A Confident New Year

Five tips to make 2023 your most confident year yet!

Stepping into the show pen with confidence is something we all strive for. We have been told time and time again to “just be confident” when we go into the show pen. However, as simple as it sounds, developing confidence isn’t as easy as turning on a light switch. Confidence takes practice, belief, and results to be felt. While we sometimes must fake it until we make it, the following tips will help you step into confidence with ease this new year.

Prepare Before You Get There

“Proper preparedness prevents poor performance.” This is one of my favorite sayings because it holds true every time; when you know you have properly prepared, you know that you can properly perform. What does it mean to “properly” prepare though? In the world of competition, it is hard to replicate exactly what you will encounter when you hit the pen, but you can practice every maneuver that could be asked of you. Practice your transitions, your turns, your speeds. Anything that you believe could be asked of you during the show, be sure to have it dialed in at home. Do things that may be more advanced than what you will be asked so that when you are asked for a simpler maneuver, you feel like you can knock it out of the park. Know your horse’s quirks and preferences so that you may adjust to fit their needs when game time arrives.

Plan It All Out

Arrive at the show with a rough plan of how your days will run. Have an idea of what time you will need to be at the barn to prepare your horse, know how much warm up time you will need before you go into your class, and know your patterns. While we all know that horse showing is a lot of hurry up and wait, knowing approximately what time you will show and being able to get your horse ready in time will give you confidence for your performance.

Visualize a Successful Run

As mentioned above, knowing your pattern is one of the key elements to being confident in the pen. Take it to the next level by scoping out the arena the day before or morning of, so that you can set out reference points for your run that will keep you on track. Visualize yourself performing your pattern from two different perspectives, one from the back of your horse and one as if you are watching yourself ride. When you are visualizing your run, imagine how it will feel to perfectly execute each maneuver. Imagine the cues that you will give to your horse to have them give you the desired result. Play this through your mind over and over so that way it becomes almost second nature. This will give you confidence when you step into the pen when your name is called.

Surround Yourself with Uplifting People

An often underrated source of confidence comes from the people you surround yourself with. It is amazing how you can be influenced by another’s words and attitude towards your potential performance. Being with a trainer and barn family that encourage you to do your best and believe that you can perform to your highest ability is crucial. When you are stressed and begin to feel doubt creeping in, lean on these people to help boost your confidence. They can remind you of past successes or remind you how much work you have put in to be ready for your show moment.

Take Care of Yourself

We put so much effort into making sure that our equine partners are taken care of, oftentimes we forget to care for ourselves. It is important at a horse show to be well rested and well nourished. Lack of sleep can impair your judgement just as much as poor nourishment can. Set yourself up for success by adding these things into your preparation plan before you get to the show. Know which snacks will provide the best brain fuel to get you through the day. Know how much sleep you need and try to schedule a nap if it looks like it will be a long day. As always, remember to drink lots of water!

Confidence can wax and wan throughout a show, but don’t let a little dip get you down for long. Think back on these five tips to get you back up and running and in the game. If things don’t go your way, think of it as a road map to make you better for the next show. Every show will teach you how to better prepare and give you confidence that you are getting one step closer to your highest achievement. Best of luck this year! Go out and enjoy your horse.

By Lauren Stanley