Coping with Show Stress
Whether you’re entering a local show or national final, show stress is the real deal. It can cause you to lose focus, not eat, and forget important strategies when you ride, all causing danger to both you and the horse. Today, I’m going to share with you some of my top tips on how to cope unnecessary stress and create a positive energy before, during, and after your ride.
Start your day off right: On an everyday basis, I like to have what one might call a “morning routine.” I have specific actions set for each morning to help get my day started right and productive. These actions include, but are not limited to: making my bed, brushing my teeth, washing my face, etc. Any show morning, I like to make sure I set enough time to continue my morning routine, whether I’m in my own home or a hotel. I find that continuing my routine actually helps calm me down and make me feel like this morning is just a regular morning.
Eat breakfast: breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which is why you need to have some substance in the morning to help jump start your day. You can find some of my go-to breakfasts in my Go-To Meals post. I made the mistake one morning of not eating breakfast before a final and I was extremely lightheaded and almost threw up on course; I would not recommend skipping breakfast! Even a small power bar or smoothie can be great to help you relax and get something in your system!
Be prepared: Make sure you are ready ahead of time with everything you will need during the horse show. I like to keep a lot of duplicates in my show bag just in case anything rips, breaks, or stains to help reduce any added stress. I also like to learn my course pretty quickly after it’s posted and take a picture with my phone so I can review it later back at the barn. Learning your course early helps you be able to strategize exactly what you want to do during your round and set realistic goals for yourself.
Take a breath: Just remember, even if it doesn’t feel like it, it’s just a horse show. There will be plenty more horse shows for you to attend in the future so don’t stress too much about your round. It might help to take a quick meditation break or just a couple of deep breaths if you get super nervous. We have access to internet 24/7 so use it to your advantage! My Apple Watch has a meditation/breath feature on it that I can use when I need a second to breathe and come back to myself.
Thoughts: surround yourself with happy and positive people to help you feel good and confident about yourself. It does no good to you or your horse if you surround yourself with people who strive to lower your confidence, psych you out before a horse show, or just take away the fun of it all by being overly competitive. Make sure you are as levelheaded and calm going into a class as you would be during a hack or lesson.
Have fun: I know it is a little cliched at this point, but riding is meant to be fun! We all, including myself, can get caught up into the world of competitiveness and doubting thoughts and that adds to our overall stress. So relax, have fun, and enjoy the ride!
Showing doesn’t have to be something scary or stressful. With the right attitude and preparation shows are a lot fun and incredibly rewarding after all of the hard work you have put in all year.