Horse riding fear is curious.
It seems extraordinary that the very thing you most love – horses and horse riding or dressage – is the very thing that also terrifies you.
And if you are a competition rider – expecting to perform at your very best in dressage or show jumping, it can turn a little healthy nervousness into an adrenaline-fuelled anxiety attack!
You dread the thought of riding – of entering the showground, arena or beginning the course. It happens to show jumpers, to dressage riders and to cross country riders alike.
Sometimes it links to a specific event. Sometimes it doesn’t. However, whether it does or it doesn’t, you feel the same.
Of course, once you get that nervous, another stress hormone kicks in. It’s called cortisol; and scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory. In simple terms, cortisol dulls your thinking – and makes you stupid.
And when you are working in close partnership with a creature as sensitive to your mood and feeling as a horse, that doubles the trouble you experience.
Horse riding fear is sensed by your horse
Your own nervous anxiety communicates to the horse, who becomes edgier – and that can make you more nervous and prone to error; and so the cycle of fear can escalate.
Perhaps the anxiety relates only to the performance arena or course, so you tolerate it; or perhaps it has leaked into your training and everyday riding, sometimes even to the point where you stop competing at all – or seriously think about stopping.
In which case, you need help.
I’ve worked with performance riders, who have gone up the rankings in dramatic leaps once we’ve worked together; and felt the benefit in other parts of their lives too.
If you’d like to be one of them, get in touch with me soon. I’d love to help.