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  1. #1
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    Question How do you get past your nerves at a show?

    I used to be an assistant trainer for a hunter/jumper barn years ago. But 4 years ago I went back to being a chef full time and only just starting riding my 5 year old on a regular basis. So I haven't jumped tons of courses with him.

    I bred my hunter mare and have a few babies from her that I am raising.

    The oldest is turning 5 and I will be taking him to his 3rd show next week.


    He is very brave, loves to jump and I plan to show him in the pre greens and the 3 foot derby. He won't have any issues with the fences, it's more about working on being fluid around the course.

    I think I will be fine in the pre greens, but I am afraid I am going to let my nerves get the best of me in the derby. I feel like I get so nervous on him because I raised and trained him myself.

    Sure I could pay someone to show him in the derby, but I specifically bred this horse to be my derby horse and I really want to do it myself, but I also don't want to freeze in the ring!!!

    I am not trying to win, just trying to enjoy my horse, give him experience in the ring and eventually move up to the big derbies in a year or two!

    But it's at night, tons of people are watching blah blah blah. I just don't want to screw up! ;(

    So what works for you to stay calm when showing?



  2. #2
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    Sep. 23, 2004
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    Default

    Xanax.
    Elizabeth
    The Greatest Sense of Freedom is on a Horse!


    5 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
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    Nov. 28, 2012
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    bach flower remedies are nice who knows if they actually work but I find that at least their placebo effect does
    I always tell myself that no one is really watching so it doesn't really matter anyway
    and just breathe, in the hunters you're shwing off your horse not yourself so just have pride in what a phenomenal horse you have
    My Horse Show Photography/ Blog



  4. #4
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    I've had to come up with a solution for this very problem because I tend to be very anxious, and will actually work myself up into quite a state. My solution, focus on a bunch of little details, instead of the big picture. For example: ride to the base of jump A, go into the corner, lead change, gallop up to the combination, 3 strides, 1 stride, etc. It keeps my mind concentrating on things I can control and effectively blocks out the crowd, the what-ifs, etc.
    ~ In the chaos of the showing, remember riding should be fun for all, including our 4-legged kids.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5

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    You know you just want to have fun with your baby, so focus on HIM. And if you are anything like me, the nerves happen at the in gate, but once in the ring, everything else fades away and you are so focused on the course you forget you were nervous in the first place!
    http://www.tbhsa.com/index.html

    Originally Posted by JSwan
    I love feral children. They taste like chicken.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
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    Jun. 29, 2008
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    Seconding ColoredHares' suggestion. If you have serious stage fright, to the point that you think it'll affect your ride, talk to your doc about Xanax (to relieve anxiety) or a beta-blocker (to prevent the physical manifestations of it). I have a Xanax prescription that's only used for horsey purposes. I wish I hadn't wasted so many years without it.



  7. #7
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    My anxiety comes from over thinking so I definitely couldn't focus on details. LOL Just goes to show you that its individual. I like a little quiet time before I go in the ring. Just a few minutes to breathe and be calm. No trainer yammering at me at the in gate. If I can't ride by now its too late. Ha. Step away from the amateur.
    You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!



  8. #8
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    Nov. 11, 2001
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    Default Samotis and Equisusan

    I am a lot like you both. Like Samotis, I have a few babies to work with and one to start showing this spring. these do not make me nervous. I am the "mommy" when I ride them...responsible, patient and proactive. It is when I ride my 6 y.o. in AA shows that I lose it....I feel such pressure and don't do what I know how to do!! I appreciate the advice about Xanax...and will ask my Dr. for a script this spring. I also feel like Equisusan.....I can't process a lot of advice right before I go in the ring...I just need to sit, watch the course and plan my ride.
    "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt


    3 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
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    Jun. 29, 2008
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    I like it for precisely that reason, Claudius -- it doesn't make me loopy (so I've never understood why it's a drug of abuse), just focused. The first time I used it at a show, my trainer was amazed because I wasn't standing at the in-gate white as a sheet and gibbering with fear. I could actually start planning my ride, riding the plan, and dealing with the unexpected instead of going around in a blind panic. I listen to her a lot better, too.



  10. #10
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    Oh I know your issues OP! I have been working with a "mental skills coach" since September on exactly this issue. The super green horses I keep my expectations really low, but my big horse, I get super nervous with him because my expectations are so high.

    If I could only give you one single piece of advice it would be this, set one or two goals for the derby class and stick to them. Whatever happens will be feedback for what you need to work on and what went really well. Try your best to stay present and focus on the tasks, breathing in the corners, heels down, (whatever you choose) and don't think out about the outcome. The outcome you don't have any control over.

    I used to think that a hypnotist could help or that maybe a drug like xanax would, but in reality what I needed was skills, and lots of them, and to practice those skills. And these new skills carry over into all aspects of my life.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11

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    There is a wonderful sports psychologist who works with hunter/jumper riders named Tonya Johnston. She helped me a lot a few years back. She's got a great website with some really nice articles, here's a link.



  12. #12
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    Dec. 2, 2007
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    I used to feel incredibly nauseated prior to showing...to the point I could not eat prior to showing that day, or I would vomit. I then managed to convince myself that if I took a Pepto Bismol tab or two, it was impossible for me to feel nauseated. It's silly, but it actually worked!!



  13. #13
    Samotis is offline Grand Prix Premium Member
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    I never seemed to have too many issues being nervous, but I think because I have raised him that I am more nervous.

    Also I don't get to practice much jumping, so I am a tad less confident.

    Xanax would knock me out! I am a light weight with any kind of drug.

    Maybe the goal thing would help. I think also once I show the first couple days, I will feel better. Hopefully!

    I do relax once in the ring, so I need to just get that far.


    I need to remember he is a baby, it's experience and just have fun!!!!



  14. #14
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    Creative visualization. You have to prepare yourself mentally as well as physically. Weeks before the show you should start imagining what it is going to be like to ride in the class, visualize not only what things will look like, but most importantly, how you want to feel; how you want yourself to feel and how you want your horse to feel. Visualize exactly how you want every moment to go!

    This takes work, so do it a little everyday. It absolutely will help!
    ******
    "A good horse and a good rider are only so in mutual trust."
    -H.M.E.



  15. #15
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    Okay, first things first, what is it you are afraid of, or what makes you nervous at the thought of showing this horse? Are you worried onlookers will see him make a mistake and say, "Sheesh, she "bred" that thing?!" Afraid that he has to be perfect since he is a product of your breeding and total raising? What is the worst that can happen with this horse that wouldn't happen with any other horse? From what I am reading it's ego talking not fear.

    Don't drug yourself. Be rational about the fear. THEN visualize the entire thing going right several times, visualize what you will do if things go wrong (if he refuses ho do you handle it, etc). Knowing you are ready to handle any mistake can help your nerves. Remember it's still just ONE DAY in his entire life...and yours. That day no more defines the two of you than any other day.

    Once you understand why you are nervous I think that will go a long way towards easing your nerves. My instructor hated one of my horses and he is so in tune to me that we looked horrible in front of her. Each lesson merely confirmed for her that he would be better off "on the plate than on the hoof" and that just made me anxious. Once I realized why I was such a wreck I was able to relax and we were able to show the instructor what he capable of. Nerves over "what if" can really mess us up. I wish you the best of luck at your show, and I hope you come back and let us know how you did.



  16. #16
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    The best advice I can give is

    First, be prepared! Do your work at home and know when you get to the show you have what you have and be solid in knowing that.

    Second, know horses are horses. They can have a quiet day or usually are more "up" at a show. Work with what you have.

    Third, don't doubt yourself. Know going in the first rule.

    Fourth, have a good support. Such as a trainer or barn friends to help you.

    Fifth, talk to yourself. I know kooky but it works for me. I say I am doing this because I enjoy it and if I am nervous it's not as much fun.

    and last, know your not alone in feeling this way. I's pretty normal to be nervous. Even the top riders can be nervous. You want to do well.... but the difference is they are extremely prepared since they ride so many horses compared to us ammys.

    I have to say however, I don't usually eat until my classes are over so my goofy stomach doesn't send me off to the bathroom five hundred times in my show clothes or having to use those lovely porta cans LOL
    Train like you have never won and show like you have never lost!!!



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by doublesstable View Post
    Even the top riders can be nervous. You want to do well.... but the difference is they are extremely prepared since they ride so many horses compared to us ammys.

    I have to say however, I don't usually eat until my classes are over so my goofy stomach doesn't send me off to the bathroom five hundred times in my show clothes or having to use those lovely porta cans LOL
    LOL The bathrooms at horse shows are full of riders who are showing their nerves through their digestive systems. I just try to force myself to stay hydrated if I can't eat.

    Also agree that Grand Prix riders get nervous too. Maybe not all but quite a few that I know. They put a lot of pressure on themselves. Its a lot of money to enter the big classes and nobody wants to throw that away for themselves or an owner who is standing there watching.
    You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!



  18. #18
    Samotis is offline Grand Prix Premium Member
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    I am not really afraid, it's just he has a lot of talent, and on the right day, can and will eventually be an amazing derby horse. Sure he has his attitude issues like any young horse, but he loves to jump and is good at it. A natural if you will.

    I guess I just keep thinking what if he looks at one of the jumps, what if he misses a lead, what if the lights freak him out. I know he is green and while he has not given me a reason to think he would spook at a jump, I guess cause he is young, I am still questioning him. It all sounds silly, and rest assured, it's not ego! I just want to do him justice.

    I know he might miss a lead and I am fine with that, like I said, i just don't want to be the one making mistakes! I guess I just have to get used to being an ammie again!



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samotis View Post
    I am not really afraid, it's just he has a lot of talent, and on the right day, can and will eventually be an amazing derby horse. Sure he has his attitude issues like any young horse, but he loves to jump and is good at it. A natural if you will.

    I guess I just keep thinking what if he looks at one of the jumps, what if he misses a lead, what if the lights freak him out. I know he is green and while he has not given me a reason to think he would spook at a jump, I guess cause he is young, I am still questioning him. It all sounds silly, and rest assured, it's not ego! I just want to do him justice.

    I know he might miss a lead and I am fine with that, like I said, i just don't want to be the one making mistakes! I guess I just have to get used to being an ammie again!
    Mistakes are ok - both horse and rider. Its part of being green and being an amateur. Its all in how its handled for both that counts. Was it a positive experience to build on or did things unravel so that both lose confidence. There is no way to get the experience of the derby without doing it so ease up on yourself and the horse. I'm so excited for you. I wish I was doing it. I know its a crazy concept but maybe you can just go in and ride and see how it works out. Your horse might surprise you. I'm assuming you are starting in the 3' derby classes. Really how bad can it be? Your horse can likely trot those fences if required.
    You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samotis View Post
    I am not really afraid, it's just he has a lot of talent, and on the right day, can and will eventually be an amazing derby horse. Sure he has his attitude issues like any young horse, but he loves to jump and is good at it. A natural if you will.

    I guess I just keep thinking what if he looks at one of the jumps, what if he misses a lead, what if the lights freak him out. I know he is green and while he has not given me a reason to think he would spook at a jump, I guess cause he is young, I am still questioning him. It all sounds silly, and rest assured, it's not ego! I just want to do him justice.

    I know he might miss a lead and I am fine with that, like I said, i just don't want to be the one making mistakes! I guess I just have to get used to being an ammie again!
    If he's a nice but green derby horse, have you ever thought about having a pro ride him in certain classes??? That may help?
    Train like you have never won and show like you have never lost!!!



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