Here dressage rider and Lifeforce brand ambassador Lara Dyson draws on her own experience of competition nerves to offer advice on how to stop them preventing you from achieving your goals.
In 2011 Lara Dyson nearly gave up competing when crippling competition nerves were affecting her performance and ruining her enjoyment of the sport. A chance meeting with Performance Coach David Collins proved the turning point in her dressage career and also the start of a new venture helping others.
Lara gained her ILM Level 5 in coaching and mentoring and formed Inspiring Minds Equestrian Coaching in partnership with David.
Nerves and confidence issues can affect riders of all levels, whether you are too nervous to enjoy a canter out on a hack or are being held back from reaching your potential in the competition arena.
Lara uses a range of techniques on a regular basis; she refers to this as her ‘tool box’.
The one technique she finds herself returning to is called ‘box crushing’. “I write my worry, concern or what I am nervous about down on a piece of paper as vivid as I can be, using all the emotions I am feeling at the time. I then screw the piece of paper up; I don’t neatly fold but screw it up.
“Place the paper in a small box (generally a saddle soap box or toothpaste box) and close the lid, then throw it on the floor, next is the best bit! Jump up and down stamping on the box until you can stamp now more, pick it up throw it in the bin or on the fire in winter.
“The brain is exceptionally powerful, therefore you have tricked your brain into getting rid of the nerve, fear or anxiety issue, written it down, jumped on it and thrown it away! You will still remember what the issue is however your anxiety will have reduced,” explained Lara.
Tips to build confidence
Here are a few tips to help you stay confident once you have crushed your box of worries.
- If competing makes you anxious, preparation is key. Keep your goals achievable and don’t try to push yourself or your horse beyond your ability.
- Always take someone with you who boosts your confidence. Having someone accompany you out on a hack even if they come along on a bike distracts your mind from your worries while you chat.
- Take deep breaths and focus on the present.
- Visualise yourself in the ring or out on a hack, without feeling nervous or anxious!
As flight animals that live on the edge of their nerves, ready to flee at the first sign of a predator (which could be a crisp packet!), horses also suffer from nerves and confidence issues.
We constantly expect them to cope with a lifestyle they never evolved to do, particularly competition horses. Travelling to shows, changing environments and busy training schedules, all expose them to stress which can have a negative impact on the digestive system.
Lifeforce Elite from Alltech is specially designed for competition horses, working to provide a solution to manage the effects a competitive work environment can have on a horse’s well-being and helps to support the immune system to optimise performance and aid resistance to stress.
A 5kg tub of Lifeforce Elite provides a three month supply and retails at £120.
For further information visit www.lifeforcehorse.co.uk or telephone 01780 764512