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CONFIDENCE IN COMPETING - 5 ways to take control

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Confidence in competing
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Confidence in competing isn’t my forte since I haven’t done a huge amount of competing myself.
However, our seasoned ambassadors have some brilliant advice for you!
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One thing I have taken from my own experiences in competing is how easy it is to change as a rider. The pressure of doing well and having people watching you can make you act in ways you wouldn’t at home. Be careful and aware of this, don't let the pressure turn you into a rider you wouldn't normally be. It is easy to make sure you don't do this by simply being aware of the possibility of it.
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 Another point to note is that it may not be the actual class you are nervous about. I know for me it's transporting the horse that I get the most nervous about, and I know this is simply because I don't do it very often and therefore I worry about the horse.
I relax as soon as we are at the destination and my horse is out of the box or trailer. If you do have nerves when it comes to getting out and about, it can be very beneficial for you to work out exactly what it is that worries you so that you can home in on that and take steps to overcoming this and feeling better.
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 Sometimes it is simply competing nerves or 'stage fright' and unfortunately these are usually something that you just have to get used to. Some like the buzz these nerves give, and do better from them, and others don’t. Just as you do in exams at school, it's all about teaching yourself to control these nerves to a certain degree but also use that extra adrenaline to your advantage.
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When you are nervous your senses are heightened and your reactions are quicker. This can be a really positive thing when competing. Remembering this can help you feel at ease with your nerves. Try not to start panicking when you feel them building and don't start thinking that it's going to let your riding down. Concentrate on what you're doing and tell yourself than these butterflies in your tummy are there to help you win, to give you that extra focus. See your goal and use your nerves as your drive.
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Before some great advice from a few of our ambassadors, I would also like to point out that if your nerves repeatedly effect you, you should question whether competing is a positive thing for you and your horse and whether you’re enjoying yourself over all. You should never feel the need to compete to prove yourself as a rider or because your friends are. Do what you enjoy and when it comes to competing, if you can't see the positives to it for you, then remember you don't have to compete. 
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5 great points from some of the DVR team:
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  1. Distract yourself with the basics
“All in the hips! Keep breathing – count each stride or canter pace to help with relaxing.”
- Nicole
A great piece of advice to take, especially in the warm- up ring. Focus on your riding and on working with your horse. Don’t concentrate too much on how others in your class might be doing, go back to the basics in your head and concentrate on the simplicity of what you need to do when you do get in that ring. Make it feel like a much smaller deal than it is.
 
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  1. See the end goal
“If you strive to achieve that goal you can overcome nerves more easily by keeping certain aims in the back of your mind. Every time you overcome something, you are a step closer to that goal. This makes you want to work harder and be more confident to achieve it.”
– Lily
 
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  1. Practise, practise, practise
“I think the best thing you can do to be more confident is prepare well for what you want to do. If it’s jumping then get used to jumping the height [or bigger] you plan on competing at and make sure you and your horse or pony are comfortable before you decide to go to a show.”
– Meabh
 
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  1. Block out the bad bits
“Constantly remind yourself of how well it could go and how proud you would be of yourself if you overcame your nerves. One of the main parts of being confident in the saddle is not thinking about the bad bits; never think about how badly it could go when you’re riding, just think about the good bits and you will achieve them. And lastly, Plan ahead if you have a certain thing that is knocking your confidence to try to prevent it from happening."
-LILY
 
  1. It’s all in the prep
If you’re going to a show make sure you’re organised because that will ease your nerves on the day knowing that you don’t have to go running around looking for things. To be confident, preparation is key!
- MEABH