Horse Show Jitters

I don’t show much. Maybe 2 shows a season, so most of my “horse time” consists of riding and working on head sets and gaits – the usual. Anyway, I have my little calendar planned out for which shows I can make it to, busy summer schedule and all. So, I had planned on going to Morgan Showtime, in Michigan this May. I let my trainer know that’s the show I could do this month, and she informed me that they were intending on going to Spring Show instead. Something about it being better for the newbie little kids that are showing – I dunno’. Anyway, I resigned myself to waiting for All Morgan, or some other show I’d have no shot in Haites of placing above 3rd – HA! So, this morning, I get a message from my trainer that goes a little something like this: “Hi Jenny, I got a call from (boarder) and she had something come up at work. It looks like everyone’s down for Showtime. Are you still interested?” My calm relaxing mood (Monday morning at work) immedeately switched to nervous, jittery and freaked out. My little horse show nerves are kicked into high gear – my heart *thump, clank, whomp* is in my throat. I can’t wait!!!!


Is anyone else afflicted with this disorder?

8 Responses to Horse Show Jitters

  1. empressive says:

    You bet!

    Many of us are. Including me. I get nervous sometimes. There are actually breathing techniques. Hm, can’t remember them, though.

    I basically talk myself out of being nervous. I am used to being in front of people so I will actually talk to my horse! LOL
    Out loud were everyone can hear me! You should have seen me at one of the shows last year! HA! This should make you laugh.

    It was a multibreed show mostly other saddlebreds though. I was in the last class of the morning and people were getting ready for lunch. I was warming up in the ring and talking to my horse.

    We were trying to collect and this kid had ridden her and put her out of whack. So basically I went from “Oh, boy lotsa trouble. Breath. Horse out of whack. Breath. Going to have trouble. Breath.” ect.

    To, “Get cher’ head in! 1,2,3 In In In!”

    Needless to say her head came in and she looked fantastic. Even my trainer was watching. So was everyone else! YES there was a group of people watching!!

    I went red and have become a quieter person for that. Everyone remembered me. And many people actually stayed for my class. It was funny.

    SO if you do try to talk to yourself, try it quietly. Besides that try not to worry! You will always have friends there for you too! Good luck!

    P.S. you are not alone! :)

  2. jns767 says:

    That’s funny Empressive, sounds like something I’d do. I’m always talking away to Bob – he can be a Bronco if he’s not lunged well before showing – that little poop took me for a Bronc ride this weekend, in fact. My trainer says I need to be rougher with him so that he’s ALWAYS a perfect gentleman. Le SIGH, I guess I’m a bit too soft…a great trainer, I am not. But, I trained him to what I need him to be, so that’s something.

    Anyway, about the jitters – I used to get physically sick, but now, it’s just kind of excitement, and a wee bit of worry. I don’t know why I do this – I don’t go to Nationals, it’s expensive and exhausting – why why why?????

  3. Beth says:

    I have a suggestion for you, based on years of struggle with show ring jitters. As I am a medical person this is actually Physiologically sound advice. The “jitters” you feel are a result of the stress hormone adrenalin. This is the “fight or flight” hormone that is produced bu your body in preparation FOR a stressfull event. Lets say you were a caveman being attacked by a tiger, you would have plenty of adrenalin to fight it off or run away! Alas, when you are preparing for the showring, there is no such threat, and you have to suppress all that, making you jittery. The real Unfortunate thing is if you have a sensitive horse, the horse feels your anxiety, they don’t know you are stressed because of the SHOW! the horse is wondering where the tiger is! See what I mean?

    The answer for me has been for years to burn off that adrenalin the day of my class as best I can before hand. Go for a walk or run, do jumping jacks, whatever. I have taught the kids in my barn to to the same thing so now the kids pester me to go. We call it “beth free longing the kids” (sometimes its hard to keep them under control :-). They even know they need it and its encouraged by our trainer.
    Try it, I am sure it will help.

    Oh, and if you see a 44 year old women walking a showgrounds in the northeast with about eight kids, thats me! Feel free to join us.

    Beth G

  4. Scottfield03 says:

    I am the trainer Beth was referring to, and I can tell you, her taking the kids out for a run/fast walk has had the single biggest impact on show nerves of all of the thousands of techniques I have tried. It really does work wonders.

    I think it also helps to really define a goal for the ingate and a goal for the outgate. Like, “When I get to the in-gate, I want to think about my speed, and when i get to the outgate, I want to think about my lower leg.” Modify it to you and your horse and MAKE your mind do it in the class.

    I have been in a lot of classes, and I know myself well enough to know that I get a wave of excitement/anxiety right when I am bridling the hrose. I also know that it goes away as soon as I get on the horse. When i was a young Jr Ex, that wave of nerves would cause a bit of panic that I was maybe going to ride nervous, and then I would get even more nervous, etc. Now that I know exactly when it will go away, it doesn’t upset me.

    Show AS MUCH AS YOU CAN! Find a pony, go to one day shows that cost you $50 and go in every class you can.

    Also, be careful how much time you spend in the warm-up ring. Less is definitely more. It is always a zoo in there, and doesn’t do much to settle nerves. I tell my kids and amateurs that if you can survive the warm-up ring, the class will seem like a breeze! In the class,w all go the same speed and the same direction. Not so in the warm up.

  5. denu220 says:

    I’m nervous as all get-out. I have my first show of the season next week…

  6. colwilrin says:

    I know this sounds really stupid but it helps me put things in perspective.

    Have you ever watched the movie, “The Birdcage”?

    There is a scene where Robin Williams is trying to teach Nathan Lane to be more masculine. He is spreading his toast, pierces it, and goes into hysterics. Robin Williams explains that it isn’t a big deal because “you can always get more toast.”

    Horse shows are like that. There is always the next class, next show, next season, next mount. No matter how bad you screw up…contrary to your belief, the whole world wasn’t on the rail, the mistake was not as big as it seemed to you, and no one will remember it by the time the exhibitor party is over.

    Believe me…I was once thrown out of 3 classes at one show. No one remembers it but me.

    So…as my best friend Tina reminds me before and after every class, I will also remind you:


  7. Scottfield03 says:

    The Birdcage is one of my favorite movies, and that scene is probably my favorite– just great! And I love the way you have applied it to the show ring!

    Along the same lines, we joke around in regards to a less than stellar performance that “10 million people in China just don’t care.”

    But I think i might have to start using “toast.” :-)

  8. colwilrin says:

    Yep…to put it into perspective some don’t even care about the good performances:

    In 2007 I was lucky enough to get to make a victory pass at OKC in a qualifier. It had been a dream of mine for a very long time and I was on cloud nine. To me, it was an important milestone.

    I got back to work after arriving home from the show. I came in and began telling the girls I work with about it. The answer was a very polite “That’s wonderful…could you please hand me that file? Oh, and while you were gone, we left your mail and assignments on your chair.”

    That was it!!! Non-horse people, sheesh….lol

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