Be a Confident Showman: Tips From the Pros

How top competitors get it and keep it: Tips you can use to be a more effective showman

Todd Sommers

"When you start doing well and you start winning, you get a lot more confident. After I won my first Futurity in '91, that's probably when I first really started to feel it.

"Then I went back a couple times and placed, but didn't win. I wondered if the first time was a fluke. Plus, some people think you just won because you had a good horse.

'When I won again, I knew I could do this, and I really believed I knew what I was doing. Still, no matter how much you've won, you have to continue to work at getting better and getting better horses to be competitive. I figure if I don't win, then I didn't work hard enough.

"And, to be confident, you have to have your horse prepared: do your homework, work hard at home, have your horse doing good at home, and then go show what you've got."

Todd Sommers is a 2-time NRHA Futurity Champion, NRHA Derby Co-Champion, and USET Individual Silver Medalist. He is based in Whitesboro, TX.

Charlie Smith is a member of the NRHA Hall of Fame and has coached more than 30 competitors to World Championships titles. He is based in Ocala, Florida.

Jeremy Gates is an NRHA Reserve World Champion. Formerly assistant trainer to Dutch Chapman, he worked with Dutch to haul numerous competitors to NRHA Top Ten standings.

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Charlie Smith

"In any class, there are only a couple of riders who can win and another few who are dangerous--and could win. Even in a big class, you're really only competing against a very few horses and riders who have the potential to win. Everyone else is donating.

"To build confidence, practice like you would show: warm up, walk out to the middle, and spin. If you need to make a lot of small circles or do a lot of preparatory work, you won't have the confidence to actually perform the maneuver when required--and that's what showing is about."

Jeremy Gates

"In reining, you lose a lot more than you win. It's a mental game. You have to understand that and keep it together mentally. To gain confidence, you have to stay focused in the pen, read your horse, and determine--often within a split second--whether you can go on and show or be conservative and get through the pattern.

"If you start to think about communicating with your horse, and working as a team, your confidence will automatically increase."



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