Welcome to our co-post. PonyPomAdventures and I have written a joint post on pre-show nerves. To get here, we both wrote posts. We swapped. We commented. The result is a combination of guest post and conversation.
Yesterday on Virtual Brush Box: My comments. Lauren’s response.
Yesterday on Pony Pom Adventures: Lauren’s comments. My response.
Today, we swapped.
You can read both by clicking over, or by clicking back.
Combating Pre-Ride Nerves by Lauren
Show nerves, what do they even mean?
I find I refer to show nerves as the anticipation of what’s to come.
I find its not actually the riding part of horse shows that makes me nervous. I mean I ride my horse most days, why would I be nervous to ride him specifically on show days?
For me, I find its the other things that come with going to a horse show that makes me nervous.
For example, if I was to forget my dressage test, or forget where I’m going on a jumping course. Not that I have ever done any of these things, but it still makes me nervous. Or if I fluff it up and there are lots of people there watching, that makes me nervous.
I also find I am nervous about being disappointed in my performance. Not so much disappointed if we loose or don’t get a great score, but I feel nervous that we only get one chance in the ring on show day. I think these nerves come from some imaginary pressure I feel from people who have come to watch us. They probably don’t care if we do well or not, but I feel nervous about letting them down. About letting my horse down too.
Also nerves for me come from getting my horse to the show ground, and getting him ready while we are there. What if he falls in the wagon? What if he wont stand still to let me get on? Again none of this has ever happened, but I sort of imagine these catastrophes in the lead up to the event.
When I’m on this all melts away, and I have a jolly good time! Which is why I guess I keep going back for more!
Change of mindset
These are all nerves I feel in the lead up to an event. However I have come up with some ways to try and combat these.
I was having a discussion with a dressage instructor about mine and Bobby’s canter. I’m nervous of him breaking the canter before we’ve done our canter movements. Her reply was, so what? Bobby doesn’t care if we mess up the test, he will still get his tea when we get home. This got me thinking, what does it actually matter if we mess it up?
Now, if we get something wrong when we are competing, I can take that as a positive. I now know what I can do next time to make it better.
I also recently went to a confidence seminar with Karl Greenwood. This was great for helping me change my mind set. See the blog post here Karl Greenwood confidence seminar.
Things to help
I find that if I’m worrying about something, such as forgetting to take all mine and Bobby’s things to a show, I write them down. That way it doesn’t seem like much to worry about. See my post Keeping an equine diary about other things I write down.
I also try to be as prepared as possible. I learn my test until I can do it in my sleep. That way I am the most confident I can be about not forgetting my test. And if I do, then so what?
I have a plan on show days that I know works. I do as much as I can do the evening before. Then I have less to think about on show day morning. I make sure I get to the yard with plenty of time, so I can get to the venue with as much time as I need.
Also I now remember I’m at the competition for me and my horse. I love other people coming to watch us, but I now know they are there to support us no matter how well we do.
I now don’t let negative thoughts into my head. This takes a lot of brain power and it’s something I’m still working on.
Katherine’s Response to Lauren’s Advice
Lauren asks a lot of good questions.
Am I worried about forgetting my test/course?
I do NOT want to say I don’t forget my tests/courses. I don’t want to put that out into the universe. Getting lost is always possible. I have done so in dressage and over jumps. I will say that the IDEA of doing so doesn’t keep me awake at night. I wouldn’t like to. It would be bad. I am not paralyzed by the possibility.
Plus, saddle seat classes don’t allow much possibility for freestyling. Classes runs in the same order: trot in, walk, canter, walk, reverse, trot, walk, canter, walk, lineup. The announcer calls the changes. Not much to forget. Still nervous.
People watching me?
Meh, I’m used to it by now. Besides, horse show audiences are generally your barn, who are watching you, and other barns, who are watching their people.
Worried about disappointing people?
Always. Not any more so on horse show days.
Getting ready, having crises?
I’m a Pony Clubber at heart. Imagining and preventing what can go wrong is my hobby. I prepare. I bring stuff. So much stuff.
What exactly makes me nervous?
I really don’t know. It’s more of a primal scream inside my head. It doesn’t stop to answer questions.
Thank you for reading,