With the weather changing up, things are looking a bit warmer, and we can start to think about getting back out with the horses and getting some competitions back on the schedule once again!
Preparing for a competition can seem a little daunting, but with as with anything, keeping the right things in mind can make the run up to competition day much more relaxed and stress-free.
Preparation is Key
Getting ahead with preparations should be a priority even before you enter the competition! Keeping a good schedule for fitness and training is key to ensure a successful competition day, allowing you and your horse to be ready for any challenges that might come up during the day. Not only is it important for a productive and successful day, but it’s also key for safety; a tired horse going cross country or jumping can lead to them making silly and dangerous mistakes, and equally, the rider must be fit enough to stay sharp whilst on board.
Implementing a training plan early enough before the event day allows you to pinpoint and iron out any issues or areas of concern way in advance; for example, my youngster is working on raised poles to be more aware of his legs and focus on clearances when jumping.
Additionally, when it comes to dressage or show routines, getting the practise in early will help not only in memorising the routine so that it is spot on during the day, but also avoiding leaving it last minute will mitigate stress and pressure to both yourself and your horse during the run-up to the event. This is where you’d usually find me cantering around the living room practising!
Where’s my Gear?
When preparing for the big day, it’s not just the routines and training that you need to keep in mind; knowing where your gear is, and the condition it’s in, is just as important. Getting everything together in advance means that you won’t have to run around in the early hours of the morning trying to find a stud wrench or an overreach boot! Keeping everything together in something like a tack pack or a saddle carrier can be incredibly handy for ensuring that everything is together, clean, and in good condition ready for the next outing.
A Clean Horse is a Happy Horse
While horse hygiene and grooming can be a bit of a hassle sometimes, especially if, like me, you have a grey swamp monster, keeping on top of cleaning with a regular schedule will make life a lot easier during the run up to competitions. Instead of needing to scrub weeks of grease and dirt out, a simple quick spray with poo-stain remover and a decent brushing session can really do the trick. It’s also a good idea to plait up the night before too, to save that last minute rush.
The Most Important Rule
Even with all of this in mind, the most important thing to remember is to enjoy it! The majority of us run through competitions for fun, or as amateurs, and as with a lot of things it’s all too easy to feel bogged down when stress begins to take over. Remember to have fun with your horse and enjoy the competition day as it comes!
In conclusion, keep track of an effective training and fitness regime, keep tabs on all routines well in advance to memorise them early, gather and clean up all of your gear ready for the big day, and implement a regular hygiene and cleaning plan, and you’ll already be a good amount on the right track! If you want to check out more advice, why not take a look at some of our other articles here?
Take care, and best of luck on the day!