Do you suffer from collectingringitis?

There are two forms of 'collectingringitis':

'Acute Colllectingringitis' 

Often suffered  by younger riders, some of the symptoms include:  anger and sometimes swearing or tutting can be heard, thoughts such as; "How dare she? Does she think its her collecting ring?",  or "I'm not good enough to go in there, they all look so posh and their horses are so amazing",  or; "Everyone rides so much better than me."

'Chronic Collectingringitis' 

In this case the rider is unable to think clearly, almost not able to move in the direction they want to go, at the pace they want to go, jump the fence when they want to jump it.  They get in everyone else's way and they find everyone in their way.  The warm up is stop/go, no rhythm, nothing constructive going on to help themselves or the horse.

So how do we cure it?  First we need to recognise its happening, then we need to want to change.

Most people want to change the other people in the collecting ring.  They want to change how the other riders are behaving, how other horses are behaving, they want other riders to get out of their way, they want them to show respect and manners, control the speed they come up from behind or want them to give up the track or get out of their way when they want to jump. They worry about the weather conditions, the traffic going by or the banners fixed t the fence. 

The first thing to consider is how much control you have over anyone else or anything else?  None whatsoever! Everyone else is extrinsic to us and so out of our control.  We do have control over the intrinsic, however, the intrinsic is ourselves, what it is that we do, how we react to other people's behaviour, our horse's behaviour and what we focus on.  Focus is the key word here, we can only focus if we have something very specific to focus on and we need to know why - what will we gain from it.

In other sports you will often see sportsmen and women using routines to focus.  Rafael Nadal and Jonny Wilkinson are two famous people who always use routines to get in the flow or the zone, this is when everything else seems unimportant, they are in the moment.

We can take a lesson from this because horses love a routine, as we know they are at their most compliant when they know you have come to feed them, but if you don't turn up on time.....

So, do your horse a favour and get yourself a routine; find a routine that works for you and your horse.  The routine must be given thought and maybe you might need a bit of help from your trainer to develop a routine which helps you concentrate, become calm and puts you in the right frame of mind for competing.

Ride the routine at home in training and develop it every single day, so the routine helps you go from the stable to working mode; it might be about stretching the horse out and warming him up, but equally it might be about getting his brain in the right place and your brain in the right place whilst you are doing that.  By the time you go to a competition this routine will have its own way of anchoring you to a frame of mind which works for you and not against you.

Now of course you are going to be amongst other people  in the collecting ring so you do need to be adaptable.  To be flexible is a strong and useful thing to you, it will help you to achieve your very best on the day.  So develop a routine that means you can ride on to and off the track; if you find someone coming the other way you can just make a loop depending on whether of course you are passing left to left!  Practice slowing down and halting on the inside track then you wont need to think about it when you get to a competition.  Have versions which are flexible to the type of competition you are going in and appropriate to the class, height or test you about to compete in.

Focus is the only cure for 'collectingrinitis'.

Try it this weekend and leave your comments below, I would love to hear how you get on. 

If you have had a frightening experience in a collecting ring then this might affect your emotional balance, the routine will help you stay calm, but you may need to see me or another sport psychologist/mental performance coach for a one to one.

By Debbie Hill Mental Performance Coach at Ahead For Life