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Five Simple Habits to Help You Remain Positive On Show Day


Horse showing can be considered as much a mental game as it is physical. Some will even argue that the mental side of our sport plays a more significant role than the physical in the overall outcome.

We sat down with three top competitors to see what they do to keep a positive mindset going into and throughout a horse show. Whitney Vicars, Kaleena Weakley and Miranda Mitten have great words of advice that will make your next show your most positive experience yet!

Positivity Begins Before the Horse Show

When preparing for your next event, add “positive talk” to your checklist of things to do before you go. Creating positive energy toward the event will help to ease your nerves.

Multiple World Champion Kaleena Weakly believes that pregame self-talk is key to setting yourself up for success before a show. “I try to be a positive person in all areas of my life. Especially now with kiddos, I want my husband and me to model that for them, and it’s essential when competing.”

This can be done by visualizing your show experience in a positive light. It will help bring it to life once you arrive. Envision the outcome that you would like to happen during the show. For example, imagine yourself nailing your lead departure, picking up the correct diagonal, or finding the perfect spot in the trail pen. Practice having good feelings about your class before it even begins.

Kaleena echoed this sentiment saying, “I also like to talk about my upcoming shows and goals, whether alone or with family/barn family. I believe it’s important and invaluable to put those positive thoughts and goals out into the universe.” 

Be Ready and Have a Routine

Once you are at the show, being organized and sticking to a routine are the next steps toward success once it’s game time. Congress Champion Miranda Mitten believes staying organized helps her to stay positive. She doesn’t have to waste energy worrying about the little things. “I have all my clothes organized and cleaned. If patterns are released, I have those printed out or know them. I try to get there on move-in day to help unload the trailer. It is nice to set up and know where everything is whenever you need it.”

While these may seem like little things, they can help calm your nerves if schedules change at the show or if you find yourself rushed. In addition, knowing that your items are clean and easy to find can allow you to focus on getting your horse ready for the class. 

Another trick to staying positive throughout a horse show is to stick to a routine. While doing the same routine as you do at home can be difficult, sticking as close to it as possible can help you feel more at ease when preparing for a big event.

Multiple World Champion Whitney Vicars is a huge advocate of following a routine at a show. “I’m a very methodical person, so I like sticking to a specific routine getting myself and my horse prepared to show that has proved to work for us in the past. The closer I can stick to my normal routine getting ready, the calmer and more positive I feel.”

There are times when you have no choice but to stray away from your routine. However, Whitney explained that it is all part of horse showing and that learning to handle that situation with grace will help you maintain a positive mindset. “Sometimes, a situation like this can’t be prevented, and I have to do the best I can regardless, because that’s just part of horse showing, but I’ve found sticking with my routine is very helpful to my mindset before showing.”

Appreciate the Good Runs

Now that you have gone into the horse show with positive thoughts, a well-organized tack room, and stuck to your routine, it is time to reap the benefits of your harvest. Of course, we can all be found guilty of focusing on the things that didn’t go perfectly in our pattern, but to maintain positivity, it is so important to appreciate the good in your run.

Whitney describes perfectly why she feels it’s crucial to take a good run and uses that positive energy toward future success. “Our sport requires us to have and exude confidence in the show pen for success. So, how do we gain confidence? Doing and succeeding builds our belief that we can do it again.” 

It’s Not Losing…it’s Learning

As we have all experienced, sometimes things don’t always go as planned, regardless of the amount of positive energy we have going into our event. Our horse may spook at a pigeon, the wind might pick up before our pattern, or maybe we just missed our spot. However, it is essential not to let this affect your positivity for the rest of the show.

This happens to everyone, and it is ok to feel down for a moment, but be sure to pick yourself up and learn from it. Whitney offered sound advice for those moments when we are on the verge of tears because things didn’t go as planned. “There are times when I honestly feel like crying because of the sting of disappointment. However, when I can eventually pull myself together and get my emotions back in check, I can see crying doesn’t help anything.”

She followed that by giving a practical solution that has helped her through these moments. “Leaning on the Lord and trusting His plan for the outcome of each run makes a big difference for me. Ultimately, God is in control and knows what’s best for my horse and me. Win or lose that day, God has a purpose and uses it to prepare us for the future. I have some of my favorite Bible verses memorized, and I’ll go over them in my head when I start to feel myself get nervous or anxious, and it helps bring everything back into perspective for me.” 

Taking time to analyze your run with your trainer is also a big part of getting back on track. Miranda shared that even when her run goes smoothly, she likes to find areas to improve upon to keep her feeling optimistic about the next class. “I would say I lean more on the side of trying to execute perfection. Even if I hit the spot on a lope over I didn’t exactly want, and it still works out, I’ll mention it to John and Jill.”

Miranda continued to share that, although we spend countless hours preparing for an event when we only have a few minutes to debut our skills, having it go wrong can be disappointing. However, she has found that consistency through the good and bad help her to overcome the doubt that tries to creep in. “Staying consistent in the practice pen and show pen will give a better chance of getting the outcome you want.”

Positivity Through Any Season

Positivity allows you to enjoy the entire experience of a horse show. By being positive, your experience doesn’t rely on the score that you receive in the arena. Instead, your joy and peace can come from within, and sharing your barn family’s good and bad moments.

Positivity will keep you excited and coming back for more to see what you have learned and where you can improve. Kaleena summed it up perfectly by saying, “It’s always great to remind yourself; you’re only competing against yourself and better than your last ride; no matter what season you’re in, whether an old broke horse or a young green prospect.”

Good luck at your next show. Remember to stay positive! You are in this to have fun, develop relationships and be better than you that you were yesterday.


About the Author – Lauren Stanley of Tulare, California, is an avid all-around competitor who loves to bring young horses to the highest level. When she isn’t riding, she enjoys writing articles and publishing children’s books about horses, of course!

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