My pony doesn't handle going into start boxes.. crazy as he is and always has been an eventer and loves his xc but he just absolutely spazzes and starts rearing and running backwards - won't go near the box no matter what.
So as I have to get off him and lead him in, and once he's in he stands like an angel!
When they're counting down I just think about getting on and getting set to go and by the time i'm ready it's usually time to leave!
With my others I just think over the course and get rid of all negative thoughts, talk to the horses, and head off in a nice strong canter. :)
I say a little prayer before I get in the start box (I'm not at all religious) but I pray my horse and I will return safely, that I make the right decisions and I do my horses justice.
Once in the start box, I get so nervous I wonder where the nearest toilet is LOL
Once I'm out of the start box - its all on!!
I walk Riley around until they get to the 10 second countdown, then I walk him in. We're working on just walking in, he gets excited and normally puts in a little jumpy rear but then walks straight in.
I face him towards the back, and turn him around at 2, and when they say have a nice ride I just squeeze him forward. I don't put too much thought into what speed we do out of the box, I just ask for a nice canter.
There's never normally anything running through my head, I'm just excited about getting out on the course!
Zip and I went to our first few events this year, and the start box wasn't an issue. I just chill out, we walk around on a loose rein in the last minute, staying near it, looping through it at a walk, and I always remember to BREATHE! As the seconds count down, I walk through the box one last time, timing it just right that I take one step out at a walk, then pick up my trot, ask for a canter, and approach my first fence quietly. I'm a firm believer that by letting your horse explode as you wait to start is just going to end up getting you or your horse hurt. Taking one step at a walk and a few at the trot will take at most three seconds longer than it would to come out in an explosion, and those three seconds pay off for your course. Establish rhythm, control, make sure you have brakes, all the things that make a great ride, and (assuming you've walked your course a few times) you know where you can ask for a faster pace than that which will get you at time. It's three seconds, easy-peasy to make up, especially at the low levels. As you move up, of course you can come out trotting and canter right away, but it's important to establish control and ease at the lowest levels- definitely pays off to stay calm later on. =]