On Facebook, the week after the Pacific Regional Championships, there were some unhappy competitors. I know this happens after all the shows, and Facebook is now giving a larger life to those misgivings.
“the judges were stingy”
“the judges were mean”
“my horse was so naughty”
“why do I do this”
“why am I here”
“what am I paying all this money for, to be last” (yes, I have said that one to myself)
etc etc etc… insert your own comments.
What saddens me, is how these feelings start to define us and take the wind out of our passion.
After a show, I am quick so say – this is only a moment in time and you can wallow in your sadness or bask in your greatness till Tuesday, then it is all ancient history and off to the barn to continue with the journey which is riding dressage. (Even if I had a hard time believing it myself sometimes)
But what can you do to help soften the blow of The Horse Show Blues?
Pre-SHOW – go to the show prepared.
Have you been showing all year and are just continuing with what you know and developing what you are doing? Or is this your first show this season or first show in many seasons. To me, those are completely different levels of prepared.
If you have not shown in a while….
1. Talk with your friends who know which show might be a good choice for you to “jump back” into the show ring.
2. Choose the right show and at the right level for you to be successful, get you feet wet again and have a good time. It will be hard enough to “jump back” in, let alone getting through a difficult test.
3. Get a practice run done. Either at home with a friend as judge, or your trainer, or your video camera so you can see it. But go through the motions again, so you remember what it is like to braid, warm-up, do your test.
4. (Optional) Get out to see a trainer who is active in the shows, and get a lesson or two on your test riding. Of course, if you are in lessons with one – they are already prepping you this way. If not, ask them to do some test stuff to get ready for the upcoming show you have targeted.
5. Get to the show early, and get in the vibe of the show, before you have to get on. Have a friend/spouse/new friend help you with your stuff.
6. Get your test video-ed so you can watch it later.
1. Remember to keep the judges comments in check. Most definitely, some are tougher and more direct than others, but take these comments home and digest them while you watch your ride.
2. Be a good sport even if your show doesn’t go as well as you hoped or – hey, it just tanks! At the end of the day, you will still go home to your nice farm/house, and your horse will get tucked into his own stall. On Monday, he will need to be fed and looked after, and the cycle continues, no matter what the judge said or how well the show went.
3. Take a deep breath and choose the one thing you learned from the show, and make the changes to help fix that.
4. Chin up, breathe deep and smile that you got through that first horse show. Everything else will be easier next time. Work on growing that Teflon skin you need, to deflect the hard comments – no the judges don’t hate you, no they don’t hate your non-warmblood or whatever.
And try to stop the negative talk – both out loud and the self talk. This is one of the top priorities of sports psychology.
As a parting thought, if you don’t show – no problem. If you do show, take the lumps with the sugar. But please, don’t feel deflated, dejected or mortified. Learn, grow, evolve.