and de-stressing; it is not my all consuming passion like it is for others (I leave that to DD). This week it has just stressed me out. I have been on edge all week and every time I think about it I am on the verge of tears. It isn't much fun.

Floralnomad Sat 19-Jan-13 15:27:33

If you're happy with walk ,trot and a controlled canter why should you feel obliged to do any more ? I gave up jumping my mare ,despite having been keen on jumping as a younger person, because my mare was unreliable and not keen on jumping and with the best will in the world you get to an age where falling off , or thinking you're going to fall off becomes unpalatable!

lovestruckfifi Sat 19-Jan-13 23:14:15

Can you try jumping at trot? Also jumping small logs in the woods will help or lesson/jumping on your own. Just to catch up because it sounds like you want to stay in the group.

frenchfancy Sun 20-Jan-13 08:41:57

I would be happy to jump at a trot. DPony unfortunately has other ideas.

I've got a stomach bug today so I didn't go to my lesson. DD will ride DPony in her lesson instead and I will try and do some pole work during the week.

Plomino Sun 20-Jan-13 23:30:23

If it makes you feel any better, I gave up jumping my first pony after having had her for about 15 years , because although I was used to her speed and bravery (lunacy), riding XC courses on a pony that used to travel at warp speed no matter what bit she was in, or what method of control we tried , was ok when I was 18 , and had no one to worry about but myself , but a very different matter after having had kids .

I took up long distance instead, which she then did at warp speed as well .

You don't have to jump if you don't want to . I know plenty of people who don't , and I don't consider them as novices in any way . It's supposed to be enjoyable and a relaxation , which I think in our never ending quest for improvement , it's easy to lose sight of . It doesn't make you a failure .

Mitchy1nge Sun 20-Jan-13 23:38:56

It's supposed to be FUN! Don't jump if you don't enjoy it (unless you want to but are a bit jittery and resent your nerves getting in the way?) life is too short to allow a pleasurable hobby to become all stressy.

Mitchy1nge Sun 20-Jan-13 23:39:39

Or, exactly what plomino just said!

frenchfancy Mon 21-Jan-13 06:50:17

It is so good to hear other people say they don't want to jump. I feel a bit of a fraud sometimes because I don't adore riding as much as some of my friends. I enjoy it, but I don't think about horses for every waking moment. And if the weather is really cold I'd rather be in front of the fire.

It is like I have to prove to everyone, look I can ride really.

DH spoke to the instructor yesterday (they were having a drink not specifically talking about me) and he is obviously concerned that I'm going to give up so he has given some ideas for pole work to do and has told DD that DPony is only allowed to rush the bigger jumps with her, and we have to teach her to slow down over the poles and the lower jumps.

Zazzles007 Mon 21-Jan-13 23:18:07

Just another thought french, the instructor you have may not be a specialist jumping instructor (although she/he may advertise that they are), as no jump instructor worth their salt would recommend that a child 'allow their pony to rush at a jump'. If this is the case, you may need someone more specialised in jump training of the horse and rider to reschool pony. That's not to say that she may be quite good at other types of riding lessons.

I and my former instructor (both eventers) have dealt with horses that rush before and after fences, and what your instructor is saying is not the preferred method of dealing with horses that rush to jumps.

Pixel Mon 21-Jan-13 23:58:32

I was thinking that it was dodgy advice but didn't feel qualified to comment but now I will anyway. Just I thought rushing led to jumping flat, which you can get away with over smaller jumps but not as they get bigger.

mrslaughan Sat 26-Jan-13 18:17:05

Did you ride in a lesson today French fancy ? How did it go....?

I'm with Zazzles - irrespective of speed, any horse/pony should come into any size jump with a regular rhythm in their pace. I also agree that maybe getting used to a faster pace on the flat would help.

Have you ever tried with either using cavaletti at trot or, putting up v.small (around 50/60 cms) uprights as part of a series of flatwork poles (can be either trot or canter paced) when you're working on your own? Both of those would help with pace (keeping her steady and getting you used to a bit faster).

Also, if you do decide to jump (and only do it if you want to, not because you feel you 'should') a few other things that might help are:
Come in shorter on your approach
If there are jumps up in the arena, weave around these with your leg yields, but don't go over them, just get her (and you) used to being around jumps in general
Get her back into trot as soon as possible after the jump and do not take on the next jump until she's settled
Keep her moving between jumps (i.e. if you're waiting your turn in a lesson keep her in working trot/walk, focused on listening to you rather than thinking about the jump

Oops - sorry for essay. Can you tell I may have overcome a few 'rushing' issues in the past? grin

Good luck and hope it stays an enjoyable pastime for you.

frenchfancy Tue 29-Jan-13 16:08:42

Thanks again. I've been ill with flu so haven't been able to ride for a week. TBH I think it has done me good to have a bit of time off to calm down and stop stressing. Hopefully I'll be well enough to ride in a couple of days.

frenchfancy Sun 10-Feb-13 13:00:18

Hi Again. Just thought I'd give you kind folks an update.

I rode in last weeks lesson, but it was nice and calm as we had a new comer. It really helped me to see how she was and how much I had progressed. I did some pole work with DPony during the week and some cantering, which I hadn't done since I got scared.

Today's lesson was very much focussed on me. The instructor decided it was time for me to face my fears. DPony bucked when we were trotting, but I stayed on no problem. So he pointed out that if I can stay on when the pony is doing that I should be fine with jumping.

We went over the poles at walk and trot no problem, but when he put the (very low) pole up I could feel DPony getting excited. Anyway I did as I was told, kept her calm for as long as possible before the jump, then clung on for dear life jumped at a gentle canter. I did it! I wouldn't say I enjoyed it but I wasn't terrified to the point of tears. And I jumped 3 times.

I don't suppose it will ever be my favourite thing, but at least I've got some of my confidence back.

Thanks again for all your advice.

50BalesOfHay Sun 10-Feb-13 18:43:30

You are very brave frenchfancy. Well done. Overcoming a fear and doing the thing that scares you takes a lot of courage. You deserve to be very proud of yourself.

frenchfancy Sun 10-Feb-13 18:58:17

Thank you 50. You saying it makes me realise how proud I am smile

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