Hear Me Out Here: Your Horse is Flying to Finals Better Than You

West Coast life is comfy. The shows are nice, the weather is not too shabby. There’s a lot of wine. Most of the time, the shows are within driving distance, and if not, it’s usually just a short commuter flight or helicopter ride away. However, finals time is upon us, and that means it’s time for a select few – those who have slaved away at show after show, worn hunt coats when it was way too hot, and put in the time.

Oh yes, it’s time for finals, year-ends, and indoors. But how are you getting there?

Whether you’re simply heading upstate for region or state championships, or crossing half the country for the likes of Capital Challenge or The National Horse Show, travel is one element of the fall horse show season that is a serious drain on energy. When you have a ton to worry about as it is – and you do, with packing, prepping, and getting your physical and mental game on par – dealing with cramped seats, endless connecting flights, and the huge pain that is booking flights and rental cars all just sounds, well, terrible.

Your horse is good to go. He (or she) is going to ride in VIP style on cushy horse van or on a semi-private plane, set to go to precisely his destination. Food, water, wraps, a nice sheet – he’s all set to arrive rested and with his game face on. Meanwhile, you’re running through your third airport to avoid missing your connection, shoving a Big Mac in your face and ordering a $12 chardonnay in a plastic cup in the air to calm your nerves. Not ideal. Why? Because you’re an athlete (yes, you) and you happen to participate in a sport that is not only physically demanding, but hugely mental. You need sleep, peace, quiet, and to just be able to focus on getting sharp, centered, and ready to rock every round.

Here are a few secrets I’ll let you in on when it comes to traveling to year-end shows in style:

1. Choose your transportation wisely. 

If there’s ever a time to spring for a better way to travel, this is it, especially if you’re covering quite a bit of ground. For shows a few hours away, look into a helicopter charter – it’s actually more affordable than it sounds, not just for Bond villains, and is a super easy way to spend more of your time at work, home, and the show than in a car. If you’re heading back East, think private air charter. Again, not just for socialites. If you’re already covering your trainer’s airfare and your family’s, why not buddy up with another equestrian headed to the same show and go in on a small private craft? It’ll pick you up, drop you off, and offer the added benefit of a much more well-rested, clear-headed, happy you upon arrival. Pro tip: our go-to for all of the above is QIS Aviation – they’re all about service and personalization, which is what you need here. They make traveling genuinely easy, and the transit itself actually enjoyable. Plus, you will become your trainer’s new favorite client, which is always a bonus (joking…or am I?).

2. As much as it pains me to say this, don’t drink on the flight.

Trust me, it’s almost against my moral code to say this, but drinking any sort of alcohol on the plane ride to the show is going to do you a diservice. The plane ride back? Absolutely. But, when you’re en route, your best best is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate and…

3. Get some sleep (or at least take it easy).

It’s hard to avoid the urge to pull out your laptop, tablet, or phone on a long drive or flight and get some work done. But you know what? Cut yourself a break. Savor the transit time as a chance to catch up on sleep, zone out to a movie, or read a good book – or, you know, all of the above. Pack some magnesium powder to mix into a cup of hot water, a good eye mask, a cozy blanket, and get resting. This is also a super time to pop on guided meditation audiobook or podcast and work on your mental game prior to competition.

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