The 5 Stages Of Dressage Show Panic

The Dressage Show – months of lessons and hours of practice at home all lead up to this.

The perfectly groomed horse, the spotless rider (Oh please!) and the effortless warmup.  For some, it’s actually more of a really sweaty, overexciting, super-draining day, with more feelings of feverish distress than “elegance.”

If you’re getting ready to trot down the Centerline, the following list of Stages of Panic is a great preparatory cheat sheet.

did such a fun job earlier this spring with her article The 7 Stages of Panic When Your Trainer Raises the Fences on Eventing Nation.  Here’s a brazen knockoff of her idea from a dressage perspective.

1*. The “No Biggie” Stage.

At first arrival, things seem just peachy.  The energy at the showground is a little higher than for a normal schooling day, but it’s fairly quiet and seems like a smallish, easy show.

Rider’s attitude at this point:  Whatever. No biggie, you’ve got this.

dressage show panic

2*. The “Ehh, Ummm” Stage.  
Somehow all the horses look much more polished, together, supple and powerful as soon as you get in the warmup arena.  
Rider’s attitude at this point:  Well, this is interesting. Are you sure all these pairs are showing at our lower level?  Hmm, we’ve still got this.  Totally.  Just warm up as usual, never mind the passage over there.
horse show nerves
3*. The “I’m Out Of My League” Stage
Slooowly, a bit of panic starts creeping in.  Issues from earlier schooling rides are popping up.  And they’re bigger now.  Maybe it’s time to reconsider showing at this level..?  There’s just no way you’re ready for this, you can’t even go straight.
Rider’s attitude at this point:  Is my horse going be a complete tense ball like this the whole test?  Man, yes, she’s going to be all tense!  We’re 45 seconds out from the bell ringing and I know for sure she’s going to be tense.  Just half halt…  soften…  half halt…   
Wait, what’s a half halt?
4*. The “Why Did I Sign Up For This?” Stage.
Your horse seems to completely forget everything you’ve practiced for the past several months.  (Or make that a year.)  Staggering on to the centerline just strides out from halting at X, you’re so busy trying to go straight while also questioning the sanity of showing a completely untrained horse, everything else is blurry and there’s NO breathing going on.  
Rider’s attitude at this point:  I’ve obviously overestimated my skills.  10 years, and there are no skills.surviving dressage shows
5*. The “Just Do It” Stage.  
Making the turn at C, there’s no turning back.  Half shocked you’re still on the horse and actually know the next movement, fake confidence or not, you’re all business.  And it’s happening!  
Rider’s attitude at this point:  Make the best of this situation!  You’re doing it!  Ride like no one’s watching, but better. 🙂  Forward!

Go out of your comfort zone!

Writing & Reading To Ride Better

Always amazed at the incredible level of support the reader community can offer.

Thank you to everyone who invests time in commenting and reading the posts here!  I’ve never reposted any comments – but this one is a must read!

First; Your Daily Dose of Duchess Rice Dream.

classical dressage philosophy


This is from Tonia.  We both clearly play on the same team.  Enjoy!

“…  A bit of good old classical dressage wisdom, which is that we as riders should ask ourselves regularly–why are we doing this? Why do we ride? For some people, the answer is they want to be at the top of the sport…to compete, win and be the best. But for me (and probably–hopefully–for most equestrians) the answer is because I love horses. I have loved them since I was barely old enough to recognize that feeling.
… With that answer in mind, and channeling my inner nine-year-old-self, I go out and do the things that are hard and scary and that progress us forward…  if at any point I start to lose touch with the core reason I am doing all this, then I know I am on the wrong track and I need to take a step back and return to a place of love and enjoyment again, wherever that may be.
This idea of love and enjoyment over competition/progress/goals was reiterated so eloquently to me recently at a lecture I attended by Paul Belasik …it was such a good reminder and came at a really good time for me, when I was in the throes of being hard on myself for what I felt was slow progress over the past couple years (during which time I had a baby, ahem).
I’m passing on that reminder now–not to suggest you should take a step away from showing, but because this concept enabled me to loosen the grip that perfectionism and competitiveness had on me at that time and allowed me to just ENJOY THIS, no matter where we are or what we’re doing or how “good” we’re doing it.” (Tonia)

Find Tonia at Peace Love Horses.

Until next time!

riding dressage
If you haven’t aleady – cast your vote for braid style in Sunday’s post!

The Art Of Staying On

Thundering hooves sound alarming every time, even on fiber sand.

Unless you’ve never been on, during the actual thunder, just quietly observing things unravel very quickly, it’s hard to explain the feel of it, from the top.

I called out – “It’s alright I’m okay!” Which we all know in reality means cleanup on aisle 6.

By small wonder, still stayed on.  Again.

¶ Stickability  » Streak of non-dismounting epoch by the grace of your horse, who of course could dump you if it wanted to. «

Much quieter day, last summer.

riding and not falling off

Vulnerability, For Strength

Not sure about you, but I click on some sites more often than others.

Hard to say why, but there are some that really are interesting – when there’s extra time it’s great to see what’s going on.

A big key to it – open writing.  Sure, plain and conversational helps.  But also, reading something that most would rather not show to others makes it a lot more interesting.

vulnerability in writing

Vulnerability: There’s strength in that. Even though it seems polar opposite.
Just sharing some training issues makes the writer face it all – accept that Yep, right now they’re probably looking like they don’t know what they’re doing.  Or things may not be going all that great.

And that this is OK.

dressage horse blogs 2018
Your not overly impressive team. But happy!

Horse sport is incredibly difficult.  No one will argue with that. 🙂 Doing it on your own, even more so.

Adding the discipline of dressage; ultra meticulous and so elusive most people grow mold just trying to explain what it is, makes it almost impossible.

It’s been a blast sharing some of the challenges with our training, and of course it’s going to click more with readers than glossy things, endless perfect days and successes.  (Good, since we don’t have too many.  Yet.)

It makes you a better rider too, just reading about someone wrestling with the same stuff.

how to write so readers come back
Let’s go achieve something, even if we don’t know how to get there!

The crazies that goes along with it are half the fun.

Up next, a riding tip.

Invitation To Share Your Site

Late last spring, this post below went up.

It’s worth offering this to you again!

Read on – and feel free to chime in the comments!

Open invitation to share “What Makes Your Site Different.”

A Horse For Elinor has been the same from the very start – I write, and take way too many pictures, of and about the horses I ride.  Training, some competing, and like all other dressage riders strive to find that “just that right” connection with my horse.

Warning – looks like a personal post coming up.

Every blog is different – and this is where you come in at the end of the post!

Part of what makes this site have its own “feel” is that it’s written by an adult rider who wants to have lots of fun but still has several goals.

Tons of Horse Blogs out there.  Lots of energetic young riders writing endless product plugs.  Or how about the massive amounts of Scandinavian horse blogs where it’s all about matching the polo wraps and saddle pad?..  This site has mostly impolite posts about training on my own with a young horse.

bare hoof riding ggt footing

Still, we’re moving forward, getting out to compete, and have a blast doing it.  I have more physical ailments and side-kick diseases than I can keep track of at this point (Hey, who’s counting?!).

It’s inspirational to read about others who push through that, and have fun and do well anyway.  Maybe you think so too?

barefoot dressage

It’s challenging sometimes, when you look just fine on the outside, healthy, and in shape.  I show up, get the once-over glance; – “Oh, she’s one of those…”  Truth is I have to sometimes literally scrape myself up and scoop me out the door.  My body can be a super hero one day, and leave me half-broken and unable to do much the next.

I get a sense of constantly letting people around me down, because of making tons of energetic commitments while getting sick, or injured, so often.

It’s not the focus of this site at all, but some of the – “Hey let’s enjoy the heck out of this for as long as it lasts!”, probably comes through 🙂

bare foot dressage training

So.  Now it’s your turn! 

Today’s blog post is an opportunity to say “Hello” to other readers.

Comment below with what makes your site “just a bit different.”  Or Comment with just a link to your blog, as an opportunity to have more readers connect.

It’s just as easy as that!  Or stick a link in there to one of your posts you especially liked creating!

Up to you!

This 1 Little Known Detail That Could Affect Your Riding

Having people tell you not to give up.

Just as easy as that.

Never saw that one coming!

It works in other sports, and it works well in riding too. Maybe you don’t know, but just by having a blog you may get a lot “cheering on” from the sidelines.

Just in case you’ve wondered if it really makes a difference – yes it DOES! Your comments are very valuable, and I truly appreciate the help, the inspiration, and the motivation.

Today; Big Thank You to everyone who’s taken the time to just come in here over several months!

how to motivate your blogging friends

Some of you have really taken the time to write out constructive thoughts, cheering on, and reassuring that this is, after all, doable. Which I sometimes doubt 🙂

So, thank you for helping and for just checking in!

motivating a horse
Gray Slytherine could use some motivation too. I know you can’t help with that.