An Equestrian's Experience of Riding Through a Loss of Confidence
Posted on March 18 2015
Everybody has those moments where all you can feel is “I’m done, I’m tired, I want to give up” but your heart keeps telling you that you can’t give up, you have to keep trying. Eventually, it can get to a point where it is hard to hear the voice telling you to keep trying, and all you can think of is giving up.
Through the past few weeks, I have had trouble with show jumping and lost all of my confidence. I was perfectly comfortable jumping the large, wooden and solid tables on cross country, but the idea of going into a show jump ring terrified me.
It started last August when I competed at a combined test in bad weather. The footing was horrendous so Laney lost her balance over almost every jump. I would have to take a long spot so that as her back legs slid forward in the mud during take off, she wouldn’t get too close to the base. After that, both Laney and I were very nervous in the ring. I was nervous to mess up and Laney was scared the ground would fall out from under her. The next several months were difficult and being apart from my full time coach, I tried several new jumping coaches. By the time I got to Aiken, I had gotten six rails at two different shows. When I arrived, I expected things to improve greatly; I was back with Kate Chadderton, my coach, and everything would fall into place. Well, in my first prelim of the season, once again, I had six rails. It was such a heartbreaker, then another six rails, and then five rails. I have never felt more defeated than during that month of what felt like complete failure. I had tried everything and worked harder with Laney than any point in my life, but it still wasn’t good enough to get the result I longed for. I was confused, exhausted and barely succeeding in fighting the urge to give up, but that tiny little whisper telling me to keep trying, and the incredible support of my coach and parents made me keep going. We changed whatever we could to make it better- tactic, after tactic, after tactic.
Finally, we found a solution that held the potential to lead us into success- short warm up. Before going into the ring, I typically jump around ten to fifteen jumps, but this time, I jumped four: vertical, vertical, oxer, oxer and straight into the ring. This round served as the qualifier to do a CIC*, and proof that I can succeed in a preliminary show jumping course, so it meant a lot to me. I came out of the ring in tears, but not because I was upset. I was in complete shock and ecstasy about what had just happened- only one rail, that was it, one rail hit the ground. I was expecting three or four rails down, but all of our hard work paid off in that minute. I have never been so proud of my riding, or of my horse.
After many, many, MANY tears and heartbreaks, I finally found a way to overcome something that seemed completely impossible. So many things were telling me I couldn’t, and it felt like so many people thought that of me, too. But, I had that small group who held their faith in me and encouraged me to hold faith in myself which helped me find my confidence again.
All in all, I guess I’m trying to say, always remember to follow your heart, and have that faith in yourself. Life will throw so many painful things at you and try to shoot you down, but you need to keep running through the fire because the other side is so much more beautiful than you could ever imagine. Equestrianista - Rachel Sledzik