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Confidence Issues

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  • #21
    Highly recommend "Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Tao Sports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life." Chungliang al Huang and Jerry Lynch.

    I am not a particularly kumbahyah sort of person but their exercises really help me focus under (silly, self-inflicted) pressure.

    Thank you for posting this topic. Saving some of the responses for when my own amateur neuroses flare up!

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    • #22
      Dunno if this will be shouted down or not, but you might try taking a beta blocker. People use them for high-stress occasional situations like job interviews or stage fright. Basically they alleviate the physical symptoms of anxiety -- rapid heart rate, sweating, muscular contraction -- but don't get you dopey or off your game.
      LEGADO DE RIOS

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      • #23
        Originally posted by lachevaline View Post
        Dunno if this will be shouted down or not, but you might try taking a beta blocker. People use them for high-stress occasional situations like job interviews or stage fright. Basically they alleviate the physical symptoms of anxiety -- rapid heart rate, sweating, muscular contraction -- but don't get you dopey or off your game.
        Don't know why this would be booed. It's not like we don't have a whole herd of people showing on Xanax. Beta blockers affect physical and Xanax mental.
        You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!

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        • #24
          Originally posted by lachevaline View Post
          Dunno if this will be shouted down or not, but you might try taking a beta blocker. People use them for high-stress occasional situations like job interviews or stage fright. Basically they alleviate the physical symptoms of anxiety -- rapid heart rate, sweating, muscular contraction -- but don't get you dopey or off your game.
          Tried a beta blocker over the summer -- I think it helped. My heart rate stayed a little more level at least. I still felt the fear but at least the physical symptoms were quieted.

          Comment


          • #25
            OP: I am going to answer about you, not the horse. I started consulting a sports psychologist because my "negative tape" ("I don't release;" "I am going to fail;" "I am not a good enough rider for my horse") was killing my riding. It's over the phone and the exercises are pretty basic; and it has helped me a lot. I have more confidence and am enjoying riding and actually progressing in my riding. I highly recommend even a session or two to help get some startegies in place. Feel free to DM me; I know other COTHers use her too. Good luck

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            • #26
              Hi OP

              I agree with most what everyone is saying in that, I think you need to experiment with different strategies. We are all complex snowflakes and we each respond differently to different things. It will probably be a combination of things that help you resolve your issues. and believe me, you WILL resolve them, do not despair. We have ALL been there.

              When I was a junior, I got insanely nervous at shows. I totally shut down and worried about what other people thought (your comment about "I don't even think about the judge" really hit home). I just took it all so personally. Like I was going to be defined by some medal class

              I took a VERY long break from the horses bc of my job. I've only recently come back to riding after buying my own green bean. We had a brutal start when he first arrived. I started to be terrified of riding him. One thing I got from Jane Savoie is when you feel yourself feeling afraid without real probable cause, try to tap into feelings of gratitude. For some reason, I just don't think your brain can be grateful and fearful at the same time. When I'm starting to get into that place where I am just so grateful I am not at the office and instead on this beautiful horse with this super canter, it seems to calm my anxiety.

              And that's carried over into showing. Right before I go in, I start to overwhelm my thoughts with how crazy lucky I am to be there, riding a nice horse, with a super supportive trainer at a show. I never thought I would make it back there and that sensation gets my head in a place where I can just really focus on the sensations I experience when I walk into the ring. I dive into feeling my diagonal at the trot, I really plug into my canter transition and start counting my rhythm. It's all about being able to connect and focus as a poster above explained. Being so in the moment, it sort of silences the ghouls telling you you're not good enough.

              Sorry for the novella, that's been my experience and it's been hugely helpful to me. I still chip with the best of them, but I usually laugh when it happens bc after all, the fate of the world does not depend on my success in the adult amateur hunters!

              Good luck and have faith!

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              • #27
                The biggest thing is to have confidence in your own riding abilities. If you don't, then the horse can feel it and he/she will get nervous and uneasy. If you constantly worry about what could go wrong then things will. Never be afraid to make mistakes (if we didn't, we would not need coaches =p). My last horse used to be a stopper, so I would worry with my new horse (who will basically never stop) that she will stop if I make the smallest mistakes. As I had her for longer, I learned that if I am confident in her and myself she will always leave the ground, and now I'm moving up to the 1.30m's. Point is to always believe in yourself and your horse, then you can accomplish anything.

                As for warm-up rings, don't focus on what's going on around you. Just focus on you, your horse, and the jump. People will stay out of your way (for the most part). I like to just go over my course, how i'm going to ride to every jump,etc. Some people even skip the warm-up ring and just go straight into the ring, which sounds insane but works for some people and/or horses.

                Before entering the ring, go over the course in your head or watch the person before you in the ring, take a deep breath and just stay positive that you are capable of riding well.

                Hope this helps!

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                • #28
                  OP-I love the sports psych advice you've gotten, excellent advice for the mental game of showing. But, in reading the replies, I had a lightbulb moment! Take care of the mental side, but boost the physical side too. As in, teach your body to be comfortable in most situations on your horse. One poster said to gallop-do it! You will not believe how much confidence you will get from this( use copious amounts of boot sticky,of course). Do random things, cross creeks, ride bareback,-whatever it takes to train your body to get comfortable. The more "experiences" you have on this guy, the better partners you will become. I have 2 main riding horse right now-a fancy 3'6" hunter-actually preggers at the moment, and a hot as snot TB jumper. I would get so worried on my fancy girl that any mistake we made would obviously be mine, it sucked the fun out of it-then I took her to a hunter-pace. It literally rocked my world!! There was every breed imaginable, every color of saddle pad/boot, every size rider, and every type of jumper and everyone was there for a good time. Literally NO ONE gave a crap that I had miss fancy pants! It was so liberating. The sky was bluer than ever, I chipped a ridiculous amount of jumps, the breeze was perfect and it was one of my favorite riding memories ever. The following year, I took fire breather TB to a fall pace. He jigged, sweated, and spooked about half the time, but also jumped everything-the sky and breeze were perfect, my friends and I laughed like idiots and it, too, is one of my fondest memories. I think about those experiences at the in-gate. No bad trip can erase the great fun I had on those equine partners. So start creating your own muscle memories of different experiences, and also your mental memories of great experiences! You won't regret it!
                  Sorry this turned into a rambler! I got so jacked up thinking about those paces and began typing like mad! Forgive me

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by Victorious View Post
                    OP-I love the sports psych advice you've gotten, excellent advice for the mental game of showing. But, in reading the replies, I had a lightbulb moment! Take care of the mental side, but boost the physical side too. As in, teach your body to be comfortable in most situations on your horse. One poster said to gallop-do it! You will not believe how much confidence you will get from this( use copious amounts of boot sticky,of course). Do random things, cross creeks, ride bareback,-whatever it takes to train your body to get comfortable. The more "experiences" you have on this guy, the better partners you will become.
                    (Sic)
                    No bad trip can erase the great fun I had on those equine partners. So start creating your own muscle memories of different experiences, and also your mental memories of great experiences! You won't regret it!
                    This poster is SO right! With my own confidence issues the thing that truly helped the most was not jumping a million huge fences but getting out and hacking and galloping around the back 49, jumping tiny logs on the trail, sitting spooks when squirrels ran out, teaching my horse that hacking wouldn't eat him (or me...)

                    I used to say I would rather jump a 1.50m oxer than go trail riding. I don't say that now because I got brave enough after experiencing it to want to experience it a LOT! I would go with friends at times who were both less and more confident than I. I observed a friend who would often get very scared and fall off her wonderful horse morph from being terrified to go out and shaking in fear if her horse jogged a bit to organizing a group hack and laughing when her horse does mini rears and tiny bucks - and that translated hugely to the ring! Instead of adding and going 2mph in the 2ft hunters she is tearing it up in 3ft equitations. In the span of less than a year. Doing things other than the specific thing that scares you and still challenging your horizons mentally is so important and can really make things seem much less intense than they are. Cannot recommend enough!!

                    One other thing I thought of. For me the physical is important too. I need - yes need despite my internal protestations! - to work out and be fit and strong. Some days that means the gym (eww) and some days that means riding 3 or 4. Whatever keeps my fitness up, the easier everything seems to be.

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                    • #30
                      I had one horse in the past that was terrible in the schooling area. I would try to get in as early as possible and at least pop over a few fences. If she started to act up, I would just exit. Sounds like maybe you need to have a little adult beverage before you go in for your classes. Something to take the edge off your nerves.

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                      • #31
                        Ride, ride, ride. Ride him as much as you can, get acclimated to his stride and how he feels. And spend time with him on the ground, doing groundwork or just taking a little longer while grooming. It'll help you feel more relaxed around him.
                        I completely understand the nervousness - it's easy to tense up and get thrown out of a good mindset when you've got competition staring you in the face. I don't know what kinds of shows you're doing, but doing some local/schooling/fun shows could definitely help by taking the pressure off and still giving you a chance to get more experience and build confidence.

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                        • #32
                          Originally posted by Victorious View Post
                          OP-I love the sports psych advice you've gotten, excellent advice for the mental game of showing. But, in reading the replies, I had a lightbulb moment! Take care of the mental side, but boost the physical side too. As in, teach your body to be comfortable in most situations on your horse. One poster said to gallop-do it! You will not believe how much confidence you will get from this( use copious amounts of boot sticky,of course). Do random things, cross creeks, ride bareback,-whatever it takes to train your body to get comfortable. The more "experiences" you have on this guy, the better partners you will become. I have 2 main riding horse right now-a fancy 3'6" hunter-actually preggers at the moment, and a hot as snot TB jumper. I would get so worried on my fancy girl that any mistake we made would obviously be mine, it sucked the fun out of it-then I took her to a hunter-pace. It literally rocked my world!! There was every breed imaginable, every color of saddle pad/boot, every size rider, and every type of jumper and everyone was there for a good time. Literally NO ONE gave a crap that I had miss fancy pants! It was so liberating. The sky was bluer than ever, I chipped a ridiculous amount of jumps, the breeze was perfect and it was one of my favorite riding memories ever. The following year, I took fire breather TB to a fall pace. He jigged, sweated, and spooked about half the time, but also jumped everything-the sky and breeze were perfect, my friends and I laughed like idiots and it, too, is one of my fondest memories. I think about those experiences at the in-gate. No bad trip can erase the great fun I had on those equine partners. So start creating your own muscle memories of different experiences, and also your mental memories of great experiences! You won't regret it!
                          Sorry this turned into a rambler! I got so jacked up thinking about those paces and began typing like mad! Forgive me
                          Spot on.

                          What I posted before is nothing in comparison to how much this will help. Worded perfectly, fantastic advice. Do crazy stuff with your horse just for the sake of having fun, and you'll become more comfortable. It'll help immensely and give you those great memories to reflect on to ease your stress while showing!

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                          • Original Poster

                            #33
                            I wanna thank everyone for their responses! I believe everybody has been helpful, I quite honestly didn't expect to get this much of a response which shows me I am not alone in my fear/have not been the only one to go through this.

                            We recently just got back into jumping at home after 3 weeks off due to the cold, but I shall keep you all updated on how the show season goes. Once this horrible snow melts, we'll be pulling the trailer out and going to the first show of 2015!

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                            • #34
                              OP- Another vote for the sports psychologist.

                              It sounds like you're so focused on what everyone thinks & on whether you're competitive that you can't get out of your own way. It may help if you think about these shows as a step toward your goal to do the adult amateurs. Talk to your trainer in advance of each show/class about what skill you'll be working on that will help you to prepare for future adult amateur success: pace, square corners, generous releases, etc. Focus on that as the measure of your show performance. Keep reminding yourself that your goal isn't a ribbon in the 2', its developing into a solid adult amateur team.

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                              • #35
                                Hi hntrprincess-

                                I don't really do horse shows, but I do perform in a major Broadway musical every night (I'm in the Phantom of the Opera on tour) I teach a lot of masterclasses to young people and so I offer this advice
                                1. De sensitize yourself, if you can afford it (time and money) show as much as you can, even the littlest tiny schooling show.
                                2. Remember why you do it. Riding is about LOVE, right. So is singing for me. Trust me, I get way nervous when I have to sing in front of 2000 + people who all paid $100 for a ticket to see one of the most well known shows of Broadway. But I am exhilarated. I am enthralled! I soar! I live the feeling of letting my voice fly as much as I love flying over a jump. Try to focus on that part, the LOVE part, your partnership with your horse. And just breathe. You got this.

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                                • #36
                                  Holy Crap, OP. You are me, and I am you!!!

                                  I shouldn't be so excited to find a person who has literally the EXACT same problem with showing that I do, but it is nice to know I am not nuts. I would describe myself the same way. . . "Freezing" almost like I can't feel my body. I get progressively worse from warm up ring, to schooling round, and by the time I do my course I am just done.

                                  My mare is 14 and has been there, done that, and I think is fed up with me at this point. Unlike your horse she is not going to do it if I'm not right there with her, so we end up having a lot of stops that rattle my confidence a lot. Now, these are nice, gentle, petering stops, almost like she is saying "why the heck should I do this if you are this freaked out? Do you even know what you are doing up there?"

                                  At home I am never nervous on her. We school 3 ft comfortably at home and have yet to successfully show 2'6" for a season. At a show, I literally feel like I forgot how to ride. I actually said to my coach once, when she gently tried to get me to apply leg to get my mare over a fence in the schooling ring, that "I don't have any legs." That is how I feel--no energy, no strength, all I can do is hold on and sort of steer.

                                  It's really, really, frustrating. I KNOW I should just get out there and show, show, show to get over this but my job is incredibly time consuming and I just can't get time off to do it that way.

                                  I also feel SO worried about what people think of me, my horse, my performance, etc--so this year I have decided to leave the zone I have worked and showed in for years and show in a zone where I don't know ANYONE. I hope this will help me feel less concerned about the crowds and be able to focus on my horse.

                                  Good luck OP, I hope this season (and mine!) goes well!

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Hi OP. Some really great advice here especially about getting out and doing other things with your horse. Those experiences have always, always improved my riding. One thing I thought of though is maybe ask yourself why you want to show? I have a pretty fancy horse and come from a big barn background. For years I have put pressure on myself that I should be showing him without ever stopping to think why. It's just what I figured i "should" be doing. Perhaps if you step back and ask yourself why you are doing it would help. Is it because you like an outside way to measure progress with your horse? If so, then view your trips in the ring as a way to see if what you have practiced at home has been mastered. If you really want to win, put yourself in a division that you are more likely to be successful in until the confidence comes back. Seriously, even a walk trot two jump pleasure class locally. Get to where you "own" it then move on. Or maybe,you realize you are showing because everyone else is doing it. Your horse is only six, you have time to go try a few things with him. Perhaps you find something more pleasurable or you get the confidence back as other posters have suggested. Certainly not suggesting you quit showing, but understanding why you are doing it may help better manage your expectations of yourself. Like everyone has said, we've all been there and it is soo much easier to give advice than take it!

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