Calming Show Nerves
Dealing with your nerves before going into the show ring can be very stressful and nerve racking. Unfortunately you can’t always get rid of your nerves completely but there are many ways you can manage them keep yourself calm. Having the correct mindset and preparation before going in the ring is the key to success. Here are some methods of dealing with nerves before going into the ring that I find very effective.
Tip #1: Stop and breathe!
Breathing is important! After you have finished walking your course or finished looking over the course sheet, take a second to stop and relax. One of my favorite breathing techniques is Box Breathing. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold your breath for 4 counts, and then exhale for 4 more counts. Repeat these steps a couple times and you will notice yourself feeling more relaxed. The purpose of this breathing method is to minimize stress and to make yourself think more positively.
Tip #2: Positive mindset
When you think negative thoughts while going over your course or at the ingate, you are getting the thought of doing poorly into your head. This will make you even more nervous than you already are. On the other hand, if you think more optimistically, you will feel 10x more confident in yourself. Some ways to think optimistically are to make a list in your head or on paper of all the strengths you have, along with what you have accomplished in the past. For example, think of past shows you have done well at. This will remind yourself that you are capable.
TIp #3: Don’t compare yourself to others
Don’t let yourself get intimidated by others! Thoughts such as: “they are better than me” can lower your self-confidence and make you believe in yourself less. Instead, just try your best. Don’t set standards for yourself, just put in your best effort. Being competitive against yourself is always a great way to push yourself and to make sure you try your hardest. Have fun in the ring!
Tip #4: Get pumped!
Listening to music can help get you excited to show and raise your energy level! If you love listening to music this is a great way to become more enthusiastic about showing and to mentally prepare yourself for going in the show ring. If you have a favorite song, take a couple minutes to jam to it!
Tip #5: Visualizing
After you learn your course and discuss it with your trainers, take a minute to run through the plan in your head a few times. Break the course down into many parts think through each part. Something that has helped me is running through the course once or twice in depth, and then simplifying it the next couple of times where I can just say the numbers of strides in each line or just the order of the jumps. After I have run through the course by myself and know it well, I find it helpful to talk to a friend and to tell them my plan in depth once or twice. This helps me reassure myself that I know the course well enough. If you don’t go super early in the order sit down and watch the first couple of trips go so that you can see how other people ride the course. Before getting on to school, visualize yourself doing well because once again you are mentally preparing yourself.
Tip #6: Distraction instead of overthinking
If there are still many trips left before you have to get on and you have loads of time, go distract yourself so you don’t overthink the course. If you sit at the ring for too long you might start over analyzing your plan and get more nervous thinking about it. Taking a walk, getting a snack or drink, or even going to see your horse/horses before you show can calm you down and make you feel more relaxed before you show.
Dealing with nerves can be hard and stressful however these tips are very helpful in feeling more relaxed. By reducing your stress level you can set yourself up for success in the ring and can have a better shot of executing your plan in the show ring.
TFE Ambassador Layla Kurbanov
Junior Jumper and Equitation rider from Connecticut