I wrote earlier in the week about advice for your first horse show. Congratulations on getting out there and giving it your all. There is one more thing we want to do before we put your first show away in a scrapbook somewhere. We want to look back and evaluate what went well and what needed improvement.
You Should Be Satisfied With Your Results
You should not be beating yourself up over the results of your first show. Hopefully, you are thrilled with your results. If you aren't, that is okay. You should at least be proud of yourself and your horse for being brave enough to give it a try. So, no matter what, let's try to look on your first show as a positive experience.
Evaluate Your Riding
Think of each class you rode in. Don't think about what place you got. Think about how you felt with your riding during the class. If anything sticks out in your mind right away, something that you were really pleased with, write it down!
On the other hand, make a list of anything in particular that you know that you didn't do so well. It can be anything as simple as smiling and breathing to something more technical like checking your trot diagonal or canter lead.
Anything that you remember specifically about how you rode during the show that you are unsure of or want to improve on, should be written down.
Now Think About Your Horse
Now, instead of thinking specifically of yourself and your riding, I want you to think about your horse. How did he or she feel under you? Nervous, anxious, relaxed maybe? Was there any certain thing that he or she had trouble with? Did he spook? Did you have trouble controlling your speed in a group of horses? Did he cut corners?
Re-ride the horse show in your head and write down everything that you remember that your horse did well, as well as a list of the things he or she did that could use improvement.
Now Think About The Show Day Itself
Did you leave yourself enough time to warm up? Did you have all the tack you needed when you got there? Was there something you wish you had brought with you? Maybe more hay for your horse's hay bag between classes, maybe an easy up tent for yourself to have some shade? Maybe you didn't pack enough drinks and snacks. Or maybe you needed a warmer jacket for when you weren't riding or clothes to change into after you rode.
You want to think of all the things you could have done or brought with you to make the show day roll more smoothly and less stressful. You'd be surprised how worth it itis to take time and really think things through. If anything, it is better to go over prepared than under prepared!
Come Up With a Game Plan for Yourself Moving Forward
What exercises can you do to improve upon those things you mentioned about your riding that needed improvement? If you are not sure of specifically what to do, ask your trainer. They can give you homework after each lesson to help you continue to work on things between lessons. Having specific plans and exercises as you move forward will help you to see faster progress.
Come Up With a Plan for Your Horse
Think about what your horse needs to work on. Do you need to get to more different places and experience different things to learn to relax?
Maybe you specifically need to practice certain things to help your horse be more prepared for the show environment—things like riding in a ring with a lot of other horses or jumping over colorful spookier jumps. There are a million things that are different about the environment at horse shows than at your barn at home. Think about what caused your horse the most problems. Talk with your trainer, and come up with a plan for what you can do to help acclimate your horse to the show environment while you are at home.
Practice Makes Perfect
There are a million things you and your trainer can work on. Things to help both you and your horse to be more prepared for your next show. The more prepared you are, the more relaxed you will be, which in turn will help keep your horse relaxed. It makes for a better experience all around.
Keep up the good work. The more you work on yourself and your partnership with your horse, the more successful you will be at the next show. Remember, getting good at horsemanship is a journey, so never stop learning.