January 31, 2010


In a matter of weeks, I've almost completely lost my nerve while riding.  How did it happen?  I've always been tense at the canter - having my tentatively horse savvy mom telling me I couldn't canter because it was "too fast and bumpy" didn't help, and I didn't canter til I was sixteen.  That's a story for another post, though.

Here's the summary: I've always been a nervy rider and this year I've started learning to jump.  Twice a week last semester I saddled up a fairly green ex-racehorse who turned out to be a safe ride and careful jumper, but he was still quite green.  This semester I've been assigned a crazy Thoroughbred who's developed a habit of running out from under you with no warning whatsoever, jumping cross poles like 3" oxers and freaking out in midair over a jump.  As a result, all of the work I did to relax my seat at the canter over the past three years is now null, and I'm developing a fear of jumping.  How am I supposed to learn to jump on a horse like that, a horse that does something different each time?  How am I supposed to relax when I never know what will happen over the fence or whether we'll make it to the other side?

In my very first jump team practice on Friday I was on one of the best horses in the barn and had a nervous breakdown when he started bucking.  I haven't had a single ride this semester that didn't include a spook, buck, midair freakout or just plain nasty behavior.  So when Chance bucked on Friday all of my fear and tenseness came pouring out of me in the form of uncontrollable sobbing.  I'm not afraid to ride, but I'm afraid of losing control while riding, and losing control every time I go over a fence is making me afraid to go over fences at all.

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