Guest Blogger: Tackling Pre-Show Nerves with Olivia Reiskin

Hi Friends!
I am SO excited to kick off our guest blogger series with Olivia Reiskin, who discusses how to manage those pre-show jitters we all encounter at one time or another. Olivia competes in the 3′ hunters and equitation with her horse Touch of Magic aka Dani. Olivia and Dani train with Christina Rohan of Merry Mount Farm, but she also has her own facility, North Rock Farm, where you can find her and Dani most of the time (usually sharing a pack of Sour Skittles!) Olivia also has a passion for photography and you can find her at A shows throughout the northeast building her portfolio for OKR Photography.

Olivia & Dani at the Massachusetts Horseman’s Council Finals
We all know that our first “A” rated show can be scary, even terrifying. I know, personally, the second my mom and I pulled into the Saratoga Springs Horse Show grounds, my heart beat out of my chest. Not only was it my first show EVER on my new horse, Dani, but it was my first “A” rated show as well.Lets start with the basics. It’s always a wise decision to school in the rings the day before. I was relieved when I found out that I was only showing in one ring, but still let my trainer hop on Dani beforehand so that she could get around the ring and warm up area with no spook. Going back this year, I will definitely do it more myself, but it was a smart decision to let my knowledgeable trainer take her around the grounds and ring before I did. Just remember, breathe, especially if it’s your first A show, and possibly your horses, just remember that your horse may not go like they will when you’re showing. Make sure to flat them both in the warmup area and the ring(s) you’ll be showing in, and show them everything! Most times, they put in the fill and the jumps that you will be jumping, so let your horse sniff and hack around it, as personally, my horse is known to think that flowers are very terrifying!

Make sure before you leave that night, everything’s ready. Your horse should be lunged if needed, your tack clean and shiny, your show clothes washed, and your boots shined to the max! They judge turnout more seriously at these shows, so don’t be lazy, and make sure you look your best.

Once you’re at the house, hotel, or wherever you’re staying, make sure to eat a healthy, balanced meal. I can’t stress enough the amount of times my meal has gotten in the way of my riding, from headaches, to stomachaches. Make sure you eat a healthy meal, even if you’re not hungry! After a day full of schooling or showing, you’re most likely just past your hunger, even if you’ve been snacking all day. As well, make sure to eat throughout the day of showing, and drink water! Make sure to go to bed early. I usually will go to bed around 9-9:30, because I will have to get up around 5:30 the next morning. Even if you aren’t “tired”, or staying up later feels nicer, trust me, once you hear that alarm go off, you’ll regret the extra minute that you were on your phone, snap chatting, or scrolling though your feed on Instagram.

Always make sure to double, triple, quadruple check your horse for spots you missed grooming, or a braid with shavings. You want to make sure that your turnout game is on point, and you won’t get dinged. Once you’re ready to learn your course, visualize you packing around with perfect distances, staying out in the corners, and lead changes. Visualizing mentally helps you put in a positive round, and puts your mind in the place that it should be.

Once you receive the results, if you didn’t place, don’t panic. Many riders even in the 2′-2’6 divisions have VERY fancy hunters or equitation horses, that the judge may prefer. Just because you didn’t place, didn’t mean you didn’t ride well. Don’t let a placement get in the way of you turning in another flawless round or showing off in the hack. Remember, a judge may like you another day, you never know!

I know that A shows can be stressful and tiring, but fun! Always have fun while riding and showing! If you have any more questions about how I deal with nerves or any other A show related tips or tricks, feel free to contact me on Instagram @gallopingpaint! Happy Showing!

Interested in participating as a guest blogger? Contact us or send us a DM on Instagram! We love making new friends!

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