The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the 2020 show season. Horse shows have been canceled and postponed, and your show schedule is probably still uncertain. The entire season doesn’t have to be a loss, though. Use these four strategies to make the most of the show season, even if it’s not quite as you’d planned it.
You may have already planned out your entire show season, only to be slowly checking canceled shows off of your list. If you want to make the most of this season, start by reminding yourself to be flexible. Your spring show schedule has already changed and your summer schedule may continue to change, so rather than fight it, try to embrace it. Approach show dates as being tentative and be ready to adjust your schedule and your training as things change.
Change Your Goals
You’ll need to change or reframe your goals this season. You might have been working to advance up a level or to earn a certain number of points toward year-end awards. Those types of goals aren’t ideal this year, since there’s now so much out of your control that can affect their success.
Instead, think broader or more personal. Maybe your goal is to enjoy working with your horse this year, or to perfect your flying lead changes at home. Make it your goal to develop your strength and fitness as a rider, or to try something new with your horse, like training in a new discipline. Look for goals that you have more control over and that won’t be affected by the changing show schedule.
Check Off Your To-Dos
When you’re preparing for a show season, it’s easy to overlook some to-dos that may have been on your list. Have you been meaning to refine your horse’s responsiveness to your aides? Do you know that your equitation needs some work, yet never quite get around to perfecting it? Now’s your chance. With fewer shows, you can focus on those important fundamentals and elements that won’t just give you a competitive advantage, but that are also important to your relationship with your horse and your performance as a rider. Rather than working to get ready for the next show, take a step back and check some of those to-dos off of your training and schooling list.
If you are able to get to some shows this year, that’s great – but be forgiving with yourself and with your horse. This year’s show season is strange and unpredictable, so don’t enter every show with the expectation of a top performance. Your horse’s fitness, training, exposure, and schedule are all different this year, so keep that in mind. Focus on enjoying the experience of being out at the show without any of the pressure that you might typically put on yourself.
This year is full of change and uncertainty for all riders. While your show season might not resemble what you’d envisioned it to be, you can still make the most of it and have a good time with your horse.