Five tips to help you prepare for a horse show

I have come to love competing, but it hasn’t always been that way. Part of learning to love competing again has been developing a good pre-competition routine. Here are my top five tips for helping you to prepare for a horse show.

1. Set your goals

In the week prior to a competition I will determine what my focus for the competition will be by setting goals. I personally like to set goals that are based on performance not outcome. What does this mean? I don’t make goals to achieve a certain percentage or come in a certain place. Instead, my goal might be about having clear transitions in and out of the medium paces.

Outcome goals are tricky because you can’t control all of the variables that will influence your ability to achieve these. Additionally, achieving an outcome goal may not give you the information you want about your performance.

Prepare for your competition by setting performance based goals

2. Learn your test/s

Learning your test is important at any competition and you should start this fairly early. For smaller competitions I like to start this a week before my competition, for bigger competitions I’ll start two weeks out. In addition to learning my tests I also visualise riding through them as well as physically riding through them.

TOP TIP: talk through each movement in the test in order with someone checking each movement off as you say it. This will help to make sure you learn the correct movements in the correct order without missing any.

3. Stay on top of your pre-competition grooming

There are a few things you can do grooming wise in the lead up to your competition to help show your horse off. For me this includes:

  • Trimming a bridle path and cleaning up any longer hairs under the jaw. I like to leave whiskers on the muzzle and chin as these play a really important role in the horses sense of touch.
  • Clipping out white legs and all feathers. This really helps to clean up the overall turnout of your horse.
  • Trimming the tail up and dyeing if it’s looking a bit bleached

Once these things are done the day prior to the competition all you need to do is wash and plait up! Easy!

What a difference dying and trimming a horses tail can make

TOP TIP: Wash your horses mane a few days prior to the day you are planning to plait up. This will ensure that the mane is clean without being slippery and difficult to plait.

4. Prepare your gear

Have you ever pulled out your jacket for your show the next day, only to find out that it is covered in slobber and dirt from the last time you competed? Yup, me too. I now try to do this at the start of the week so that if anything needs washing, fixing or replacing I have plenty of time to get it done. I also find this saves some time when it comes to actually packing up the day before.

I’ve put together this handy list to help make sure you pack everything you need for competition day. Click here to download your Horse Show Packing List.

5. Make a plan for competition day

Know where you need to be and when you need to be there. As soon as I know my ride times I work backwards in my head to figure out what time I need to wake up. To do this, make a list of ALL of the things that you need to get done prior to actually riding your horse and then allot time to this.

TOP TIP:  always allow extra time for unforeseen events. Its much better to arrive early with time to spare then to be entering the ring without being fully warmed up.

Five top tips to help you prepare for your next horse show

PC: Cover photo by Flash Pony Photography