How To Get Yourself and Your Horse Ready For A Competition

Spring is here! It is about time to start figuring out your competition schedule. Horse shows and competitions are a great way of getting yourself motivated to continue your training and improve your performance as a team with your horse. Besides bringing motivation, competing can be an opportunity to have fun, learn new things, and meet new equestrians.

If you want to compete this year and return home with the prize, continue reading! We have some cool tips to share with you. 

Step 1: Plan for the season! 

Create a list of the shows and competitions in which you want to participate. You may not be able to include all of them. If it is possible, we recommend choosing at least 2 competitions to attend. Choose a competition that won’t bother you if you fail or don’t perform well. Make sure this is the first competition you will attend this season. Then, choose an important one! The first competition will be important as well, but take it as a learning phase or an experience. Try to learn what your and your horse’s weaknesses are. You will have time to work on these weaknesses, until the second competition where you will perform much better!

Step 2: Preparing your horse

Preparing your horse for a competition is a long process that can take up to several months. If you competed last year and kept training so far, your horse's overall condition is most likely good. Either you trust your horse’s condition or not, you will need to build and keep up the strength, agility, and stamina as well as a perfectly shining coat. Here are some tips to prepare your horse for the upcoming show season:

1. Feeding: Starting from the moment you decide to compete, you should start working on your horse’s diet. If your horse needs extra training, his body will need more nutrients for the working muscles. Be careful not to overfeed as overfeeding a horse without enough exercise will only cause gaining weight as fat. You might mistake it with muscle development. A balanced diet prepared according to the fitness program will affect the performance positively and help the horse build stronger muscles which will help you win the trophy. However, every horse is unique and requires a different diet that will provide them the perfectly balanced nutrients. Make sure to talk with your veterinarian about feeding and learn if you need to make changes with the changing training program. 

2. Grooming: When it comes to creating a good impression in front of a judge, the coat of your horse is the first element. A well-groomed horse shows the professionalism of his barn and rider. Remember that a shiny coat comes from the inside, and it shows your horse’s health. You can start feeding coat-enhancing grains 2-3 months in advance. Keep grooming your horse every day, no matter if you ride or not. Grooming increases blood circulation under the skin and allows the skin to breathe so the hairs can grow healthy. You can also bathe your horse regularly but be careful not to use too much soap or shampoo. You can use these products once or twice a week. You should also consider protecting the mane and tail from any damage before the show. You can braid them to keep them safe. As another tip, clip the coat and cut the mane and tail around 3-5 days before the show. Here are some more grooming tips for you: GROOMING TIPS FOR A SHINY COAT

3. Gaining Strenght: Whichever discipline you ride, the fitness and wellbeing of your horse is the most essential element to success. If you want your horse to be athletic, you have to make sure he is working out with all the parts of his body. Focusing only on certain muscles just because you ride a certain discipline is a wrong approach. The horse needs all his muscles working in perfect harmony in any equestrian discipline. We recommend including short lunge sessions, stretching exercises, hill work, and some interval training integrated into your usual training with your coach. Please be careful not to exhaust the horse unnecessarily. Allow some free time and have fun together! You can read more about these exercises here: HOW TO MAKE YOUR HORSE STRONGER

Step 3 - Preparing Yourself

Once you are done with planning your horse’s preparations - because horses come first -, you can start preparing yourself for the season. You must be mentally and physically ready for it so you might want to start with defining your emotional and physical needs before planning your workouts.

1. Preparing Your Body: We, equestrians, are athletes just like in any other sport. Whatever discipline we ride, our fitness is as important as the fitness and performance of our horses. When both the horse and the rider are equally fit, this enables them to achieve their goals. Some equestrians tend to think that riding a horse is enough exercising for them. Yes, riding is an amazing workout. Yet, if you dream of bigger accomplishments, riding is not enough on its own. You should create an off-the-saddle workout schedule for yourself and stick to it. There should be exercises to improve your back, core, hip and leg mobility, and arm muscles. If you don’t know how to create a workout plan for yourself, you can get help from a fitness trainer.

2. Preparing Your Mind: Athletes need a strong mind! Since you want to compete, you need to be mentally strong. We are very well aware of the stress that comes with all the busy schedules during the show season. However, taking just 5-10 minutes off and trying to relax your mind can help you focus on your next training better. You can give a try to meditation - there are even free applications for this such as Medito. If you are not a fan of meditation, you can try to read a novel you like or just go away from everything and take a breather by yourself. Keep in mind that we do the sport for the love of horses, not for the ribbons. Turn deaf to destructive criticism and take the constructive ones with a will to improve.

Step 4 - Final Details

Finally, you will need to take a look at these details:

1. Vaccinations: Talk with your veterinarian to make sure your horse gets all the necessary vaccinations. Certain horse shows require different vaccinations. Check their guidelines before vaccinating your horse.

2. Get your papers ready: Rider’s license, your horse’s license, vaccination certificates, and a whole pile of other papers. Make sure to prepare your files in advance and have them somewhere that is easy to reach. 

3.Trailering and budget: If you have to travel a certain distance to participate in s competition, you should make your trailer and budget plans before. Get your trailer checked and prepared for the road before the show date. Also, make a plan of the expenses so that you can see what you can afford or not.



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