Sophie heard about my work with TFT from other members of an equestrian internet forum. She is an experienced young rider who lost her confidence jumping after a series of incidents, not all related to jumping. She and her friend Katie both make the point that they need continuing good instruction as well as their regained confidence—a useful reminder that riders need both confidence and competence!
I contacted Jo after hearing other success stories of TFT. I’d been riding for 10 years, and jumping was always my forte. When I fell off my old pony, it was always through jumping, but that’s because it’s what we did 99% of the time. I’d often end up in hospital, but only with a bruised neck, and so on. It never bothered me, I’d just hop on and get jumping again. Just before my 16th birthday I was riding my friends horse, the previous day I was jumping her, happily jumping 3'6 with no problems. Next day, we were practising a dressage test, she got excited and I fell off. The fall itself wasn’t so bad, however due to the way I landed (hit a fence, then landed on my back), it was insisted I went to hospital, so they called an ambulance. Turned out I’d just bruised the tissue around my spine, and I was fine again after a week or so. Since then, I took a few more tumbles due to riding horses that (due to my nerves)weren’t suitable at all.
Come September 2005, I started part-loaning Hally, although he can be nervous, he obviously took care of me as I gained my confidence again. I got him on full loan in January 2006, and now have him on full loan with view to buy. Although I was very confident with flatwork, and out hacking, I wasn’t when it came to jumping. I really wanted to get back into jumping, however Hally is known for putting in dirty stops, particularly in the arena. I fell off him a couple of times attempting to jump. He could tell I was nervous, and so became nervous himself. I developed a fear of him refusing, and became even more scared of jumping. I absolutely loved the feeling when I’d landed, but going up to it, I’d be terrified.
So, in July, I finally got round to emailing Jo, and after speaking through email, we arranged a time to call. During the session, we covered all my past falls, especially those in jumping, even those from when I was 13 and on my old pony. It was a weird feeling, I felt more confident, but wasn’t sure whether it’d just vanish when I went to jump. I went up to ride that evening, and left the jumps out how they were in the field, probably 2'6 max. I began trotting up to them, it was brilliant, I had no fears and could actually enjoy it. I gradually began cantering round them all as a course, counting the strides out loud. Hally could tell the difference, and we were flying round them, best of all I was actually smiling!
A few days later, I went out in the field and put up the jumps to about 2'9, and was cantering round them with no fears. I then put one of the jumps up to 3'3. A week ago, I wouldn’t have even cantered round 2'9(never mind 3’3), or if I did I’d be petrified and cause Hally to refuse. Anyway, cantered up to the jump, Hally backed off 3 strides away, I kicked him on – definitely would’ve just given up then a week ago. He went to take off, however then decided not, I flew off over his shoulder. The brilliant thing is though, I just got straight back on and cantered over one of the 2'9 jumps. I’m determined we’ll be happily jumping 3'3 soon, but think we need a good instructor to help us a bit first!
I don’t know how TFT works, and I find it all quite bizarre, but it definitely works, so I won’t question it! There’s no stopping me now though, already planning to go hunting and team chasing next year!
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