Originally Posted by Ashsunnyeventer View Post
So starting with dressage. I usually have a wonderful warm up and as soon as we enter the ring, we get stiff, nervous and stuff starts falling apart. Or at least that's how it feels to me, but my scores never reflect that. I often come out of dressage thinking that there is no hope for placing at all, but recieve a score that just blows my mind.
Trust me, the horse isn't that nervous about being in the ring, your horse is reacting to YOU being nervous in the ring. You need to MAKE yourself relax before you go into the ring. Make this an "act" you perform. Practice hearing the bell and let your body totally soften and relax. The more you practice this, the more natural it will become. Trust me, it works.
I rode with a coach who had a sport psychologist work with us. It made a big difference.
You know how some people are terrified of XC? Well that's how SJ is for me. Im not sure why I get so nervous, but it might have to do with the fact that every round I put in is messy messy messy.
Show jumping was the phase I least liked. After all of the dressage and endurance, you are dealing with a tired horse. All it takes is the tiniest mistake to lose it all. Your dislike is understandable.
Sounds like it is time for some training for discipline over fences. I see far too many people go to eventing because their horse is too rowdy to do hunters. However, SJ is no place for a rowdy horse with no discipline.
Since we have moved up to novice we havent had any penalties though (probably just pure luck and my horse saving my butt). When I walk my SJ courses I usually feel pretty confident about most of it, but there's always one or two things that make me think I can't do it.
Another place for sports psychology. You need to visualize that you are supremely confident. It helps to "become" an event rider you strongly admire. Approach that course the way you feel that rider would do it. Practice this visualization, because it works!
I got a student who had taken a couple of bad falls on XC. It totally shook her confidence to the point that she couldn't even trot across a pasture. We practiced the ability to "pretend" to be someone she admired. Within a short time, her practice became habit and she was competing confidently again.
My mom has pointed out to me that whenever I walk my XC courses for shows I am very negative. I will say things along the lines of "we can't do this" "no way she would ever jump that" and "I don't even have to worry about that jump because we won't even get past the first jump."
Wow, where is your coach when you eat yourself up this way? A good coach tells you everything you need to know that jump inside and out so that there are very few surprises. Knowledge is power.
The thing is- I have no reason to say these things because we have never had a XC penalty and I placed first in the last three shows of the season. I love XC- it is my favorite and one of the only reasons I event and it doesn't scare me. So why do I say this? (I didn't even realize I was doing it- it was other people that pointed it out to me)
Because the only thing you are PRACTICING is being negative. You need to catch yourself and "pretend" you are completely positive. Look at that jump like you are an Olympic rider looking at it. CONVINCE yourself it is well within your abilities (you have proven that it is).
At home I'm confident with my flatting, but I really don't jump her that often. When I do, it's a hot mess and I usually walk away feeling worse thatn when I started.
So, because it is unpleasant, you ignore it? It will never be fixed that way. You need to find a coach who can work with you and show you how to ride her behaviors. Riding a hot horse takes a person who can really calm themselves so that they transmit calmness and confidence to their horse. Often, the horse's behavior mirrors the lack of confidence they feel from their rider.
I also have this thing where I refuse to take her on trail rides because she was wild the last few times and I don't want to give her the opportunity to misbehave again. I like to be happy with her so we just work on things that I actually see improvement in (aka flatting and conditioning).
Again, avoiding her bad behavior allows it to persist. Bad behavior doesn't disappear, it is trained away. Go on the trail and MAKE yourself relax while riding. Half halt, then praise the moment the horse slows/calms. Keep praising for even the tiniest moments of better behavior. Just persist calmly in the corrections until she gives you that tiny moment you can reward. This really does work, but not overnight. Again practice!
So I think its time to change my negativity because its not fair to my horse. She has done nothing to deserve my lack of faith in her
and I want shows to start being fun and relaxed like they use to with my old guy instead of fun but nerve wracking like they are now. I just felt like I needed to write this down some where and if you guys have any suggestions on how to think positively, let me know!
Sorry for the book
Your lack of faith is not in her, but in yourself and your ability to pull off the show. I wish you were close enough to NC for me to work with your attitude. You, obviously, have the skills. It is your mind holding you back and keeping this from being fun.
When I get a new student. I ask them if it is really important for them to have blue ribbons. If they say yes, I hand them a roll of blue ribbon. I tell them that now that this obstacle is over, they can have fun at shows. My students all laugh and have a good time. Because of their relaxed approach, they are often very successful (and win lots of those nice blue ribbons).