Six Ways to Reduce Horse Show Stress
It may feel like there have been a number of things to stress about recently, but your horse show experience shouldn’t have to be one of them!
The more relaxed you are able to be while competing, the more likely you are to be successful (and to enjoy the horse show). With that in mind, here are six tips to practice to help prevent horse show nerves and anxiety even before they happen!
1) Get prepared long in advance – It’s more than making packing lists and practicing your braiding skills, it’s about going to schooling shows, getting out to ride in a clinic, or exposing your horse in low pressure situations to all of the things he might see at a horse show.
While it’s good to push yourself, it’s also best to only compete at a level that you feel prepared for and comfortable with. Going into the show feeling overwhelmed or extremely unconfident in your ability to jump a certain height or perform certain movements isn’t a good feeling and will greatly increase stress levels. Particularly if horse show anxiety is already something that you struggle with, it may be best to focus on building confidence at a level that you’re more comfortable with.
2) If you’re doing it yourself, have your grooming, braiding, and tack cleaning game down pat – Put in lots of practice at home, and make note of how long it takes you. Then, add a big time cushion when you get to the show so that you’re not rushed.
3) Eat well, sleep well, breathe well – One surefire way to obtain this is to have a regular exercise routine for YOU. Learn some mediation techniques, some easy breathing exercises, and notice your stress level before it starts to escalate.
4) Have a support system in place– If you don’t like to drive the horse trailer, hire someone to take this stress away. Make sure your trainer can be there to help you warm up. Bring a friend or loved one. They don’t even have to be a horse person, simply having a close friend around to talk to can help calm your nerves.
5) Don’t try and cram it all in – If you think that a few classes over a weekend might be too much, then opt for one or two classes on one day. Most horse shows will let you trailer in for a day. Aim to give yourself time to walk around, watch your friends, and let your horse chill out.
6) Think about the bigger picture – At the end of the day, one bad round, test, or class, is just a small part of the bigger picture. Maybe you didn’t get a ribbon, but your performance was a marginal improvement from your last show. Perhaps it didn’t go your way at all, but you still have the privilege of riding and competing and trying again another time.
Want more great advice on mastering your show ring mental game? Read here!