Georgia Wade has been riding for over 14 years, focusing mainly on dressage over the past 6 years. In 2014, she began riding at FEI Juniors on her horse Beaumont. In 2015, she qualified for NAJYRC for team Ontario, and won the junior team gold medal. This past year she had the opportunity to move to Germany and expand her riding knowledge working under Ingo Pape at Hengststation Pape.
Georgia is no stranger to battling nerves in her riding. She took the time to share with us her best tips for battling riding anxiety and how to perform your best.
It’s All About Your Team
Find a good team, the people around you ultimately make the experience. So if your team or someone is nervous you will be; if everyone is there to support you, you will be able to relax easier.I also have to remind myself that my nerves not only affect myself, and my performance, but my horses as well. Everything you feel transmits to your horse. If you are nervous he will be as well, to have a good test you both need to be confident.
Creating Confidence Before You Ride
The days, and weeks leading up to any competition I visualize my test in my head to help memorize and plan on how I’m going to ride each movement. Like the preparation for a good halfpass is shoulder in, so I would think to myself; “riding through the corner at K, I put my right leg on and ask my horse to move to shoulder in, then as my shoulder passes the letter K I put my left leg back to signal the half pass, and I hold my left rein for straightness, and ask for flexion and bend with my inside aids.” It seems like a lot of work and thought process for some people, but it truly does help me relax and not get caught up in riding the test, because I know exactly how to ride the test (that is if all parties decide to cooperate).
The day of the test I sit down with my coach/parent and talk them through the test and how I’m going to ride each movement and the preparation for them the same as I do with myself in the visualization. I clear my mind and ride the movements individually.
Before I go into the ring (usually when the bell has been rung) I halt and take 3 deep breaths and remember that it is just me and my horse, nothing has changed other than the ring. Even if the test goes horribly wrong you are still a team and it will not change the friendship and bond you share.
The only way to engrave it into your mind is to keep repeating it until you remember it backwards forward and sideways. Visualize the test. Just like the previous question, ride each movement in your head, don’t just do the pattern. Dictate it to whoever will listen – coach, parent, sibling, teammate, the grounds crew if you have to! Saying it out loud always helps.
Having A Plan When You’re In The Ring
Set a plan out the day before, ie; time you are feeding the horse (if you have an early ride time), time you want to braid, and time you want to be on the horse and warming up by. This way nothing is left to the last minute, and everything will be done properly.
Before I enter the ring I halt, take 3 deep breaths, clear my mind and focus on the movements that I have to ride and not the test as a whole. Don’t ‘What if’. If you are scared if something is going to happen it is bound to happen. So instead of going through the ‘what ifs’, focus on what you can control – your performance.
I always remember the words of wisdom given to me by Cindy Ishoy at a clinic I took with her “You go into the ring with 100%; don’t give the judge[s] any reason to take points away.”