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Competition nerves and Winning Against Worrying

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I think this photo sums it up. I was at the AIRC festival with friends on an absolute diamond of a horse who never let me down. I loved it I really did but the photo shows the effect the stress and nerves were having on me – pale, tired and hungry. 

My anxiety around competition was never really just about competition. It was a fear of the unknown, of lack of control, of new things.  It started when I was a small child and if I was anxious about something I would feel sick and nervous. Things like exams, trying new things, bus trips. Over time it got worse and I was anxious before things I was actually looking forward to. The anxiety in turn caused illness as I have a sensitive stomach anyway so it got to the point that I was anxious of being anxious. I missed a lot of things because of it – sleep overs, the first day of pony camp, scouting trips. I was afraid to look forward to anything. My poor mother was tormented by it and had the patience of a saint at times especially when it came to high stress events such as the leaving cert (which I did on three Valium and about seven packs of polo mints a day). I managed miraculously to compete on horses as a teenager and adult. It was hard going – I used to meditate on the way over to try and calm myself down (yeah I was the odd ball), couldn’t eat and would be white as a sheet before a competition and exhausted afterwards.

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