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View Full Version : HELP! Super Nervous Client....suggestions....PLEASE!



sar2008
May. 18, 2010, 07:53 AM
I took a client to a horse show this past weekend. Nothing fancy, just a very low-key jumper show that was suppossed to help her get her feet wet. She showed hunters when she was younger (19 years ago...) and I have recently converted her :D

She has been leasing a horse of mine for almost 3 years and knows him in and out. She rides him great and does wonderful with him. Never misses a distance, is always on point over fences. I figured this show would be a piece of cake for her. After all, we were only doing the Puddle Jumpers for goodness sake. She schools 3'9 at home.... :no:

Boy was I wrong.....she did horrible. She was a ball of nerves. Shaking, forgetting to breathe throughout her ENTIRE course, crouching into fetal position....it's like she forgot how to ride. IT WAS TWO FEET for crying out loud. She had the poor horse stopping. He IS NOT a stopper. It's like you could see her slowly going from a canter to a trot to a halt right before the fence....Two freaking feet and she had him stopping.

It was a train wreck. I have never had a client that got that frazzled at a horse show. It was a local horse show, not Culpeper, not Upperville, not even Lexington....a local--not even rated--show...of course, she got eliminated. So I made her go again--unjudged. The first five jumps were ok. She came off at the liverpool. I swear, if she would have been leaning any more far foward, I would have been pulling his mane out of her teeth. :eek: He did another gradual canter to halt transition and she then proceeded to try and make him jump a liverpool from a standstill. Poor horse just sort of rolled her off his neck.

The second class was a lot better. I sort of ripped her a new one and I think it pissed her off enough she was riding much more aggressively and did a beautiful job. Still not as good as she does at home, but at this point I was just thrilled she didn't have any refusals.

Has anyone ever had a client as nervous as this? How did you handle it? Do you scratch them if they are so nervous, they can't even see straight?!?!?! :confused::confused:

Trakehner
May. 18, 2010, 08:24 AM
I had a student I used to yell, "Breathe!!!" He'd hold his breath in a class and would be turning a nice beet red by the end.

Does she even want to show? or is she happier just taking lessons and jumping your guy at home?

I always loved to show, usually few butterflies and just went out, had fun and tried to stay on over the x-country scary stuff. I tried to have my students relax and told them to "look calm and sit back...smile, scare the willies out of your competition....if you can't be sincere, fake it!" Maybe a glass of wine 20 minutes before the class might help? Couldn't hurt?

Bigblackdraft
May. 18, 2010, 08:53 AM
Did she really want to do this show? Sounds like she blew a major case of stage fright. Not all people can ignore the "Omigod, they're watching me" feeling, or can handle the pressure of a timed/faults jumper round.

Yeah, she showed hunters almost 20 years ago, but that's a looooooong time to middle age and all the fun fears of death and disability some develop around that age.

If she's schooling 3'9" at home, she's no slouch. Perhaps her forte would be back in the hunters? Less time pressure, and she's done it before. Find out if she *really* wants to show, or if she wants to run around and jump, see if she wants to try hunter paces or foxhunting. Or, if she's happy riding at home, in the ring, then just leave it at that.

Perhaps you could have a heart to heart with her, if you're able to do so. Find out what she really wants to do. Ask her to be honest, so as not to repeat the jumper show scenario. Be a little more supportive instead of ripping her a new one. Maybe at the moment it worked, but it could lead to her getting a new instructor/trainer.

sar2008
May. 18, 2010, 09:09 AM
The show was her idea. She was the one that wanted to go and has been begging me to take her. Plus, the puddle jumpers aren't timed or anything--so the only pressure was to get around the ring clear :)

BBD, Just to clarify, I am a very supportive trainer. :yes: I am not one to get upset, or even raise my voice (unless a student is repeatedly doing the same thing wrong over, and over, and over again) so having a heart to heart is not out of my range by any means. :winkgrin: This is a client I know very well (she is also a friend outside of riding) and when we had a "come to Jesus" it was just that. Not me screaming and over reacting and acting like a freak at the horse show. I was very calm when I was letting her know how I felt about the situation--away from the crowd, it was just us speaking.

The first class, I took the passive approach. Told her it was ok, she did fine, just to relax and it's about having fun and not winning....after the unjudged round went horribly worse, I tried a slightly different approach....it obviously worked becasue she did 100% better in the 2nd class.

Trakehner, I offered her a shot :) jk, but I seriously thought about it.....either that or a xanax.....

rabicon
May. 18, 2010, 09:09 AM
No opinions really but a LIVERPOOL in puddle jumpers?????:confused:

sar2008
May. 18, 2010, 09:14 AM
No opinions really but a LIVERPOOL in puddle jumpers?????:confused:

No kidding!! I was thinking the same thing when I saw it.....especially since it's suppossed to be for greenies both ways. Liverpools are pretty intimidating if you ask me ;)

naters
May. 18, 2010, 09:20 AM
I don't jump anymore (Older now, horse got injured a long time ago when he was learning, and we just never got back to it, though I would like to) so we mainly do flat classes now.... BUT I am the same as your client.... I have a great horse, relatively cute, gets compliments ALL OF THE TIME (he knows when people are oohing over him..) though he really isn't a terrific mover, so I get all excited and want to go to shows..... but.....

when I get in the ring I am a wreck (even though I KNOW that people aren't really "watching" me), and my horse totally feels this.... I have found what helps is:

1. Trying not to care too much
2. A glass of wine in a plastic cup (no joke).
3. I let myself feel free to scratch all of my classes if I want

Life is Good 2
May. 18, 2010, 09:21 AM
I have a friend that shows in the 51 and over adult hunters. She has never taken a breath during her round. We always tease her that if they put one more fence in her lungs would burst. Amazing lung capacity for 62!

sar2008
May. 18, 2010, 09:25 AM
I don't jump anymore (Older now, horse got injured a long time ago when he was learning, and we just never got back to it, though I would like to) so we mainly do flat classes now.... BUT I am the same as your client.... I have a great horse, relatively cute, gets compliments ALL OF THE TIME (he knows when people are oohing over him..) though he really isn't a terrific mover, so I get all excited and want to go to shows..... but.....

when I get in the ring I am a wreck (even though I KNOW that people aren't really "watching" me), and my horse totally feels this.... I have found what helps is:

1. Trying not to care too much
2. A glass of wine in a plastic cup (no joke).
3. I let myself feel free to scratch all of my classes if I want

I seriously think I will bring some wine next time. I used to foxhunt and think thats how half the people used to get through the chases....liquid courage is always wonderful :lol:

I did let her know also, next time if she wanted to scratch, she was more then welcome. I was also thinking of telling her we were just going to lesson at a different place. And just doing a "lesson" at the show and entering her in a few classes if she wants to school over fences. That way she won't have the jitters from getting reved up for the show....I really want to help her through this :yes: I think she will get better with miles....it's just the in betweens that are tough ;)

Limone
May. 18, 2010, 09:29 AM
have her count out loud it forces you to breathe or if she has the money and wants to suggest a sport psychologist

amt813
May. 18, 2010, 09:40 AM
If possible try having her go to another horse show this weekend - the more shows one goes to the less of a big deal they become.

If it is really extreme perhaps a sports psychologist might be helpful? When I was younger I would get so nervous that I would go off course often - I would just walk in the ring and blank out. A sports psychologist can be helpful in teaching a rider to work through their nerves and continue to ride effectively.

FineAlready
May. 18, 2010, 09:41 AM
When I was a teenager, I was a really nervous shower. I threw up multiple times at each show, and I never ate. And I showed A LOT on the A circuit, so it wasn't a matter of not having enough ring time to feel confident.

For me, the problem was that my classes did not go until late in the day. My trainer did my horse in a warm up or the lows early in the day, and I didn't show until sometimes the last division of the day. Even if I schooled in the morning, I just could not get over my nerves. What ended up working for me, ironically, was skipping the pro ride on my horse and showing him in the warm up or lows first thing in the morning myself. The trick for me was to prep my horse in the morning myself, and then, bang, get in the ring on him ASAP. It kept me from thinking about everything that could go wrong and let me really focus on my horse and see that he would be fine (or, see that even if he was not fine, I would be able to handle it - he was a veeerrry tricky ride). Even though the warm-up or lows were a good foot or so lower than my "real" division, just getting in the ring and jumping around the course was enough to fix me for the day. After we figured that out, horse shows became a lot more fun!

So...perhaps in this case, is there a way to get her into the ring (or at least on the horse) first thing in the morning? Maybe even have her do a little hunter round as a warm up even though he is a jumper? Sometimes having too much time to think can be a bad thing.

HJALO
May. 18, 2010, 11:17 AM
Did she have the same problem years ago when she showed? I had a similar reaction when I returned to showing after an 11 year hiatus. I was so nervous I almost had a panic attack and my hands shook the entire way around the ring. Much worse nerves as an adult than I ever had as a junior and I have no idea why. The joys of aging perhaps? ;) It has gotten much better with time and mileage, so maybe, if she still wants to show, just give her time to work her way back into it slowly by repeated trips to the small shows.

KateKat
May. 18, 2010, 11:35 AM
What did she say she was nervous about? Feeling like she had to perform well? All the people? Did the horse feel spooky or something?

Her nerves do sound like they were a little extreme but this was her first show! I bet at the next she'll be 100 times better. After all, I doubt for her anything could be worse than this first show. If it were me, I would find out what she was nervous about, work through that for a couple weeks and then enter her in another show soon, so that she doesn't have time to get worked up again. Sometimes people just need to be pushed a little, and it sounds like this woman responds better to a little pressure.

findeight
May. 18, 2010, 11:38 AM
I was a basket case for about 2 years (maybe 15 shows or so) after I came back at age 45. Oh, it was a little better each show. But it took a looooong time before I could sleep the night before and I still drove people crazy being really restless all day waiting for my classes.

I think this gal is within the normal range and, if she started to get a handle on it in that second class? She can do it.

Ummm...maybe she could go back to the 2'6" (or even lower) Hunters for a few shows as well? Maybe help her not worry so much about learning courses and liverpools(:eek:) and just get around intact a few times. Might be a bit much to learn a new division on top of coming back after so many years.

And, especially with Adults? Trainers need patience...and half that bottle of wine:lol:.

InWhyCee Redux
May. 18, 2010, 01:03 PM
I sort of ripped her a new one and I think it pissed her off enough she was riding much more aggressively and did a beautiful job. Still not as good as she does at home, but at this point I was just thrilled she didn't have any refusals.

Has anyone ever had a client as nervous as this? How did you handle it? Do you scratch them if they are so nervous, they can't even see straight?!?!?! :confused::confused:

As a nervous client, I feel "ripping her a new one" is about the worst thing you could do.... But, yes, I'd scratch myself if I became that nervous in the show ring. Maybe she needs to do some flat and low hunter classes until she gets the hang of showing?

PS: Ditto the glass of wine. And "yoga breathing" can help.

Mimi La Rue
May. 18, 2010, 01:18 PM
I sound just like your client! Just thinking about showing freaks me out. My nerves are going haywire right now in fact. There is a show the first weekend of June I know my trainer will ask if I want to do, which I do, but then again I don't. I showed for years as a kid and teen and never had the butterflies once. It's been about 10 years since my last show though. I've owned my horse for a little over a year. I know him really well. My trainer showed him at the last show and he did awesome. He is an old pro at showing. The show is also a home show so this really shows how much of a wimp I am. I feel like I will never be ready.

mypaintwattie
May. 18, 2010, 01:24 PM
I'm always a nervous nellie at shows. What I have learned to do is just poo-poo everything the day before as no big deal, and try to relax as much as possible. I am getting better, as a kid I would throw up, now days I still can't eat much but my stomach doesn't do the butterfly gymnastics it used to- now my nerves manifest in randomly feeling like I could cry! More time in the ring really helps, try to get her in as many classes as possible. If all else fails there is always wine, or my favorite, a cape cod (raspberry juice + vodka);)

mypaintwattie
May. 18, 2010, 01:26 PM
I sound just like your client! Just thinking about showing freaks me out. My nerves are going haywire right now in fact. There is a show the first weekend of June I know my trainer will ask if I want to do, which I do, but then again I don't. I showed for years as a kid and teen and never had the butterflies once. It's been about 10 years since my last show though. I've owned my horse for a little over a year. I know him really well. My trainer showed him at the last show and he did awesome. He is an old pro at showing. The show is also a home show so this really shows how much of a wimp I am. I feel like I will never be ready.

Mimi- what show???? I'll come and cheer you on (or bring drinks):winkgrin:

Mimi La Rue
May. 18, 2010, 01:34 PM
Mimi- what show???? I'll come and cheer you on (or bring drinks):winkgrin:

Orange Coast Cooler. June 5-6.

I think I'd be more confident if no one watched. I don't want my husband there or my mom. Maybe I will even send my trainer away to go watch another ring. lol.

mypaintwattie
May. 18, 2010, 01:38 PM
Orange Coast Cooler. June 5-6.

I think I'd be more confident if no one watched. I don't want my husband there or my mom. Maybe I will even send my trainer away to go watch another ring. lol.

Always a fun show! If I had a trailer I would be there, I'm doing the OCHSA shows at our barn this year. So much easier showing at home!!! My other trick is that I have Coreene ring side taking pictures, and making odd ball hysterical remarks as I pass by- when I laugh or even smile I remember to BREATHE! I'm with you though, I don't have any family members come watch, the only one allowed by the ring is Coreene- even my friend who was a trainer is not allowed!

RomeosGirl
May. 18, 2010, 01:45 PM
And, especially with Adults? Trainers need patience...and half that bottle of wine:lol:.

Yeah, we have two trainers at my barn. I think they fight over who has to put the adults in the show ring...
We get the loser of that fight:D:lol:
Oh, & one of the trainers does not drink, so she gets us sober!

Mimi La Rue
May. 18, 2010, 01:50 PM
Always a fun show! If I had a trailer I would be there, I'm doing the OCHSA shows at our barn this year. So much easier showing at home!!! My other trick is that I have Coreene ring side taking pictures, and making odd ball hysterical remarks as I pass by- when I laugh or even smile I remember to BREATHE! I'm with you though, I don't have any family members come watch, the only one allowed by the ring is Coreene- even my friend who was a trainer is not allowed!

My plan is to go on Saturday and watch all day long. Hopefully that will give me the motivation I need and I will sign up for a couple classes on Sunday. Of course though most of the jumper classes are on Sunday and the classes I should show in are on Saturday, but at this point I am having a panic attack just thinking about it so maybe I am not ready.

mypaintwattie
May. 18, 2010, 02:26 PM
My plan is to go on Saturday and watch all day long. Hopefully that will give me the motivation I need and I will sign up for a couple classes on Sunday. Of course though most of the jumper classes are on Sunday and the classes I should show in are on Saturday, but at this point I am having a panic attack just thinking about it so maybe I am not ready.

Then it sounds like you need a glass of wine...

Mimi La Rue
May. 18, 2010, 02:34 PM
Then it sounds like you need a glass of wine...

I haven't had a drink of alcohol in like 5 years. I will get really drunk off a glass. Maybe a couple sips of a wine cooler? :lol:

crazyhorses
May. 18, 2010, 06:39 PM
A liver pool in the puddle jumpers might give me a heart attack... Seriously! lol.

The only thing I can do is remember to breathe... and if I'm going to freeze up, I try to freeze in the correct position :P

crazyhorses
May. 18, 2010, 06:40 PM
Oh yes, or a nice margarita before the class..... LOL

Donkey
May. 18, 2010, 07:01 PM
Sounds extreme - get a sports psychologist to work with her :yes: And keep going to puddle jumping shows - you must desensitize your client.

M. O'Connor
May. 18, 2010, 09:43 PM
It's really tough to address nerves sometimes, but the key is that you really need to back off the levels, and not disparage a student who is having this problem.

As Donkey says, the goal at this point is not to be competitive, but to desensitize. Perhaps it is not necessary to actually enter, but just go ride and school? That's what you'd do with a nervous horse...sometimes trainers are better with animals than people--it shouldn't be overlooked that the solutions are often the same.

Mukluk
May. 19, 2010, 12:55 AM
I'm really thinking about doing sports psychology!!!

Fun Size
May. 19, 2010, 01:27 AM
Oh geez, show nerves...

I have been in competitive sports since I was 4, and I still get horrible nerves! Actually, I think it is actually adrenaline rush, but it feels the same and doesn't help my riding. I have the adrenaline system of an adrenaline junkie, probably from all the competitive sports, but I don't actually like it.

I'm 29 now, and all the techniques in the world can only do so much.

Seriously though.... .25 xanax on the way to the show. I get there so early, the thing is usually worn off by the time I make it to the show ring, but I think the effect is really just in my head (seriously, .25 is the lowest dose they make and it is barely enough to do anything at all).

It only lasts for like 4 hours, and considering I'm there at least an hour early, and I show throughout the whole day, it doesn't do much in reality, but for some reason it is enough for me to get started. I haven't needed it for the last few shows, now that I am in the swing of things.

Isn't that terrible of me? Just take a pill....but what the heck. If it works, it works. If she is actually getting panicky in the ring, that is what the stuff was created for!

franknbeans
May. 19, 2010, 08:10 AM
I am also the super nervous type at shows......as hard as I have tried, just cannot be calm. But-have found that Rescue Remedy (an herbal calmer) works well......just before going in for class-some for me, some for the horse.......:lol: Really helped me. Even if it was the placebo affect....whatever works. Otherwise, I would go for the wine, but not share with the horse.:D

It is also good for nervous dogs during storms-great stuff to have around!:yes:

sar2008
May. 19, 2010, 08:28 AM
Thanks everyone for all the replies. I had a chat with her last night and we are just going to continue to go to as many local shows as possible and just getting her in the ring. I gave her the option of scratching if she is super nervous. Hopefully, she will get better with mileage.

Also, I think everyone has a different opinion on what I mean by "ripping her a new one." Again, just to clarify like I have said in an earlier post, I am a very supportive trainer. Since I am not one to get upset, or even raise my voice, for me reacting how I did was extreme, even though for some people it would be considered very mild.....This is a client I know very well (she is also a friend outside of riding) and when we had a "come to Jesus" it was just that. Not me screaming and over reacting and acting like a freak at the horse show. I was very calm when I was letting her know how I felt about the situation--away from the crowd, it was just us speaking.

Thanks again and wish us luck for our next show this weekend ;)

Bogie
May. 19, 2010, 08:36 AM
How is she during flat classes?

Maybe some time in the ring without jumping will help.

Once she feels comfortable with showing in general, then she can start to add fences.

I don't think there's anything wrong with staying within her comfort zone until what she's doing starts to feel boring and she wants a bit more challenge.

Bearhunter
May. 19, 2010, 11:01 AM
.25 xanax on the way to the show.



:yes: or as needed lol

Mimi La Rue
May. 19, 2010, 12:55 PM
Seriously though.... .25 xanax on the way to the show. I get there so early, the thing is usually worn off by the time I make it to the show ring, but I think the effect is really just in my head (seriously, .25 is the lowest dose they make and it is barely enough to do anything at all).

Next time I go to the doctors, I will be asking for some. :yes:

AppendixQHLover
May. 19, 2010, 01:21 PM
Wine is my best friend before a show.

IF I have a glass of wine I get really giddy and relaxed. My horse is like TG..she will remember to breathe over the fence.

LShipley
May. 19, 2010, 04:12 PM
I like to always enter a "screw up" class. This is my chance to go in and just have fun and if it all goes wrong, well, it is just practice. Once, it was a 2' class without a change of direction with only 5 other riders. When it came time for our regular beginner class, I started to get nervous and reminded myself how relaxed I was earlier with my "screw up class". I got my relaxed feeling back and we rode so much better than at home. Sometimes my "screw up" class is a slightly higher division - the only problem with that is that my screw up is then sometimes scheduled after the real one....

MoonRiver5
May. 20, 2010, 12:29 PM
As a young adult who used to show all the time as a kid and never got nervous back then, I was sort of shocked by my own nerves when I went back to the ring after a long break during college and grad school. Thankfully I have a great trainer and we talk about the show nerves and how to force myself to stay relaxed even when my heart is pounding. The biggest thing that helped me was realizing that the more tense I get, the more I encourage my usual cupcake of a horse to turn into a fire breathing dragon. Sounds like the horse you have her on is a saint which is going to help her out a lot. I falso ound that laughing and chatting with friends or my trainer ringside helped a lot. Just keep it low key, make sure to remind her this is all just for practice and miles and it's supposed to be fun, tell her to trust the horse to take care of her, ride just like she does at home, etc.

Sorry to have to tell you this... but it took me two years of showing about once or twice a month (so I could have plenty of lessons and re-group in between shows), and now I am finally relaxed in the ring and have been able to move up from the pre-adults to the adults. My horse has been more than ready to compete at 3' for the past year, I jump that height and bigger all the time at home, but I just wasn't ready to take the training wheels off because I needed to get a grip on my nerves first. Now that I have, of course I've realized 3' is easier than the little ones (which my trainer has been telling me all along and I've been rolling my eyes at her). But I had to keep myself in a completely no-pressure situation for a long time until I stopped riding like a 2x4 on crack.

My advice would be to keep her in the puddle jumpers for as long as it takes for her to get in there and relax and ride like she does at home. Try to make her laugh at herself because it does feel sort of ridiculous and humiliating to go in the ring and make a fool of yourself because you've gotten all wound up over a bunch of tiny little jumps at a podunk little show (believe me, been there done that!). Oh and a drink totally helps! Flask in the ring bucket!!

brightwhitestockings
May. 20, 2010, 01:51 PM
maybe have her tag along to some shows without a horse just to hang out and watch/help? If it's been awhile since she showed before she might just need to get used to the atmosphere again and then will be fine.

alto
May. 20, 2010, 02:25 PM
Does she trailer out & ride anywhere other than home? (especially organized events?)
has she gone out & done any clinics?

cooljenn77
May. 20, 2010, 06:56 PM
i always found the nights i didn't get much sleep i was better I was to tired to think about all the things that could go wrong and just rode.And when you fall off it's a lot more funny when your tired.The joys of showing greenies.

superpony123
May. 20, 2010, 07:46 PM
...does she even want to show? or does she want to do hunters? sounds like me when i tried jumpers!! i'm fairly confident in the hunter ring. i like hunters and eq. i might be able to enjoy jumpers if going fast didnt make me nervous or if i had a better memory (i have very very bad memory. just one more reason to stick to hunters! at least i can figure out where i'm going if i forget halfway on course!)

if she's going from jumping 3'9'' beautifully to having a breakdown on a 2' course, there's a problem, and it's probably that she either doesnt want to show or isnt comfortable doing it yet, or not comfortable with jumpers

quietann
May. 20, 2010, 08:52 PM
I do dressage, but am another one who gets show nerves. My old trainer was calm but persistent with me... would not let me give up even when maresy was acting horrid. Learning that I could do it was the best thing.

I also will take a Buspar (a mild, non addictive anti-anxiety drug) before I get on my horse at a show. It takes the edge off without drugging me out of my mind. To be honest, sometimes I wish I could show in some sort of hunter "appointments" class where one has a flask of whiskey strapped to the saddle. Just knowing that it's there would help.

These days I'm terrible, I run around muttering about how much I hate showing until I get on the horse, and then I'm fine!