How to Prepare for Indoors
The time is coming, horse show finals! It is one of our favorite, but most stressful times of the year. In today's post, I want to share with you what I am doing to prepare for finals this year, both in and out of the saddle.
In the saddle:
While riding, I am consistently working on anything/everything I feel would be important in the show ring. Specifically, I am focusing on circles, transitions, and balancing the counter canter. I have been loving creating "dressage" patterns and perfecting every motion, transition, and connection. It may sound silly, but I think it has really helped us in the show ring before, so I think it will help us in the finals ring. I have been also working on serpentines and going down in a straight line and seeing how many (simple or flying) lead changes I could do - this has been super helpful and a fun challenge!
Since I all of the finals I am going to this year are equitation only, I am really focusing on my equitation. I am working on my back and leg position, especially over oxers. I have been going no stirrups as much as I can or supplementing no stirrups for tougher leg/calf workouts.
Out of the saddle:
I have been working on continuing to create a healthy lifestyle. Though I have been showing quite frequently and have long, hot days, I try to work out on my off days. I have been working on building up my leg and ab strength as well as my calves to help my leg position over jumps.
I have also begun to enjoy stretching throughout the day. I am someone who does not typically enjoy stretching, yoga, or any particularly slow exercise, however, I have grown to really enjoy stretching as a way to calm my mind. I have a few assigned exercises from my PT for my back, but otherwise, I just stretch whatever I feel needs stretched. Some days I stretch out more of my arms, my legs, or even my neck. I have also found watching a fun or interesting video (YouTube or Netflix) helps pass the time so I don't rush stretching my body.
I personally don't believe in dieting or calorie counting, but simply a balanced lifestyle. I try to see my food as fuel for my body and all of the things I'm asking it to do. I typically automatically reach for healthier and filling meals, however, if I am in the mood for "junk food" so be it. If I make healthy choices most of the time that's all that matters.
Quiet your mind and have a positive mindset. Don't think negatively about yourself or especially your horse. I have seen so many people not feel confident in themselves and get inside their heads. If you feel stressed or nervous, breathe, meditate, or give your horse a hug. There will always be another opportunity.
Spend time with your horse! You want to have a strong partnership and connection with them, especially during a high-pressure scenario. I have spent extra time grooming, grazing, and just hanging out with Lux to grow our partnership. Since our partnership is still new, I am doing anything I can to bond with him a little more. A horse that trusts and connects with you will always perform better.
Get good sleep! I know this isn't always easy. With packed days, it seems the nights are the only time to catch up with friends or binge your favorite shows, but sleep is so important to your mental and physical health. A well-rested mind will be clearer and quicker with decisions and judgment calls and a well-rested body will feel strong, energized and ready to take on the physical challenges of your courses.
There are my tips for preparing for indoors! Relax, smile, and have fun! You have worked so hard to get to this point, so just take it all in. I know they may seem monumental or a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity, but finals are just another competition. Try not to put too much pressure on that one day or one competition. Good luck and congratulations on your accomplishments so far.