After my post the other week where my cob Aladdin and I successfully jumped a 90cm fence I started wondering how on earth did we do it after being stuck at 50cm for so long.
What gave us the confidence to take the ‘leap’ and just go for it?
My whole life I have watched other riders in awe and dreamt about jumping ‘actual jumps’ but never thought I would be able to ride myself into one the bigger fences without forgetting to breath or just bailing off the side in disbelief.
Aladdin and I started off our journey fairly slowly. Some days I would get on and struggle to get out of walk and be near to having a panic attack. Due to an accident and hospital visit last year my nerves were completely crumpled and I presumed every time I rode the same would happen again.
Thanks to our tiny steps in the right direction we took things slowly enough for me to learn all of Aladdin’s quirks and accept the fact I cannot always stay on when he decides to be a rodeo pony. I soon realised it wasn’t the falling that put me off it was what others saw and what they then thought of my riding.
Moving to the new yard was a complete game changer! At first I only dared lunge in front of the other liveries and even then thought they may be judging me just for our lunge circles. Once I quickly realised the other liveries were the most supporting people and actually we were all a yard family I could not stop pushing for more on each ride. Rather than being critical they all laughed at Aladdin’s quirks too, it was all in my head the whole time. Each kind comment such as ‘you did amazing today’ or even ‘well sat’ pushed me to keep going and up our game.
Regular jump lessons have also being key as I find the lessons a comfort blanket and always ask to work on something that scares me. Whether it be something simple like a skinny or a double I make sure to ride through the fear and trust Aladdin. After all if I am feeling scared what signals must I be giving him? My growing confidence rubs off on Aladdin and he listens and in return trusts me.
The night we jumped the 90cm scary scissor fence Aladdin was being so calm when I asked but switched on and listened when I pointed us at a fence. We were only doing small jumps but something about the larger jumps seemed super appealing that night and I kept imagining what it must feel like. Just the thought of jumping them was making me smile. So I thought sod it, if the thought of jumping them can make me smile I need to experience what it does actually feel like! My partners in crime were in there with me and I knew if anything went wrong they would laugh with me rather than at me.
I honestly believe the main points to improve our confidence are;
- Surrounding ourselves with positive people
- Remember nobody is judging us, only ourselves
- Trust our horses as the braver we are the bolder they are
- Don’t beat ourselves up about taking things slowly. ‘Slow and steady wins the race’ definitely applies to us! Getting somewhere slowly is better than not getting there at all!
- Work through and perfect the things that scare us
About the writer:
Danielle Burns is a 23 year old (probably too) ambitious rider hoping to get ‘somewhere’ with her loan horse Aladdin, a six year old Cob x Anglo Arab. Her handsome ride since May 17, he is definitely more Arab than cob- looks can be deceiving! They are on a mission to compete in every discipline under the sun, their favourite currently being barrel racing closely followed by showjumping. Horses have been a huge part of Danielle’s life but only now are things really starting to click together for her and her brave pants seem to be here to stay!