After Aladdin and I successfully jumped a 90cm fence, it made me wonder how on earth did we do it?! We’d been stuck at 50cm for so long! What gave us the confidence in jumping to take the ‘leap’ and just go for it?
My whole life I have watched other riders in awe, I’d only dreamt about jumping ‘big jumps’. Never thinking I would be able to ride myself into one of the bigger fences. Not at least without forgetting to breathe 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, I’d be near to having a panic attack. This is due to an accident I had last year resulting in a visit to hospital. My nerves were completely crumpled. I presumed every time I rode the same would happen again.
With tiny steps in the right direction, we soon learnt how best we could work together. Some days were made difficult by Aladdin’s ‘quirks’. His rodeo impressions aren’t the easiest to sit to! However, I soon realized it wasn’t the falling that put me off, it was what others thought of my riding. After every ride I criticized myself and always wished I had pushed for more.
Moving to the new yard was a complete game changer! With my self-esteem being low, I was hesitant to even lunge whilst others looked on. I found myself questioning if my lunging circles were even good enough! Soon I got to know others on the yard and they supported me in my riding, building my confidence in jumping. It was an equestrian community that embraced Aladdin’s quirks, laughing them off! Each kind comment such as ‘you did amazing today’ or even ‘well sat’ pushed me to keep going and up our game. This made me realize how much I’d mentally blocked myself from achieving more. The simple act of believing in myself made me more confident in my riding.
Regular jumping lessons have also been key. The lessons gave me reassurance, sort of like a comfort blanket, building my confidence to tackle things that scared me. Whether it was something as simple as an upright or a double, I made sure to ride through the fear and trust Aladdin. After all, if I am feeling scared what signals must I be giving him? I’ve found that my growing confidence in jumping rubs off on Aladdin. He listens to what I ask of him, along with trusting my judgement.
The night we jumped the 90cm scary scissor fence, Aladdin was calm and collected. Going round he was switched on and listening to me between and over fences. We were only doing small jumps but something about the larger jumps seemed super appealing that night. I kept imagining what it must feel like. Just the thought of jumping them was making me smile. So, I thought “why not?!”. If the thought of jumping them can make me smile I should give it a go! My partners in crime were in there with me, I knew if anything went wrong they’d pick me up and we’d laugh it off. It shows having good support around you and having some belief in yourself can make a massive difference!
Building your confidence can be as simple as:
Danielle is a 23 year old, ambitious rider hoping to get ‘somewhere’ with her loan horse Aladdin, a six year old Cob x Anglo Arab -definitely more Arab than cob, looks can be deceiving! They are on a mission to compete in every discipline under the sun. Favouring barrel racing, closely followed by showjumping. Horses have been a huge part of her life and hopes to be able to do much more in the future!