COMPETITION TIPS

“WINNING DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN BEING FIRST. WINNING MEANS YOU’RE DOING BETTER THAN YOU’VE EVER DONE BEFORE.”
Bonnie Blair (US Olympic gold medal winning Speed-skater)

USE THE BUTTONS TO SKIP 
TO A SPECIFIC SECTION

CHOOSING THE RIGHT SHOW

BGM_3572-Edit.jpg

Are you new to competing??  

Then Choosing the right show is really important!

This is really important to make sure that you and your horse have the best time going to your show.  So, firstly think about what you want to do.  Below are some useful questions to ask yourself to make sure you find the right competition for you!

🔹 Do you want an affiliated or unaffiliated competition?

🔹 What level do you want to compete at?

🔹 How far are you willing to travel?

🔹 Do you want Grass/ Indoor/ Outdoor arena?

🔹 Busy show or quieter show?

🔹 How many classes do you want to do?

🔹Do you want a single discipline show or multi?

When we go to a competition we want to feel as prepared as we can be.  We also want the day to be a stress free as possible, so making the right decision on the right show to go to can make all the difference!  As an example, if your horse isn’t used to being ridden on grass and you go to a competition that is on grass, the horse may struggle a little with coordination and balance, which will affect performance and could knock both your confidences!  The same if the horse has never been in an indoor arena before!!  This doesnt mean we shouldn’t do it, but maybe we could help by practising on grass, or hiring an indoor so at least the horse has experienced it before.



BEFORE YOU GO

So you’ve found your competition and you are getting ready to go.  Check out our handy competition checklist to make sure you have everything you need for your big day.  I try to do as much of my prep the day before to keep it as stress free as possible and to ensure I have everything i need ready for the day with no last minute panics.  

ARRIVING AT THE SHOW

On arrived at the venue, take some time to make sure you know where everything is.  Knowing where the warm up, arena, toilets , secretary and cafe are is vital!!!  Remember at some shows, you may need to declare you are there and show your passport.

THE WARM-UP

Knowing what we are going to do when we enter the warm up is the key to staying focused and performing well.  Below are some key points on doing your best in the warm up

850_1450.jpg

🔹 Have a “warm up routine” that you do at home and know how long it takes - this helps you and your horse get straight on with something that feels very normal and that you know works, and you’ll know how long you’ll need to warm up.

🔹 Make sure you know the rules of the warm up (see warm up rules resource)

🔹 Don’t get involved in anyone else’s “Drama”

🔹 Be aware of where you are and what others are doing around you

🔹 Remember to add walk breaks in so the horse has a chance to stretch and relax

🔹 Don’t try to “fix” or “train” things at the warm up - training is for at home, if you don’t know it by now, you shouldn’t be trying to train it in the warm up!

Knowing what we are going to do when we enter the warm up is the key to staying focused and performing well.  Below are some key points on doing your best in the warm up

🔹 Have a “warm up routine” that you do at home and know how long it takes - this helps you and your horse get straight on with something that feels very normal and that you know works, and you’ll know how long you’ll need to warm up.

🔹 Make sure you know the rules of the warm up (see warm up rules resource)

🔹 Don’t get involved in anyone else’s “Drama”

🔹 Be aware of where you are and what others are doing around you

🔹 Remember to add walk breaks in so the horse has a chance to stretch and relax

🔹 Don’t try to “fix” or “train” things at the warm up - training is for at home, if you don’t know it by now, you shouldn’t be trying to train it in the warm up!

🔹 Be aware of any running early or late that may be going on.  Remember - you can volunteer to go early, but you can’t be made to go early, so don’t ruin your chances by feeling pressured.

🔹 Remember to leave the warm up to take boots etc off, to put your jacket on etc and if you want to stand and talk to someone (not recommended anyway as you can loose focus!)

🔹 Make sure if you are riding with a long whip, that you have it under control and that you aren’t “touching” other people or their horses with it!

🔹 If you have been warming up with boots on and if you have had to put your jacket on etc, make sure you give you and your horse some time to continue warming up after you have stopped to do this.  This will ensure that you are both at your most “ready” when you go to the ring.

TIME TO SHINE!

So, the time has come to get in that arena and strut your stuff!!  Have a look at the tips below to see how to do your best

🔹 Remember this is fun, and you can only go and do your best.

850_1641.jpg

🔹 Be polite and courteous to other competitors leaving/coming in to the arena

🔹 Be polite and courteous to all judges and officials

🔹 Aim for excellence NOT perfection

🔹 One mistake is exactly that, behave like the pro you are, don’t let it register and continue on in a calm way!

🔹 Don’t give up - if it all starts to go wrong, stay calm and just reassure your horse and work through it the best you can

🔹 Stay focused on your performance, don’t be distracted by what others are doing

🔹 Remember to breath and smile

🔹 Always end your performance on a good note

AND BREATHE!!!

So, your class is done, you can let out a sigh of relief and head to the bar! (Joking!). But before you do, remember these:

850_1728.jpg

🔹 If you are at a competition that requires a tack check, present yourself to the steward, be polite and courteous and remember don’t undo or fiddle with any of your horses tack etc before they have seen you.

🔹 Take your horse off to cool off properly (unless you are about to go for round or class 2).

🔹 If you are going to cool down properly, then take this time to reflect on your performance.  Think of 2 things you liked about your performance and 1 thing, if you could do it again, you would like to do better.

🔹 If you are about to go back in to the arena to perform again, give your horse a short walk break, remain focussed and get your head back in the zone!

🔹 We can only improve by reflecting and learning from our mistakes, so if we want to get better, we need these experiences.

🔹 If you are at a competition that requires a tack check, present yourself to the steward, be polite and courteous and remember don’t undo or fiddle with any of your horses tack etc before they have seen you.

🔹 Take your horse off to cool off properly (unless you are about to go for round or class 2).

🔹 If you are going to cool down properly, then take this time to reflect on your performance.  Think of 2 things you liked about your performance and 1 thing, if you could do it again, you would like to do better.

🔹 If you are about to go back in to the arena to perform again, give your horse a short walk break, remain focussed and get your head back in the zone!

🔹 We can only improve by reflecting and learning from our mistakes, so if we want to get better, we need these experiences.

TACK CHECKS

If you are at a competition that requires you to have a tack check its a great idea to be fully ready for what will be required.  I always train my horses from young to allow someone to examine them, so when it comes to it, it won’t be anything to get stressed by.  

The tack check itself will check the following:

🔹 The bit - the steward will insert fingers into the horses mouth to check the horses mouth piece for legality, correct fitting and for any damage etc

🔹 Noseband - the steward will use their fingers to test the tightness of the noseband

🔹 Horses sides - the steward will run their hands along the horses sides where the riders legs are to ensure there is no blood/cuts etc

🔹 Riders Boots & spurs - the steward will feel the ankle part of your boot and any spurs you may be wearing to check for legality and for rough edges

🔹 Ear bonnets - If your horse is wearing an ear bonnet/fly veil, this will be required to be removed and given directly to the steward to be checked.  They may also want to check the horses ears to see if they have had sound mufflers put in.

Preparing your horse for Tack Checks:

🔹 Ensure you can happily place your fingers into your horses moth and have a feel of the bit - this may take some time for your horse to be relaxed about.

🔹 Once you can comfortably place your fingers in your horses mouth, ask a friend or instructor etc to see if the horse is happy for them to.

🔹 Also make sure your horse is happy with you and others placing your fingers in the noseband

🔹 If your horse is particularly sensitive its also a good idea to get it used to having its sides touched

🔹 If you use fly veils, try to get your horse used to having it removed while still wearing the bridle.

🔹 Once the horse is comfortable with all of this on the ground, the next step is getting  the horse relaxed enough to have this done while you are mounted.

USEFUL RESOURCES

COMPETITION CHECKLIST

Organisation of competition days is key and can be a real winning formula to keeping you cool, calm and collected. We’ve designed a competition checklist for you to either print or keep on your phone which you can tick off what you need.

WARMUP RULES

💠 Always pass left to left

💠 Walking should be done on the inside track

💠 Lateral  and counter canter work takes priority on the track in any pace

💠 No halting on the track

💠 No riding too close to others, either behind or to the side

💠 Be aware of stallions, young horses, horses that kick etc

💠 Whips should be no longer than 120cm (BD) and must not touch other horses

💠 No stopping to remove boots/jackets or for a chat unless absolutely necessary

💠 No lunging