I am so excited to present VR Guest Blogger Justine Tainsh’s first article and it’s just perfect for Horse Show Week!
7 Tips for Surviving the Horse Show Marathon
As equestrians, we all know that waking up before the sun to head to the horse show is inevitable, but it doesn’t mean we like it! Last summer I balanced a full time grooming job with my own riding and showing, which meant an average of 14 hour days in the barn at the horse show. I was still trying to catch up on sleep at Christmas time – I wish this was a joke, I really do.
I became even better friends with caffeine and best friends with the couch in the barn set up, and I learned some serious strategies to keeping myself ready and energized for when my own classes came along.
Whether you are balancing grooming with riding, multiple horses or just trying to keep your energy up–
1. Sleep When You Can – Seriously! Don’t sacrifice your sleep during a horse show; it is just simply not worth it. You are paying thousands upon thousands of dollars to be there and to compete, so you owe it to yourself, your trainers and most of all to your horse to be fully rested. I know that sometimes getting the full 8 hours of sleep is totally unrealistic, especially with crazy early morning classes at some shows. If you have a gap between classes and you’re feeling like you need to be a little refreshed, find somewhere to take a 20-minute nap. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
2. Hydrate – We’ve all heard this one a million times before but it is so vital I just had to add it in again. Drinking lots of water will help you retain focus and energy, plus I’ve read some studies suggesting that the more hydrated you are, the less your body has to do while you sleep, which means you feel more rested when you wake up! Double bonus!!
3. Take a little “you” time before your classes – If you have a large gap between your classes or you feel like it has just been a little “go-go-go” all day long, I find it really important to find a way to refresh and refocus before you step into the ring. If all you have is a minute or two, that’s fine! If it’s a half hour, even better! Grab a cool beverage and put your feet up for a bit, and just relax. For me, my favorite refocusing routine (especially on a hot, hot day) is to make a point of washing my face and cleaning up a little before my class. This only takes a minute and really helps me to refocus. If time isn’t of the essence and you don’t have time to do anything for yourself before getting on, just take a moment to pet your horse, breathe and have a sip of water.
4. Remember to Eat – Food is fuel, and eating is where you get your energy from. You wouldn’t let your horse go without food before a big day of showing so you shouldn’t think that is a good thing for yourself, either. I can consume probably about 4000 calories a day when I’m horse showing – seriously, ask anyone who knows me. Last summer whenever I showed up at the ring to put my girl in for her class, I downed a sandwich or a yogurt, or sometimes six. I’ve reached the point now where people get concerned if I don’t have food in my hand, and it’s become a routine joke with one of my coaches – he may be judging me, but I think its out of love… I hope. 😉 On the internet, particualary Twitter and the “eq anon” phenomenon I see so many girls talking about not eating at horse shows or something called a “Big Eq” diet. COME ON GIRLS, EAT! You will ride better. If you are surrounded by people who make you feel like eating whatever you want isn’t ok, punch them in the face, grab some ice cream and find better friends. I understand nerves are always a contributing factor, and sometimes we just feel too nervous to eat, so eating small portions at a time always seem to help with this.
5. Dress for the Weather –There is nothing more miserable than being at a horse show and freezing to death, so prepare yourself adequately. I always recommend layers. Hunter boots with the warm sock inserts are THE BEST for rainy days as they keep your feet toasty warm and dry. For the hot weather, it is just as important to prepare yourself. Sunscreen is vital, and a visor and a shirt with cooling technologies such as IceFill are great tricks for keeping cool. Whether the weather is frigid or ultra warm, dressing for it is the key to comfort.
6. Be a Team Player – Support your barn mates at the horse shows! If someone needs help getting tacked up on time or someone to walk with them to the ring and brush off their boots before heading in and you have the time, do it! Not only is it incredibly rewarding, but it is also a mutually beneficial system. If you help others, they will be more likely to help you out when you are in a bind, and that will help to greatly reduce your own pre-class stress.
7. Relax – If you are just showing one horse and don’t have to juggle grooming or any other tasks, take some serious time for yourself at the show. Take your horse on plenty of walks, sit in the shade, watch some classes and support your friends. If you are trying to move up, I always recommend walking the course and watching the class that you are trying to move up to. Trying to help others is always nice, but relaxing and making sure that you’ve had some time to yourself is even more important.
— Justine Tainsh