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Al Dunning

9 Tips for Calming your Nerves, by Al Dunning



Al DunningNerves are a common problem for all  levels of riders.   They can control us unless  we learn to control them.

One of the greatest  trainers of all time, Matlock Rose, was asked if  he still got nervous at big shows.   He answered;  “Yes, If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t do it!”  

Part of why we compete is for the “rush”.   Controlling your nerves can make your show  experience even better and raise you to a higher  level.   Here are some things that have helped  me and some of my friends that compete:

1.   Be Prepared- Don’t add unnecessary  stress by not being prepared.   Some riders  even make a list of all of the things they need  to get done prior to a show.

2.   Visualize – Study and know your pattern  and/or visualize your optimum run.

3.   Ask yourself why you are there – You  should be showing because you like it, want to  be reinforced for your hard work, or want to see  where you are at.

4.   Have realistic expectations – Enjoy the  moment, and only show your horse to the level  he or she is at.

5.   Focus – Think of one maneuver at a  time, take baby steps, and don’t get ahead of  yourself.

6.   Remember how it feels to win – If you’ve  been lucky enough to be successful in the  past, remember that feeling.   It will keep you  motivated.

7.   Positive self-talk – Tell yourself the  truth…nobody really cares how you do but you!   You CAN do this, and you will survive.

8.   Watch the videos of your good runs  many times, and the bad ones only once.   Sometimes I’ll watch the videos of my bad runs  to improve, but I will definitely watch my good   runs for positive motivation.

9.   Breathe – Breathing is important for  relaxation, concentration, and life in general!  

Remember, it is only going to take one  or two good experiences to erase a bad one  from your memory.   So go out there and make  it happen!  

About the Author:  Arizona horseman, Al Dunning, has  owned and operated his “Almosta Ranch”  since 1970.   The Quarter Horse training facility  is in Scottsdale, Arizona.   Born in Chicago in 1950, Al’s family  moved to Arizona when he was 8 years old.   He  began riding horses with his sisters and went  on to further his talents with mentors such as  Jim Paul, John Hoyt and Don Dodge.   Over the  years, Al developed his multi-faceted business  with a focus on the development of champion  horses and riders.   Al married his wife Becky in 1971.   Becky  is a well-known horse show announcer, and  co-founded America’s Horse Cares, a division  of the AQHA foundation which focuses on  therapeutic riding charities.   The Dunnings have  two children, Grady and McKenzie Parkinson.   Al has been a professional trainer since  1970.   His expertise in all facets of western  events have elevated him to great success in  the AQHA, NRHA, NRCHA, and NCHA.   Al has developed a winning tradition with  quarter horses that is well documented.   He  trains, conducts clinics, and consults for ranch  development and equestrian planning.   Learn more about Al and his programs at a membership  website featuring the training methods and  best practices of World Champion Al Dunning.

This article previously published in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 4, Issue 8


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