Facing the Fear Factor: Developing positive memories

I have not been following the book’s protocol completely, even though it says that is the way to the best results, largely because while I’m afraid in a few situations, I’m not a fearful rider about almost everything. But I’m following the ones that I think will help me get rid of my fears. I DO get off when I am feeling worried. that seems to be helping.

I am also practicing visualizing fun, relaxing rides.

Jumping is getting fun again, Neuf is really fun to jump, so I jump him a couple of times a week. I’m mostly doing gymnastics, which are good for developing confidence. I’ve also done a couple of jumping lessons with Bali, and that is helping me feel more confident with the jumping. I’m remembering that I used to love jumping and was actually a lot better at that than dressage.

I am not scared on Neuf, but I’m also not completely relaxed yet. Yesterday, the plan was to have a jumping lesson, and if he was good, a short work today followed by a long walk. The plan had to be changed. There was crazy amounts of traffic on the road outside the barn, since the main road was closed for the Christmas parade in town, people were cutting through on the gravel roads, but that wasn’t why we changed plans. While warming up, we were doing fine with all the rattling traffic, but Neuf went on high alert and it sounded a little like a flock of Canada geese taking off, I stopped, listened and realized that a hunt was close by, and I decided to get off. That was a good decision. The first rider came galloping by moments later, followed by three more. The hounds were in full cry, all the horses in the fields were going nuts, galloping all over, we all just went into the barn. Neuf did pretty good, but he was up. I stuck him in his stall for a few minutes, then Martin thought the hunt was gone, but I decided that I’d rather Martin ride. So he did. And it was good for Neuf…the hunt wasn’t done so he was very nervous, had a few moments of naughtiness, nothing extreme, but given my working on only positive experiences, I was glad that I was not on him. While I can ride that, right now, I still am not confident in it, I would have not been the calm rider Neuf needed.

So, today we had our jumping lesson. It was good. Neuf was forward, which I felt good about. He did pull his evasive spin maneuver, with a buck, started to bolt when the other rider was approaching from the other way, and I rode through that ok. I wasn’t pleased with it, but I wasn’t scared I was going to fall. I circled, scolded him and went right back to our jumping line. The jumping was good. I had one line that was just right…unfortunately I wasn’t able to get that good every time and I had a couple of bad misses, but Neuf was a good boy and packed me over those too. The rest were all decent. We ended up going around the little course twice in a row so I’d start to relax into it.

I still am far from cantering relaxed out on our trails, but I am getting much better about being happy and relaxed a lot more often.

Each time Neuf is naughty and I’m ok, it also helps me regain my confidence.


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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One Response to Facing the Fear Factor: Developing positive memories

  1. Wendy says:

    Good for you! Sounds like your on the right path. I have been working on similar things–used to be fearless and working hard to get back there. Visualization/deep breathing/know my limits, etc. Getting off was huge for me. Being very clear and honest with myself of what I can do in a jump lesson, being able to take a step back to lower fences or less scary corner, etc. and pushing my limits on my own terms are all helpful. Good luck to you!

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