May 13, 2013

Show Nerves

One thing I took out of the Hoosier Horse Fair experience is that I need to get serious about my show nerves.  It’s hard to call it nerves, I don’t get stage fright and have always loved performing in front of hundreds of people, but with horses I focus so hard on doing well at shows that I stop breathing and get all tingly and weak.  When I stop breathing, I get tense and I lose the ability to feel and my ride suffers for it. It's totally unfair to Connor to ride one way at home and feel another at shows, where he's tense to begin with.

To work on that, I bought a highly-recommended equine sport psychology book called 
Inside Your Ride: Mental Skills for Being Happy and Successful with Your Horse.  Have any of you read it?  I’m only partway through, but I love it so far.  One thing that has really resonated with me is that with equestrian sports, there are so many variables you have no control over compared to other sports, since you are partnered with another living being with its own agenda.  The weather, your horse’s mood, the condition of the XC course, whether or not your horse thinks there’s a lion crouching in the judge’s box – all completely out of your control.  What you need to focus on, then, is being as in-control as possible over the things that are in your control: memorizing your test, preparing your horse, being well-turned out, knowing the schedule, being on-time, and, my favorite, being organized.

Gearmax Equestrian backpack
At the HHF, I also learned that I’m not very good at organizing the amount of stuff required to keep a horse in a show environment, and that lack of organization left me feeling very stressed.  My corner of the tack stall looked like a bomb went off in a tack shop, and I was constantly searching for things that weren’t where they should have been.  With that in mind, I’ve purchased a saddle rack, a bridle/random stuff rack, and the Gearmax Equestrian backpack, which is so excessively large but seems like it will be very helpful for my "six people eventing out of one trailer's dressing room" experience this weekend.  Now that's a recipe for not being able to find anything.

Most of you are more experienced at showing than I am, how do you manage nerves and stay organized at horse shows? 


  1. I worked with a therapist on my nerves (whooo school health care!)

  2. For me being prepared is definitely a big part of not being nervous. Also, the more shows you go to the more comfortable you will be.

  3. I rely on Rescue Remedy for shows and other stressful periods in my life. Exposure helps too, like Alanna said. The longer you have Connor and the more the bond develops, you will find your stress decreases. I can't wait to hear about your show!!!

  4. i'm the same way...if I'm not 150% prepared for something I'm all nerves. I love that backpack, looks like it will really help with organization!

  5. I am not sure how I learned but I also showed a ton growing up. I always wake up anxious the day of a show but that to me is part of the excitement. I also can be tense in warm up which I do need to work on but I think a lot of that comes from how Steady acts. But anytime before I enter the ring every time I take a deep breath and tell my self "this is it, nothing you can do except for give your best ride. And don't forget to smile.". But then I can always hold my shit together in an show ring but when I step out all my emotions come flooding.. lol. You got to witness that ;). Most of all I look at a show as the culmination of all the hard work I do so I better not waste fretting because it won't change the out come.

  6. I am sure Alanna can agree on our organization at shows. By the first class is done the tack room looks like a tornado went through it! But I totally agree about being prepared. Even if you are not sure what to expect otherwise if you know you and your horse are well schooled it really makes it all much more relaxing!

  7. Shoot me an email and ill give you a list of tips for show organizing. I am a bit OCD. It's all about adequate storage :) and nice hooks.

  8. ugh - nerves... I'm doing my first show in a little over a month. Haven't shown in 20 years. *gulp* I'm hoping being organized will help, but I'll proabably be a mess the day of the show.

    I bought a halter/bridle bag with hooks and this weekend I'm buying a big toolbox on wheels to haul all of my little bits and pieces in. I have also been creating a totally separate grooming/prep kit to use only at shows so I don't have to haul my day to day stuff around.

    Can't wait to hear how you do at your next show!

  9. That bag looks like a super way to stay organized! If it is any help, you never look nervous to me at shows :)

    I am very OCD also, so everything has its place (and it helps if your 'crew' realizes this and stays with the program!).

    As far as nerves, I was very tense and nervous every single show last year. This year, I can't explain it but something changed and I enjoy myself and feel so much more confident.

    You and Connor are going to be amazing at the show this weekend!

  10. You guys are the best. I have so many new ideas after reading all these comments, and I have to say, you've made me see the light on bridle bags, which I previously saw as not terribly useful other than keeping dust off.