According to The Equestrian Channel, the U.S. horse industry contributes a whopping $112.1 billion dollars to the nation’s economy. From races like the Kentucky Derby to showjumping contests, equestrian sports are a significant part of life for many Americans whether they compete themselves or work in them in some capacity. Preparing for any kind of competition can be nerve-wracking, and equestrian ones are no exception. Here are three tips to help you and your mount get ready for yours.
Create a plan of action or training schedule. This should involve tasks from every event you anticipate entering and allow your horse to learn the moves. If you are participating in a dressage competition, draw out the motions and patterns.
This is vital for building movements into muscle memory and conditioning. Your horse needs time to learn not only the commands and motions but also the correct reaction time and the feel of your body moving with him or her. Try cantering, running, walking and trotting; build rhythm, strength, balance and endurance. Don’t run your horse into the ground. Start off with short periods of training and gradually build up to longer ones, making sure to give them a cooldown period after each session. Purchase needed equipment like barrels or a wing standard horse jump. Practice holding your seat properly.
Appearance matters in life and in horse competitions. Keep your horse looking nice. If he or she starts getting shaggy, do a full body clip or have it done. Groom him or her regularly. Research different braided styles for horses and learn to braid your horse’s mane. Make sure your tack and costume are neat, clean and repaired.
Do not wait until the contest is looming straight ahead to start getting ready. You should begin preparations, including planning, practicing and grooming, at least two months in advance to ensure both you and your mount are in peak condition by competition time.