7 Ways you can make this show season nearly stress free


7 Ways you can make this show season nearly stress free

Spring has sprung and competition season is about to is already in full swing for equestrians around the world. Of course, equestrians love competition season but with this time of year can come immense amounts of stress. You have spent your entire winter training hard to improve upon last year’s season and now is your time to showcase it. Unlike in other sports, your sole teammate is a horse making consistent competition success hard to deliver. Your horse is oblivious to how much competitions can mean to you, and the stressful atmosphere at events can often be our equine partners undoing. There is an endless variety of worst-case scenarios that can happen at any horse show and this can cause equestrians a fair bit of stress. But why waste time stressing out at horse shows when you should be enjoying the good weather and the sport you truly love? Follow these seven bits of advice to make your 2019 show season a stress-free one…

1) Organize, organize, organize. The more organized you are, the less stressed you will be. If you are frantically packing your horse trailer an hour before you are supposed to pulling out of the driveway you are going to be feeling stressed. Likewise, you feel stressed if you are desperately searching through your tack trunk for your lucky gloves right before dressage. Riders underestimate how much stress they can take off themselves if they plan and organize. Get out a calendar and write down the dates for every competition you plan to attend. Then fill in your horse’s training schedule accordingly. Now decide when you want to leave to each show and when you should be packing. Write down a DETAILED horse show packing list and make sure you check it off every time you go to a show. Follow this spring cleaning challenge to get your equestrian life entirely in order this year. You can never be too prepared for a horse show; don’t let your disorganization be your downfall this season.

2) Try to bring a friend or family member to every event. I find it incredibly less stressful if I have anyone with me at horse shows. The person doesn’t even need to have any horsey knowledge! Having a friend to talk to at the event will settle your nerves, and you will always have a spare set of hands should you need them. Figure out when you plan to compete this season and start contacting people to round up someone up to go with you to each event. You will be surprised how many people will think going to a horse show for a day is a fun plan.

3) Have some self-compassion. You need to cut yourself some slack. Look at your own mistakes with understanding instead of harsh criticism. So what you missed your distance to that oxer in show jumping? You aren’t bionic, and it is not the end of the world. Figure out how you can improve your performance without beating yourself up about it. A bit of self-compassion can significantly reduce your stress when you make mistakes, allowing you to focus on kicking on and completing the rest of your ride to the best of your abilities.

4) Rely on your routine. Having a regular horse show routine will keep your stress to a minimum because humans are creatures of habit. Horse shows are more stressful than our everyday rides partly because the routine of it all is entirely different. Try to incorporate your regular riding routine into your horse show one. Tack up how you usually do for a horse show. I find that having different tack for competitions than everyday rides can stress me out. So you may want to consider not switching tack up for shows. Of course, there will always be extra grooming procedures and what not you will need to do at shows but know ahead of time what they are and do them in the same order at every show. Then follow the same warm-up you do at home. Then ride in the show ring just like you do all the time and you should ace it. Having a solid routine will put your mind at ease and reduce stress.



5) Keep your focus in the saddle by not thinking about the outcome. You should never enter the show ring thinking about what the performance means to your show season. All you should be thinking about in the saddle is the immediate task at hand. In the dressage ring, ride movement by movement. There is no sense thinking about how your horse spooked going down centreline, that is in the past. Instead, focus on riding a perfect leg-yield right to the correct letter. In show jumping and on cross-country, tackle your course fence by fence. Feel your horse’s canter underneath you and ride a steady balance. Savour every moment and don’t let your mind wander off thinking about how you are riding in a competition and not just at home. You won’t be able to feel any stress if you are genuinely focused on riding your horse like the pro that you are.

6) Flashback to your past successes. Before you hop on your horse and head to warm-up take a moment to reminisce about all of your recent success and highlight moments in the saddle. Reflecting on how good of rider and what a badass horse you have will give you a confidence boost when you need it most. Thinking about your low points will only stress you out. The top riders in the world all ride with the utmost confidence in themselves and their mounts and so should you!

7) Remember the big picture. Thinking about the big picture can be energizing and stress reducing. Think about your long-term goals and the real reason you are at every competition. Okay, so you didn’t get a ribbon at this event because you had one rail down. But your horse flew around the cross-country and is feeling more confident. Focus on the fact that if your horse keeps going with such confidence, you will achieve your final goal of competing at X event. Even the best riders on their top horses don’t deliver perfect results at every event. If you obsess over every competition, you will drive yourself mad with stress. Always keep the big picture in mind, which is your long-term riding goals and realize that even if they don’t come to fruition, you can always tweak them. As long as you are making progress, you should be pleased with yourself and your horse. Don’t spend precious moments of your life stressing over competitions that will not even matter in a year’s time.

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