Best of JN: The 7 Stages of Panic When Your Trainer Raises the Fences

For many riders, the thought of raising the fences to new heights gets our blood pumping. Hours of lessons and critique have all led up to this moment — jumping a fence bigger than you have ever jumped before. It is exciting and emotionally draining at the same time.

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone isn’t easy, but it is how you get better. Those seconds before the big fence can definitely lead to some emotional turmoil if you haven’t had the proper amount of time to prepare for this undertaking.

To help you better handle your emotions when the time comes, the team at Jumper Nation has performed some experiments of our own. As a result, we have developed this “super scientific” timeline of the breakdown of emotions that occur when the fences get bigger. So next time you see the fences get bumped, never fear, you will survive … even though it may not feel that way at first.

1) The “No Big Deal” Stage.

At first glance, the fences don’t even look bigger than normal. You can almost hear the cowboy music playing in the background as you face off against this new fence height.

Thoughts associated with this stage: Whatever. No big. You’ve got this.

2) The “Ummmmmm” stage

Except … the fence does look bigger now as you walk past it and pick up your canter …

Thoughts associated with this stage: Well, this is interesting. Are you sure that is only one hole higher? Ehh … no big deal, right? You’ve got this. You’ve totally got this.

3) The “I Don’t Belong Here” Stage

Ooookayyyy now you’re starting to panic. All the things that could go wrong are spinning around in the back of your head. You begin thinking maybe it’s time to go back to cross rails because there is no way you are prepared for this.

Thoughts associated with this stage: Is my horse going to run out? Oh geez, he is going to run out. I am like 40 strides back and I can tell he is definitely going to run out. Just focus on my distance … breathe … distance … breathe …

Wait, what is a distance?


You’re 10 strides out and you’re so busy questioning all of your trainers life decisions that you have completely forgotten what contact is or how to achieve it. Obviously they have greatly overestimated your skills.

Thoughts associated with this stage: Let’s just go back to the barn, drink wine, and talk this through.

5) The “Do or Die” Stage

Suddenly you’re a few strides out and you know there is no turning back. Time to buck up and do this thing because there is no circling at this point. Find a little piece of self confidence tucked inside of you somewhere and start humming your theme song in your head.

Thoughts associated with this stage: You can do this, right? How will you ever get to the Olympics if you can’t conquer this teeny tiny, but not really so much tiny, fence? Let’s toss around some rainbows and butterflies because we are making the best of this situation!

6) The “Play Time is Over” Stage

Next thing you know, you’re in the air and you are all business. You are half shocked you got somewhat of a distance and are still on the horse, but that is irrelevant. You are DOING THIS.

Thoughts associated with this stage: You’ve got this. You are a superstar. You are the next Beezie Madden. This jump is a cake walk. There are thousands of fans counting on you to make this happen.

7) The “DO IT AGAIN” Stage

AND YOU NAIL THE LANDING. As you canter away you realize you haven’t taken a breath since you started cantering and you feel like you are going to fall off your horse, but you did it. Acknowledge that you are, in fact, awesome and canter away as your coach yells at you to do it again.

Thoughts associated with this stage:

Go Jumping!

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