Following my recent post about how I suffer from pre-competition nerves (click here if you missed it), I received lots and lots of messages from people at all levels of ability saying they also felt the same.
So as a follow up, I thought I would ask some other riders in the sport their thoughts on how they have dealt with any similar feelings in their successful careers.
TIFFANY FOSTER – is Canadian and has succsssfully ridden and represented her country on various levels from 5* GP, WEG, Pan Am Games, Olympic Games, Nations Cups even after suffering a broken back in 2008 and being told she would never walk again let alone ride!
TESS CARMICHAEL – is a British amateur rider based at her home stables in Buckinghamshire. She has successfully ridden on the Global Champions Tour for many years alongside other 2* shows and this year added winning the Windsor Amateur GP to her resume.
EMILY MOFFIT – at 19yrs old she has become a name to remember in the sport by being a successful member of two GCL teams, jumping on the GCT 5*, winning at 2* GP level consistently and being part of the young riders team this summer at Samorin coming home with team gold.
Read on to see what they said……
When do you feel the most pre-competition nerves?
(Before getting on? Warm up? Going in the ring?)
TESS – I feel the most nervous in the lead up to the class on the day. I’m particularly bad if I have to wait around a long time, for example if my class is at the end of the day or I’m at the end of the class (silly I know as that’s normally the ideal draw!!) I don’t feel particularly nervous when I’m walking the course. In some ways that’s a relief because I think what worries me the most is the unknown, so once I’ve walked, I know the course, I can make a plan which makes me feel more confident. I then would start to feel nervous again before I get on and start to warm up. Usually when I’m on the horse I feel calmer again, I think working and being with my horses distracts me from the nervousness.
Can you remember a time that the nerves have effected your performance negatively?
TESS – My nerves can make me severely doubt myself and my abilities, which is not helpful in a sport when we have to make so many decisions quickly – there is no time to second guess ourselves. I’ve had mental blocks in the past with certain heights of classes or situations where I would ride so so badly because I didn’t trust myself and this in turn caused a vicious cycle of bad performances which is difficult to break.
TESS – I don’t have a routine as such, I have things that I work on to keep myself focused. I try very hard not to let negative thoughts come into my head e.g. the course is big, too technical etc.I get a lot of confidence from walking the course, so I make sure that I have a strong plan and I know how many strides are where and how to ride each fence. But when it comes down to it things don’t always go to plan so that is subject to change!
EMILY – I tend to listen to music before I get on for multiple reasons, it gets me in the zone to ride well, it helps me focus and it also shows people that I’m getting ready to ride and don’t want to talk! I have a hard time talking to people right before I ride because I like to focus on one thing only and that’s riding as good as possible!
Also not letting what other people are doing to affect myself and my plan. I have certain people’s opinions who I listen to and try not to listen to what other people say about the course or what they are going to do.
EMILY – The rare times I do feel nerves or anxious to win, the only things that really help are taking deep breaths, telling myself to just ride like I know how I can, and also my trainer, Ben Maher, makes a point to tell me go ride and have fun every time before I go in the ring! All of these things help me a lot. It’s important to remember every round is just like all the others you’ve ridden. If you tell yourself that there’s absolutely no reason to be nervous!
HUGE THANK YOU to Tiffany, Tess and Emily for contributing their experiences, tips and feelings to this blog post.