9 tips from Hobby Horse CEO, Kristin Darnall-Titov on how to get your mind right on show days
1. Be prepared! Winning happens well before you get to the horse show. It actually starts days, weeks, months and even years before your horse is loaded into the trailer to head off to the show grounds. 2. Take care of your horse.There are few things that can get in your head like having your horse not at 100%. Even if they are sound enough to show, body soreness, stomach ulcers, and scratches (among other ailments) can take you and your horse off your game. It's cliché, but prevention really is the best medicine. Spend the extra time and money to make sure your horse feels great and you will have one less thing to distract you from your goals. 3. Take care of yourself. With the hectic, and sometimes 24-hour-a-day schedule at a show it's easy to get so worried about your horse that you forget about your self! Make sure to eat right, drink plenty of water and get enough sleep so you can be at your best when it matters most. 4. Give yourself a pep talk. This sounds silly, but it helps! When you are confident and positive, not only will you perform better but your horse, being a herd animal, will feed off of it as well. Beware though, the opposite is true as well. If you are nervous, stressed, and/or frightened, your horse will feed off that as well. If you really can't bring yourself to perform your own pep talk, try letting a well selected song do it for you (i.e. One Moment in Time by Whitney Houston, The Greatest by Sia, or maybe even Fight Song by Rachel Platten).
5. Know your pattern. This seems obvious, but it happens multiple times a day at every horse show, even major events; off course. That bone chilling feeling of hearing your "zero" score called over the loud speak (emphasis on "loud") as your heart sinks into the heals of your boots. Don't just take a cursory once over at the pattern. Be sure to read all of the instructions, plan the placement in the arena, and close your eyes and visualize how it will feel to ride the pattern. If you need to walk it out on foot, go for it! 6. Dress to Impress. We have all heard it before, look good, feel good. Confidence is everything in this industry, so you need to take every opportunity you can to enter the pen and feel like you are going to win. People will take notice! 7. Have a pregame ritual. Find a routine that works for you and your horse and stick to it! Eventually both of you will feel comfortable with the routine and the last minute crazies will become few and far between. This will also help you know when to start getting ready so you can avoid the nerve racking "hurry up and wait" and the even more nerve racking announcer making a final call for your class while you are still at the stalls.
8. Stay in the moment. While in the show pen with all eyes on you, including the judges, stay focused on the moment. Feel what your horse is doing underneath you and what they might need from you to performance at their best. Don't worry about anything else. It is all too easy to start thinking ahead and miss a crucial cue or dwell on a mistake that then causes even bigger mistakes. If you make a mistake, just let it go. You can't turn back time; all you can do is do your best in the next moment. You will not be the only person to make a mistake, so don't stress about it and let it wreck your entire run. 9. Have a support team. Trophies and titles are not won by a horse and a human alone, but by a team. Don't try to do it all yourself, have a team around you to support you, coach you, and even call you out if you have lost sight of what matters most: having fun!