Darcy and I at the horse show.

Emma Bond sent us this horse show report, which also touches on a problem that many riders deal with.. horse show nerves!

This article will be entered in our Win a Southern Stars Saddle contest  (the deadline September 7th, so we are not accepting more entries, but we will keep publishing the articles received.

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From Emma:

I’ve been showing for nearly 3 years now and I can remember my first show as clearly as if it was yesterday. I was probably more nervous than I’d ever been, yet I covered it up with a smile, a pretty show jacket and my strapping new Jodhpurs. I was riding an easygoing very considerate lesson horse, but at that very moment in time that didn’t matter: I was doing my first show.

With some time and practice just like anything else, my nerves began to ease away. I had moved onto a devilish little pony (who to this day I still love with all my heart) and began showing more frequently. While riding this new pony named Treasure, we placed quite well at almost every show we entered.

So when the time came and my trainer told me the news that I wasn’t going to be riding him anymore, I was a bit devastated. But took to Darcy, my new pony, very quickly. Naturally when we decided to do our first show together I was ecstatic—I had had such luck in the past I fooled myself into thinking I would do the same this time around. Although I was correct, and the first show we did well, after that though something just wasn’t right.

The next show, we went to I rode as if I had never sat on a horse a day in my life. To quote my fellow barn members:

“All I kept thinking was… Emma BREATHE!”

“You looked like you were going to cry.”

“I’ve never seen her ride with her reins that short in my life.”

“You’ve never ridden like that before. I don’t know what came over you.”

I had let my nerves get the better of me. Yet, I wasn’t dealing with the same type of nerves as I had when I first began showing. These sent me into a state of nervousness that Darcy had begun to react as well. I just over thought it.

I was so used to riding Treasure, that I just assumed that Darcy would act up and I was going to fall—worries I had never had before.

After that show I became concerned that I had hit my breaking point, “I’m going to lose it all”. I thought, “All of my years of training. I’m going to lose it. Down the drain.”

You see, the one thing I believe many people don’t know about showing, or don’t truly realize is the stress and pressure that comes along with it. Sometimes it isn’t even from your trainer or your family members—but from yourself. You truly can be your own worst enemy.

Treasure and I at a show

I couldn’t figure out what was happening, why I had suddenly hit a roadblock. Neither could my trainer or my Mom. So together my trainer and I worked on overcoming my nerves. I know my horse isn’t malicious or mean— she’s just a mare. She’s got her bad days and her good days, just like me.

That is by far my most important piece of advice for any riders who might be currently suffering from something similar to this: Be comfortable with your horse. If you aren’t, that jeopardizes everything.

You and your horse are a team, you need to be able to trust that horse with your life and if you simply aren’t comfortable, that is a major issue. Speak up and voice your concerns to your trainer and your parents.

Even though I was convinced I had officially lost it, I am glad to say I have not! Recently I’ve been working on my sudden new wave of nerves and can say (knock on wood) that I have made great strides (no pun intended J).

Showing nerves shall be no more.


A BIG Thank You to Southern Stars Saddlery for sponsoring this contest – check out their website by clicking on their logo below.