Confidence is a Moving Target

Confidence is a Moving Target

I haven’t written about my rides much lately for several reasons.

At first, they were super bad.  Simon was protesting the inconsistent riding and lack of jumping in the best ways he knows how – being super anxious and rushing through everything.  No listening to my seat.  No softening at the bit.  The wonderful flatwork we had worked so hard to get last fall disappeared, so I got super down about it.

Obviously he has ulcers.  Needs a chiro visit.  Needs psychotherapy.  Has a broken leg.  Obviously!

My trainer suggested I back off and just ask for barely anything for a few rides (aka walk, trot, canter and steering).  She also thought he might be tired of flatwork, since we hadn’t been jumping for weeks due to the rain and crappy weather.  Even though I listened to her advice and took her suggestion, I was still convinced that he had deep rooted physical and emotional issues causing these problems.

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Three jumping lessons later, I pretty much have my horse back.  Problem one solved.

The second reason that I haven’t been posting about my rides, is because I have 0 new images/video.  Riding posts without pictures are like cake without icing.  Still okay, but could be better.  I hope to solve that problem this weekend by bribing someone with brownies.  All is fair when it comes to equine photography!

The last reason I haven’t been blogging about my rides is that I am a giant headcase.  I completely underestimated how far the year end show set my confidence back.  Late last fall, we were jumping stuff like this:

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And though I wasn’t running around saying, “This is so tiny I’m a boss!” I did jump them without losing feeling in my legs.  I cantered up and felt fairly confident we would be getting through the course in one piece.

This Tuesday was my first ‘jumper’ lesson since the show, and I was outright terrified.  Not a jump in the ring was bigger than 2’6″, but all of a sudden a solid 2’6″ square oxer looked like a Puissance wall to me.  I looked at the jumps and knew they shouldn’t be a problem, but still kind of wanted to get off my horse.

I bought this charm to ward away evil... not joking
I bought this charm to ward away evil… not joking

My trainer’s advice was two fold – trust my horse to do his job, sit up to the jump and keep my pace forward.  Of course the first two courses I just let him absolute die to the first jump, and we got over in a slow motion “Eeep this is not great” kind of way.  After that though, I sat up and ride.

Yet again, I am mystified at the fact that if I apply my leg and keep a forward pace to the fence… things just work out.

So we ended on a good note, and I’m feeling quite a bit better.  I joked with my trainer that I need about 10 more lessons like that before the show, but I wasn’t really joking.  Each course builds the confidence back up a little bit, but it definitely takes some time.

Post lesson feeling proud of himself
Post lesson feeling proud of himself

Of course this morning I woke up with what feels like the beginning of a nasty head cold, so hopefully I can push through it to get a lesson in this weekend.  I’m really excited to show soon, but I know we need to keep improving until then.

24 thoughts on “Confidence is a Moving Target

  1. You KNOW the ability to jump 2’6″ well is in both of you, because you’ve done it before. Now, it’s just about getting your ‘sea legs’ back. It’s tough at first, but it’s all mental. You got this, girl!!

  2. Sorry to hear about the confidence issues. My only advice is to search out some sport psychology help. My friend utilized this and it helped her immensely.

  3. I, too, struggle with this exact issue. I like how your title puts it, though – “confidence is a moving target”. You think you’ve finally got it and then something happens – whether good or bad – and suddenly you need to work on it again!

    Guess it’s probably a lifelong process for an equestrian 🙂

  4. Confidence is so finicky. It’s amazing what one little ding can do. Glad you are getting your sea legs back and Simon is on the same page. 🙂

    And yeah, I’ll be in the same boat here once we start jumping again. I did a caveletti and that wasn’t scary, so maybe there’s hope?

  5. You got it girl! Everyone has these ups and downs in confidence whether we admit it or not. All you can do is show up and be ready to learn every ride, which you are! Feeling your pain with crappy weather though.

  6. Why is the mental aspect always the hardest? You can totally do this and more. Everything will come back and then you’ll get even better from there. Hang in there 🙂

  7. I’m a head case too. Totally get what you mean about putting your leg on and going forward – makes it so much easier, but SO counterintuitive when you’re afraid. You can do it!

  8. good luck! the struggle is definitely real with this stuff – and it really can change rapidly from day to day… just gotta stick with it!

  9. I think having video totally helps. And watching it right after.. Don’t have to post it, but see it puts things in perspective. I can’t count how many times I watch a video and say, “I was going THAT slow?!” when in the moment, it felt like I was a bullet.

  10. I can’t wait to see you guys back at it and kicking ass. And I know you will get there sooner than later, and it will be a glorious thing! You have a bunch of cheerleaders here for you as well 🙂

  11. great analogy! I know my confidence is definitely a moving target. I haven’t been feeling great about my riding lately either where some days its great, and others I’m surprised I made it over a cross rail. So no advice from me, just commiseration.

  12. Taking a confidence knock is the absolute pits, happens so quickly and takes an age to get back to where we were. Darn mind games – to be young and carefree again.
    Trainer sounds fab & I’m glad Sir Simonpants is back on track

  13. Considering I haven’t ridden in like… MONTHS, my confidence is totally gone. Back to the drawing board… but it does come back, by just drilling the basics and lots and lots of practice! We’re going to have a sports psychologist come in and do a riding clinic. Should be really interesting! Keep at it!

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