Attending shows with your horse is an amazing thing for any owner to do. As well as giving you a chance to show your pride and joy to anyone attending, this is a fantastic way to strengthen the bond between you and your baby. After all, success out in the arena depends entirely upon how the two of you connect and work together. And, that’s a fair old test. Hence why the months leading up to that fated day will be crammed full of practice sessions and preparations.
But, finally, the day will arrive when the two of you have to strut your stuff together in the arena. You’re feeling prepared and ready to go, but then something strange happens. You’re typically even-tempered equine starts to act the part of diva. It may be their big day, but boy, don’t they know it? From the moment you get that travel box ready to go, it’ll be like you’re working with a horse you don’t know at all. And, that feeling is only going to get worse once you sit in the saddle once you arrive at your venue.
Sadly, this is a reality many horse owners face. There’s no getting past the fact that show day is rife with pressure. And, your horse is going to pick up on that. Not to mention that the mere fact of being out of their comfort zone can throw them off balance. You may have practised that routine for months, but your horse won’t remember that when they’re wondering what’s going on. And, just like that, all your hopes and dreams will be down the drain.
Or, will they? In truth, preparing for behaviour like this is all it really takes to overcome these issues on the big event. That, and employing a routine on the day which serves to overcome those nerves. And, to help you get on top, we’re going to look at what just such a routine might consist of.
A normal morning routine
While there’s no way to stop your horse feeling nervous down the line, you can at least help calm them with a regular morning routine. If possible, arrive at their stable the same time you would on any other day. If you can, you should even turn them out for an hour or so to help them burn some energy. It’s also essential to provide the usual morning feed. There is some debate about whether feeding a heavy meal on competition day is wise. But, your horse needs proper nutrition if you want them at their best. You might even want to stock up on something like the Enduraplex Minerals you can find at gpp-co.com. The mineral content of options like these is a sure way to the optimum performance which is so crucial on show days. And, feeding this early in the morning ensures your horse has plenty of time to digest before competition time.
Arrive earlier than you have to
If you’re worried about your horse getting nervous, it’s also worth arriving at the venue before you need to be there. After the car journey, your horse is sure to be distressed anyway. Add to that new surroundings, crowds, and strange horses galore, and it should come as no surprise they’re going to be on edge. By arriving early, you ensure they have time to recover from the journey. You can also then take time to walk them around and get their bearings. If possible, you should even encourage them to get their head down and eat a little grass. As soon as his head is down, that anxiety is likely to dissipate. Then, when crowds do start rolling in, your horse will already feel at ease. As such, there’s less chance he’ll freak out right before you’re called to action.
Check the weather
It’s likely that you check the weather on competition day before it arrives. After all, knowing whether the sun will be shining or not has a significant sway on what you wear and how you travel. But, what you might not realise is that weather has a major impact on your horse, too. Before you assume everything’s a-okay because the sun is shining, consider how that’ll impact your horse. If they’re already agitated, excessive heat could worsen your horse’s condition. And, that’s obviously not what you want. So, if it’s set to be a warm day, consider the ways you can cool your horse down. In the hours leading up to the event, a hose might be your best bet. But, appearance matters in competitions, too. So, you’ll want to give that a rest with plenty of time for your horse to dry. In that instance, it’s worth seeking spots of shade in your setup area, and also taking along a fan to keep things cool. These steps may seem small, but they’re sure to help your horse maintain a cool head.
Warm up before entering the arena
From cooling down to warming up, you also need to be sure you get your horse moving before they enter the arena. This is just another reason why arriving early is a must. Exercises like those found at www.meredithmanor.edu are sure to make a huge difference to your chances of success. As well as ensuring your horse’s muscles are loose and ready to go, this can focus both of your minds. Instead of just walking around on a loose rein, take this time to practice basic commands, and judge how your horse responds. By this time, he should be calm enough to follow you the way he usually does. Even if not, the familiar feeling of working with you could ease him into things. The first commands might be sloppy, but the more you warm up, the better things should get. And, that ensures that all commands are crisp when you’re in the ring. And, given that one missed step can spell disaster when judges are watching, you’d be crazy not to prepare.
*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.