One size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to handling stress in the show ring. For some riders, watching as many rounds as possible before a trip helps to calm the nerves and solidify a strategy. For others, it only builds anxiety. Some competitors like to jam out to a pre-ride mix of Cardi B and Drake, while others prefer Chopin, Bach, and meditation tracks—or unplugging by themselves high up in the show rings stands.
There’s no right or wrong way to achieve the proper headspace before a round, but finding what works for your personal mental game isn’t always straightforward. Enter PonyApp’s on-call panel of U25 experts (and resident #cuteponyboys)—Eugenio Garza Perez, Mattias Tromp, Carlos Hank Guerreiro, and Cormac Hanley—who are here to share a few of their tried and true methods for kicking show ring nerves to the curb.
What method(s) will work best for you? Try all four to find out!
Strategy #1: Find a Routine You Like and Stick With It
“Before a big class, I usually do the same thing over and over again so it becomes repetition [and calms me down]. For me, that’s sitting down and listening to music. That usually helps.”
-Eugenio Garza-Perez (MEX)
Strategy #2: Practice Breathing Exercises to Train Your Self Control
“At the end of the day, it’s a mental strength to be able to have that control over yourself [and your nerves]. I think breathing exercises and things like that are there to help you master that. It’s an emotional muscle, [and] it takes time to strengthen it.”
-Mattias Tromp (USA)
Strategy #3: Watch and Learn, Then Focus on Yourself
“Walk the course and watch a few people, but if you go late in the class, sometimes it’s not beneficial to watch everybody go, because then you’re just thinking [too much] about it. Just make your plan, stick to it, and focus on yourself more than other people.”
-Cormac Hanley (IRL)
Strategy #4: Refocus With a Self-Prescribed Time-Out
“I try to go to a secluded place or a corner without my parents or friends or anyone for a little bit before I get on. I just try to breathe, and concentrate on my course, and not have too much built up in my mind.”
-Carlos Hank Guerreiro (MEX)