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Five Things to Help Reduce Stress at Major Shows


It doesn’t matter if you’re attending your very first major horse show as a competitor or if it is your one-millionth time to attend a large-scale horse show; stress comes with the territory. With prestigious shows like the AQHYA World Show and NSBA World coming up, it is crucial to set up a game plan to reduce distractions and maintain focus going into these events.

Sometimes, it can feel as if there’s some secret game being played around the barns and arenas when it comes to horse shows. Most competitors know about it, even if they don’t acknowledge it. It’s called “the hurry up and wait,” game.

Yeah, that game.

It’s the one where the show bill says that a particular class will start at 8:30 am, but for some reason, something happened, and the announcer begins announcing for all participants for the class to head to the arena at 9:30 am.

This isn’t the only stress that one might encounter at a horse show.

If a participant somehow got lucky and that didn’t happen, then there’s a possibility that they were trying to figure out where their boots, chaps, clothes, horse, and all other necessary items were, and they had ten minutes to do so before their class would enter the arena.

Here are five tips or ways that can help reduce stress at any significant horse show.

Be a Team Player

It doesn’t matter whether you are there to support your friend or you are there as a competitor, be a team player. No matter what, even if you aren’t showing as a part of a team, it helps to have a network that can help you out wherever needed.

Try to set up a support system to sit in the stands to cheer for you when you go in and out of the arena and do the same for others. The feeling of electricity and excitement from friends, family, fellow exhibitors, and trainers will set everyone up for success. It’s all that much more special when you can share your accomplishments with your support system.

Take a Time Out

When you aren’t showing or helping somebody show, take time to yourself. This is a critical part of handling an important show. If you don’t make time to yourself, at some point those stressful emotions will cloud your judgment, especially if you are attending a show that lasts longer than three days. Sometimes, all it takes is sitting by yourself with headphones on, listening to your favorite new song.

Sow Your Wild Oats

As the old saying goes, sometimes you need to “sow your wild oats,” or escape the show if at all possible and do something fun. If you’re attending a multiple day show in a city/state that you’ve never been to, look around for tourist or other fun activities to do when you have downtime. Utilize your downtime to de-stress with something fun.

Manage Your Schedule

If you know that you or your clients have several events on multiple days, consider the possibility of making a full-fledged show schedule before you arrive at the event. The more you know ahead of time and can prepare for, the less stress you will acquire by running around trying to figure out who has what class at whatever time.

It’s Just a Horse Show

It’s important to remember that no matter what, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just a show. The less of a big deal you make out of it, the less likely you are to get worried about your classes. Most importantly, the less stressed you are, the less stressed the horses around you will be.

Life is too short. If something unpredictable happens, you can only try your best. Sometimes, you can’t de-stress as much as you’d like to, but don’t fret, there’s always next time.  And with every important show attended, the more likely it is that you’ll develop whatever routine works best to help you avoid as much stress as possible.

What are some things that help you manage yourself or your client’s stress levels?  Let us know.


About the Author – Beth Hobson is a creative artist and photographer from Oklahoma. She has been involved in several horse communities throughout the US for more than a decade. Beth has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma, and when she’s not involved in the horse communities, you’ll find her challenging herself as a creative artist and photographer.

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