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Nervous - talk me down please! - UPDATE

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  • Nervous - talk me down please! - UPDATE

    So my first show is tomorrow. My last show and my last trip off property was last August - an unfortunate incidident involving by horse seeing a bicycle for the first time ended with me headfirst in the dirt, a concussion, a lateral tibial plateau fracture and the better part of 3 months on crutches.

    I am a nervous rider at the best of times so the "what ifs" are spinning out of control right now. Never mind my guy is pretty laid back in general. Never mind that was my one and only fall from him - actually the only time anyone has fallen off him. Never mind I have ridden him hundreds of times since with nothing worse than a minor spook. I am still scared!

    Please talk me down or give me your best tips for conquering the nerves.
    Last edited by BigMama1; Jun. 18, 2017, 09:05 PM.
    *****************
    I'm a Canadian dressage addict and I've got the blog to prove it!
    www.dressageaddict.ca

  • #2
    Start picturing it going well instead of replaying the incident in your head. Find a rhyme or some other mental distraction to keep the worst case scenario part of your brain otherwise occupied.

    But also listen to yourself: if you can't make it past the warm up ring, forgive yourself. Give yourself credit for giving it a go at all!
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

    Comment


    • #3
      Practice positive visualization of how you want the day to go: calmly loading on the trailer, standing quietly for grooming, being relaxed and confident in the warm up, executing a beautiful test, smiling and being happy that you did your best. See your horse listening to you and you being in sync. Your cues are light and effective. Your horse is happy in his job. The judge is happy to watch your harmonious ride.

      Also practice some breathing techniques to help you relax. Inhale for four counts, slowly exhale for eight counts.

      Do you have a helper going with you?

      Have fun!
      My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

      "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

      Comment


      • #4
        I broke my femur in September in a riding accident and took my horse to a show two weeks ago for his first time ever experiencing a show grounds. I was pretty nervous too!

        Half (or quite possibly more than that) is thinking positively, stopping the anxiety spiral before it can start. The clearer your head is, the more relaxed your horse will be and in the case he does spook you will be more likely to be able to react fluidly and move with him.

        I couldn't have my trainer with me but I had a barn friend come and help me with my horse's tricky spots like holding him for mounting and walking with me to the warm up area. Other than that I went in with the expectations that no injuries human or horse, and staying on my horse until I purposefully dismount would be equal to a handful of blue ribbons! I also rely heavily on music at home to keep me level headed (and I swear my horse relaxes too) but since I didn't want to disturb anyone by playing music I can confess I was singing Hall & Oates under my breath to my horse for my entire warm up

        Comment


        • #5
          Play it over and over again in your head riding it perfectly. Sit tall with your palms up like you were praying for rain. The position alone changes your brain chemistry to a more positive outlook. Hum to yourself in warmup to keep yourself from tensing up and know that your horse will take care of you. Try and just enjoy the fact you made it back.

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          • #6
            Relax. Take this show as an opportunity to get your confidence back.

            First, warm up. Walk a lot and only trot if you feel like it. Then canter if the trot work was good. Walk a lot.

            If, after your warm up, you are still too nervous, allow yourself to scratch your first class.

            Then warm up some more for your second class. Scratch again if needed.... Rinse and repeat.

            If you feel confident enough to go around the ring, go for it! Have a reader, and let that person follow/lead you around the ring as much as s/he can.
            If you are good with that, go into the ring. If not, dismiss yourself.

            If you go in the ring. Play it cool and do whatever you feel confortable doing. Like, do the test but allow yourself to be really, really conservative. Just have fun and chill... The goal would be to just be in the ring, so as long as you stay in LoL.

            At any moment in your ride, if you don't feel confident enough or scared, just stop. There is no shame.

            Good luck !!!
            ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

            Originally posted by LauraKY
            I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
            HORSING mobile training app

            Comment


            • #7
              A nice glass of wine or a cold beer before mounting can help too. "Ride him like he's gonna do everything right" is the best advise I ever got.
              Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

              Comment


              • #8
                Fear is a hard thing to deal with - it is our brain's way of protecting our body! I went through this (not at a show) several years back - I had two bad accidents with a year of each other (both just freak things, but both put me in the hospital), and I dealt with MAJOR fear for a while afterwards.

                Positive visualization helped me some - but also having someone else ride my horse while I watched really helped - it gave me that positive real life experience - see, he IS a good boy. Then I'd get on at the end, and just cool him down. If you feel uncomfortable at the show - scratch the class, or ask a friend (or trainer) to ride the first class, so you can watch and SEE how good your horse is. Don't go in if you are nervous - dial it back to a less stressful situation. Seriously - don't put that much pressure on yourself until you are comfortable.

                If you meditate, do a bit of that - something to "settle" your mind. Is it a rated show or schooling show? Perhaps ask if you can do the test at a walk only, or do an Intro test. Something totally laid back. It really takes quite a while to build confidence up again after a bad accident!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I owned a very spooky horse. Though I didn't know if, there was a reason for it. But one.of the visualizations/exercises that really helped me was to imagine myself a.tall, graceful grass stem rooted in a pot. Just as the grass would sway when the pot moved, it would stay rooted and swing back above the pot when it stopped moving. Imagining myself as rooted to my horse, and tall and relaxed as the grass really helped me avoid clutching and tensing up.

                  The other thing you may find helpful is to DO something when riding rather than riding with a question of "what's she going to do? Is she going to spook?" TELL her what to do all the time. Tell yourself too. If you ride around with that question attitude your horse will pick it up as worry and start to worry about what you can see that she can't.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I always found the day before was the most nerve-racking. But once I got to the show grounds there was so much to do, that I didn't have too much time to worry about the ifs, and could purely concentrate on my show nerves.
                    i hope things went well, and you'll be able to look back at the experience fondly.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Agree with all the advice of positive thinking, breathing, playing the successful ride tape in your head. It is a great idea to set your self a bunch if small goals, this is the game I played this time last year with The Red Head.....I'll go to the show, and if all I can do is mount...we're good, and once on, I'll warm up, but I don't have to go in the ring. I gave myself permission to quit if I needed to, but ultimately never did.....close, but always saw it through.

                      Bachs Rescue Remedy Pastilles are my new go to, they really help me, I'm still nervous but they knock the top notes of panic down. Also highly recommend EFT Tapping http://eft.mercola.com/ I was introduced by the physiotherapist who was getting me back into shape after my fall, really really helped me overcome the nerves.
                      I'm not sure if I grew out of stupid or ran out of brave.

                      Practicing Member of the Not too Klassy for Boxed Wine Clique

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I hope your show went well. I've found that doing a lot of transitions in the warm up...and I mean a lot..really mixing it up helps me focus and gets my horse listening to me. Too many riders In the warmup just go in circles ...I think it's much better to do squares, serpentines, leg yields etc. etc.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Can't wait to hear about your wonderful ride!

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Well it wasn't the day I was hoping for but a good learning experience and nobody got hurt. I started the day feeling very positive and confident. Loaded fine and arrived at the venue to unload a 20-hand fire breathing dragon. He's been the same way at the first show every year, especially at a new venue.

                            He settled in the barn ok and after a couple of hours we tried to take him for a walk around the grounds. But of a struggle - very distracted, yelling to every horse he saw, stopping in horror at silly stuff and squealing / pulling back when we corrected him.

                            Back to barn for a break and then a short lunge in the indoor. Nothing silly or stupid, but very VERY forward (from a typically sluggish horse)

                            Starting to feel less confident now as it's a very stormy day with strong wind gusts, things flapping around and horses galloping in the paddocks surrounding the show ring. Still fully intending to ride but grateful my coach had promised to warm him up first. She rode him for almost an hour in the warm up. No major incidents but I could see he was uncharacterisically tense and she had a tough time keeping him focused, especially when the other horses left and he was alone in the ring.

                            Coach called me over and said "I don't think today is the day for you to try this. It's not going to end well and I don't want you getting hurt or losing your confidence." I was so relieved because It was exactly what I'd been thinking but didn't want to seem wimpy by saying it. I asked if she wanted to show him hors concours and she said she didn't think she'd be able to keep him in the ring. Coming from the woman who backed him and trained him from a 2 year old, I didn't need any more convincing.

                            We scratched from the show but I did get on him in the warm up ring. We worked around 4 other horses and just did simple transitions, circles, wtc, leg yields and half pass. Except for one little temper tantrum where he didn't want to go forward after a walk break, he felt great. A little low and heavy in front but I didn't don't push to fix it because I knew that would come with a squeal, head shake and buck. Sometimes you just have to know when to hold 'em, when to fold 'me and when to live to ride another day.

                            He's normally such a laid back, super safe dude and this makes three shows in a row where he's been full of himself. My coach has already booked us a few off property schooling trips to I hope in time we'll get back to being comfortable on centre line
                            *****************
                            I'm a Canadian dressage addict and I've got the blog to prove it!
                            www.dressageaddict.ca

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Good for you --sounds like you did this just right!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                There is nothing wrong with deciding it's not a good day to push it! Can you take him off the property somewhere to just school, without having to pay entry fees? Or just tag along when other folks from your barn go to shows?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  It sounds like a very successful day. You successfully dealt with less than ideal conditions, you and trainer successfully opted for a Plan B (and C) and implemented them and most importantly, you learned that opting out for the right reasons is not the end of the world. It sounds like you have a great plan to tackle the issues.
                                  "Don't go in the arena without your sense of self, or your sense of humour" ~Foxtrot's

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    That sounds like it was a perfect step in the right direction! And sounds like you can put your faith in your coach to get you back to where you want to be, when you are both ready.

                                    My fave above was "Ride him like he's gonna do everything right" - LOL! perfect act "as if" principle there, have to remember that one.

                                    I have a lot of Jane Savoie materials - she's a gold mine on getting confidence back. What you and your coach did at this show is on her list!

                                    Good luck

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Good for you, BigMama! And may I just remind you that YOU rode your fire breathing dragon at the show. That is a huge success in itself!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        "Coach called me over and said "I don't think today is the day for you to try this. It's not going to end well and I don't want you getting hurt or losing your confidence."

                                        May I just say that I LOVE your coach? Wow. I know so many trainers who would have tried to push the reluctant rider into at least trying to get down the centerline. You are fortunate to have someone who looks out for your (and your horse's) best interests! And you did get to school, which will have lots of benefit going forward. Good for you and well done!

                                        Comment

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