Finn and I are going to the BIG (as in hundreds of horses) Regional Championship show in a few weeks, and I must confess: I’m intimidated.
So how do we handle horse show nerves so that we can do our best?
SET REALISTIC GOALS. I don’t go to these Regionals expecting to win. Instead, I am going to experience a Big Show and to improve my scores (hopefully). Finn and I have made good progress in our training this summer and I think we can put in some good tests if I keep my concentration.
MAKE LISTS, lots of lists. We’ll be there four days so I have to pack a lot of things for both of us. Over-prepare! And then relax, knowing there are stores in the area (even a tack store at the show!) where I can buy anything I forgot. Pack/prepare things ahead of time so you are not rushing about last minute realizing you don’t have clean breeches.
PRACTICE but don’t over-train. A tired horse does not perform well. Horses, like us, need time to rest and recover. Now is not the time to introduce new things or build a lot more strength. Now is the time to finesse things we already know and work on precision in the test.
MEMORIZE the tests super, super well. I can go blank in the middle of a test (focusing so hard on my horse and all the things I’m doing in the moment), so I usually use a reader. At the Championships, no readers allowed. So I am memorizing the heck out of the tests.
VISUALIZE the tests going well. Ride them in your head, imagining things going well, but knowing you have the skills to deal with mistakes that happen and still carry on.
HAVE A SUPPORT TEAM, both during your prep time leading up to the show, and at the show. Someone who says, “you can do this!” when you think you can’t.
RELAX, it’s just a horse show! And maybe we need a little dressage show attitude. Check this out and see if you have dressage skillz: http://www.horsecollaborative.com/dressage-skillz-2/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=dressage-skillz