BY IZZY FEINSTEIN
As winter circuits end and the first few days of spring emerge, equestrians everywhere turn their focus to the upcoming show season. Almost every horseback rider- junior, professional, and amateur alike- has at one point dreamt of having the perfect blue ribbon round, so how can this goal be achieved? Here are some ways you can mentally and physically prepare yourself for show season to set yourself up for success.
Set a goal or series of goals for the show season
This can be as simple as cantering a full course, competing in your first derby, or being called back to test for a medal in the BigEq. Work with your trainer(s) to come up with a realistic goal or set of goals for you and your horse(s) to work towards this summer. View Halloo journals are a great way to keep track of your goals for the show season.
Build physical strength
In order to be successful in the show ring, being physically fit to ride at your show level is important. However, be careful not to cross the border between pushing yourself and compromising your safety. Working without stirrups is a great exercise for the rider, and riding through grids or gymnastics can be beneficial to both the horse and rider. Using a Pessoa or lunging system correctly can also help horses build muscle.
Do not compare yourself to others
Each rider is at a different level and has different strengths and weaknesses, so do not compare your abilities to others. You are your only real competition, so if you are improving each and every ride you will be successful.
Have the proper equipment and clothing
Make sure you have the proper equipment and clothing you need to compete, and that everything fits appropriately. Check out The Plaid Horse Ultimate Horse Show Packing List for a full list of items you may need.
Remember it is not about the ribbons
Although winning a blue ribbon is appealing for many young equestrians, horse showing is not about the ribbons. Enjoy every second of the show, even if things do not go as planned, and use it as a learning experience.