Monday, 10 August 2015

Managing my chimp

Odd title for the blog this week but totally relevant so bare with me...

After our BD outing last weekend I had to do a bit of analysis on me. Although I've been out competing far more recently I realised that I have been mainly doing dressage as a team effort and this is a whole different mental ball game than competing as an individual. I was frustrated that I'd let old demons creep back into my warm up but actually all I'd done was let them snooze for a bit - I'd never actually addressed the original problem.

So, on to managing my chimp.... I read a great book a couple of years ago called 'The Chimp Paradox'. It was recommended to me by another rider and I also thought it would really help me at work too. In a nutshell it helps you to recognise when your emotions (chimp) are taking over from your logical (human) brain and gives you strategies to manage the process. The chimp reacts 7x faster than the human so in times of stress or high alert your chimp goes mad and reverts to emotionally triggered responses.

Focused whilst schooling
After analysing what had changed I realised that my chimp had got out of control and I needed to do something to fix it. So out came the book but after taking two days to get through a chapter I realised I needed the audiobook so that I could listen in my 'dead time' travelling and just before going to bed. I've been listening for almost a week and it has made a big difference already. The start of the book runs through a list of questions that we often ask ourselves and after answering yes to the majority (!) I realised that not only was my chimp out of control in my equine life but this has crept into my work and home life too. So I'm taking charge and learning how to manage my chimp much better and so hopefully he'll be far more co-operative over the next few weeks and months!

The first big test for this will be our 2nd BE90 this weekend at Aston le Walls. I am mega excited, its been two months since BCA and I've been working really hard on our jumping and flatwork to make sure we are completely prepared and ready to go. However, the biggest challenge to overcome is that naughty chimp sitting on my shoulder telling me I'm not good enough. I have a good friend in the same section as me and that is my worst nightmare! I hate competing against people I know - it's all ok if you both do well but if I do badly it's something that really affects my confidence for a while and that's not what I need a week before area festivals.

Jumping the stegosaurus.. As you do!
In preparation I have already set my goals for the weekend and know what I need to do to achieve them. I took B XC schooling at Boomerang at the weekend as I needed to do some ditch and drop schooling as there could be a ditch (the March event had a ditch at fence 3) and there will definitely be a couple of banks so drops were pretty critical. It was my first time going solo XC for a long time so I was determined I was going to stick to the bigger fences and prove I am more than capable without an instructor to hold my hand and tell me what to do.

It was a fab session, all the videos are on our Facebook page so you can see for yourselves but I was really pleased with both of us. He was keen but manageable in the Pelham so this will continue as our jumping bit and we didn't have any stops which was great for our confidence. Watching the videos I can see I am still being too upright in my position (comes from being ready for a stop) so I need to trust B more and bend through my hips but that will come in time and with more tokens in the confidence bank.

No chance of touching this!
For the rest of the week we have a jump lesson with G on Weds and then a flatwork session with J on Thurs so I can run through my test for Sat and practise my AF tests too. We have lovely times on Saturday as we aren't dressaging until 14:25 so I'll have a helper/photographer with me so regardless of the outcome you should have some pretty pictures to look at!!

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