Don't let your nerves get the best of you. Take
 time to relax and unwind before and during
 shows. Photo © Tiffany Anne Photo

Eight Tips to Conquer Horse Show Nerves

The amount of pressure you perform best under varies from person to person.

 When your nervousness exceeds your optimum levels, you lose focus, and your skills suffer. Here are a few ways to manage that anxiety you feel before an event.

1. Plan Ahead
• Make lists of the things you need to do, pack or clean before you leave.
• Find necessary items ahead of time to avoid frantic last-minute searches.
• Load your tack and clothes the day before so you can take a mental inventory and make sure you don’t forget anything.

2. Slow Down
• Planning ahead allows you to avoid overwhelming stress and concentrate on the competition.
• Rushing to get the horse or yourself ready only magnifies unproductive stress.

3. Exercise
• Working off your stress relaxes your muscles and helps you get a good night’s sleep.
• Exercise speeds the flow of blood to your brain, allows you to think more clearly and releases endorphins into your bloodstream, giving you a sense of happiness and well-being.

4. Relax
• Use relaxation techniques at the event to help calm pre-performance jitters.
• These will take your mind away from nervous feelings and reinforce your energy in a positive manner.
• Tension prevents you from riding your best, so think about what part of your body becomes most tense before you perform.
• To relieve physical tension: contract your tense muscles as tightly as possible, hold the tension for a few seconds, relax and then relax even farther to a state of complete relaxation.

Continue reading for more helpful horse show stress-reducing tips.

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