We can all get nervous at shows, but it’s nothing to worry about. However, when it starts to interfere with your riding and takes the fun out of a show day it’s time to do something about it. Different things work for different people, yet we’ve put together our favourite nerve-busting tips to overcome those show day jitters.
1. Meditation works by calming your mind and helping you to focus. Something as simple as a 10-minute meditation session can help you to overcome any stress, worry or show day nerves. To start, you need to have a comfortable seat and good posture – keep your back straight but relaxed. Once settled, begin turning your thoughts to focus on your breathing, while letting its rhythm remain normal. Maintain this relaxation technique until you feel more peaceful and alert.
2. Try some Rescue Remedy. First founded in the 1930’s, Bach flower remedies have provided stress relief for years. Rescue Remedy is formed from 38 flower essences and is completely natural, so there’s no need to fear anything but a calmer outlook on the task ahead. It’s even suitable for animals, so if your horse is also feeling the pressure it’s safe for you to share.
3. If you’re getting worried about competing you could try dropping back down a level to put the fun back into what you’re doing. Both you and your horse will remember why you compete in the first place and it helps to take the pressure off of doing well. Check out the events listed on Equo.
4. Do some jumping jacks. This may sound strange, but doing some jumping jacks is an old wives way of stopping a panic attack. So, if you’re ever feeling really nervous and short of breath you could try some. Breathe loudly in time with your jumping and count out loud. This gives you something to focus on, helps regulate your breathing and gets your blood pumping. However, we recommend that someone else holds on to your horse…
5. Stick to your routine. If you have a routine you know works for you, stick to it. Give yourself plenty of time and prepare for any unexpected delays. This will help to keep both you and your horse relaxed.
6. Practice makes perfect. Many people feel nervous or out of their depth when competing due to the different atmosphere. Just remember that you’ve practiced everything before, so think to yourself that it’s no different from being in a lesson. Be confident that you’ve prepared and if the competition doesn’t go to plan treat it as a practice session.
7. We’re all guilty of getting flustered or stressed when we’re nervous. Just take a step back and make a clear mental list of what you have to do. If you focus on the task in hand you can ignore any unnecessary worries that you may have and take the day one step at a time.
8. Listening to music is an old trick, but can come in really handy. Put on your favourite feel good song, have a dance and take a few minutes out. This allows you to have a bit of ‘me time’ before returning to the lorry to get on with the day.
9. Have a good night sleep the night before your competition. This allows your body to recharge and you’ll wake up feeling invigorated, ready for the day ahead.
10. We always leave plenty of time to warm our horses up, but hardly any of us bother to warm ourselves up. Before you get on do some stretches to warm up and loosen your muscles. You won’t be so tense when you get on your horse and you’ll find that you both warm up for the upcoming class more productively.
11. Nothing cures stress better than a cup of tea, especially at this time of year. Head to the canteen and have a hot drink and some food. You’ll appreciate the energy it gives you and it’ll certainly warm you up (we recommend Keysoe’s cheesy chips).
12. Book into a confidence workshop. Sometimes you need some extra help knowing how to remain relaxed, so why not head to a rider confidence class? These will help you to overcome your fears. Why not check out workshops offered by the Confident Horse Rider?
13. Wear your lucky pants. Equestrians are known to be a little bit superstitious, so if you have a lucky pair of pants don’t forget to put them on!
Ready to show off your skills at a competition? Check out equoevents.co.uk to find shows local to you and all over the UK