In Part 2 of the 8 Things You'll Learn At The Show, we'll go over four more benefits of showing that really have more to do with life skills than just winning ribbons. Click here for Part 1.
Become Friends With Tension
Ah! The old nerves!
Well, yes, showing horses fires up a whole lot of emotions, including those fear and flight feelings that we usually try to stay away from. After all, the whole context of putting yourself in front of others - from friends to strangers to judges - is one that requires you to take risks and put it all out there.
There is good news! The more you get out there, the more you expose yourself, make mistakes and live through them, the easier it will become to make friends with your tension and actually "rein it in" to make it work for you instead of hinder you. I've written about how to use your nervous energy in the show ring here.
You'll become better at accepting help - from friends and strangers. The unpredictable nature of horses may put you in a position of need to accept help from someone, anyone - and now! When things go wrong, you'll discover that other show goers are often willing to help out in times of need, especially when horses are concerned. You will eventually become more comfortable to approach complete strangers with requests just because you'll learn that when it comes down to it, we're all there to support each other.
While it is possible to show completely alone, most people bring along helpers (family and friends), grooms and coaches - for a reason! Aside from the obvious advantages of having several hands "to make light work," your show crew will bring with them their perspective of what is going on. They'll help you mentally and emotionally, and be in your corner when you need it. They can cheer you on and boost you up.
While the other show-goers theoretically are your "competition", they are also fellow horse lovers and dedicated riders. They are also going through a similar path to yours - putting in hours of practice, caring for their horses, taking lessons for improvement, spending the time and effort it takes to prepare to show, and so much more. You likely have more in common with them than you think.
In time, as you meet people and share experiences, you may find that some of your best horsey friendships evolve in the show grounds and carry over into the rest of your life.
Understand What Really Matters
Without a doubt, you go to a show to do well. Or at least, do well in terms of your goals. There's nothing better than receiving a ribbon to boost your confidence and give you the positive feedback that will encourage you to reach farther.
But there will also be the other days - the ones you'd rather forget about. Those days when nothing seems to go right, and no ribbons make it your way. The days when your competition wasn't as friendly as you'd like, or your performance just wasn't able to meet your expectations.
This is when you learn the most valuable life skill. Showing isn't only about ribbons, accolades and achievements. It is as much about "putting yourself out there" as it is about anything else. It's about doing something with and for your horse. It's about going, stepping out of your comfort zone, taking risks, overcoming obstacles.
These accomplishments, while less readily apparent, are as much - if not more - important than any points earned or any wins.
So get out and enjoy the show, or participate in the plentiful horsin' around activities that are out there!
And let us know in the comments below what you plan to do with your horse this season.
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Horse Listening – Book 2: Forward and Round to Training Success
If you enjoyed the above article, Horse Listening - Book 2 is full of the best horse training articles from the blog. Compiled in a beautifully bound paperback book, you can have all the information at your fingertips. Or buy digital!
Available as an eBook or paperback.
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In the Beginning (riding): Part I – What to expect when you first start riding.
Riding (with a capital R): Part II – When riding becomes more than just riding.