How To Eliminate Question Marks

Jumping my Conn x pony this summer Jumping my Conn x pony this summer

Pardon my overgeneralizations, but arguably there are two kinds of people in the world; gutsy and non-gusty. There are individuals who jump out of twenty story buildings. We hear about and watch people skydive and bungee jump off bridges. There are alligator hunters and snake charmers. There are deep sea divers and rock climbers. There are people who have climbed Everest. The list is continuous and cannot be stopped.

Personally I am not the most gutsy and bold person in the world. I know this about myself and cannot hide such blatant traits. However, technically speaking, I want to gallop and jump big jumps.

Can slightly less bold individuals tackle such a sport as eventing, or do we throw in the cards and walk out the door now? Even if we are nervous from time to time, does that mean we are not meant to participate in all the action and join in on the fun to be had in the eventing world? I would have to argue that non-gutsy individuals should be able to tackle whatever sport they want to conquer.

Here comes the ultimate challenge coming from a slightly less bold individual. How do we eliminate such obvious question marks that are lingering in our heads?  In other words, how do we boldly gallop towards jumps that we feel slight question marks about, even though we really DO want to jump those jumps? Or, how do we ride boldly on xc even though we are really concerned about number 8, the giant table at the bottom of a hill?

I have a gut feeling people are going to chime in here and say the following: If you are scared or nervous…why the heck are you competing, or galloping, or jumping? To answer my fictitious counterpart, I would have to say that just because WE are nervous, or worried about something from time to time does not mean that we cannot handle the sport.

For those who are deathly afraid….well, thats a whole different ballgame. Returning to my original question: How do we trick our brains into thinking something is not scary when we are positive it is scary?



One of my biggest challenges, probably because I have a history of riding some challenging horses who have slammed on the brakes one too many times, is riding boldly to a fence and deciding way before that fence that we WILL (no if and’s or but’s) jump that jump and land on the other side.

This doesn’t happen all the time, but on an occasion, I’ll be cantering, or galloping towards some obstacle without deciding that we WILL jump that jump. Several things can happen when I have entered into this indecisive mind set: 1) my horse will pick up on my indecisive energy and either jump the jump because he or she is incredibly bold, or 2) the horse will stop.

Something I have learned over the years as far as eliminating question marks goes, is watching other really good riders ride. I am such a visual learner that watching a really talented rider frequently make good decisions while jumping, helps put me in the right mindset. I also find that talking to other professionals, or peers about your concerns or issues also helps tremendously.

If you can pinpoint your question marks, it becomes exponentially easier to manage your question marks. Lastly, riding reliable, trustworthy, safe and sane horses will also help reduce the number of question marks in your head. The more successful rides you have, the more confident you will feel over time. The more confident you feel over time will help reduce or even eliminate those pesky question marks nagging your subconscious.

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