Show day can stress the best of horses — and riders — all the more reason to keep yourself and your horse in the best frame of mind possible. We offer long-term preparations and day-of techniques to make sure your horse is comfortable, calm and as ready as you are come show time. Every discipline is different, so check with your trainer or coach for any other tips they might have.
- Chill out. Horses sense jitters, so the better you can control them, the better your show will go. Creating trust between you and your horse will also help ease tension come show day. If your horse does sense your pre-show nerves, compose yourself. Laugh, yawn or sing to show your horse that there isn’t anything to worry about. If you’re in a discipline where excitement in your horse is a desirable quality, use this to your advantage.
- Look for Red Flags. Sometimes the thing distracting your horse isn’t nerves, but an external agitator—saddle fit, shoe problems or lack of your horse’s visibility. These obvious indicators can be fixed. Before the day of the show, check these things and make sure your horse is as comfortable as he can be.
- Stretch your horse. There are several benefits to stretching your horse before a show. Stretching helps avoid injury to your horse before a tough competition and special stretching exercises can help ease and relax tensed muscles. There are numerous health benefits to stretching over a long period of time as well, such as greater range of motion, flexibility and improved overall horse health. Don’t ignore indicators that your horse isn’t feeling well. Keeping your horse healthy with stretching, proper diet, and good dental health is a necessity.
- Push the right buttons. Horses have sensitive spots. It is important to know your horse well and figure out what he or she likes and to practice it often. (Trying something new the day of a show would freak anybody out.) Establishing trust between the two of you is crucial.
- Dress rehearse. When you work with your horse, do certain things that you will do the day of the show. Get your horse used to the environment that resembles show day. The more you can practice with your horse around others—both human and horse—the better he or she will act when in the ring.
Equestrian professionals can earn an Online Master’s in Equestrian Education from William Woods University that teaches its students how to work with horses and horse people in every part of the industry.