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Every competitor has the same challenge! You’ve got to keep focused, keep motivated, and do not let the nerves take over. Once nerves are allowed to take over, they can distort a competitor’s thoughts…which can affect performance. Here is a very important concept for us to remember: Our thoughts control our actions. I realize that when our nerves are roaring like a lion, it can be difficult to control our thoughts. But it is possible to keep control, and I have a few tips that can help you!

1. Keep your perspective.
First, realize that however big the event is, it still is just a horse show. Have your next goal already set before you by keeping your thoughts on to the next big show, or even another important goal or event in your life.

2. Practice makes perfect.
Get to know your horse! The more you can be a “team” with your horse, the more confidence you will have. Work on your weak points, but also magnify your strengths. Do exercises with your horse that will help you to redirect your nerves by focusing on a specific maneuver. This also will perfect you and your horse.

3. Learn the art of breathing.
When we are nervous, we take short, shallow breaths that actually change the way our body sits on the horse’s back. Short breaths also cause us to be tense, and we become more abrupt and sharp in our cues. Proper breathing is wonderful! It helps to position our pelvis correctly on the horse and allows us to feel our horse and engage more effectively. Take a full, deep breath — in through the nose and out through the mouth — breathing deeply through your diaphragm. Try it! It’ll help you to refocus and ride more effectively.

4. Visualize a positive outcome.
Visualizing and thinking on what you want, rather than what you don’t want, is wonderful. Visualize a winning go until you feel the excitement deep within you! If you feel yourself getting nervous, redirect your thoughts to what you want, your goal, and stay in that place until you feel yourself relax.

Best wishes to you… I hope these tips will improve your outcome!

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