Your horse instantly picks up on your attitude and his behavior probably reflects it. Here are seven ways you can de-stress before and during a competition.
1. Plan ahead
Arrive at the show grounds early so your horse can explore the new surroundings and you don’t feel rushed. Pack your trailer and tack trunk neatly — being organized will help you stay relaxed. Lastly, think through what your show day routine will be. Are you going to put your show clothes on first thing in the morning, or change before warm up?
2. Think Positively
Focus on the results you want, not the ones you don’t. If you worry about your horse spooking at the judge’s booth or forgetting your reining pattern, it’s much more likely to happen. If you tell yourself horse shows are scary and stressful, they will be. In the weeks before your show, create positive mantras that you can recite to yourself when the nerves kick in. “I am a quiet, confident rider and my horse is supple and focused.”
Being on your feet since the wee hours of the morning will have you feeling fatigued when it comes time to ride. Along with healthy snacks and drinks to stay hydrated, pack a chair so you can sit down and relax. We love the Director’s Chairs for long days at the horse show or lounging at the barn, complete with your custom barn colors and barn name!
4. Lend a Hand
Helping a friend get her horse ready might be just enough distraction to keep you from stressing about your upcoming class (and the good karma can’t hurt, either).
If you’re not breathing, your horse feels tension in your seat, legs and hands, and will become tense too. When you’re nervous, it’s easy to forget to breathe, so try singing to yourself. It may feel silly, but it helps.
6. Bring a Helper
Going to a horse show alone is doable, but not always easy (or fun). We highly recommend having someone along to hold your horse, get you a drink or run to the trailer when you realize you need spurs…
Laughing forces you to breathe and helps relax tense muscles. Plus, it’s a good reminder of why you’re at the horse show to begin with — it’s supposed to be fun!