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9 Horse Show Mantras to Help You Stay Mentally Strong

Equestrians have to be physically strong; we ride and lead 1,200 pound animals that do not speak our language. However, it can arguably be more challenging to maintain mental strength than physical, which is why it is just as important in this industry to be mentally strong. Cultivating this is a skill that athletes of all disciplines use to perform at the top of their game.

Mantras are a tool used in these practices to build a sense of self. They are repeated words or sayings that are a tool in meditation as well. Mantras can be extremely beneficial to exhibitors who want to build their sense of spirituality in the sport.

Forget the mistake. Remember the lesson.

Everyone makes mistakes. Making errors is the only way to grow with new knowledge. It is essential as a rider not to dwell on the mistake itself. Instead, find the lesson that you learned. Focus on what can be improved and worked on for the future. That is the most constructive way to become mentally healthy during trying times.

 Congress Champion, Sabrina Janis, comments, “Find the positives of every situation. For me, I learn to process rides faster after they have happened, and I break it down into what I liked and what went well versus what I disliked and what went awry.”

Good things come from change. Embrace the unknown. 

The unknown can be scary, sometimes even terrifying. The only thing that is known is that there will always be a sense of the unknown. Instead of trying to fight this fear, embrace the possibility of new opportunities. Change can be challenging, but you can work to find the good in any situation if you welcome it with open arms.

Always challenge the status quo.

Being “normal” is boring. Mental toughness comes from an individual who has a sense of self. What makes you different? What are your unique qualities? Whatever these may be, let them shine at any chance you get. Do not be afraid to challenge the status quo, in your personal, work, or show life. 

Never stop learning.

Any successful horseman or woman will tell you that they never stop learning. Knowledge is the key to forming and maintaining mental strength as an equestrian. Riding horses is not a sport for those who are “know-it-alls.” This sport requires the athlete to learn, from horses and other riders, continuously.

Janis comments on how to learn from each ride, “Making a pros and cons list of every ride in your head is helpful to put negative thoughts into something constructive. Not every ride will be perfect, but it’s especially important to come out of the show pen with a plan to do better next time and continuously improve.

Perseverance, not perfection, is the key to success. 

Success does not happen overnight. An equestrian must fall, stand back up, then fall again…the process is ongoing. Perseverance during challenging times is the only way you can achieve success. Perfection simply does not exist; no one is “perfect.” Therefore, it is much more beneficial to focus on perseverance instead of the myth of perfection. 

Amateur exhibitor, Alexis Wrobbel says, “We all have bad rides sometimes, but perseverance is the little voice inside saying I won’t give up, no matter what happened the day before. To succeed at anything, you have to keep on trying, even when you fail.”

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

You must be the change you want to see. No one is going to make that change for you. A key component of mental strength is a solid sense of self-empowerment. Equestrians are brave, courageous, and capable. Do not forget you can make a difference. Do not waste that gift because of overbearing self-doubt.

“Never get caught up in the ‘what if’s’ of the world,” says World champion exhibitor, Savannah Hauer. “When something is going wrong, the only way to make it better is by changing it up.”

The glass is half full.

It can be difficult to find the positive in a challenging situation. It is much easier said than done. However, by training your brain to focus on the good, you create mental strength. Being positive is often a choice. Decide to fight the negativity with a “glass half full” attitude. 

 Perspective is everything. Savannah McGuire, a trainer at Ambition Performance Horses, adds, “The thing about showing horses is that it truly is a journey – each horse, each show, each buckle will be woven into the fabric of your life. You get to choose the emotions these experiences will be remembered by, long after your last horse show…so make it count.”

If you want something different, do something different. 

Change will not happen unless you make it happen. If you need to change training programs, do it. If you need to find a new equine teammate, do it. You, as an equestrian, must put yourself in situations that bring joy and positivity to your life. If something feels off, listen to your gut. By merely acting, you will become more mentally tough.

“An exhibitor needs to understand that good thing will come from change but do not fear when the good does not shine through right away,” adds Hauer. “Be confident in what is being changed and set a plan for it to happen.”

Create your happiness.

There is a common misconception of equating happiness to awards, titles, and trophies. Being successful in the show pen has happy moments, but these small glimpses in a much larger timeline do not create true happiness. Individuals who find joy in the little things will cultivate a clear understanding of what “happy” means. 

“Take the time to breathe deeply and allow yourself to be grateful for everything that comes together so that you simply have the opportunity to be there, at that moment,” concludes McGuire. “We are all so blessed to lead these lives and enjoy these amazing horses.”

About the Author: Cat Guenther is a dedicated equestrian and a student at Michigan State University. She has been riding horses for years and has loved every minute of it. Cat started and runs her own successful show clothing business, Behind the Bit Show Clothing. She loves to show the all-around classes with her beloved horse, Zippos Kat Man Do, aka Teddy. She is very excited to start showing “Zippo Hot Leaguer,” aka Beamer, in the all-around as well. Her favorite classes are horsemanship, showmanship, and trail. She is currently on a Pre-Veterinary track and plans to study business.