Updated: Jan 27, 2022
I often hear that the most frightening place at a show is the warm up arena. This is where riders say they struggle to relax, as they feel scrutinised by what seems like a hundred onlookers.
Whilst we all know that there are a few self professed experts lurking between lorries in the car park, who have little more to do than judge - most people are simply there to prepare their own horses for the ring. They have their own plan, nerves and insecurities to manage.
It's empowering when the penny drops, and you realise that most people really don't care what you are doing (unless you ride out in front of them, naked) and the lurkers aren't actually competing themselves... so why would you give a second thought to their opinion?
’You will never be criticised by someone who is doing more than you. You will only be criticised by someone doing less.
Read that again.’
That is huge. Stop giving the 'lurkers' the power to influence your journey, goals and success. They may never achieve what you have already... after all, you are here, doing your best.
Take the time you have in the warm up arena to:
Stretch your horse and improve your connection using transitions. It's not the place to teach new moves, exhaust yourself or your horse, or start an argument.
Stick to what you are both comfortable with, breathe and take regular breaks.
Don't overface your horse with huge fences, or exhaust them by over jumping. Some horses only need a handful of fences before they jump a course, particularly if they are young. Be mindful of tired, sore muscles. Most of the time less is more.
Pass other riders left-hand to left-hand, be courteous and kind where possible and remember to smile. FUN FACT: When you clench your jaw, your whole body tenses up. When you smile, your whole body relaxes.
If you find yourself holding your breath, try gently humming. It's impossible to hold your breath when you are humming, speaking or singing.
Above everything, have fun, and remember that when you focus on the good things, more good things happen!