Dealing with competition nerves - blog by Grace Wallace

As the show season approaches, many of you may be nervous about going to shows or competing. Of course, this is natural, especially if you are inexperienced or worried about something going wrong. In this blog, I'm going to talk about the ways that I deal with nerves at shows and ways you can make the most of your round.


First thing- breathe. I know this sounds ridiculous but a number of times you stop breathing when riding is more often than you would think. This can often make you tense, which can lead to a stiff position and as a result, a tense horse too. I find it useful to count to 5 out loud with the rhythm of the horse's pace, or alternatively, you could quote the lyrics of your favourite song. This can help to take your mind off your nerves and makes you breathe, allowing you to relax; which will ultimately rub off on your horse.


Another way is to prepare well in advance. This could be schooling, jumping or just practising in your chosen discipline. Once you get to the show, you should feel more confident knowing that you have prepared yourself and your horse to the best of your ability, which is all you can do. This should lead to improved results and a better performance on the day. Even if it doesn't go to plan, you are constantly learning.


Set yourself realistic targets- don't enter a class that you think is way beyond your horse's or your own ability. Start off by doing what you are both comfortable with and then progress when you feel ready. Everyone has to start somewhere and you shouldn't worry what other people think about you and your horse in the ring. As long as you are both happy and comfortable, it doesn't matter whether you are jumping 30cm or 1.30m. The more experience you gain, the more you learn and the better the results will be in the end.


Finally, just try to enjoy yourself. Going to a show is a privilege and if you take your mind off the winning, it can be seen as a day out with your horse. Just remember that whatever happens, you learn from your mistakes and gain confidence too. A happy rider makes a happy horse and smiling will certainly make the judges notice. Cherish each moment you have with your horse and relax- it's just a bit of fun with your horse and winning is the bonus!


Hope you enjoyed and I'll see you all next month!


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