Nina to coach the Thai Team at the Inaugural Asian Eventing Championship 2013

Nina was honored to be asked to coach the Thai Team. She really enjoyed her first year at Stanford, working incredibly hard and making loads of friends (2 legged instead of 4) and dabbled in a bit of polo. She does miss the riding and so this opportunity to coach and help further the sport in Thailand is a great way for her to get  her “horse fix” and give back to the sport. She is also riding Khun Link’s lovely jumper mare and will compete her some while here in Thailand. She is interning at PIA, a well known world class international interior design firm. She will spend most of her time learning to use Autocad and 3d max.



Sparky (Fernhill Fearless) goes to Kim Severson


Chronicle of the Horse: Photo by Bernadette Palmeri


Sparky was injured in January of 2012 and came completely sound in May. He joined me in the UK as my fourth qualifying horse, just in case all my other three horses came up lame for the Games. Although he wasn’t ideally competition ready, in a pinch I trusted he would have run the Greenwich course for me without any second thoughts.It was a contingency plan, in case the absolute worst were to happen, i.e. all three qualified horses (Leon, Jazz, and Paddy) were injured…. and it’s been known to happen.

After the Olympics we had several inquiries whether Sparky was for sale. My mom and I felt that he deserved to have a full 18 months of rest and light work in order to minimise a re-injury. It was Sparky who gave me the confidence to ride at the 3 and 4 star and I feel that I owe my Olympic success to him. He would also be available for me  should I decide that I could not shake the “eventing bug”.

After a year at Stanford, where the academic is quite intense and requires my undivided attention, I know for sure now that I am happy to leave eventing behind. I vicariously followed the sport through Eventing Nation and had moments when I wish I was still in the fray. I miss the riding and partnership with my horses, but I must admit that I am happy to be free of the stress that comes with such lofty goals!

Mom and I debated  various options for Sparky and concluded that he would want to have a shot at the 4 star. When we set the $$ question aside , I felt that Kim would give him the best ride. So Mom made the definitive decision to simply give him to Kim. I owe my Olympic success to Kim and am forever grateful to the USA where I competed and came up through the ranks as a Young Rider. So hopefully, with all fingers & toes crossed, he will go on to ride under the US flag at  WEG and Rio!

Good luck Kim and Sparky. Mom and I will come and cheer you on at Rolex 2014.

by Nina

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Asian Geographic’s article on Nina: “Exuberant Equitation”

Full Text Here: Asian Geographic – Issue 2/2013 – “Exuberant Equitation”


Pre-XC Anxiety Dreams

A quick update on life after the Olympics from sunny California!

Stanford has been an incredible experience so far! I’ve met so many interesting and passionate people and gotten to explore, not only the social aspect of University, but also the academic ;) Though I’m currently sloughing through the necessary Engineering prerequisites, I’ve had a chance to take some other pretty interesting classes.

I’m currently taking a course titled “Sleep and Dreams,” taught by Dr. William C. Dement. In this course, we recently touched on the subject of nightmares and anxiety dreams.

During the qualifying period and lead up to the Games, I started have recurring anxiety dreams the night before cross country. In most of the dreams, I would be running late for my xc time or forget to walk my course and have to go out and find my way around (what was typically a wooded course) on the go. One dream that really stands out, I had a couple weeks before the Olympics. It was the morning of dressage, and everything was in order at the barn. Laura and I were hanging out around Leon’s stall, when my mom arrived with sandwiches for lunch. There was nothing out of the ordinary about this until Laura took a bite of her sandwich, only to get bitten back by a poisonous spider that was hiding in it. We rushed her to the hospital, at which point I had to rush back when I realized my dressage time was in 30 minutes. When I arrived at the barn, I was told that upon completing my dressage test, I was to go straight to cross country. I was horrified…. as I hadn’t walked my course yet.

Then I woke up…in a cold sweat!

These bizarre dreams and their onset right around the time I was feeling the most pressure prompted me to write this piece for my final class project.

(Laura, I think this dream signifies how important you were to my sanity throughout this entire process…. not sure exactly how to interpret my Mom’s role in the dream)


Went to Work in Your Underwear Again?: Managing Your Anxiety Dreams


According to Forbes Magazine, running late, showing up naked, and arriving unprepared are some of the most common work related anxiety dreams.

My Anxiety Dream, I’m late. I have 15 minutes left till my competition start time and I’ve yet to groom and tack up my horse, let alone get myself dressed. I rush around grabbing equipment. I try to work quickly, but the faster I try to move, the slower and weaker I become.

They are calling my name on the loud speaker. If I don’t get up there now, I’ll be eliminated from the competition. I struggle to tighten my horse’s girth but my arms have no strength. My hands don’t even have the coordination to buckle my helmet strap. Finally, I’m done tacking up. I leap on my horse, and gallop to the start. When I arrive, the starter shakes his head and says, “Sorry, time’s up.”

I wake up. Thank god, it was only a dream.

We all have them, anxiety dreams. Whether it’s forgetting to study for a midterm, showing up to work unprepared, or running late for a competition. These dreams leave us feeling poorly rested and at the very least, relieved upon awakening.

Such dreams are more prevalent than one might think. A study of college students at Case Western Reserve University and Baldwin Wallace College between 1947 and 1950 revealed that the most common feeling or emotion experienced during dreams was apprehension (Dement 265).

But why do we have these dreams? Where do they come from?

Though these questions are still highly debated, there are multiple theories as to what may cause anxiety dreams. According to psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, the dream “is a disguised fulfillment of a suppressed or repressed wish” (Dement 312). However, it’s difficult to accept point blank that the dreams where we show up to work in nothing but our underwear (or less) are a manifestation of some repressed desire.

A second hypothesis suggests that dream content may be a result of external influences such as fear or stress. Observations of patients in sleep laboratories have shown that dreams during the first night spent in the unfamiliar laboratory often depict a laboratory situation. One patient recalled fearing electrocution by the EEG wires connected to his head and in his dream, attempted to tear them off. Subsequent dreams were often less fearful as patients grew accustomed to the lab environment (Dement 309).

  —Click here to learn more about why we dream—

Olympian Hendrik Ramaala’s Pre- Marathon Dream: “Falling at the start and being trampled on by thousands of runners… That’s why I think I don’t sleep well the night before a race.”

Regardless of the causes, anxiety dreams can have considerable effects on the dreamer’s mental state. The 2009 New York Times article, “Nightmares and Marathons,” investigates the anxiety dreams of Marathoners. Both professional and recreational runners often experience pre-Marathon dreams in which they can’t make it to the start or finish of the race. Such runners often turn to sport psychologists like Manhattan based Dr. William Weiner, who admits he receives anxious phone calls from clients the night before a big race. Anxiety can “be quite draining in terms of muscle tension and lack of sleep,” he explains, also noting that on top of all that, runners become anxious about  their anxiety.

His suggestion; come up with a personal mantra.

But for those who find that a personal mantra is not enough to end anxiety dreams, the following tactics may prove helpful.


Lucid Dreaming

In a Lucid Dream the subject becomes aware of the fact that he is dreaming. The possibilities then range from simply acknowledging that the perceived events are not actually occurring to potentially learning how to control and steer the dream.

Perhaps, in my dream, I could calmly tack up my horse and head over to the start at my own pace, or better yet, radio up to the start and ask them to wait for me.

 —Click here to learn more about Lucid Dreaming —

Scripting or Dream Mastery

A form of Image Rehearsal Therapy practiced during the waking state, this method has been show to be effective in mitigating both nightmares and PTSD symptoms. The goal is to change the dream by replacing the stressful or fearful elements with calming or soothing images.²

Learning to control and reduce anxiety dreams can help improve sleep quality and overall Sleep Hygiene. There are so many sources of anxiety in our lives, we all deserve to have our nights to decompress and escape the stress of the day.

But who knows? Maybe an anxiety dream here and there is good for us. After all, I’ve never been late for my start time.


Works Cited

Dement, William C. Dement’s Sleep and Dreams. Palo Alto, 2013

²  Sarah. “Guiding Your Sleep While You’re Awake.” New York Times, 26 Jul. 2010. Web      23 Feb. 2013

Robbins, Liz. ”Nightmares and Marathons.” New York Times, 22 Oct. 2009. Web 26 Feb. 2013


by Nina