Delayed Onset Anxiety

So I fell off last week. It was fairly dramatic, yet also anti-climactic, and I wasn’t hurt.

I was riding Prada, who, despite having already experienced several unplanned dismounts from, I still quite like riding. She’s fun and fancy when I stay on.

But she looks like this much of the time
But she looks like this much of the time

Anyway. It was my first real jumping lesson after a long break from the holidays and family stuff. We popped over the first fence just fine, then came around to an oxer. It was probably 2’6″. (I am terrible at judging fence height though.) We came up with good pace and – stopped.

You know how sometimes you don’t have clear memories of stuff that happens too quickly? This is what I remember. Flying up her neck and seeing her ears too close to my face. Being on the ground on my side, looking up and back toward the fence. Seeing horse chest, neck, face and legs above me in motion. Having a clear thought that I should curl up to protect my body. Curling up and waiting for the horse to either land on me, strike me with a hoof or step on me. None of these things happening. Opening my eyes and sitting up, to see Prada a few steps away, halted, facing me and with no bridle on.

So I stood up, dusted myself off and performed a mental checklist – yep, everything intact, nothing injured – and by the time I got over to Prada, her bridle was back on. I got right back on (shaky legs on the mounting block, just adrenaline, ignore it). We came around and did the same fence again, only this time it was just a bitty crossrail. No problem.

Later in the lesson, Prada stopped repeatedly at a different fence. We had to try again and again and again, and my determination/frustration finally won out. I felt pretty good about my confidence and determination to get over the fences. We jumped a few more fences in the course and came around to jump the oxer where I’d fallen, though by this time it had been switched around so we were going the other direction.

And suddenly my anxiety was about as high as it has ever been. I thought about stopping, not jumping it at all, calling it a day. (Stop stop, you can’t do this. Yes you can, just go.) My stubbornness won out. We jumped it. Beautifully, in fact. And then in the middle of the course, I was just done. I told my trainer I was going to stop there, call it a day. My anxiety was too high. By the time I halted in the middle of the arena, my whole body was shaking and my eyes were filling up.

I hate that feeling.

Generally I’m a pretty confident and mentally tough rider. If I have nerves, I’m pretty good at riding through them and not letting them affect my concentration. Falling off usually doesn’t rattle me too much, or for too long. Even this time, I was fine to keep riding until about 20 minutes later. Delayed onset anxiety.

And this time I keep reliving it and thinking about it.

The offending oxer looked just like this; our execution was slightly different than pictured
The offending oxer looked just like this; our execution was SLIGHTLY different than pictured

My trainer was very smart about it. After awhile, she had me do one more course with bitty baby jumps, and it went very smoothly. A much better way to end a lesson. And she said that in our next lesson we’d keep the jumps small.

It’s just frustrating. I don’t want setbacks. Especially since my riding time is more limited these days. But I will push on, boot up and ride again this week.

How do you handle fear, setbacks and mental toughness?

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7 thoughts on “Delayed Onset Anxiety

  1. Thank you for sharing this. It is interesting what fear and the resulting anxiety does. I tend to ‘go back to basics.’ Like your trainer did. Do what I know I can do and then build back on that. I remember Denny Emmerson posted something a while back about ‘practicing your guts.’ Might be worthwhile to look that up. I do not know what specifically made me think of that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey lady-so sorry you are having some rough mental moments! Try to think of it as a teeny baby step back to reaffirm everything before a big leap forward. You’ve had so much change this year, I would totally be mentally strained as it is. Be proud of all you’ve done so far, and try to relax about the rest. Time heals all! I can attest to that myself.

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  3. Girl, I TOTALLY feel you. I’ve always been a naturally very very nervous rider, and it’s only fairly recently that I’ve been feeling braver. I agree with the advice other people have already chimed in with- take a step back to do something you feel really confident at to reassure yourself that you do, in fact, totally got this. And I def second reading Danny Emerson, he has SO much to say about building confidence and I really love it! You might also like this post from a friend’s blog: https://shelbyrallen.wordpress.com/2017/01/20/bravery/
    I definitely loved the points it made and sounds like it might be pretty applicable right now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read that on Shelby’s blog earlier this week 🙂 I’m a new follower and I’m so happy I found it! It was definitely helpful. It’s also helpful just to hear from other people (from Daryl Kinney’s article to other bloggers) about times when they’ve felt the same way. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking everyone else is just super confident all the time – and it’s not true! We’re all weenies! (Just kidding, we’re all flippin’ badasses.)

      Liked by 1 person

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