Even though I’ve actually shown a lot in my life, since 2008 s I’ve been to a grand total of three shows and all of those were in the past 12 months. Even though I thought I had conquered my show nerves in the past, they have returned with a vengeance.
I know this is something a lot of riders struggle with. For me, it’s all about mixing exposure and attitude. Go to a lot of shows. Go to a lot of shows with the right attitude.
Still, there are little tricks and ideologies I have developed over time to help battle my nerves.
Visualizing Your Course
When I was a kid, I was a competitive figure skater and somewhere down that road I talked with a sports psychologist. The only psychology I remember from that is her telling me to visualize my programs before I went to bed at night. Now with riding, the few nights before a show if I can’t show I will visualize hunter courses. You’d be surprised that if you’re nervous/anxious about something you will actually visualize yourself failing! As I gain more confidence that rarely happens, but I still enjoy thinking about the “feeling” of a great course and somehow mentally doing it a few times in my head proves to me that I can do it on show day. Power of the subconscious yo!
Nobody likes running late, being stressed, and running around like a chicken with their head cut off before a show. Try on and lay out your show clothes days in advance. Make a list of “to dos” and try to tackle them so the night before the show all you have to do is polish your boots and bridle 🙂 You can’t possibly go into the ring relaxed when you’ve been trying to get shit together like a crazy person for the past 24 hours.
Don’t Over School
This is quite recent advice from my trainer in less direct words. We had a fantastic lesson last night. We’ve been working hard. We’re as ready as we’re going to be this week. No need to lesson every day or make a mountain out of a mole hill.
Don’t Change Your Plan the Morning at the Show
My absolute worst show nerves symptom is getting at the show and trying to change my way of riding the morning of. Something about seeing everyone else doing things differently makes me question everything about what I do. This nervous habit has gotten much better as I get older and have a lot of faith in my trainer, but just remember (especially if you are going to shows sans trainer) to just stick to your plan. You’re not going to fix any problems the day of the show. Do the best you can with the horse you have that day and that’s good enough!
Remember this Advice…
One of the trainers at my old barn told me something that helps settle my nerves at the show. She basically said that no matter what I do, someone has done that before and everyone has seen it. So remember, the most embarrassing moment you could possibly do at the show… someone else has already done it!
How many of you battle show nerves? Do you have any tricks to calm yourself down?