What to do with your horse in between events
Posted on 12 August 2015 by Laura
‘What to do With Your Horse in Between Events’
We all love getting out and about to competitions with our horses, but what about the bits in between? What do you do with your horse to prepare for the next outing and keep the enthusiasm up when working at home? Here are my top tips for keeping you and your horse on the right track:
- Plan ahead. Work backwards from the date of your next competition and organise what you need to fit in within that time – you don’t want to end up doing gallop work or cross-country schooling the day before competing! The level you are competing at will dictate how often you need to do gallop work – in the run up to a 3 day event I will do it every 4 days but for one day events galloping once a week should be sufficient, although this does depend on the type and breed of horse obviously.
- Work on your weak areas. Use the time in between events to practice anything that you found particularly difficult during your last outing – this could be a specific movement from a dressage test or working on jumping ‘skinny’ fences on the cross-country course. If I’ve had a poor showjumping round then I will plan to get out to some affiliated competitions and jump a couple of bigger tracks to tune both of us up before our next event. I may also decide I need to use the time to play about with different bits if I’ve found the brakes to be a bit lacking in effectiveness!!
- Keep it interesting. Don’t spend every day in the school going round in circles! Horses get bored easily and need variety in their work. Try and do something different every day; be tactful and practice basic schooling movements out on a hack or set up some pole work rather than jumping fences every time.
- Don’t overdo it. Be mindful of the ground conditions especially in the hot summer months. If the ground is hard and you need to cross country school then think about avoiding the risk of concussion in your horse’s legs and set up some simulated cross country style fences in the arena instead – be creative and make some skinny fences / corners / bounces / ‘ditches’ (using a water tray for example). Jumping in a smaller space can actually help improve your reactions and make you think quicker.
- Think about the long-term plan as well. If you are aiming to move up a level later in the season have a look at what movements you will need to be able to ride in the dressage arena or check what size of fences you will be required to jump. Factor this into your schedule so you can be quietly working towards the desired level. Don’t enter a higher level event without knowing what is required of you and your horse – the week before is too late to realise you’ve never jumped the height the fences will be at your next competition!
- Check fitness levels. Make sure your horse is fit enough for the level you will be competing at. Check the rulebook to find out the speed and distance the cross country course will be and make sure you can maintain that pace for the desired length of time. Check your own fitness levels as well as cross country riding can be more tiring than you think!
The most important rule is to keep it fun! Use the time to build the partnership with your horse and find out more about each other. And remember -
“Practice like you’ve never won; perform like you’ve never lost”.
What do you think? What do you do with your horse between events? Tell us below!