Stage Fright

Lately, things have been going great with my horse, Chance. At the farm, that is… Horse shows? Not so much! A couple of weeks ago, we went to a schooling show – which turned out to be a total disaster. He schooled perfectly on Friday, and Saturday morning. We were great in the warm up ring. We seemed totally in sync. When we went in the ring, however, it was a different story entirely! He got quick, so I got in his face and it spiraled downward from there. Before I knew it, he was running out at every jump that I did not basically gallop him at.

Considering how good he has been at home, how well he schooled and how good he was before we went in the ring, I think that it is safe to say that I am having a major problem with show ring nerves – or “stage fright,” as I like to call it. The same thing happened at the last show we went to; everything was going great until we went in the ring. Clearly, I tensed up and caused him to tense up. My nerves make him nervous, which leads to behavior problems. I truly do not think that I have ever had such terrible nerves about horse shows. I used to get a little nervous beforehand, but once I went in the ring, I was fine. Now, the opposite is happening! I do not even realize I am nervous until our round is spiraling out of control. I am calling it “stage fright” because a similar thing used to happen to me back in high school when I competed in the state choir competitions. I would know the songs backward and forward, but as soon as I went into the little room (with the judges behind a curtain), I would freeze and make silly mistakes. It literally took me until my senior year to get past the first round simply because I would get so nervous! Hopefully, it will not take me quite so long to get over my issues with horse showing right now. I am going to a small show this weekend to try to work through some it… I have not consistently competed for quite a few years, so I am hoping it will just take time. I have written before that so much of riding is mental, and I know that is my issue right now. And unfortunately, my thin-skinned thoroughbred is not very tolerant of me getting so nervous. Wish me luck!

Have any of you ever had a problem with horse show nerves? Or have any suggestions on how to get past it?

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