Three Tips To Being Show-Ready
As riders, trainers, coaches and students, we are spending an enormous amount of time preparing for competition. Blood, sweat and tears, not to mention every last dollar, seems to be spent on our horses. We practice and we prepare ourselves and our beloved animals mentally and physically so that when the big day of the show comes around, we are ready to shine.
In a perfect world, everything we are preparing for and all that hard work would come together during that important weekend. But what happens when we get nervous? What about losing our focus in warm-up? What happens when we are dealing with personal issues and trying to compete? How are riders supposed to rise to the occasion and truly focus on the job at hand when they are nervous and unfocused?
Have no fear, I have three easy tips on helping you stay calm and focused during competition.
Tip 1: Eliminate distractions.
Easier said than done, right? I’ve been competing for the last 18 years and I fully understand how someone could become distracted at a competition. That being said, be careful to not be on your phone constantly while walking your course. Stop texting and updating your instagram. You have all night to update social media.
You have one hour before dressage, so focus on the task at hand. Personally, I like to turn my phone off, or put my phone in the trailer just so I stay focused on my riding. Also, be kind and courteous to friends and family that want to come cheer you on, but don’t get too caught up in being overly social if you’re already feeling distracted!
Tip 2: Allow yourself more than enough time.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but being timely for competitions is crucial. I don’t mean just being on time for your rides, but getting to a show or competition early enough so you can graze your horse if need be, or lunge your young horse, or walk your course two or three times. The more familiar you and your horse are with the atmosphere, the better you’ll feel. Don’t be lazy and sleep past your alarm in the morning. Don’t leave everything till the last second.
Be prepared and organized and this will ultimately help you stay more calm and focused. Being organized and methodical may sound strange when it comes to packing your trailer, or braiding your horse, but this will actually help you while competing.
Tip 3: Ride the horse you have.
For those of you who have a horse that changes for whatever reasons, listen closely! Or perhaps YOU change your energy at shows which inevitably changes your horse’s energy.
Don’t get stuck on the fact that your horse was calm and super at home the day before and now he’s not. Perhaps your game plan was to ride your horse a certain way in warm up, but then you arrive at the show and your horse throws you a curve ball. You have to learn to roll with the punches, shake it off, and ride the horse you have AT THAT MOMENT. The moment might change, so be flexible and go with the flow!
Don’t be afraid to have a plan k, w, and z even if you had hoped for plan a or b!
All in all, my best advice is to be present and allow yourself the time and space to feel fully in control. What are your tips for preparing for a show? Share them here!