Whether it’s your first or your tenth entry into eventing, the mere thought can be a nerve wracking experience and, as with many other aspects of the work which you and your horse do together, preparation for the event is crucial.
There are many ways in which professional and amateur Eventers choose to prepare for a show and below are some vital tips which may help in ensuring the best possible outcome.
Obedience and Relationship
In any Eventing challenge, the most basic of essentials is obedience. Without this, the horse or rider may be injured as the rider attempts to direct or drive a stubborn or poorly behaved horse who can behave unpredictably.
This obedience and relationship will only come from a connection between horse and rider and therefore many riders choose to compete with a horse they know extremely well and can build a relationship with. They may only ride that particular horse and spend large quantities with them in order to develop such a bond or it may be that theirs is a natural rapport but without it there is no guarantee of any success.
Horse and Rider Fitness
Following from the relationship, the fitness of the rider and the horse is paramount. For the rider, they have to be able to put their horse through the paces and have the necessary posture and muscle tone to assist the animal but for the horse, the essence is in the condition of their heart and lungs along with their own muscle tone.
Many riders choose to prepare by ensuring that both themselves and their horse undertake a rigorous training and fitness routine. Regular riding may not be enough and specialist training to improve cardiovascular systems is just one of the preparations which may directly affect the outcome of the event. For the horse, a slow walk or walking exercise it vital to condition and harden muscles, whilst cantering should progress that fitness and aid the appearance. If riders don’t have the time they could think about horse and pony for loan schemes.
In dressage, judges are looking for harmony between horse and rider with smooth changes, differences of pace being clearly defined and straight lines being the order of the day. This requires practice on the grass surface which is likely to form the base of the competition and it is only through this practice that the horse and the rider will find the natural rhythm and special tactics such as studs in shoes that they will need in order to prevail.
Practicing around courses and keeping the horse happy and supple with athletic exercises and challenges are the ideal way to start practices for the challenge of show jumping. Many riders start their preparations for eventing by attending show-jumping competitions of a similar level but with a fraction of the pressure to give them and their horse a taste of the challenge involved.
Cross Country Riding
Above all, the horse should be used to carrying and used to travelling so cross country schooling, fun rides and general exercise as well as travelling to and from destinations will all help him get used to the pressure and be able to cope with any stress.
This is a guest post on behalf of Anna Wright who blogs on pony for sale schemes, equestrian property and the outdoors.