Horse Show Mental Preparation
Ten tips from trainer Shannon MucCulloch-Verdier that'll help
you quiet your nerves and mentally prepare for the horse show
By Shannon McCulloch-Verdier with Patty Roll Brumley
Mental strategies can help you focus for success.
Photo by Darrell Dodds
In the June 2005 issue of Horse & Rider magazine, Carol Metcalfe
shared her stay-cool strategies for the horse show ring. Here
are 10 more tips to add to your pre-ride routine to help you
1. Think of your mental energy as liquid in a bottle and never
waste it. Don't sweat the small stuff, or you'll be using up
your mental energy on things that don't matter, when you should
be reserving your energy for the show ring.
2. Don't compare yourself to the competition. It takes your
focus off your own performance.
3. The playing field is always equal. If you're worried about
bad footing, for example, remind yourself that everyone else
will be facing the same problem.
4. Control what you can, let go of what you can't. You can
control how much sleep you get, how much time you have to warm
up your horse and how organized you are.
5. Get organized and use a game plan. Waiting until the last
minute creates unnecessary stress. Make a to-do list, laminate
it and post it where you can see it and check off what you've
6. Compete with yourself. Establish a standard of excellence and
strive for it. Remember, the judge's approval of your
performance isn't the ultimate barometer of your success.
7. Never stop showing. If you make a mistake, correct it and
ride on like nothing ever happened.
8. Take ownership of the outcome. Make yourself responsible for
9. Set realistic goals. Goals must be specific, measurable and
10. Surround yourself with a positive environment. Block out
negativity and distraction. If anyone affects you
negatively--whether it's your spouse, a friend or even your
trainer--find a way to confront that person and overcome that
affect, even if it means avoiding the person until you're able
to regain your focus.
These tips were excerpted from an article that ran in the
January 1997 issue of Horse & Rider magazine.