Telling your storiesfrom the stables to the fields

12 August,2020

Preparing for a return to competing… are you ready?

With many of us eager to return to competing or adventures out with our horses its worth spending some though to self-preparation so that you can make the best of your day out ad time with your horse. Here are 10 ‘top tips’ to give you the Equine Edge

1 Enter in plenty of time and plan ahead. With the new rules you must enter in advance to facilitate organisation and social distancing. Maybe this is a good opportunity to work out a competition and training schedule so you can prepare the best you can.Find out the arrangements for your venue and work out your route/timings – where will you park? What facilities will there be? Where will you warm up? What are the arrangements for collecting prize money and scores?

2 Think about who you take along as your helper… many riders may prefer to compete alone, while many may decide to take a helper. Make sure you have a good rapport; they know what you need them to do and can be a support to you on the day – a nervous helper isn’t sometimes ideal.

3 Organise yourself – clean out your lorry / trailer / car, check through your kit list, clean and check your tack over and consider taking spare items as it may be tricky to borrow kit. Have a grab bag with masks, sanitiser, gloves, first aid and medication should you need them and a travel first aid kit for your horse. Check your lorry and trailer tyres, start your truck or car, check the lights… don’t get caught out with a flat battery, check your tax and insurance is up to date and you have enough fuel. Its less stress to be prepared!

4 Work out your timings beforehand, plan backwards from your competition time, to when you will get on and warm up, when you need to tack up when you will arrive when you need to leave the yard when you will arrive at the yard. If you have a timetable to stick to there is less opportunity for stress and being late!

5 Learn your tests or course inside out – if you are competing in a dressage competition think to learn that test inside out, practice the movements, and run through the test. Visualise yourself riding the perfect test. ‘Feel’ the test in your mind. If you are jumping walk the course, then ride it in your mind, watch a couple of riders jump the course to double check your route and lines, then crack on… if other riders are having difficulties don’t dwell on their mistakes – learn from them!

6 Think about your warmup beforehand… work with your trainer to develop the best possible warm up for your horse. This will help your confidence but also means you are fully prepared to enter the ring. Warm up’s may change as your horse becomes more proficient – if things aren’t working change it!

7 Warm yourself up! We can all be guilty of focusing on the horse and not ourselves. If you have areas of stiffness think about how you can relax and stretch those areas. Focus on your breathing by spending 5- or 10-minutes heart math breathing. If you are particularly nervous go for a brisk walk, this will burn off cortisol which is making you feel anxious and clears your head. 

8 Don’t sweat the small stuff… things may happen that are out of your control. Focus on what you CAN work through and try your best to forget the rest. Remind yourself about the fun… this should be enjoyable so work towards making it that way.

9 Fuel up! Think about what you are eating and drinking on the day… a packet of Percy Pigs and a can of Red Bull is not a healthy start. Hydrate and have a balance of carbs and protein in healthy, easy to eat snacks. Your body and mind will thank you for it

10 And lastly… remember competing is meant to be fun! If you find that you have lost your nerve and are not enjoying your competitive days out, then find support. A fully qualified rider confidence therapist can help you unravel your concerns, plan, and improve your competitive results – and most likely your results too. If you would like more information on how I can support you please get in touch. 

Bonita Ackerman du Preez


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