If you’ve ever been to a horse show, competitor or not, you would have picked up on the energy of the event. It’s often a stressful time. As if the pressure of competition isn’t enough, but combined with the ridiculously early morning, the unknown schedule, the rushing and the waiting, and often the intense heat, it’s a recipe for a very stressful day. Whether you’re worried that you didn’t pack your saddle, you’re not sure what comes after that 15m circle, or you don’t think you’re going to remember your course, there are lots of things to worry about. On top of that, the general pressure of expectations from your coach, friends, family, and yourself makes for the perfect place for nerves to grow.
The one good thing about horse show nerves is that we’ve all been there. Jennifer Janssen is an Eventer from Southern Ontario, and she has many years of experience competing at many levels. Her advice for anyone experiencing these nerves is:
“Don’t be embarrassed about being nervous, it shows you care. When you think they might overwhelm you: close your eyes, feel the nerves, breathe them all in and flow them to your toes. Relax the rest of your body and rely on the training you did at home. You prepared for this, all you have to do now is enjoy the ride.”
Many other riders also said that they use breathing exercises to help calm themselves down before going in to the show ring. Others said they use music to help them focus and bring them back to what they need to do. Others suggested things like spending time with your horse and relaxing, or talking to friends and family to either distract themself or work through it, whatever works best for you!