Comparative Exercise Physiology

Research Paper

Effects of trait anxiety and direction of pre-competitive arousal on performance in the equestrian disciplines of dressage, showjumping and eventing

Inga A. Wolframma1a2 c1 and Dominic Micklewrighta2

a1 University of Applied Sciences, Van Hall Larenstein, 6700 AK, Wageningen, The Netherlands

a2 University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ, UK


Recent research has shown that more successful performers interpret pre-competitive symptoms of anxiety as more facilitative than less successful performers. The aim of the study was to examine the effect of both trait anxiety and pre-competitive arousal intensity and direction on intermediate riding performance in the disciplines of dressage, showjumping and eventing, including whether differences exist between male and female riders. Sixty-two German equestrian riders competing in the equestrian disciplines of dressage (N = 21), showjumping (N = 25) and eventing (N = 16) were asked to complete a revised version of the ‘Wettkampf–Angst-Inventar-State’, which included directional scales for all items and the ‘Wettkampf–Angst-Inventar-Trait’ prior to competing. Final placings were used as performance indicators. Most important findings revealed that the correlation between direction of somatic state arousal and competitive placing was nearing significance (rs = − 0.23, P =0.07) and loss of focus was positively correlated to competitive placing (rs = 0.26, P < 0.05). Conclusions may be drawn that in equestrian sports positive interpretation of physical symptoms of arousal as well as the ability to remain focused on the task at hand may lead to more successful ridden performance.

(Received December 10 2010)

(Accepted April 10 2011)

(Online publication May 05 2011)