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Five Reasons Why You Should Just Go Show


Long before millennials coined the phrase “YOLO (you only live once),” Roman poet Horace provided the seeds of that wisdom when he advised Romans to carpe diem. The full verse was actually, “carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero,” which translates to, “Seize the day, putting as little trust in tomorrow.”

If you’ve ever put off going to a show because you’ve doubted your ability, questioned your priorities, or decided to wait until the time is ‘perfect,’ then you should take a page from Horace’s book. We’ve all had moments of indecision about committing to attend a show, whether it’s a significant event like a World Show or a step-up circuit that you’ve been watching from afar and longing to attend.

GoHorseShow is here with a reminder for you to carpe those reins, saddle up, and just go show.

1. Don’t Let the Saboteurs Decide

In life coaching psychology, a saboteur is a thought or voice that snakes its way into your decision-making by conjuring up every possible negative outcome, worst-case scenario, or reason not to do something.

Picture this: your trainer brings up the idea of attending a very exciting show. You leave the barn glowing and energized at the mere thought of it. A few days later the devil on your shoulder (aka your saboteur) has talked you out of it. This isn’t logic or rational decision-making at work here; this is self-destruction. After all, a saboteur is someone who intentionally obstructs or destructs something.

Here are some common show-blocking saboteurs: I’m not ready, I can’t compete there, I should wait to go until I’m sure I can win, I should be focusing on other priorities right now. Sure, there will be times when your cons outweigh the pros, but make sure to “check yourself before you wreck yourself” when it comes to saboteurs that are only masquerading as real reasons not to go to the show.

Our advice: Speak your thoughts out loud, to a trusted friend if possible. Often, when you voice these so-called “reasons” to not go to a show, the saboteurs reveal themselves.

2. Stride Out of Your Comfort Zone

Another reason an equestrian might avoid leveling up and attending a new show is that you’ve gotten cozy on your home turf. You’re confident, winning, you know exactly what to expect, and horse show life is good.

However, going to a new show is the best way to take your riding and competitive ability to the next level. It’s like almost anything else in life; feeling comfortable is nice, but there’s nothing like the feeling of being pushed to new heights you didn’t know you could reach.

Our advice: Take a moment and gauge how far in the “comfort zone” you are. Do your next show plans include any new challenges? Risks? If the answer is no, it might be time to put another show or event on the calendar.

3. Reconnect with Your Dreams and Go After Them

What drew you into showing horses in the first place? There are no two equestrians alike, but for most of us, our veins run thick with an in-born passion for horses, coupled with a little competitive fire. By saying no to going to that show you’ve been eyeing in the distance, you’re putting your dreams on hold and distancing yourself from what connects you to the sport and your horses.

It’s good to stoke the flames of passion and competitive spirit, and the best way to light this fire is to be immersed in it at a show. Get inspired watching others at the top of their game, even if you’re not quite at yours yet. At a show, you get to watch other people ride, you get feedback from multiple, often new, perspectives, and you get a generally deeper connection to yourself as an exhibitor.

Recognize that if showing makes you happy, you owe it to yourself to spend as much time as possible in or near the show ring. We all know that life happens. Jobs, family commitments, and many other important things come up that might temporarily derail or take us away from chasing a horse-show dream.

Our advice: Don’t ever let those sidetracks become the main track. Fuel your dream by staying connected to the excitement that great horse shows bring you.

4. You Get to Travel

Horses and personal travel don’t always go together well. When you travel, you have to have trusted people to care for your animals, and that often adds to the costs of both horse-care and travel. A great way to talk yourself into going to a show is to think about the non-equine reasons to go. Food, sightseeing, and new life experiences can easily be planned into most show excursions and are well worth considering.

If your budget or vacation-day constraints sometimes leave you feeling like you’ve got an either/or choice, it’s time to map out a show in a region you’ve never been to. Another bonus of this focus in your show plans is that, thinking about all of the reasons you want to show, not just points, titles, or winning, helps to scale back the nerves and pressure that can sometimes overtake the fun of showing.

Our advice: Look up three shows you’ve never been to and research the local area. List the features that most interest you, like film festivals, the food scene, museums, or natural attractions, and add that to the pros pile of why you should go.

5. Remember What You Stand to Gain From Showing Up

Memories. Relationships. Character-building. Confidence. Each time you show, you stand to gain more than ribbons, trophies, or buckles. When you choose to stay at home or on the sidelines, you’re missing out on the sense of achievement that comes with testing out your skills against the best.

Think about it: each time you go to a horse show, you add to your collection of friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. It’s the time spent in camaraderie, setting up the tack stall and tearing it down, helping each other with horse show fashion, and building each other up with pep talks. It’s staying up all night to keep an eye on the horse that didn’t settle in well and helping each other through the losses and disappointments. Ribbons are great, but if you’re thinking about the cost-benefit analysis of whether or not you should go to the next show, don’t forget to factor in the priceless.

Our advice: Take some time and either journal or reflect on the things in your life you think you’ve gained because of horse shows you’ve gone to. That list is likely enough to make a choice to attend the next show an easy one.

What show have you recently decided to attend? What sometimes holds you back from going for that next big show? Let us know in the comments.


About the Author: A lover of horses who loves to write, Rachel Kooiker competes in all-around Amateur events with her APHA gelding, Hoos Real. Together with her husband, Drew, they operate Kooiker Show Horses, where they stand APHA World Champion Im The Secret and raise select APHA Halter and Performance prospects.

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