Butterflies in the stomach.
Fear of the unknown.
Dealing with a multitude of eyes watching your every move.
Wondering if your responses to the horse are "right".
There are so many feelings that run through you when you head to the horse show. Most of us feel the tension and nervous energy run through us as we enter the warm-up ring or head to the show ring. We watch others as they watch us, and at the very least, we feel nervous or even worse, we might feel intimidated or insecure.
All of these feelings are completely normal but in the moment, it is important that you know how to make your show experience the best possible. The tension that builds in you during the warm-up ride can be very useful if you know what to do with it.
First, acknowledge the nervous energy.
The jitters you feel are GOOD and can help you achieve even better results than you would on a normal riding day "back at the ranch". Use the energy to focus internally - feel your joints, your seat, your legs and hands, and work with even more clarity toward helping your horse in his performance.
Jazz up your attitude!
Use the tension and energy to allow yourself to pick up mentally; rather than letting the tension disable you, use it to catapult your frame of mind into a party zone. Enjoy yourself and your horse! Mingle with your friends and competitors. Bask in the glory of the day, watch the beautiful horses and riders, and let them give you the buoyancy you need to perform at your best. Expect the best from your horse, but come from a place that allows mistakes and cuts him slack when needed. Create a buzz in you and your horse, then let the chips fall where they may.
"Zone in" to your horse.
Wrap yourself into a virtual bubble and visualize just you and your horse. Feel the horse's movements and respond sympathetically but supportively. Focus on the specific movements of your class and work on releasing both you and your horse's tension through the warm-up session. Then let the focus take you to your best performance!
Finally, remember that you are doing your best on that day, in those circumstances. The stars may not all align as exactly as you would like, but learn from every trip and strive for your own personal bests. Know that the ribbons are the icing on the cake - if you achieve your goals, you did what you came to do!
And remember to thank your horse, for you would not be at the show if it wasn't for him!
Finally! The Ultimate Rider-Centered Program!
Ready for something completely different? If you liked what you read here, you might be interested in the new Horse Listening Practice Sessions.
This is NOT a program where you watch other people's riding lessons. Start working with your horse from Day 1.
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If you enjoyed the above article, you may enjoy the following ones as well:
Do You Have the "X Factor" at the Horse Show? Some tips on how to be your best at the show.
Scoring the Hunter Round: A guest post written by a Senior Hunter Judge - all you ever wanted to know about how a hunter round is judged!
So Ya Think Ya Got Something To Prove? Then don't go to the show. Seriously.
Is Dressage Judging All That Bad? Weighing in on the controversy.