Overcoming Horse Show Anxiety
I’ve been riding and showing for about fifteen years…. and while I have learned to be more confident over the years, I still get nervous. No matter how hard I work, how much I show, the pre-show jitters are still there. They show up the night before and disappear just as quickly. Over the years, I have found a routine that I must do every single time.
The week of a horse show, I split my time between lightly flatting my horse, one harder flat ride with draw reins, one jump school and the day before I will work more on myself than my horse and lightly school him with what we have been working on. Typically, the day before, I ride for about a half hour and do mostly no stirrup work. Then, when I’m finished riding, I put all of my tack together so I can clean everything in one heap! Most importantly, I go through a whole bathing routine for my big guy! Once all of my tack is cleaned and my horse is bathed to perfection, I load all of my stuff in the trailer with my backpack. This is typically my first check of the day to make sure I have everything packed. I start by lightly checking my backpack and all of my tack. Generally by that time, I will either head home or to work before going through my pre-show checklist to help calm my nerves.
Also, the day before a show, I try to eat as healthy as I can because I typically only pick at food the days I show. Once I have finished at work or the barn, I clean my show boots (the old fashioned way… lol), before laying out all of my show clothes for the following morning. Once I finish all of that, I will typically shower. One thing I absolutely cannot skip is washing my hair. I feel like I have a new sense of confidence and wash away any anxiety with clean hair and a hot shower! Before bed, I set my alarm and will peruse my outfit again for the next day. Mentally, I go over my list: helmet… check, backpack… check, boots… check, show pad… check, tack… check, and so forth with everything else!
Another key thing I do for show days is wear black socks… I can and only will show in black socks! If I’m wearing my black socks and my favorite bling belt, I instantly feel one hundred times more confident. When I wake up the morning of the show, I will check everything over one more time and start my day heading to the barn to clean my big guy up for the ring and head to the show! I’m pretty meticulous with how I pack for a show and wrap all of my tack and feel that if I do the same routine every time it helps to keep me calm and anxiety free while showing.