I was feeling quite excited about my plan of using the quieter warm up, for anyone who knows Stoneleigh there is an arena to warm up that is a bit further away and quieter. It used to be that you couldn’t move up to the quiet main warm up until it was 10 mins before your time to keep it less busy but this was not the case this year. However for one reason or another (which I am not arguing against) they said they didn’t want people warming up down there for safety reasons.
So we timidly approached the big busy warm up. Which was hard. Very hard. I knew I was very physically anxious but at the same time I felt prepared to just get on with it because it is what it is and we have a job to do. So I had my warm up plan but eventually ditched that and just weaved in and out of the horses to check we had bend. It was testing that’s for sure but once we were in canter we both breathed out. The test first day was really good. I was kind to myself and focused on my training for each move as opposed to thinking it was the end of the world as soon as something went wrong.
This is where it got a bit tougher. The training issues were the same really. It’s getting my inside leg on both reins that was tough and he was just holding his neck and body so tight that anytime I asked more of him he just got tighter. I think because it was second day, he was feeling the effects of the day before… so was I. The actual test started off okay but he was really tense in the halt before the free walk and. Then walk to canter it just blew his mind a little. He became very tense and not wanting to go forward so in the end I retired. Which at the time was disappointing but I felt these were training issues we weren’t necessarily going to get the other side of when we were both worked up.
Reflection on this show
This now links in to what I learned the hard way from this show. How you put pressure on when you and your horse are nervous has to be done in a gradual and confidence building way. I feel that the natural reaction when you are lacking confidence is being flooded by negative thoughts and the perfectionism because you are clinging on to those results/outcomes. And on top of that you want the outcomes to be good immediately because that’s how the dopamine reward system works, we want instant gratification. In reality this has the opposite effect due to overwhelm and impatience, which damage your confidence.
The better thing to do is be kinder to yourself and your horse. Make it feel as easy as possible and only ask for extra once you have this foundation. Its often the same for any task we find stressful, we want immediate good results and this leads to a cascade of overwhelm and pressure. However in this case taking a step back, can lead to small steps or building blocks of confidence where you focus on the small amount of things you can do and it builds momentum. Instead of all the worry that comes when you think of what you can’t do.
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