Nervous rider help

From personal experience, don’t use medication as a crutch. Find a good sports psychologist as others have mentioned. Unless you want to take a Xanax every time you ride, it’s better to find an alternative. In the proper doses it won’t make you incompetent or make it unsafe to ride, but you certainly won’t be as sharp thinking as if you weren’t taking it. You never want to have the feeling that you can’t ride just because you don’t have a pill nearby.

[QUOTE=Lucassb;7449183]The next time you sense that your mare isn’t quite right when you go to tack up, my suggestion is to have your trainer get on for the first 5 or 10 minutes - while you watch and see what they do to deal with getting the mare back on track.

Have the trainer talk to you about what they are doing to get the mare focused on work, and then see if you can get on and recreate it. The more times you are able to work through that (with the mental picture of your trainer to copy helping you execute the plan) the calmer and more self assured you will be about the process. And of course the calmer you are, the more quickly your mare will come around.[/QUOTE]

Normally, I would agree with this. However, witnessing what my horse’s bad behavior looked like with a professional on him last year actually made my anxiety worse. Up until that point, I could convince myself that his bucks “probably felt much worse than they really are.” But when I saw them, I was like, “Nope, those are pretty significant.” LOL. So, something to keep in mind, OP. If you think it will freak you out to watch your mare bucking with a professional, perhaps still have the pro get on, you go take a walk for a while, and come back when the pro has her sorted out.

With this stuff, though, I really kind of think the key is proving to yourself that you CAN ride through the antics, or at least that you can tell when she is having an off day and decide not to ride that day. Basically, the more good experiences you can build up where you either ride through bad behavior without incident or you make a choice to not ride when you know it is likely to be a rough day, the better off you will be.

I ride for run. I want to do my best of course, but I do not want to go an pick a battle with a horse that is normally great but obviously not in a good working mood just because it falls on a day in our regular hacking schedule. If you sense she is a bit up, maybe lunge her or just hand graze and put her on the list for a pro ride the following day.

Oops! Apologies for not seeing the Regumate thing originally. Didn’t get enough coffee this morning.

I agree with what everyone here has said. Some days it’s just better to call it a day and be done. While some may say that she’s ‘winning’ by you getting off, maybe some days they get to be winners. I have a gelding who is exactly as you mention. And some days when he’s pissy I just give up and get off.

Occassionally though getting off isn’t the answer either and you have to nut up and do it. I had the worst ride I ever had on him being a total pig and I had to ride it out. At the time I wasn’t scared of falling off or being hurt, just furious that he was being such a jerk. After that ride he calmed down and started to act right again.

I too suffer from nerves and haven’t really been jumping my horse much but when I do, we jump TINY stuff until it’s boring and then move on. But the bottom line is, as bad as it sucks, if you want to continue to own this mare you have to make yourself do it. Shove the nerves down and think what you need to think to keep your nerves from transferring to her. I think while jumping, sit back, push my elbow forward, wait for my fence, STAY OVER HIS NECK AND LET HIM FINISH and then make sure to canter him away FORWARD. (We’re a little pokey).

I use the Laura King self hypnosis tapes. Makes a tremendous difference. My trainer mentioned being anxious showing in Belgium and used them with great success and they help me still… And when I’m nervous I will think what she suggests in the tape and it helps. You can download them to your iPhone and listen before you go ride.

This! I have a gelding that is not bad but is a complicated ride. And if there is a weather change, I haven’t ridden for a day or two, or I am just not feeling great myself, I put him on the lunge for a minute to see what horse I have today. And am not opposed to getting off and lunging if I skip that step and find out I have more horse than I expected for the day. No shame in letting him play for 5 minutes. He feels better. I feel better. We have a good ride and nobody gets frustrated (him or me).

And there is no shame in having your trainer pop on for a minute. I had a little incident where my guy decided that the 2’3" trot fence was scary and he literally jumped the standards. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting that and parted ways with him shortly after the fence. He wasn’t being bad just careful. I hopped back on and did some crossrails and a little vertical and my trainer wanted him to jump bigger. I didn’t want my sore hiney and slightly shaken confidence in my ability to stick the flyer to shake his confidence so handed the reins to the working student (who bounces being 22 years younger) and enjoyed watching my boy jump. Of course, he was done. He just saved the flyer for me :winkgrin: but hey what is the saying? Discretion is the better part of valor? Some days are worth riding out and other days…not so much. And as suggested a good sports psychologist is always a good idea to get some tools to overcome that initial burst of nerves when you start jumping.

Thanks again everyone! I am loving the tips!

A fellow rider once said she doesn’t go to war unless she knows she can win. I definitely stick to that mentality when flatting on my own. I know that if I try to fight my mare on my own she will convince me very quickly to back off. So, if its a good day, we have a lovely hack, if its a bad day, I go both directions at WTC, get off and give her a quick lunge or turn her out.

Luckily, in flat lessons with my trainer on my side, I am more confident in sticking to my guns and we can normally work through any bad day. Unfortunately, because I am regularly timid in jumping lessons, even when my mare is perfect I’m a ball of nerves at the beginning. So, I typically avoid lunging because most of the time it is the wrong decision and ends up making my already quiet mare too lazy and tired. Plus she has an old injury so repetitive circles aren’t ideal.

Also, if it were up to me, I’d probably ask my trainer to ride her at the beginning of every lesson. My trainer is very used to hearing me mention that I’m worried she’s going to kill me over a cross rail :lol:, only to have her canter it perfectly and quietly roll away with a perfect change. So, as in the case last week, when I told my trainer I thought she was in a bad mood, my trainer assumed I was just having my usual concerns. After all, she hasn’t put a foot wrong in FOREVER. Obviously afterwards my trainer said she needs to remember to not always be so nice to her, and that no matter how tense I am she should never do something that ill behaved, but she also reminded me that my tension did not help the situation.

In other words, as much as I’d love to hop on and lunge her or have my trainer get on when I’m worried, I can’t really trust my instincts due to my general nervousness in jumping lessons.

However, I feel that if I take many of the suggestions you have all offered, and work on my overall anxiety and confidence, I will be more clear on which days she really is not going to behave like her usual self, and take the necessary precautions.