My most recent blogpost for Your Horse Farm was about tack trunk show essentials.
To help me compile the perfect list of must-have items to pack for a show, I asked my Horse Glam followers on Instagram for their input. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprising, wine was one of the top responses! More people ranked alcohol (to calm their show nerves) higher than brightening shampoo for their horse! As the alcohol related answers came pouring in, it really made me wonder why we equestrians put ourselves through such a stressful experience!? I will be the first one to tell you that showing makes me incredibly nervous. I feel nauseated a good week or more prior to the show! At the show, I can barely function and I feel most calm when I am taking herbal calming supplements! In fact, Rescue Remedy made my personal show must-have list!
I spent some time trying to pinpoint exactly what I am nervous about. Falling off the horse is definitely up there, as I am sure it is for most riders (and show moms!). Making a mistake, such as chipping a jump or missing a lead change, also gives me intense anxiety. The latter fear is just plain silly. Everyone makes mistakes, even the professionals, so it is ridiculous to let that fear keep you from enjoying yourself. Furthermore, who cares what anyone, except for maybe your trainer, thinks? Logically I know all this and it is just something I have to keep working on.
Falling off is another issue entirely and not one I think we can always prepare for. It is an inherent risk of the sport we love. As I thought about how to put this fear into a better perspective, a funny coincidence occurred! I FELL OFF! I didn’t just fall, I really fell off! Usually I can get right up but this time it hurt and I was much more slow to get on my feet. It knocked the air right out of me and a lot of confidence went with it too. Luckily I was able to get back on and try to end the ride with some dignity. After much epsom salts, pain meds and BioFreeze, I made myself come out the next day and I actually had one of the best rides in a while.
When talking about the fall, a friend who was there to witness the whole incident (and catch my horse), said, “See, you were worried about jumping but you fell off when you weren’t even jumping!” She is so right. I have so much anxiety about jumping and that isn’t even how I fell, which proves that one of my fears (falling) can really happen at any moment. She further said, “So basically you should just start jumping more since you could fall off cantering anyway!” This was funny, but also had some truth to it. If our worst riding fears can happen at any moment, why not make every moment count for something? Maybe it’s time to start taking action and not putting things that scare us off til tomorrow. I have decided I am going to start redirecting my anxiety into positive energy. I am going to believe that I can do it and be grateful for the opportunity to show myself and others that I can. I love horses and riding and it is silly to let these fears shape my experience. I am going to really try to ride out of my comfort zone this season, without the aid of alcohol (LOL), and I hope you all are along for the ride!
Andrea Wise graduated from Wake Forest University School of Law in 2007, where afterwards she spent 7 years as a commercial real-estate attorney. In 2012, she launched the equestrian company, Pony Glam, which makes and sells the only colored hoof dressing for horses. She is also the voice behind the new equestrian lifestyle blog, Horse Glam. Andrea lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, Zach, two young children, cat and horse, Chloe.