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What Are Your Favorite Attitudes/Mindsets to Make Showing More Fun and Less Anxious?

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  • What Are Your Favorite Attitudes/Mindsets to Make Showing More Fun and Less Anxious?

    I will take all of the suggestions and compile them into a list that I keep inside my trailer ;-)

  • #2
    "I paid to be here... I must *WANT* to be here!"


    • #3
      The first show of the year is the ‘baseline’... just a check to see where we stand in our training.
      After that, just a re-check.
      When we ride a new test ( like this year, all new) the only goal is to remember the pattern.
      After that, we try for a smoother ride and better corners.

      I ride because I love this sport. It’s not like triathlons, no swim phase, we will not drown.


      • #4
        “I’m here to stay on and stay in the arena. Everything after that is a bonus.”
        Not my circus, not my monkeys!


        • #5
          Showing is a great way to spend the weekend with your horse and your friends, and not have to do domestic chores.
          Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


          • #6
            What specific anxieties do you have?

            I worry about being ready so I write up a schedule, working backwards from my first test time to getting out of bed. I build in extra time by being generous with my estimates of how long something will take.

            I practice warming up at home so I know how many minutes my horse needs to warm up before the test and how he feels when he's ready. Having that timed routine also helps me not try to fix an issue right before my test.

            I have one horse who must be allowed to walk around on a loose rein and gawk for a few minutes before starting the warm up. If I am way late he still must have that gawk. This is the sort of thing you learn by doing wrong!

            I do not expect my horse to be as good as he is at home and I ride each piece of the test as preparation for the next. I learned that many years ago when Training 3 had a transition to walk at A, free walk K-B diagonal, walk B-M, trot at M, canter between C and H - all done in a 20x40m arena! I hated it because I kept getting distracted by trying to improve the quality of the gait and the next transition came up too quickly. When I started riding the walk to prepare for the trot, and the trot to prepare for the canter I got both better gaits and better transitions. It became easy.

            I have my tests memorized. At one of my earliest shows my coach was reading for me and accidentally skipped two movements! I knew the test well and was able to continue with confidence until I caught up with her reading. I memorize the shape of the tests which can usually be broken into blocks of "do this pattern going left then repeat going right." At one point I was showing two horses and had all four Training and all four First Level tests memorized. I'd skim the written test as I recited my shapes just to confirm right before my test.

            I worry that I will forget something. I have a small trunk that fits everything except horse, saddle,hay and buckets. After packing I run through my prep in my head (brush off the horse, pads, saddle and girth on. Dress me in jacket, boots, helmet, gloves. Bridle the horse, add longe gear if longeing. Etc.) as a check that I have the vitals. I have a list too.

            A list of what to pack for a schooling show. Next column is things to add for a bigger one day show. Next column for an overnight show. A column of things to add for hot weather, and one for cold weather. And so on.


            • #7
              Ride the damn horse!

              Meaning, if you get nervous because you're afraid he's going to spook or do something stupid, stop thinking about the future and ride the horse you have at that very moment.


              • #8
                More adult beverages, more snacks, music. A show only needs be as uncomfortable as you make it. Go with the idea of having fun with friends. Riding a few tests is a brief respite from the party.
                Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.


                • #9
                  Assuming you're an amateur like me, remember that you spend a lot of time and money to do this. If you're not having fun, find a way to make it fun or stop doing it. There is no requirement to show. I do it because I enjoy the challenge of preparing a horse before the show and figuring out how to present it at its best for those 6 minutes in the ring. I also show with a tremendously fun group of people, so the actual weekend at the show is enjoyable, even off the horse. The other thing I've started doing is taking photos of my friends. I'm a pretty good photographer and have done some professional work that is not horse related. Taking photos gives me something else to do other than obsessing over my rides.
                  Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BrokenArrow View Post
                    “I’m here to stay on and stay in the arena. Everything after that is a bonus.”
                    Totally this.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by BrokenArrow View Post
                      “I’m here to stay on and stay in the arena. Everything after that is a bonus.”
                      Yup! "Don't fall off, don't get eliminated" We also joke that we're only in it to get the pictures


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by xQHDQ View Post
                        Ride the damn horse!

                        Meaning, if you get nervous because you're afraid he's going to spook or do something stupid, stop thinking about the future and ride the horse you have at that very moment.
                        I'd say "Ride the horse you have."

                        Best attitude I bring is "Make this enjoyable for the horse." And "I am *so lucky* to be here."

                        If I go into the ring remembering that I am not here for my ego, but here to make sure this whole horse showing thing is pleasant for my horse, I make good decisions and give her a nice ride. I can live with whatever happens so long as i give my horse a good ride.
                        The armchair saddler
                        Politically Pro-Cat


                        • #13
                          Bring lots of party food and just say this is a tailgate with horses! Sometimes I also thinking like I'm at Fantasy Dressage Camp (you know, like there's Fantasy Baseball camp for people who want to pretend to be MLB players?) and I'm here to hang out, eat food and pretend to be Charlotte Dujardin for one weekend.

                          Oh, I just lost my stirrup and almost came off during my extended trot? Psh, whatever, I'm Charlotte Dujardin and I'm gonna go eat some fancy cheese later!


                          • #14
                            I'm lucky to show with my trainer and her students; we enjoy our snacks and beverages almost making the show secondary. So start with a supportive environment.

                            My life, at this point, is job all week, followed by laundry, housework, and helping care for my elderly father over the weekend. A break in the routine, even one that creates a few butterflies, is so very welcomed.

                            I show a level below what I school, so horse and I should be prepared.

                            I tend to find the humor in my circumstances, so if my hot horse canters beautifully in a test, but stumbles, breaks, and picks up the wrong lead - well at least we had an unexpected good moment. Find ways to laugh at imperfect tests while learning from them.

                            Death is a low, low percentage of all the things that can go wrong, I say to myself. If I'm launched to heaven, then I left this world having a good time.

                            We participate in a niche sport whose superstars aren't recognized outside of a very rarefied environment (shows, clinics, barns). Don't take the atmosphere so seriously.

                            Judges, the majority, really do want you to do well, as do most spectators. Those who don't? Well, fruitbat 'em.
                            Move along.


                            • #15
                              I try to show under a cloud of gratefulness... I'm older than most, I can still ride! I'm away from the worries of everyday life, I am so lucky that my husband and I have managed our affairs so that I can go away a few weekends every summer and have fun. I have a beautiful horse. The sun is shining (usually LOL!) And the list goes on....

                              Whatever it takes to cultivate a sense of FUN at the show, I try to do!

                              ETA: Learning to do yoga breathing is also very helpful.


                              • #16
                                Umm, probably not what you want to hear, but years (decade, at least) ago kiddo took her super-star who was competing successfully at the highest levels of his sport (3-Day) to a local show (dressage) because he'd bowed slightly and wasn't to do o/f for a long time, just flat work. She was missing competition so she took him to a local show for the day and showed in what she could --I think it was just two tests. Then she came home. At the end of the year with those two scores she'd won the local clubs high point horse, high point rider, highest score x 2 --lots of nice stuff came in the mail. I think that show was the most relaxed any of us had ever been to ---in retrospect, she probably should have entered HC but we didn't know about that at the time. So, go to one where you are comfortable ---I love being old and shooting Mounted Archery against people 50-60 years younger. If I shoot well (and usually I do these days) I am a winner. If I shoot poorly, I am still a winner because no one expects an old lady to be able to gallop a horse, shoot from a bow, and hit a target!


                                • #17
                                  Baileys in morning coffee is totally acceptable.
                                  "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

                                  "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig


                                  • #18
                                    Go in with realistic expectations - don't expect to win, or be in the ribbons - not everyone goes home with a blue ribbon. Do NOT make it about the ribbons, make it about a social event, and a chance to get some feedback about you and your horse from an unbiased source. And seriously - make it social - chat with other people there, invite friends to come watch. Less about competition, more about fun!


                                    • #19
                                      I make an effort to thank all the volunteers at the show - the office staff, the warm up ring steward, ring stewards, the TD, anyone else I see who gave up some of their precious free time to put on this show for those of us competing. They don't get enough recognition, and it always feels good to make someone else smile.

                                      I also make a point of volunteering a few times a year at shows where I am not competing - I have not yet gotten to where I could show and volunteer at the same show.
                                      "So relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit." Crash Davis; Bull Durham


                                      • #20
                                        "Whatever else happens, at least my horse looks pretty."