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help for nervousness (teenage version)?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by gully's pilot View Post
    Thanks, everyone, really appreciate the suggestions.

    Depression/anxiety run in our family tree. I'd be less concerned if she were only nervous at shows. I talked to her a bit this afternoon after reading the first several responses, and when I suggested looking into some kind of professional or medical help, her response was relief. She said, "I hate feeling this way! I know it doesn't make sense!"

    She's pretty used to the idea of therapy, as I was in it for several years. We've also taken some family counseling sessions recently as a way for my husband and I to help both kids cope with some extremely difficult issues in our extended family, so I really don't think she feels that the idea of therapy or medication makes you abnormal.

    I've followed lots of the suggestions already, no negative self talk (I will sit up, not I won't lean over), imagining the worst case scenario. Might be helping some. And it was a big change to a different horse--but she was this nervous on her previous horse, too.

    I'll look into some form of professional therapy for her, and pay attention to how she does at our next event, 3 weeks from now. Meanwhile, please continue to add suggestions--I'm open to whatever might help.
    Has your daughter had the same trainer throughout all this? I would talk to him/her....a trainer's support is crucial because he/she will hopefully be someone your daughter looks up to and respects. Get her trainer to discuss what she's going to focus on at the next event in each section (i.e. dressage, solid transitions, show jumping, approach to the fence, xc timing). My trainer did this with all of us before every event, and it really did help rationalize the whole process. Are her lessons group or private? I always had a mixture of both, and I think group lessons, if the group is right, can really help teenagers as it brings the element of "fun" to the sport especially if everyone's going to the show together. An awesome support system is key!

    Make sure she's taking the time to relax before, during and after the show - the day before the event it was a barn tradition that the teens competing would get together for a trail ride (usually 3-5 of us) and just have a complete blast, then come back and all prepare together. Have checklists of everything and go over them with her - part of stress/nerves/meltdowns is worrying over lack of preparation IME. During the event get her to take a walk around the show grounds with her horse, or without if she's too wound up, make sure you get there in enough time so she can "regroup" and familiarize herself with the surroundings. Figure out what works best re: warmup. If she needs you or a trainer there talking her through it, or if its best for her just to do her own thing. Have another regrouping session after the show - talk over the positives, and then discuss what needs to be changed for next time.

    Sorry if that was kind of rambly - but i've BTDT as a teen and hope another perspective is useful!
    "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
    "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

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    • #22
      Thought of something - the one & only eventing Grand Slam winner (so far,) Pippa Funnel, went to a sports psychologist (before the Grand Slam.) Don't know exactly what was going on with her, but apparently her nerves were very bad.

      Comment


      • #23
        Can she back down a level for awhile? That is what I usually do with my students when they're irrationally nervous.

        And I ALWAYS make it an option when we're entering show- "I know you were a little worried about your 2'6" round last time. Do you want to just do 2' this time??"

        That usually makes them step up and get it done.
        Big Idea Eventing

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        • #24
          Sounds like you have a very mature daughter on your hands Please update us and let us know how the next HT goes
          ~Over or Through~

          A Blog of Percy's Journey!

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          • #25
            Not really the same but at a horse trial once, I had heat stroke and was extremely nauseous during and after my stadium round. I ended up not going xc because I felt so sick. For some reason, that feeling ingrained itself into my brain and for the next year and a half I would get incredibly nervous before stadium and about halfway around my course I would start to feel nauseous and when I was done I would feel extremely sick. Never actually was sick, but to me, just feeling like you might be is the worst thing ever. Never happened for anything other than stadium.

            Finally fed up with dreading stadium for that reason, especially since it is my horse's best phase, I went into my next stadium round ready to take one fence at a time and not think about the course as a whole, just as seperate parts. Ever since then, I have not had that issue once.

            So while my situation is not very similar to your DD's, it just goes to show that if you are determined to figure out the problem and fix it, it is completely possible. If this includes going to talk to someone, so be it.

            For what its worth I'm 17, so pretty close to her age. I started eventing when I was 13. I'm not the nervous type but I find that breaking down goals and releasing the pressure I put on myself were huge helpers. We show to have fun, we're not vying for a spot on the Olympic team, we don't have selectors watching our every move, nobody judges us on how our rides go, so why do we put that kind of pressure on ourselves?

            Help her come up with small goals for each show. For example, in dressage we are going to make accurate figures and keep a steady rhythm. Focusing on those two things will help her stay on task in warm up as well, and not focus on the terrible dressage test looming in front of her. For stadium let it be something like, I will bend in all of my corners and ride straight lines to my fences. And for cross country let it be something like, I will maintain a steady, even rhythm and remember to keep my eyes up. All of these things give her something to do other than worry. I find those things help me when I get nervous. Good luck!

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            • #26
              Originally posted by JFCeventer View Post

              I'm not the nervous type but I find that breaking down goals and releasing the pressure I put on myself were huge helpers. We show to have fun, we're not vying for a spot on the Olympic team, we don't have selectors watching our every move, nobody judges us on how our rides go, so why do we put that kind of pressure on ourselves?


              exactly!
              ~Over or Through~

              A Blog of Percy's Journey!

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              • #27
                My daughter just started doing recognized events last year at 15, and she would complain of "not being able to breathe" after XC, especially on hotter days. Everyone thought she was having asthma attacks, but her airways were clear. Turns out she was actually HOLDING her breath nearly the whole course. She didn't even realize it. Same for stadium, IF it was before XC. If it was after XC she didn't do that. ANYWAY, one of the quickest cures that her trainer suggested to her was to sing at little ditty while out on course. Singing kind of forces you to breathe! I think it can also help you to relax and focus on your rythm.

                ETA: too bad you can't sing in dressage!

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                • #28
                  If she is feeling this way she is probably not prepared to be competing. She needs to step down a level and/or school much more at home. It takes months if not years to develop trust with a horse, and if this animal is new to her she may be right about being afraid. She is a 14 yo girl, not a trainer, and she should not be expected to ride a unknown horse in competition right away. She may need the season to get used to the new partnership. She can compete next year if she is not ready or if she wants to later this season then that's fine too! Wait until they are a team and confident to go compete, otherwise if something happens it could create a downward spiral.

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                  • #29
                    Training for positive thinking

                    This book was extremely helpful for me:
                    http://www.amazon.com/The-Power-Win-.../dp/1592283950

                    It is all riding-related scripts, that you read out loud every day, to reprogram negative thoughts into positive ones.
                    Having someone just tell me to "think positive" wasn't very effective in the long run - too much negativity in my brain. THis book gave me the tools so I could actually change my thoughts into positive and affriming ones to help my ride and my attitude.

                    I use the scripts in my everyday life too - they've been so helpful.

                    Best of luck to your daughter.

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                      A couple of Prozac and a polo mallet.
                      Bless you, I so needed a laugh today!

                      Pondered asking about the use of the mallet, but decided to allow my imagination to roam.

                      Kidding aside, nerves are tough enough for adults, teenagers going through changes could establish habits not healthy later in life. Seeking professional help, whether for a broken bone, or an overstressed mind is a prudent course of action. it took me some time to get past my own anxieties and fears relating to riding tests and going on course. What finally worked was understanding that nothing mattered regarding my score or my time; what mattered was that I rode safe, as well as I could, and I had fun. Sometimes it results in being on/near the top, sometimes not. Unless you're getting paid to to this, getting upset is not worth the energy.

                      Actually, I do worry about one thing...time. Could care less if I get a 55 or a 25, but omg I obsess about being on time for my test or course.

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                      • #31
                        This thread has been extremely helpful to me. As a mom of a DD who is just 10 but very much like OP described, and being a rider of green horses myself, in my 40's, who has her moments of lost confidence. (And we aren't even eventing, yet!) The fact that so many of you (us) go through this, and some top riders go through it, is a very powerful encouragement. Meaning, these moments do not necessarily signal that we've chosen the wrong sport/passion. And, getting through these moments is a good life lesson. And, we aren't the person we are at our most terrible screaming moments. We are the person who goes out and does the work, after.
                        At all times, we are either training or untraining.
                        Flying Haflinger blog: http://flyinghaflinger.blogspot.com/ Flying Irish Draught blog: http://flyingirishredhead.blogspot.com/

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                        • #32
                          There are a lot of good books on sports psychology out there. I grew up in an era and other sports where there was no sports psychology. However, a little league baseball coach told us that when you were competing you wanted to feel nervous because that was how your body and mind were getting ready by pumping adrenaline into the system. He was big into visualization before it was even a term.
                          A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.

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                          • #33
                            I am 21 and I have an anxiety disorder - I see much of myself in your daughter. It began to get really bad when I was about her age.

                            Please ask your daughter if she would like to see a medical professional - your GP can be extraordinarely helpful as well.

                            When I was first in "therapy" I was also on anti anxiety medication. This allowed me to be mentally stable enough to learn and then apply the coping techniques. Eventually I went off the meds and was able to deal with it "on my own". Medication may not be the answer for your daughter, but please do not rule it out.

                            My anxiety disorder ruined my life - if addressed earlier it would have been far easier to deal with. Please discuss seeing a medical professional with your daughter.
                            Fit Dog Blog
                            Twitter: https://twitter.com/FitDogBlog
                            Blogger: http://fitdogblog.blogspot.ca/
                            Blog Post: How I Became a Werehorse and a Bit About Bites

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                            • Original Poster

                              #34
                              PP--I have, and she responded to the idea with relief, so I'm asking for recommendations from some people I know.

                              Part of what's beginning to trouble me is that she's really very prepared--probably overprepared--for most things in her life (riding, school, other activities) but she gets disproportionately nervous anyhow. And since I event, I do know what it feels like to ride into that start box--I know it's not easy, but I don't think it should make her as anxious as it does.

                              We ride with different trainers as we can, because none live within several hours' drive. I've been pretty careful about getting her good instruction, just not every week; whatever regular events we go to, we make sure she has someone she trusts to coach her (who isn't me!). This past weekend was different because it was a pony club rally; I couldn't help her (that might have been good or bad) and the coach was someone new. I liked her, but she was new.

                              I don't think dropping back a level would help. She would be this nervous at lower levels. She's gotten worked up over local schooling show trail classes, which her previous horse loved.

                              But, thanks for all the input. I really appreciate getting different points of view. When it's your own child, it can be hard to know how to help; it's also hard sometimes to judge whether or not behavior is normal, or extreme enough to do something about.

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                              • Original Poster

                                #35
                                We've had her new horse since last October; this was their first event, but they've gotten to know each other well.

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by gully's pilot View Post
                                  PP--I have, and she responded to the idea with relief, so I'm asking for recommendations from some people I know.

                                  Part of what's beginning to trouble me is that she's really very prepared--probably overprepared--for most things in her life (riding, school, other activities) but she gets disproportionately nervous anyhow. And since I event, I do know what it feels like to ride into that start box--I know it's not easy, but I don't think it should make her as anxious as it does.

                                  ...When it's your own child, it can be hard to know how to help; it's also hard sometimes to judge whether or not behavior is normal, or extreme enough to do something about.
                                  That's great.

                                  As for her being prepared - I'm the same way, as are others that I know who have anxiety. I'm often called "controlling" because I have to have things just so or I'm a nervous wreck.

                                  As for the last bit, my mother has the same problem. From the daughter perspective: It doesn't matter whether it's "normal" or "extreme", it simply matters how she feels. Mental disorders are such an individual thing. The best thing you can do is be supportive (and from your posts I can tell that you are!) and let her work through it.

                                  It's tough. Hugs to you both!
                                  Fit Dog Blog
                                  Twitter: https://twitter.com/FitDogBlog
                                  Blogger: http://fitdogblog.blogspot.ca/
                                  Blog Post: How I Became a Werehorse and a Bit About Bites

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                                  • #37
                                    I know the horse does well in a specific warm up program.

                                    Would it be helpful if She could have her own specific routine that never changes so she can focus on her program and her horses program instead of getting as nervous?

                                    (PS next time you come to KY give DC a call and schedule a torture circle lesson)
                                    -Chelsie
                                    "Hell yes I can ride. I was riding when I fell off!"

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by Preposterous Ponies! View Post
                                      I am 21 and I have an anxiety disorder - I see much of myself in your daughter. It began to get really bad when I was about her age.

                                      Please ask your daughter if she would like to see a medical professional - your GP can be extraordinarely helpful as well.

                                      When I was first in "therapy" I was also on anti anxiety medication. This allowed me to be mentally stable enough to learn and then apply the coping techniques. Eventually I went off the meds and was able to deal with it "on my own". Medication may not be the answer for your daughter, but please do not rule it out.

                                      My anxiety disorder ruined my life - if addressed earlier it would have been far easier to deal with. Please discuss seeing a medical professional with your daughter.
                                      This, down to the age. I wish my parents had seen my outbursts for what they really were.

                                      OP, you sound like you're doing right by your daughter and her horse. It's hard to find the right path, but you sound like you're getting there!

                                      I hope for the best for your daughter. Once she gets this under control, her life will be so much better.

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        If you are looking for a professional that will understand the horse aspects of her nerves, I highly recommend Jenny Susser (http://jennyrsusser.com/Jenny_R._Sus..../Welcome.html). She works with a bunch of the Junior and Young Rider FEI dressage kids as well as several high performance dressage riders.

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                                        • Original Poster

                                          #40
                                          Chelsie, it wasn't a horse problem. Mickey was great--he warmed up for all three phases really well. He got quick in dressage because she leaned forward, but I don't think that would have happened if she hadn't gotten a nosebleed right before she went in, which didn't help anything. But she's honestly riding fine, and the horse is behaving beautifully--but she's panicking. As soon as she starts she does fine.

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