I usually really struggle with nerves when competing. I even became immune to rescue remedy from using it so much! It is the most frustrating feeling and something which I know is a struggle for many people too. Why is competing so daunting? Is it the adrenaline rush, the hours of preparation, the fear of falling, fear of failure? It is so hard to pin point. And yet we subject ourselves to this feeling as a means of enjoyment.
When I was younger I found that regularly competing would help and certain venues were not as troublesome as others. Although the big occasions would still trigger the same feelings. Sometimes I feel like the topic of being nervous at shows has been so over done and so discussed, and although so much of this is mindset related, it will always arise. The thing gets me is that no one makes us do this. But should we feel this insane level of apprehension and nerves to make the end result more worthwhile. Does competing have the same appeal if it was easy and not challenging both personally or physically?
I do think competing should have an element of challenge and as with all sports, a lot of this is mental too. But should it be so mentally strenuous that you are throwing up and just capitulating into a bag of nerves. I have been watching some vlogs and one which really stands out to me is Olivia Towers Dressage. Whilst I don’t share her passion for dressage, I totally can relate to her with how tough on herself she is and her drive to just succeed. This always comes at a price as so often with horses, things do not go to plan. She speaks so much about mindset and how changing your mindset for a more positive one can really affect you. So for my first show in nearly a year, I put this to the test. And whilst that sounds like a really simple and easy thing to do, it certainly was not. I knew Milo would be far from easy, I was expecting the spooking, broncing and refusals, which in turn made me even more nervous. Then the night before, I thought about what a team we were, how far we have come, how much he trusts me, how I couldn’t wait to show everyone how amazing he is, to enjoy the horse that I put so much into.
So, that’s what we did. And just like that my nerves evaporated and I was flooded with a feeling of excitement and filled with determination. Oddly enough, with a positive mindset, positive things happen! We jumped two double clears round a tough course in a spooky arena at a place we have never been to. The odds were truly against us, the weather was awful, Milo doesn’t travel the best when alone and it was very busy. I just wanted to be pleased with myself. Milo is green and inexperienced, I was not expecting anything from him. Although so often we dwell on the negatives but how often do we ride and say I did … well.
I guess the point of this post is just that a positive mindset does really work! I mean who knew! Although I’m not saying I will never experience nerves again and I have had an epiphany and everything will be simple now. But I do think that this experience has changed my thinking and attitude to competing. It made the whole experience so much more enjoyable whilst also, I think, bettering our performance. Cannot wait to get back out again with my main man!