Competing is a state of mind just as much as it is a physical challenge. To compete to your full potential, you must sharpen your mind to match your physical skills. This being said, it is easy to get discouraged at large competitions such as the Arabian Youth Nationals when you make a mistake. You’ve trained all year for this - rode without stirrups, spent hours traveling to the barn, listened to countless instructions from your trainer and you think that you are finally ready to excel at Youth Nationals. Then, when you finally enter the gate, you tense up and instantly put pressure on yourself. Don’t do this - it’s only hurting your performance. Today I want to give three tips of advice to get you through those horse show nerves. You’ve got this!
Don’t compare yourself to others.
It is so easy to get caught up comparing other horses and riders to yourself and your horse. First of all - it’s not fair to yourself or your horse. You have both put in countless hours training and preparing for the show. It’s easy to think that you don’t stand a chance against another horse because they are the reigning Champion - but that is simply not true. A lot can change in a year - the horse, the rider, the rider’s mindset, the judges, and about fifty other things. Just remember that when you are showing you should only be thinking about you and your horse and focusing on each step you take.
Don’t get down on yourself when you make mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes in the ring - even trainers. Don’t dwell on your mistake, instead act like it didn’t happen and recover from it. If you stay calm, there’s a high chance that the judges didn’t even see your mistake. Just remember to keep riding every step and you’ll be much better off. Even if the judges did see the mistake and you didn’t place so well on the cards, there’s always next time. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your horse - there’s so many factors that go into competing with a living animal. Just remember, that throughout it all you are competing because it’s fun and you love riding your horse - not because you have to win.
You and your horse have prepared all year for this show. If you are a Youth Nationals contender, you qualified for the show - which means that you’ve earned your place to be there. When you’re in the final classes, realize that you and your horse deserve to be there. Have confidence and believe in your horse - they know what they’re doing so just trust them. If you sharpen your mind to be more confident, I promise you’ll have a better ride than if you don’t.
Just remember that the entire reason for competing in the first place is to have fun and to show your love for the Arabian horse. If you sharpen your mind in these three ways, then you will be mentally prepared to excel in competition.