Luck of the Irish! Musings on How to Relax

I’m sitting at my computer tonight thinking about this past weekend. I was at the Emerald Classic in Katy, Texas. The show grounds are just a few miles from my house. This makes showing relatively stress free. I say that a bit tongue in cheek. It is less stressful but I’ve come to the realization that any show is stressful. This one turned out to be even more so than normal.
First the weather here has been awful. Now, it isn’t freezing cold like most of the country has been dealing with. No shoveling snow. But, our outdoor has been unusable for the past few weeks. This makes it very hard to work on my new 3rd Level Freestyle. Additionally when I signed up for this show I hadn’t intended to be gone the previous week. A trip to Wellington was in order though and off I went.
I returned home on Monday morning and went right to work. My freestyle came in that evening and I set to listening and digesting it in order to find my ‘marks’ for my transitions. I was able to ride the test once at home in our non-regulation indoor and off I went to the show on Friday.
Now, remember the show grounds are very close to me. My mare has been there multiple times since she was 3. She was okay on Friday but, Saturday she emerged as a firecracker ready to explode. This created a bit of a problem since we were scheduled to ride our Freestyle for the first time in about 45 minutes. After an hour and 40 minutes which included a walk around the whole show complex she settled enough for us to do 3rd Level Test 1. Success!
I went back to the stalls and started strategizing for Sunday. I did not want to cross off the whole show but, I also didn’t want to have the same experience I had Saturday. What I decided was to take the pressure off of both of us and do my tests; ‘hors concours’. Some of you may be asking yourselves; “What does that mean?” It is like auditing a course. You ride the test, you get a score and comments from the judge but you aren’t ranked or placed in the class.
What this meant to me was I could ride my tests without worrying about the results. I’ve always known that the hardest part of my job is to show. I’d never really realized how much I was letting the ‘fear’ of the score affect my riding ability. My husband said that I would regret my decision and probably get a great score. Well, he was right I did score very well on both tests. He is wrong though because I don’t regret my decision. I did ride well and I will do so again.
What I do regret though are the number of shows I’ve gone to and stressed over scores. I looked at the pro photo shots from my tests. I’m happy, I’m having a great time and better yet I did a great job. I vow to conquer stress for my next outing and ride for the joy not the score.

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