We’ve all been there. Everyone has fallen off a horse at some point when show jumping, and some falls are worse than others. But it’s not just the physical hurt you might feel, the psychological drop in your confidence is equally as important to think about.
Based on my past experience, I’ve put together a number of useful suggestions that might help if you’ve lost your confidence jumping.
Jump smaller fences
Firstly, if you’ve fallen off show jumping and it has knocked your confidence, start by jumping smaller fences.
Rebuilding your confidence is a process, just like rehabilitation is after a physical injury. It takes time and often requires going back to basics. There’s no rule that you can’t start again lower, especially when training at home. If you want to, even starting with poles on the floor might be a good idea – pole work is always great for horses!
Let’s say you’ve been competing at Discovery level, which is 100 cm. Spend a lesson training at 85 cm instead, so you feel no pressure and are confident that you and your horse can easily handle the course.
If you compete, and have too many winnings to go down a level, there are plenty of amateur classes available in the UK for those who want to jump at a lower level than their winnings permit.
Show jumping lessons
Secondly, I know it can be expensive and time consuming, but take horse riding lessons if you don’t already.
A sure way to help speed up the process of regaining confidence is under the guidance of an expert on the floor. Experienced riding instructors have most likely helped someone in a similar situation and will have exercises to help you improve during this time.
So, get on with it and the confidence will follow!
Get back on the horse!
This might sound like tough love, but the more you dwell on what happened, the more likely that you’re going to put off tackling the jump that’s causing you anxiety. Lower those fences, yes, but make sure you get back on the horse as quickly as possible.
Don’t let the wall that you’re building in your head become any more menacing than it already is.
Find an experienced rider to jump your horse
Trust me when I say this isn’t cheating. If you know someone who is more experienced or confident than you, it’s sometimes a good idea to ask them if they wouldn’t mind jumping your horse after a fall, even just at home.
Watching a confident rider sail over the daunting fence that you fell off at can help rebuild confidence in yourself that you can do the same. It’ll also help your horse be confident as they can sense when their riders don’t really want to go over a fence, leading them to doubt whether they should. If both you and your horse are nervous, the recovery phase will be an uphill battle, so getting experienced help is a good idea.
Nothing will make you feel safer than a new riding hat, body protector, and air jacket combo. If you take a bad tumble, a new hat is always recommended, but beyond that, new protective gear will help give you that extra bit of confidence over the double of oxers.
Eat, sleep, show jump and repeat
My final word of advice is to jump as often as you can. Nothing will rebuild confidence in your ability more than repeating an action until it becomes something you could do in your sleep.
When building your level back up, try and repeat each stage until it almost becomes boring – well, as boring as jumping can be!
Regaining confidence after falling off a horse can be a serious challenge. Remember that you aren’t alone, and that confidence is as important as ability for any rider.
Just as mental health is as vital as physical, a loss of confidence is something that needs to be treated with just as much respect as a physical injury from a fall.
Hopefully some of this helps. If you’re going through this process yourself, or have some useful tips of your own, we’d love to hear them here at Whickr HQ.
Leave a comment to share your pearls of wisdom.