The question I get asked more often than any other is -
"Why do I forget my dressage test in competitions?"
The answer is usually because of something called state dependent memory.
Memories are laid down in our minds with a unique chemical signature and also an emotional charge, depending on how we feel at the time.
Research has shown that memories are best retrieved whilst in the same emotional state, and in the same context or surroundings - that they were laid down in.
Studies have even demonstrated - that students who take an exam in the same classroom in which that they were taught, did significantly better than those who were examined in another room.
When we learn a dressage test in a relaxed state in a familiar arena - it’s going to be more difficult to retrieve that information when we are stressed out and anxious to perform well - and in a strange place.
Added to that – when you’re stressed and in “Fight or flight” mode - your brain kicks out of clever thinking and into reflex thinking - because you just need to React quickly to get out of danger without over-thinking.
So what’s the best way to resolve this?
How can you find a way to control your feelings of anxiety, to turn down that stress response - and quickly re-focus your attention to get into your Zone - that place where you are being the “best you” that you can be - to compete and even enjoy, the task in hand.
I’ve heard so many well meaning suggestions to answer this – from taking Rescue remedy, using prescription medication, to having a stiff drink – although personally I’d rather not be anaesthetised when I'm riding a horse - Or how about fake it ‘til you make it – or re-frame by telling yourself you’re just "very excited".
In my experience the fastest, easiest and simplest way to train your brain to relax and quickly get into your zone - is hypnosis.
Two to three sessions in the comfort of an armchair, are usually all that are needed , and at the same time to address any other issues that might be holding you back.
Then you’re all set to get out there and just put into practice what you’ve already brain rehearsed- being able to enjoy introducing your horse to new environments and challenges.
I hope this has been of help to you, and I’m always happy to chat through any issues that are worrying you – just message me.