Equestrian is just as mental as it is physical. In this featured post, I will list ways to tackle your nerves may it be horse show morning or going out for a lesson. I have personally used these techniques in the past, and they have been recommended by top athletes as well. To start this off, here is a short clip that I think goes well with this topic.
I hope you guys found that video super helpful! Confidence is key when it comes to riding, when you are confident, so is your horse! Nerves often get in the was of our confidence, so here are some tips that I personally use and work with me!
If you are worried about your course, test, pattern, or whatever it may be, visualize exactly how you want it to go. Start from the moment you step in the ring and go through each step of the course/test/pattern. Go into as much detail as possible and envision yourself totally rockin' it! For shows, I like to "pre-live" the best case scenario at least 3 times before I go in the ring. For lessons, I just run through it in detail 1 or 2 times. Be as vivid as possible and picture yourself on your horse.
Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself
-What do I see?
-What do I hear?
-What does my horse feel like?
Focus on the task at hand
Don't worry about the end result and all that can go wrong your plan. Narrow down the specific challenges you may have and visualize yourself riding through it. Think about exactly what you can do to overcome these challenges. Take it one step at a time and break the course up into parts. For each part, set a goal for yourself and think about how you can execute your goal. It will be overwhelming if you look at the course/test/pattern as a whole, but if you break it down into "bite size" pieces everything is much more manageable.
Here are some things I think about
-Where might my horse spook?
-What jumps might he look at?
-Where will I need to add leg?
-Where will I need to slow down?
Recall your accomplishments
Go ahead and think about all of the things you do well. Make a mental list and go through that list and think about where you can implement your skills on course. It can sometimes be hard to think about all of your strong suits because they might be taken for granted. My horse and I tend to do well on tidy turns, so when I'm on course, I tend to make tighter turns and shorter approaches because my horse likes to get long and flat. Every horse and rider combination is different and it can take some time to find you and your horse's niche. Heck, it took me 5 years and I'm still figuring it out! Just look back on all of you accomplishments, both big and small, and eventually you will learn exactly how and when you and your horse click.
The power of smiling
Don't forget, riding is supposed to be FUN! It can be really easy to get wrapped up in the minor details of the show, but at the end of the day, your main goal should be to enjoy yourself. I have never had a "plan" work out perfectly when it comes to horses, and I've learned to take everything with a sense of humor. I have learned to say "oh well" when something totally out of my control doesn't go exactly to plan. The key is being able to adapt to your current situation and make the best out of it. At the end of the day, all you can do is try your best, and if you do, it is a successful show or lesson. Horses are unpredictable creatures and we need to learn to go with the flow and have fun while we're at it!
In a show setting, it can often feel like other people are judging you and your horse. Odds are, the people around you are just as worried about themselves. If your horse is acting up in the show ring, imagine people thinking "wow she/he is handling the situation so well!" I know it can be hard to do, but just remember, no one knows your horse better than you do, not even the judge.
I hope this special post is able to help you have more successful rides and shows. Our horses feed off of how we're feeling, and if we stay confident so will our horses! Best of luck and as usual, feel free to contact me @TheJuniorEquestrian on Instagram if you want to chat!
cover photo credit to http://www.devonhorseshow.net/