We’ve all been there before, the sinking feeling in our stomach when we wake up on show day that undoubtedly intensifies as we make our way through the day only for it to total takeover us when we enter the ring resulting in missed movements or jumps.
A feeling of hopelessness that *rarely* visits when training at home or with our coach but reappears as soon as that 4:30 am alarm starts to buzz. This show day anxiety is not uncommon and you should never feel alone in feeling this way.
We have reached out to our trusted community of fellow equestrians, from all walks of life, to see how they deal with their show day nerves and, boy, they did not fail to deliver.
Here are the top three most popular tips to help ease those uneasy feelings take over your next show.
Tip #1 - Meditate, be mindful and be prepared 🧘♀️🧠
You know you’re going to be anxious for the show, then girl, why did you leave plaiting till 5 minutes before warm-up? We probably sound like a nagging coach but if you’re serious about watering down those nerves, you gotta be prepared from the get. As the saying goes...
“By failing to prepare, your are preparing to fail”
Being "prepared" can be perceived in many ways but let's keep it simple.
We say: Train your breeches off, memorise your test or course, ensure your gear is cleaned and packed, horse is washed, don't forget to pack some lunch and lots of water too, fuel your body with the right foods and ensure you’re getting enough sleep (try for 7 to 8 hours).
Being prepared is a great first step to reducing nerves, but we do know even the most prepared equestrians can have that show-xiety creep up again. If that happens to you, it's best to combine both a practical and mindful solution to really ward off those feelings.
Here at Equipad HQ, we have trialled apps such as ‘Headspace’ and ‘Calm’ which are ideal for learning and implementing mindfulness and meditation into not just your show days, but daily life! If you can't subscribe, there's also a TONNE of free guided meditations on youtube however, you might just need to spend some time finding the ones that work best for you. Try searching "anxiety-relieving guided meditation".
So go on, get organises and try a little mindful meditation before your next show and round, we think you'll definitely notice a difference.
Tip #2 - Music Therapy 🎧🎶
Sound therapies have long been popular as a way of relaxing and restoring one's health. However, research has shown that music can actually result in up to a 65% reduction in overall anxiety.
We’ve picked one song in particular as recommended by UK Neuroscientists to be the most effective song for reducing stress and anxiety. We’ve given it a try ourselves and can confirm, it does a darn good job at putting you in a serious state of calmness.
We say: give the 8-minute version a listen right before your round or warmup. Or put on the 10+ hour and listen to it all morning in the leadup to your event and rounds.
Marconi Union - Weightless (8 minutes) https://youtu.be/UfcAVejslrU
Marconi Union - Weightless (10 hours +) https://youtube.com/watch?v=qYnA9wWFHLI
If these tunes don’t provide the right type of pre-show vibe (we get it - sometimes you want to groove out to your favourite inspiration beats) then we highly recommend making a playlist of your own songs you know will put you in the right mood. When it comes to show day, put that baby on repeat and ride to the tunes.
Tip #3 - Rescue Remedy 🌼🧪
Just like our horses, sometimes we need a little supplementation to take the edge off. A crowd favourite that has been recommended and raved about is Dr Bach’s Flower “Rescue Remedy”, however, this should only be used to deal with immediate problems and is not a long-term fix. You can purchase this at most pharmacies and some supermarkets.
Rescue remedy should only be taken on the recommendation of a medical professional.