I’m sure this video will brighten your day, especially if you turn up the volume. Joey, the horse, begins to flee the show, and his owner attempts to calm him down. Because it was his first show, he was excused, which was a good thing. And maybe he’ll do better the next time.
Horse shows are generally enjoyable, but they can also be stressful. Let’s face it: a nervous horse at a show is one of the most stressful factors. Your voice cannot help your horse as much as, say, it can help your dog. With her calm voice, we can tell how helpful Joey’s owner was.
Also, even if you think you’re being calm, your horse can pick up on signals you’re not even aware of sending. According to recent research, even if you say reassuring things to your horse, such as ‘Easy, relax,’ it won’t help calm him unless your actions and body language reinforce that message. It’s less about the tone of your voice and more about how you interact with your horse.
Being abrupt with the reins, holding them too tightly, and gripping your horse’s sides with your legs are all ‘I’m nervous’ signals that your horse detects and responds to. Then, in a vicious circle, each of you feeds off the other.
The key, then, is to do everything you can to mentally prepare for the event so that you can feel as relaxed as possible during the show. This necessitates careful planning in advance. Understand the rules of the show and what your horse will be required to do. Learn which cues your horse responds to and how to use them effectively. Know when your classes are and make a plan to arrive at the gate on time. It also helps to have someone to assist you who is familiar with the routine and requirements. Then, once in the ring, ride like you normally would.