Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dealing with nerves at shows

Ask anyone who hs been with me at a show and they will tell you that I'm generally a wreck. I have been so nervous that I have cried and/or thrown up. I find the whole affair quite stressful. Saddling up I always feel really ill, and waiting to go into the ring most of the time I'm shaking and trying really hard not to chicken out. So possibly I'm not the best person to write a post about coping with nerves.

I have gotten worse recently, with dear old Fred where sometimes he would be good and other times (Like Kyrewood) I would fall off in every class (Thats enough to make you pretty nervous). I'm about 50% less nervous on Connie than I was on Fred. But still very very nervous haha! I will be absolutely terrified for Kates first class I guarantee it. Possibly paralyticly nervous and I'll probably duff up the practise fence 6 times at least.

It doesn't matter what height, even if it's tiny- 60cm, I will be nervous. I'm optimistic I would be ok in a ground rail class but I would still feel the pressure and so be nervous because really I should do well in a groundrail class. Man the fact that groundrail classes exist in America blows my mind. I'd so enter those. If the fences are bigger- ie step up in height on that horse, difficult course, one ugly jump, then forget about it, I'm an absolute wreck. I'm not too bad when I'm actually warming up and riding because I have something else to think about. The real kicker is that if i'm not nervous, i'm going to have a mare. It means i'm exhausted or not in the right head space. If I'm not nervous I might as well pack up and go home. And often the more nervous I am, the better I'll ride, it's like the adrenaline makes me sharper.

I try to visualise my riding my class before I go in, but normally I end up visualising crashes and things so it's often best not to. I do like to have a plan, ie ride up to this one, short five here so sit up early etc, but I also like to be flexible on it so that I don't freeze if the plan falls apart. I think some people get to caught up in the exact way their ride is going to go and thats just not horses, you have to be able to adapt and ultimately once you are in the ring all that matters is getting from one set of flags to the finishing flags. Though it is nice to look good doing it haha!

Ultimately I go into the ring, give my name and the bell goes and I pick up my canter and all of that energy thats been buzzing around as nerves gets focussed into my ride. I try to shut out everything but my cnater and the path I have to take. The more I can focus and trust my canter the better ride I will have. If ground crew talk to me once i have started cantering it goes out the window. It also does if the judge is yelling " ride Rebecca ride" on the loudspeaker (Thanks aunty Linda!). I have to try to get into the zone if you will and then I should be ok. Just stay soft and get that canter. And then I finish and I'm elated, right before I have to dash off and get the next horse.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Beckz

    Reading your post is exactly how I feel at every show. I've been competing now for 6 years on my horse. We started out together when she was 5 and it resulted in me on the floor a couple of times. But, touch wood, when she got the idea that we do the jumps together, we got a lot of consistency. She's a really easy horse to handle, so I don't have to worry about any additional stress and she tends to look after her 'mum' now. And yet before every show, I'm really,really sick. I tell myself as we're driving to the show, that this will be my last one. Nothing can be worth this much angst. We had 6 months out due to lameness and this year has been the worst I've ever been. That combined with the fact that we've just affiliated to British Eventing and so we've upped the anti a bit.

    But like you said, if I'm not nervous because the jumps are large, then I'm nerous because I should do well and if I'm not nervous at all then I panic cos something must be wrong!

    But when you've finished, you're elated, and the buzz from that is so great you sign up to the next event. And then it all starts again.