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Nerves at horse shows resulting in falls?

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  • Nerves at horse shows resulting in falls?

    I have a pretty bad track record going. I am adult re-rider who rides one day a week. I came back to riding 4 years ago, and in the last 2 years I started showing again. I have done 5 shows, and fallen off at 3, in 3 different division

    Now, the last 2 falls (at the last 2 shows, 2 different divisions) have been stupid. Today was during warm ups. My horse was cross cantering, and I was trying to complete the lead change. He scooted, and I hit the ground. I went on to do all my classes (without another unplanned dismount).

    I do get nervous, especially the night before. I felt sick to my stomach last night, and this morning I felt like my head was in the clouds. Now, once I get on, I don't feel the same type of nerves, but I never feel as confident. I just feel like the "stick" factor is nonexistent in the show ring.

    I had taken an extra lesson on Friday, and had an awesome ride. We schooled and schooled, so it's not like I have any doubt in my ability, or the ability of my mount.

    Anyone have any suggestions, gone through this, or just have words of encouragement? My best friend thinks Xanax might help
    The best sports bras for riders are Anita 5527 and Panache! Size UP in Anita, down in Panache (UK sizing)

  • #2
    Originally posted by AliCat View Post
    I do get nervous, especially the night before. I felt sick to my stomach last night, and this morning I felt like my head was in the clouds. Now, once I get on, I don't feel the same type of nerves, but I never feel as confident. I just feel like the "stick" factor is nonexistent in the show ring.
    I find that the night before I visualize all the perfect courses I'm going to have the next day

    I am also someone who gets really nervous the night before, when your mind wanders and I think about every thing that could go wrong. Instead, I try picturing myself riding the courses perfectly. I picture striding, lead changes, etc, and even if I don't know the show grounds I just kind of make it up.

    Hope this helps at least a little!

    Comment


    • #3
      Curious, do you wear tall boots and breeches for your lessons or only at shows? My usual half chaps are waaay grippier than my tall boots, so I started wearing tall boots at least the week before the show. Then I got used to them and now wear my tall boots for most rides.
      "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

      Phoenix Animal Rescue

      Comment


      • #4
        I fell off at Harrisburg last year because I was so nervous, I reverted to an old habit (that I hadn't done in YEARS)...I leaned up Nikki's neck at a jump off a short turn and she stopped, causing me to go over her head and land on my feet in front of her. She was just glaring at me with this look on her face that seemed to say "WTF is the matter with you, idiot?"

        Like Rel6, I find that visualizing courses will help me (or re-riding courses I've done in the past helps). Do you have any videos of you showing where things went well? I like to review videos from really good shows to get a confidence boost from that.

        I think nerves get everyone at some point in their riding careers - you are definitely not alone!
        http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
        Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by kateh View Post
          Curious, do you wear tall boots and breeches for your lessons or only at shows? My usual half chaps are waaay grippier than my tall boots, so I started wearing tall boots at least the week before the show. Then I got used to them and now wear my tall boots for most rides.
          When I started showing again, I started wearing boots and breeches for lessons.

          I wish I had video so you guys could see how stupid these falls were.
          The best sports bras for riders are Anita 5527 and Panache! Size UP in Anita, down in Panache (UK sizing)

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by Rel6 View Post
            I find that the night before I visualize all the perfect courses I'm going to have the next day

            I am also someone who gets really nervous the night before, when your mind wanders and I think about every thing that could go wrong. Instead, I try picturing myself riding the courses perfectly. I picture striding, lead changes, etc, and even if I don't know the show grounds I just kind of make it up.

            Hope this helps at least a little!
            Originally posted by supershorty628 View Post
            I fell off at Harrisburg last year because I was so nervous, I reverted to an old habit (that I hadn't done in YEARS)...I leaned up Nikki's neck at a jump off a short turn and she stopped, causing me to go over her head and land on my feet in front of her. She was just glaring at me with this look on her face that seemed to say "WTF is the matter with you, idiot?"

            Like Rel6, I find that visualizing courses will help me (or re-riding courses I've done in the past helps). Do you have any videos of you showing where things went well? I like to review videos from really good shows to get a confidence boost from that.

            I think nerves get everyone at some point in their riding careers - you are definitely not alone!
            I think the visualizing positive rounds are a good idea. Last night I was imagining getting strong with bucking into the corner, crashing through fences with my body, etc

            I think that if I could get some video footage it would be quite beneficial.

            Seriously, these last 2 falls were simple scoots that I have ridden through countless times before. Gah.
            The best sports bras for riders are Anita 5527 and Panache! Size UP in Anita, down in Panache (UK sizing)

            Comment


            • #7
              AliCat, if it makes you feel any better, I really should not have fallen off in the example I gave... it was pathetic to the point of being laughable.
              http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
              Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by AliCat View Post
                I wish I had video so you guys could see how stupid these falls were.
                LOL I have many of those! Something else that helped me was singing on course. Some stupid song (I would just sing the chorus over and over again) distracted me from my nerves and kept me from interfering with my horse. I would ride more instinctively and micromanage her less. One judge told me later she liked the song! (I didn't sing loud, but went right by her one the rail)

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by supershorty628 View Post
                  AliCat, if it makes you feel any better, I really should not have fallen off in the example I gave... it was pathetic to the point of being laughable.
                  Well, today we were doing low adult hunters, and there was a small group of us that are a bit nervous. I apologize to everyone who had to wait for the divisions after us because it took HOURS to get 3 of us through. One of my nervous buddies also had a fall in schooling that was just really silly. We stood on the rail and brushed the dirt off each other while better riders schooled for us
                  The best sports bras for riders are Anita 5527 and Panache! Size UP in Anita, down in Panache (UK sizing)

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Rel6 View Post
                    LOL I have many of those! Something else that helped me was singing on course. Some stupid song (I would just sing the chorus over and over again) distracted me from my nerves and kept me from interfering with my horse. I would ride more instinctively and micromanage her less. One judge told me later she liked the song! (I didn't sing loud, but went right by her one the rail)
                    I have had a sinus infection and upper respiratory infection for going on 2 weeks. I have been on anti-biotics for a week now, but I am still congested. There is no doubt that I was breathing louder through my clogged nose than my horse, and I am SURE the judge heard as well
                    The best sports bras for riders are Anita 5527 and Panache! Size UP in Anita, down in Panache (UK sizing)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ha, I have the opposite! Fall off all the time at home, but even if the devil pony ducks a shoulder and tries to throw me into a fence I somehow hold on. Some have been very close, but it's just magical glue I guess and I keep thanking the show gods .
                      My trainer does though make us sing sometimes to combat nerves. Deep breathing and damp washcloths tend to do the trick too.
                      Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.

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                      • #12
                        Something I've been trying recently is taking "nervous energy" and converting it into "excited energy." They feel similar-butterflies, racing heart etc. Throw on some positive thinking on top. Instead of "oh god, please don't let me mess up" think "can't wait to show the judge how good I am!" It's been helping me in presentations lately, but you can't half-ass it
                        "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

                        Phoenix Animal Rescue

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          AliCat, I find myself without any leg to speak of at shows (or anytime I'm afraid, actually) -- I think the prolonged wash of adrenaline leaves me kind of wrung out and, consequently, worn out. It's been much better since my doc wrote me a script for Xanax, but, then again, I haven't shown since retiring my large pony last fall and buying my TB. Eek.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Is it possible for you to ride more than once a week? See if anyone has a horse that needs more exercise if you can't pay for it. This would strengthen that balance as well as your leg and give you more of a chance. I certainly understand if you don't have time, but I'm at the point where I'll leave the house at 8PM to go to the barn to ride because I just got my kids to bed.

                            Sleep becomes less important the more I ride, and thankfully our arena is well lit!

                            Also, though I was a die-hard chaps rider when I was a kid, for balance improvement I do wear exclusively breeches & boots now.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Nerves at a horse show are part of being at a horse show and we all tend to look our stupidest there...

                              That said, the easiest course of your month should be the one at a horse show, especially for beginners. Everything you do at home should be bigger and more complex. I don't mean you should be schooling medal level courses, but if you are showing in the pre-adults, I think maybe being comfortable at 2'9 at home and doing some combination work may be the level you should be at a show?

                              I say this because I think there is enormous pressure on trainers and riders to get us to shows, and maybe before we are really ready?

                              If the level you are showing at is easy peasy at home, that gives you an edge over your (entirely to be expected) nerves at a show and your ability to handle new questions (as much as we try to plan for something, a show is bound to ask us a new question, be it a fence we haven't seen or as things get more complicated and bigger, a relationship of fences we have not ridden). You aren't battling the top of your limit AND nerves AND a potentially new question, just nerves and any new questions (which is plenty if you ask me).

                              As an example, I am schooling my youngster at home over mostly 2'6... and I had this brilliant idea I would move him up after his first show @ 2'3 to 2'6. Then I thought about it a little bit more. Sure he does 2'6, but he isn't entirely familiar with it, he's literally only done 4 sessions and I still start with the fences low... So I had to ask myself was it fair to him to move him up to 2'6 at a show where he would have to deal with a show and his nerves (I think he has them, hard to tell though, since he appears comatose at a show), any new questions he isn't prepared for AND my nerves? That's an easy no, isn't it? Wait until the following show when he is a bit more solid.

                              But shouldn't we apply the same logic to a "green" rider?

                              That said, everyone's different, while I am a big believer in pushing myself at home, I've seen riders who just simply will not advance much at home, but they get to a show and see how lacking they are and go home and FIXIT!. And I've certainly had aquestion asked at a show that exposed some serious flaws in my program at home that needed to be fixed ASAP. We've all been there, but I think we always need to evaluate and re-evaluate our show goals as well as the home program.
                              Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Honestly??? Well, you won't like this but...

                                You need to ride more and with any of my trainers over the years? You would not be jumping courses at shows riding a school horse 1 day a week. Heck, my old Western trainers wouldn't let me show if I could only practice 1 day a week on my own horse.

                                Reading what you have written, you are not secure in the saddle due to that lack of saddle time and there is no other way to build those muscles other then saddle time. Oh, you can get fitness and balance better with yoga and Pilates but you cannot work the riding muscles unless you ride. You cannot work on your feel for pace and eye for distance unless you ride. You cannot "multi task" with lead changes, pace and finding jumps unless you ride more.

                                Yeah, everybody falls off. Sometimes they are pretty stupid falls. But you are coming off at almost every show. That's starting to do a number on your confidence and, sooner or later, it's going to leave a mark. And looks like you come off on the flat??? You really need to be staying on better before tackling fences and that happens with more and more frequent flatwork.

                                Save your show money and put it towards more lessons and time in the saddle.
                                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I have to agree that you need more saddle time. Riding once a week doesn't give you the core strength you need to stay on when your horse does something unexpected. EVen just adding one more day a week will help but I know that I need to ride a minimum of 3x/week to really feel secure.

                                  When you do ride, spend as much time as possible in half seat/three point. That's the most secure position for you to be in but it takes time to build up your strength. When you have the strength to stay in position, your confidence in your own riding will increase.

                                  I'm condition for hunting season right now and I'm doing long trot and canter sets in half seat. It can be torture but I know I need to have the ability to stick a spook when out galloping.
                                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

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                                  • #18
                                    I can relate. I am also a rerider who can't usually ride more than once a week. I also get ridiculously stupid show nerves. I had recently decided to do a small show (seriously, small. And I had decided to get over my nerves by doing the 18 inch... ) I had worked myself into such a stupid state just by deciding to be in the show that during my next lesson I fell off at my first warm up a crossrail. Oh sweet mary, the shame. lol

                                    So I sucked it up and told myself that I had already used up my "stupid quota" for the show. Mind you I did screwed up at that show in other ways BUT I stayed on. haha.

                                    You are so not alone.
                                    Audaces fortuna iuvat.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Bogie View Post
                                      I have to agree that you need more saddle time. Riding once a week doesn't give you the core strength you need to stay on when your horse does something unexpected.
                                      And I'm not sure it gives you the necessary experience/tools to bother spending money on a show? I can't imagine showing if I only rode 1x a week unless that was an exception rather than the rule. There's no hard and fast rule you have to show, maybe that money is better spent in a few more lessons? (And let's face it, that would probably be more fun!)
                                      Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        To clarify a couple points:

                                        I work 60 hours a week, usually from 9am til 9pm. I also work on weekends. There is not enough time in my life to go ride more. I have horses I could ride if I wanted to, but I have other things to do in my spare time that take priority. I am very much a hobby rider who does 2 horse shows a year. When I know I am showing, I will take a few extra lessons.

                                        I jump bigger than 2'6 in lessons, with confidence.

                                        Perhaps I should go back to my safer hobby I gave up to start riding again. Drag racing.
                                        The best sports bras for riders are Anita 5527 and Panache! Size UP in Anita, down in Panache (UK sizing)

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