The Morning After: Why Post Horse Show Depression (PHSD) Is a Real Thing and How to Cure It

Photo courtesy of Amy Nelson. Photo courtesy of Amy Nelson.

Your adrenaline-fueled cross country round is complete, show jumping is over, you’ve packed your trailer in a sleepy haze and are headed home. How long will the Horse Show High last? Not long. Then it’s back to work, back to normal, on a Monday. And you’re depressed.

Where exactly did this depression come from, and how can you cure it? Well, not to say an event is anything like having a baby … but in a way, it is. There’s a big build-up in the months leading up to it. There’s preparation. Physical exertion. You pack bags of items. You wait and wait, until on that special day, when your horse show is to arrive, it’s so exciting!! There’s adrenaline. There’s pain. There might be tears.

You definitely have not slept enough. Even the immense joy of bringing home a brand new bundle of prizes and ribbons is short-lived. And when you return to the daily struggle of laundry and bills and work, you get depressed.

What’s the cure?

Step 1: Pictures!!!

Ease the pain of PHSD by looking over your photos and video of the event. Be sure to post them on social media — the support of friends will help soften the depression. This could help a lot in the first week, especially if you didn’t get a ribbon. Or didn’t even finish. But look at that amazing dressage test! Look at your form over that fence! Nice work my friend.

Step 2: Have a plan.

Start looking at your calendar for the next event or, at the very least, the next local jumper/dressage show. The excitement of the new plan helps tremendously!

Step 3: Take lessons.

While your show is fresh in your mind (and you’re dwelling on that awful drop into water or the horrible triple combination and how your horse knocked down two rails), set up a lesson! Work on what needs attention, and be proud of what you did well.

Step 4: Pack for your next event. Here … we … go!!!!

And REPEAT.

But the good news is, you’re not alone. We all get Post Horse Show Depression. The bigger the show, the worse it is. So get going on the cure!

Amy Nelson has been riding hunter/jumpers and eventers for 25 years and is based in Rochester, IL.  She retrains OTTBs, problem horses, and trains eventers at her own show barn, Hummingbird Stables.  She competes with OTTBs in upper level eventing, has qualified for the AECs at many levels, and has competed in the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover.  Her goals are to compete at the one-star level this year, and eventually four-star. You can follow Amy on Facebook here and on Instagram at @amynelsoneventer. Read more of her “Eventing Shorts” on EN’s Blogger’s Row

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