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HELP! Super Nervous Client....suggestions....PLEASE!

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  • HELP! Super Nervous Client....suggestions....PLEASE!

    I took a client to a horse show this past weekend. Nothing fancy, just a very low-key jumper show that was suppossed to help her get her feet wet. She showed hunters when she was younger (19 years ago...) and I have recently converted her

    She has been leasing a horse of mine for almost 3 years and knows him in and out. She rides him great and does wonderful with him. Never misses a distance, is always on point over fences. I figured this show would be a piece of cake for her. After all, we were only doing the Puddle Jumpers for goodness sake. She schools 3'9 at home....

    Boy was I wrong.....she did horrible. She was a ball of nerves. Shaking, forgetting to breathe throughout her ENTIRE course, crouching into fetal position....it's like she forgot how to ride. IT WAS TWO FEET for crying out loud. She had the poor horse stopping. He IS NOT a stopper. It's like you could see her slowly going from a canter to a trot to a halt right before the fence....Two freaking feet and she had him stopping.

    It was a train wreck. I have never had a client that got that frazzled at a horse show. It was a local horse show, not Culpeper, not Upperville, not even Lexington....a local--not even rated--show...of course, she got eliminated. So I made her go again--unjudged. The first five jumps were ok. She came off at the liverpool. I swear, if she would have been leaning any more far foward, I would have been pulling his mane out of her teeth. He did another gradual canter to halt transition and she then proceeded to try and make him jump a liverpool from a standstill. Poor horse just sort of rolled her off his neck.

    The second class was a lot better. I sort of ripped her a new one and I think it pissed her off enough she was riding much more aggressively and did a beautiful job. Still not as good as she does at home, but at this point I was just thrilled she didn't have any refusals.

    Has anyone ever had a client as nervous as this? How did you handle it? Do you scratch them if they are so nervous, they can't even see straight?!?!?!

  • #2
    I had a student I used to yell, "Breathe!!!" He'd hold his breath in a class and would be turning a nice beet red by the end.

    Does she even want to show? or is she happier just taking lessons and jumping your guy at home?

    I always loved to show, usually few butterflies and just went out, had fun and tried to stay on over the x-country scary stuff. I tried to have my students relax and told them to "look calm and sit back...smile, scare the willies out of your competition....if you can't be sincere, fake it!" Maybe a glass of wine 20 minutes before the class might help? Couldn't hurt?
    "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"

    Comment


    • #3
      Did she really want to do this show? Sounds like she blew a major case of stage fright. Not all people can ignore the "Omigod, they're watching me" feeling, or can handle the pressure of a timed/faults jumper round.

      Yeah, she showed hunters almost 20 years ago, but that's a looooooong time to middle age and all the fun fears of death and disability some develop around that age.

      If she's schooling 3'9" at home, she's no slouch. Perhaps her forte would be back in the hunters? Less time pressure, and she's done it before. Find out if she *really* wants to show, or if she wants to run around and jump, see if she wants to try hunter paces or foxhunting. Or, if she's happy riding at home, in the ring, then just leave it at that.

      Perhaps you could have a heart to heart with her, if you're able to do so. Find out what she really wants to do. Ask her to be honest, so as not to repeat the jumper show scenario. Be a little more supportive instead of ripping her a new one. Maybe at the moment it worked, but it could lead to her getting a new instructor/trainer.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        The show was her idea. She was the one that wanted to go and has been begging me to take her. Plus, the puddle jumpers aren't timed or anything--so the only pressure was to get around the ring clear

        BBD, Just to clarify, I am a very supportive trainer. I am not one to get upset, or even raise my voice (unless a student is repeatedly doing the same thing wrong over, and over, and over again) so having a heart to heart is not out of my range by any means. This is a client I know very well (she is also a friend outside of riding) and when we had a "come to Jesus" it was just that. Not me screaming and over reacting and acting like a freak at the horse show. I was very calm when I was letting her know how I felt about the situation--away from the crowd, it was just us speaking.

        The first class, I took the passive approach. Told her it was ok, she did fine, just to relax and it's about having fun and not winning....after the unjudged round went horribly worse, I tried a slightly different approach....it obviously worked becasue she did 100% better in the 2nd class.

        Trakehner, I offered her a shot jk, but I seriously thought about it.....either that or a xanax.....

        Comment


        • #5
          No opinions really but a LIVERPOOL in puddle jumpers?????
          Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by rabicon View Post
            No opinions really but a LIVERPOOL in puddle jumpers?????
            No kidding!! I was thinking the same thing when I saw it.....especially since it's suppossed to be for greenies both ways. Liverpools are pretty intimidating if you ask me

            Comment


            • #7
              I don't jump anymore (Older now, horse got injured a long time ago when he was learning, and we just never got back to it, though I would like to) so we mainly do flat classes now.... BUT I am the same as your client.... I have a great horse, relatively cute, gets compliments ALL OF THE TIME (he knows when people are oohing over him..) though he really isn't a terrific mover, so I get all excited and want to go to shows..... but.....

              when I get in the ring I am a wreck (even though I KNOW that people aren't really "watching" me), and my horse totally feels this.... I have found what helps is:

              1. Trying not to care too much
              2. A glass of wine in a plastic cup (no joke).
              3. I let myself feel free to scratch all of my classes if I want
              FREE TACK/APPAREL ADS: BITS AND BARTER BOARD: http://bitsandbarter.proboards.com/i...ay&thread=5450

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              • #8
                I have a friend that shows in the 51 and over adult hunters. She has never taken a breath during her round. We always tease her that if they put one more fence in her lungs would burst. Amazing lung capacity for 62!

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by naters View Post
                  I don't jump anymore (Older now, horse got injured a long time ago when he was learning, and we just never got back to it, though I would like to) so we mainly do flat classes now.... BUT I am the same as your client.... I have a great horse, relatively cute, gets compliments ALL OF THE TIME (he knows when people are oohing over him..) though he really isn't a terrific mover, so I get all excited and want to go to shows..... but.....

                  when I get in the ring I am a wreck (even though I KNOW that people aren't really "watching" me), and my horse totally feels this.... I have found what helps is:

                  1. Trying not to care too much
                  2. A glass of wine in a plastic cup (no joke).
                  3. I let myself feel free to scratch all of my classes if I want
                  I seriously think I will bring some wine next time. I used to foxhunt and think thats how half the people used to get through the chases....liquid courage is always wonderful

                  I did let her know also, next time if she wanted to scratch, she was more then welcome. I was also thinking of telling her we were just going to lesson at a different place. And just doing a "lesson" at the show and entering her in a few classes if she wants to school over fences. That way she won't have the jitters from getting reved up for the show....I really want to help her through this I think she will get better with miles....it's just the in betweens that are tough

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                  • #10
                    have her count out loud it forces you to breathe or if she has the money and wants to suggest a sport psychologist

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If possible try having her go to another horse show this weekend - the more shows one goes to the less of a big deal they become.

                      If it is really extreme perhaps a sports psychologist might be helpful? When I was younger I would get so nervous that I would go off course often - I would just walk in the ring and blank out. A sports psychologist can be helpful in teaching a rider to work through their nerves and continue to ride effectively.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        When I was a teenager, I was a really nervous shower. I threw up multiple times at each show, and I never ate. And I showed A LOT on the A circuit, so it wasn't a matter of not having enough ring time to feel confident.

                        For me, the problem was that my classes did not go until late in the day. My trainer did my horse in a warm up or the lows early in the day, and I didn't show until sometimes the last division of the day. Even if I schooled in the morning, I just could not get over my nerves. What ended up working for me, ironically, was skipping the pro ride on my horse and showing him in the warm up or lows first thing in the morning myself. The trick for me was to prep my horse in the morning myself, and then, bang, get in the ring on him ASAP. It kept me from thinking about everything that could go wrong and let me really focus on my horse and see that he would be fine (or, see that even if he was not fine, I would be able to handle it - he was a veeerrry tricky ride). Even though the warm-up or lows were a good foot or so lower than my "real" division, just getting in the ring and jumping around the course was enough to fix me for the day. After we figured that out, horse shows became a lot more fun!

                        So...perhaps in this case, is there a way to get her into the ring (or at least on the horse) first thing in the morning? Maybe even have her do a little hunter round as a warm up even though he is a jumper? Sometimes having too much time to think can be a bad thing.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Did she have the same problem years ago when she showed? I had a similar reaction when I returned to showing after an 11 year hiatus. I was so nervous I almost had a panic attack and my hands shook the entire way around the ring. Much worse nerves as an adult than I ever had as a junior and I have no idea why. The joys of aging perhaps? It has gotten much better with time and mileage, so maybe, if she still wants to show, just give her time to work her way back into it slowly by repeated trips to the small shows.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            What did she say she was nervous about? Feeling like she had to perform well? All the people? Did the horse feel spooky or something?

                            Her nerves do sound like they were a little extreme but this was her first show! I bet at the next she'll be 100 times better. After all, I doubt for her anything could be worse than this first show. If it were me, I would find out what she was nervous about, work through that for a couple weeks and then enter her in another show soon, so that she doesn't have time to get worked up again. Sometimes people just need to be pushed a little, and it sounds like this woman responds better to a little pressure.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I was a basket case for about 2 years (maybe 15 shows or so) after I came back at age 45. Oh, it was a little better each show. But it took a looooong time before I could sleep the night before and I still drove people crazy being really restless all day waiting for my classes.

                              I think this gal is within the normal range and, if she started to get a handle on it in that second class? She can do it.

                              Ummm...maybe she could go back to the 2'6" (or even lower) Hunters for a few shows as well? Maybe help her not worry so much about learning courses and liverpools() and just get around intact a few times. Might be a bit much to learn a new division on top of coming back after so many years.

                              And, especially with Adults? Trainers need patience...and half that bottle of wine.
                              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by sar2008 View Post
                                I sort of ripped her a new one and I think it pissed her off enough she was riding much more aggressively and did a beautiful job. Still not as good as she does at home, but at this point I was just thrilled she didn't have any refusals.

                                Has anyone ever had a client as nervous as this? How did you handle it? Do you scratch them if they are so nervous, they can't even see straight?!?!?!
                                As a nervous client, I feel "ripping her a new one" is about the worst thing you could do.... But, yes, I'd scratch myself if I became that nervous in the show ring. Maybe she needs to do some flat and low hunter classes until she gets the hang of showing?

                                PS: Ditto the glass of wine. And "yoga breathing" can help.
                                "Go on, Bill — this is no place for a pony."

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I sound just like your client! Just thinking about showing freaks me out. My nerves are going haywire right now in fact. There is a show the first weekend of June I know my trainer will ask if I want to do, which I do, but then again I don't. I showed for years as a kid and teen and never had the butterflies once. It's been about 10 years since my last show though. I've owned my horse for a little over a year. I know him really well. My trainer showed him at the last show and he did awesome. He is an old pro at showing. The show is also a home show so this really shows how much of a wimp I am. I feel like I will never be ready.
                                  Owned by an Oldenburg

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I'm always a nervous nellie at shows. What I have learned to do is just poo-poo everything the day before as no big deal, and try to relax as much as possible. I am getting better, as a kid I would throw up, now days I still can't eat much but my stomach doesn't do the butterfly gymnastics it used to- now my nerves manifest in randomly feeling like I could cry! More time in the ring really helps, try to get her in as many classes as possible. If all else fails there is always wine, or my favorite, a cape cod (raspberry juice + vodka)

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Mimi La Rue View Post
                                      I sound just like your client! Just thinking about showing freaks me out. My nerves are going haywire right now in fact. There is a show the first weekend of June I know my trainer will ask if I want to do, which I do, but then again I don't. I showed for years as a kid and teen and never had the butterflies once. It's been about 10 years since my last show though. I've owned my horse for a little over a year. I know him really well. My trainer showed him at the last show and he did awesome. He is an old pro at showing. The show is also a home show so this really shows how much of a wimp I am. I feel like I will never be ready.
                                      Mimi- what show???? I'll come and cheer you on (or bring drinks)

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by mypaintwattie View Post
                                        Mimi- what show???? I'll come and cheer you on (or bring drinks)
                                        Orange Coast Cooler. June 5-6.

                                        I think I'd be more confident if no one watched. I don't want my husband there or my mom. Maybe I will even send my trainer away to go watch another ring. lol.
                                        Owned by an Oldenburg

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