So you get nervous when you go to shows? It happens to everyone, there isn't a rider who hasn't been nervous at least once before walking into the ring. First things first, take a deep breath! If you know you have the ability to execute the course that you are about to jump (even if it is a bit challenging), then what is there to worry about? In order to prevent nerves at the in-gate, I first go over the course in my head from start to finish while keeping in mind what I'm going to do at each jump, or after each jump (For example if you know your horse might drift to the right going to or after jump 5, say to yourself "keep him/her from drifting at jump 5" or "opening left rein".) Another way to help prevent nerves is to know the horse's tendencies as best you can. Learning about what type of jumps the horse spooks at (like walls, liverpools, flowers or shadows around the jump), what side of the mouth the horse is stiff on, if one lead change is harder than the other, and which way he/she cuts, drifts, or swaps his leads, will make you more aware of what to expect when you enter the ring. As riders, we know the course before we enter the ring, but the horses do not. Your horse's tendencies will show up when you're practicing at home (whether flatting or taking a lesson) and in the show ring. From my perspective, knowing these details makes it easier to come up with a plan which can help reduce your nerves. I hope you find these suggestions helpful!
Tomorrow I will be answering some more questions and talking a bit about the upcoming Beacon Hill Classic.