Dressage Nerves/anxiety/agoraphobia

TheBigIrishGrey

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 April 2019
Messages
56
Location
Chorley Equestrian, Shropshire
People keep telling me to do some video tests which I’m trying to do, the virtual online ones but I have crippling anxiety about how I’m letting Coco down, how I’m not good enough to even bother and how I just can’t even bring myself to do it for the experience as people will think I’m a joke trying to win when I know I never could and that would never be my reason for entering!
Im taught by Jonty Evans and he is doing some amazing work with me as a disabled person myself with a brain condition that is blinding me (and I have a blind horse too) but I just feel like I’m not good enough to be taught by such an amazing person and it’s all just getting to me. What am I even doing trying to compete?! I’ve competed once in my life at a riding school in my 20s and I came 2nd out of 20 people. I was so scared of doing the canter work in the next test that I locked myself in Mums car crying and made her go back and ask to quit the series so I could have normal lessons and not have the stress of dressage test training.
I’m desperate to do some competing with Coco as she has saved my life literally, I was suicidal before I met her at a riding school and I decided not to end my life but to ride horses again and leave my house after a DECADE bedbound. She truly saved my life and I bought her.
Yet again it’s me who’s holding us back. I need a called because I forget things immediately with worry and my brain condition too, I worry I’m going to forget it so it makes it worse. I’m nervous of the way I look (I hate myself so much!!!) and don’t want people looking at me so I don’t know how I could ever do a real life one.... but I so want this experience with my best friend Coco.
Do you have any tips for the video ones to start with please? I get bad panic attacks and I’m worried I will have one during the video. I would just stop, deal with it and try again but I’m worried I am just wasting everyone’s time.
I go out drag hunting which mum is petrified when I do and I’m not scared at all, not hacking alone, not side saddle nothing.... but this is terrifying to me!!! Anything that is about me and eyes on me. I am sorry if this sounds like a pity post I am just really looking for some ideas on how to help my nerves. I am on medication for my anxiety already and I can take more for panic attacks (diazepam) but it doesn’t work unfortunately. I can talk to my GP but i don’t want to be doped up and numb if that makes sense as it will affect my riding and make me sloppier.
thank you if you’ve read this far. I’m so embarrassed but just needed some support and advice xxx
 

Cloball

Well-Known Member
Joined
19 October 2017
Messages
962
Have you tried any talking therapies? Sounds like you have been through an awful lot! It sounds like you are doing amazingly well and can be very proud of yourself. Sometimes our brains get fixed in a pattern of thinking which can be very difficult to break by yourself. Like a negative thought snowball. I know it won't help straight away for your dressage test and can be a big daunting undertaking in itself but it might be something to consider.
I don't think there is anything bring stopping a video to gather your thoughts or having some practise runs and deciding on the best one or having some help. Think of it like a movie, no one uses the first take and that is totally fine. Take the pressure off and maybe think of it as a training tool. Video yourself doing a test but just look at it with your instructor, then you can send it if you are happy but that is not the 'purpose' of the video if that makes sense.
 

Roxylola

Well-Known Member
Joined
15 March 2016
Messages
2,509
So you enjoy riding generally? And you enjoy your lessons basically?
No horse has ever stood in its field or stable with all its needs met wishing for a better rider so it could go out and fulfil its potential. They do not stand at the fence thinking if only I had a better jockey I could be at nationals those year.
Horses live in the moment and if they are looked after and cared for they are happy.

So, you are not letting your horse down

Everyone should have lessons, bad habits creep in so easily, they are an investment in your horse's well being. Have lessons with the best trainer you can afford and get on with. You're doing that already. You are paying your instructor for their time, but if they didnt want to teach you theyd find reasons not to so if hes teaching you hes happy to teach you.

But not everyone wants to compete. People telling you you should isnt a good enough reason to do it. Riding is something we do for pleasure. If it makes you feel the way you describe just dont do it. You dont need to, your horse wont know any different. Enjoy your riding and your progress, you dont need a score sheet.
 

mini barnes

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 June 2019
Messages
618
If you don’t actually want to compete, don’t do it. It’s not worth traumatising yourself over to that extent! A bit of nerves is normal but when youre boiling over it’s no fun. If you are able to do all these “scary” things like hunting etc with ease, ask yourself is it worth putting yourself through this for a score sheet?

enjoy your horse! Carry on doing the things you love.

as above, your horse won’t give two hoots if you’re not competing it at GP as long as it’s well cared for. He will however pick up on your nerves and will be happier if you are too :)
 

DressageCob

Well-Known Member
Joined
30 December 2011
Messages
1,245
I don’t think you’re being fair to yourself.
Your horse isn’t sitting in its stable, mourning its untapped potential. She doesn’t feel she’s missing out because she isn’t doing dressage competitions. She’s just happy with her owner, her field, her stable and her food.

online dressage is a nice way to get into competing, when you’re ready. Maybe have a look on YouTube and watch some tests. You’ll see a bunch of normal people on normal horses. Some, like me, have fat rolls on show and faces like beetroots. Others look pale and on the verge of collapse. All will have something in their position or riding they aren’t happy with.
You really have nothing to worry about, appearance-wise.

what I recommend is having a go, have a friend film it and submit it. You don’t have to watch it. Get the feedback from the judge. Then when you see comments, such as circle too small, nice transition etc, you might feel you want to see the video to see what they are talking about. You can look at it in a more clinical way then. And you’ll see that you have loads to be proud of, your horse looks beautiful and you’re working as a partnership in harmony. It’s a lovely thing to see, when you’re ready to see it.

Try not to be so hard on yourself. And when you’re ready to have a go, good luck.

Coco sounds like a special pony. Gaining the love and trust of a special horse is a massive achievement in itself. Well done xx
 

TheBigIrishGrey

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 April 2019
Messages
56
Location
Chorley Equestrian, Shropshire
So you enjoy riding generally? And you enjoy your lessons basically?
No horse has ever stood in its field or stable with all its needs met wishing for a better rider so it could go out and fulfil its potential. They do not stand at the fence thinking if only I had a better jockey I could be at nationals those year.
Horses live in the moment and if they are looked after and cared for they are happy.

So, you are not letting your horse down

Everyone should have lessons, bad habits creep in so easily, they are an investment in your horse's well being. Have lessons with the best trainer you can afford and get on with. You're doing that already. You are paying your instructor for their time, but if they didnt want to teach you theyd find reasons not to so if hes teaching you hes happy to teach you.

But not everyone wants to compete. People telling you you should isnt a good enough reason to do it. Riding is something we do for pleasure. If it makes you feel the way you describe just dont do it. You dont need to, your horse wont know any different. Enjoy your riding and your progress, you dont need a score sheet.
Oh I absolutely adore my lessons thank you, I’ve recently changed to have Jonty Evans come out and teach me so I’m absolutely loving my lessons. I just feel as though I should be doing more and do want to as well, I just feel like I let her down. Jonty is really helping me with my confidence as we both have brain problems and the chimp theory is something he uses which is something I tried years ago and am picking up again. He’s getting the most out of me and really helping me improve I just don’t feel worthy enough to have him either!!!! Or Lee Pearson when I go to Lee to ride either! People constantly call me an inspiration with my disabilities as a say to Jonty but I didn’t DO anything I just GOT my disabilities, does that make sense?
 

TheBigIrishGrey

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 April 2019
Messages
56
Location
Chorley Equestrian, Shropshire
I don’t think you’re being fair to yourself.
Your horse isn’t sitting in its stable, mourning its untapped potential. She doesn’t feel she’s missing out because she isn’t doing dressage competitions. She’s just happy with her owner, her field, her stable and her food.

online dressage is a nice way to get into competing, when you’re ready. Maybe have a look on YouTube and watch some tests. You’ll see a bunch of normal people on normal horses. Some, like me, have fat rolls on show and faces like beetroots. Others look pale and on the verge of collapse. All will have something in their position or riding they aren’t happy with.
You really have nothing to worry about, appearance-wise.

what I recommend is having a go, have a friend film it and submit it. You don’t have to watch it. Get the feedback from the judge. Then when you see comments, such as circle too small, nice transition etc, you might feel you want to see the video to see what they are talking about. You can look at it in a more clinical way then. And you’ll see that you have loads to be proud of, your horse looks beautiful and you’re working as a partnership in harmony. It’s a lovely thing to see, when you’re ready to see it.

Try not to be so hard on yourself. And when you’re ready to have a go, good luck.

Coco sounds like a special pony. Gaining the love and trust of a special horse is a massive achievement in itself. Well done xx
That’s such a lovely comment and really understands where I’m coming from thank you. There was an online test I wanted to do with Jonty calling for me but I have a 20x60 school and I needed to adapt it to 20x40 as they wouldn’t allow 60’s and I struggle with seeing the letters as it is without worrying about letters flying everywhere if I made A4 ones for a new school shape and covering up the ones for the 60. I feel like I’ve made an excuse now :(
 

Lurfy

Well-Known Member
Joined
28 June 2016
Messages
206
Location
Canberra, Australia
Could you try just making the video of your test and deciding after it is done if you submit it to the competition or not. It might be nice to have a video for yourself regardless of the competition just to document this period in time. If you feel comfortable then you can consider entering it. If you don't, no worries.
I think you are worthy of your lessons with Jonty, don't overthink this. You have a horse, you can ride, you sound reasonable so probably a much valued client for your instructor. An instructor told me once that the worst students he had were ones that felt they knew everything and didn't listen. You sound very respectful of your instructor, so go for it, why not, you tick all the boxes.
 

Carlosmum

Well-Known Member
Joined
16 August 2010
Messages
1,331
Location
Oxfordshire
Take the pressure off yourself. Why not video your tests each week and see how you have improved. I think many of us feel we ae letting our horses down from time to time. but in the end all they want is love, food and company. Do what makes you feel comfortable and may be one day you will feel confident enough to send that video off to be judged.
 

TheBigIrishGrey

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 April 2019
Messages
56
Location
Chorley Equestrian, Shropshire
Jonty asked me on my first lesson when I burst into tears before I’d even got on my horse “what are horses made for?” I said riding or something and he said “no, eating grass!” So as long as I let her eat grass I’m not letting her down and I’ve done far more than that he said, especially as a disabled person and with her as a disabled horse. It made me feel a lot lot better before I got on. I suffer with a lot of panic attacks. I have a lesson with him tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to it especially after all of your kind messages. I think what I will do as you’ve said which is a fabulous idea, is at the end of each lesson is film the same test and see how much we improve each week and I will have a visual representation of improvements then. Even if it’s not to be shown anywhere. The problem with the competition is it needs to be done in a 20 x 40 school and mine is a 20 x 60 so I’d struggle getting used to new letter placings and the closing date is in 6 days so I couldn’t do that I don’t think. I’d have to cover all the other letters up and try and keep them covered in the wind and try and get new markers somewhere or stop paper ones blowing away. Plus I would have to try and find a caller if Jonty couldn’t come back. I will see how I feel but maybe next time.
 
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