Then don't go to the show. Seriously.
Every now and then, it is a super feeling to get out of your own backyard, hit the road with your horse friend that you've been working with for so long, and get out to "play" with other like-minded people.
However, before you head off, set yourself some achievable goals for the day - both for your riding and for your horse - and be satisfied with your performances if you achieved your goals. Sometimes, you might achieve your personal best out there in the ring, but on that day, it just isn't good enough to receive a placing. And that should be as good an accomplishment as any.
DON'T go if:
- you aren't getting excellent rides at home, mentally and physically, both you and your horse.
- you haven't taken your horse off-property in many months (go somewhere lower-key first).
- you haven't done your "homework": both you and your horse are fit, and riding AT LEAST one level (regardless of discipline of riding) higher than what you will be doing at the show.
- you are struggling with a component that you will need at the show.
- you absolutely HAVE TO take home the winning ribbon/prize/championship (well, ok, unless you are there to win thousands of dollars or the Olympics).
- you are unprepared in terms of tack/supplies.
"Green light" checklist for the show:
- you can thank your horse for just getting the two of you to the show
- you have it pretty good at home and your horse is producing "winning" rides on a regular basis.
- you want to go and soak in the atmosphere of hundreds of others of people dedicated to their horses and sport like you!
- you are prepared to put forth a strong attempt and receive feedback from the judge (and your horse!) with humility.
- you know deep down that there is a tomorrow and you take what you learn from this show and put it forward to the work you will do at home and at the next show.
- you know that even if you don't win the class, you have a chance to watch others and learn from their efforts and experiences.
- you will celebrate any ribbons (accomplishments) with the joy that comes with a deep sense of knowing that everything came together at the right place at the right time
Know that there is always the possibility that things don't come together, and you might end up with a sub-par performance that day. In this case, know that there will be other days ahead when things will go right together.
Most important - listen to your horse, and see if the show was beneficial for him as well as you.
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