Calm Your Nerves!

You’ve been prepping for a show for weeks, but as you approach the show pen, you find yourself more focused on the butterflies in your stomach, than you are with what your horse is doing. Sound familiar? Show nerves are a common struggle for many riders, but with a few tips and techniques, you can learn to manage them and perform at your best.

It’s important to understand that show nerves are completely natural. It shows that you care about your performance and want to do well. However, when these nerves start to interfere with your riding, it’s time to take some steps to calm them down.

Have a routine put into place so that you aren’t rushed to get into the show pen and can keep your nerves at bay.
Photo by GayleLawrence/

Breathe In, Breathe Out

The first step to feeling more relaxed in the show pen is remembering to breathe. It sounds silly, but when you get nervous it’s easy to find yourself holding your breath as you navigate your pattern. Before entering the show pen, take a moment to focus on your breathing. Taking slow, deep breaths. This will help keep the butterflies away and relax your body and mind.

Practice, Practice, and then Practice Some More

The easiest way to feel confident in the show pen is by putting in the hours at home. If you practice all your maneuvers diligently, you’ll be able to handle them with ease and precision during a pattern. If you get your patterns ahead of time, practice them at home so you don’t second guess different pieces.

But don’t stop there! As you practice at home, figure out where your strengths and weaknesses lie, so that you can focus on improving those weaker areas. If you put in the work at home, when it comes time to show, you’re not going to get nervous when certain obstacles or maneuvers show up in a pattern.

Have a Routine

The easiest way to calm your nerves, is by having a daily routine when you go to shows. There’s nothing more stressful than rushing last minute to make sure your horse is ready to go. Only for the energy you have on the ground to transfer into the saddle.

Whether you’re keeping your horse overnight at a show, or just trailering in for the day, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get there and get ready. Look at your show schedule to see what time you’re going to show. If you’re unsure, reach out to show management, they’ll be able to provide an estimate.

Make sure you have time to unload your horse, get him settled in with hay and water, and then start going through your checklist of what needs to be done. Do you need to longe your horse to let him get some of the freshness out? Need to saddle up and get into the arena so he can check out all the sights and sounds? Do you need to get your horse (and yourself!) cleaned up to show? Having a routine when you go to the shows can help you stay on time and be ready mentally, and physically, when it comes time to compete.

More Ways to Feel Confident in the Show Pen:
Plan to Win
First-Show Success
Don’t Forget to Smile

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