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We have all been there, the morning of your competition that you and your horse have been working tirelessly towards and the excitment soon shifts to nerves, anxiety and negative thoughts.


Everybody handles these emotions differently, and over time you develop your own strategies that help put these feelings on the backburner allowing you to crack on with the job in hand. Here, at Wolf London, we have compiled some tips and tricks we have used to help combat those pre-competition jitters!


Plan Ahead

Firstly, plan ahead! Allow yourself plenty of time on the day of the event by getting organised the day before.


-           Make sure your tack is cleaned, organised and in your lorry or car ready to go.

-           Have your route to the event established and leave in plenty of time to get the lay of the land and to walk the course, etc.

-           If you are getting into the groove with some dressage, make sure you are happy with your test, ideally already ridden out and any questions you have are answered by your trainer. Remember, no question is a stupid question, and your trainer will always want you to be asking for advice, as this is the best way to learn and develop understanding.

-           If you can (and your horse doesn’t make a point of wrecking them in the stable) plait up the night before as this can be a huge inconvenience when you are under pressure.


By making these preparations the day before, it will inevitably result in a massive reduction in stress and anxiety on the day that you just do not need. The day of competition should run like clockwork enabling you focus on yourself and your horse’s performance, putting into action all you have learnt in lessons and give you an edge on the day.


Know your gear!

This may seem like a trivial concept, however, trusting the equipment that you are using on the day will have a significant impact on your perspective on the day and will be one less thing to worry about. For example, don’t change your bit on the day of the event or make any dramatic changes to your tack set up, even down to the clothes and boots that you are wearing. It is important that you have ridden in the tack and your competition clothes or equipment at least a couple of times prior to a competition so that you don’t experience any last-minute hiccups that may scupper your positive outlook. As Tom Rowland recently said to us, (one of our brand ambassadors, who has recently ranked 7th in the 2024 Badminton horse trial... may we add) ‘I could never wear new breeches before an event, I need to know the product and how it feels before I wear them at an event’. This may sound like common sense, but it has the potential to raise your anxiety levels if a piece of equipment does not provide what is needed on the day.


Be optimistic

You and your horse have worked too hard in training to be let down by your negative thoughts and the ‘what ifs’. You are most likely attending the event because you have done the hard work, you know you have the capability, so get out there and do what you are there to do! Replace the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘that is a tough course’ for, ‘we can do this’, ‘let’s have fun’, ‘we are going to smash this’. These positive affirmations will see you through and will affirm what you already know. The bond between horse and rider is a force to be reckoned with, you have what most athletes in other sports do not have, your best friend, a partnership that you are facing the challenges with, embrace this, you are a dynamic duo!


Look after yourself

Most likely, you have ensured your horse has everything it may possibly need the night before, he or she has enjoyed their delicious (most likely, expensive) dinner, they have plenty of hay and water and have been tucked up nice and early, ready for a good night’s sleep. Make sure you are doing the same. You will not be doing yourself justice on competition day if you have not had enough sleep and you have not had a decent dinner and breakfast. So have a relaxed evening, eat your greens and get to bed to ensure you get a good 8 hours. You want to feel refreshed and ready to seize the day! A lack of sleep leads to a poor attention span, as well as a reduced ability in learning and processing. A lack of sleep has been compared to introducing effects that are similar to being drunk, such as slowing down thinking and reaction time, which of course is integral when learning a show jumping course and being on the ball when in the ring.


Your nervous, that is okay!


Remember, regardless of tips, tricks and strategies. It will always be inevitable that no matter what your level, you are going to experience some nervous jitters. You can bet your bottom dollar that no matter if you are competing at your local ODE or a 5* BE event, you will not be the only rider in the warmup feeling these emotions, it means a lot to you that you are reaching your goals and succeeding, so recognise that you are nervous and think ‘that is okay’ move forward, think your positive thoughts and shift your focus on the job in hand.



When you are anxious or nervous, it is a common symptom of anxiety that you will experience a shortness of breath (dyspnea), as a deal of studies have shown. Anxiety is a natural response to fear, and this is sometimes known as the fight or flight response. Your body reacts in a physical and mental capacity to prepare you to fight or to run in a potentially threatening situation. Of course, with anxiety you may not be running for your life, but your body can react as such as a natural survival mechanism. When you are beginning your showjumping course, 9 times out of 10 they will be playing music. So, as you are cantering round, focus on your breathing, zone into the music and even sing along, this will naturally regulate your breathing and will be more likely to shift your focus from your nerves and will calm your mind so that you can concentrate on getting a clear under your belt!


Overall, nerves can be your biggest enemy on the day of an event. Whilst these feelings are normal for athletes at all levels, there are ways to manage these emotions and the points we have highlighted above are just a handful that we have compiled together. Just remember, you and your horse are super talented, you would not have entered the event if you and/or you trainer did not think you are ready, so go out there and smash it!


Wolf London aims to be the catalyst for positive change within the equestrian industry, we pride ourselves on promoting inclusivity and providing accessible clothing for men in the industry, an example of which is our Men's Signature Alpha Breeches. whilst we have our Signature unisex hoodie available to both men and women, we will be introducing some new lines this summer, so keep your eyes peeled for updates… get hyped!


Wolf London




What would you like to see as our next blog topic?

  • Memory startegies (learning courses, etc)

  • Rider strength and conditioning

  • Badminton 24 recap with Tom Rowland


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