There are many things to think about on the day of your competition, but unfamiliarity shouldn’t be one of them.
If your horse doesn’t load well, try a few dummy runs to get them quickly and calmly into their trailer/horsebox. Travelling well is invaluable to boost good performance on the day. Likewise, if your horse is known to become agitated in new environments, make that one of your goals, in fact your first goal.
Box them up and visit a variety of places and atmospheres, try to pinpoint what revs them up, is it the loud speakers on a cross country course or the sometimes claustrophobic collecting ring of indoor show jumping. Tackling these early issues can promote a good manner and temperament away from home.
Hmm what to wear?!
Assuming that you’re going to use a travel/sweat rug, travel boots or bandages and a tail bandage when you travel your horse, it’s always worth making sure that your four-legged friend is going to be happy and comfortable travelling in them. So rug and boot them up and go for a little walk or leave them in the stable every so often whilst you mix the feed or clear the yard. The more it becomes natural and pleasant, the more the horse will associate the outfit with something relaxed and positive.
Go somewhere fun!
Make sure to go on fun days out, not just to competitions, a trip to the beach or a sponsored ride to reassure your horse that not all trips are accompanied by a rider with a bag of nerves. Low key days out offer a new experience for both horse and rider, a new environment but with low pressure and can remove some anxiety they may feel from associating travelling with highly concentrated events.
These are just a few ideas to think about in the competition season… there may be an ultimate goal but it’ll do you the world of good to throw in some low key relaxed days out to just have fun with your horse.
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