Horseland's hints for getting competition ready

We know there’s a lot to do in the lead up to a competition or show with your horse, so to help you have a relaxed, organized and successful day, we’ve put together our top 10 preparation tips.

  1. Pack with a list the night before – to reduce stress the morning of a competition and keep you running on time, it’s a good idea to type up a list of tack and equipment you’ll need. Then you can simply print it off for each competition and use it as a checklist to ensure you’ll never be stuck without something important (we’ve all been there)! There’s nothing worse than realizing you’ve got your saddle, but no girth to do it up with!
  2. Make sure your competition outfit is set – do you have all the right gear for the class/event you’re entering? Do you need new white breeches? Have you got a net to keep your hair tidy? Do you have a back number? To get some competition inspiration, head into your local store, or view our range online.
  3. Begin grooming your horse well in advance – trying to tame a wooly coat and mane the day of the competition can end in frustration. By stripping out your horse’s coat and mane a little bit each day, the job won’t be as overwhelming. Plaiting on competition day will be much more manageable. Do any trimming in the middle of the week so it looks more natural by the weekend.
  4. Write your competition times and schedule on a sheet of paper or whiteboard, (great for making any changes) and put it in your car, float or truck. That way you’ll never be worrying about what time to tack up, or where you are supposed to be at which time.
  5. Put together and keep a first aid kit in your float or car - not only for yourself, but also for your horse. Accidents can happen on the way to and from the competition or while you’re there, so a fully stocked first aid kit can be the most important thing you pack. You can get inspiration on what to pack in your kit here. To keep your horse safe, identification is also a great idea. Attaching your contact details and name to your horse’s halter means you can be alerted if they break away from the float.
  6. Take a friend or family member with you – having an extra set of hands or even just some moral support can be a saviour at shows. Even if your friend isn’t very horsey they can still help with last minute finishing touches, like wiping your boots in the saddle or picking up the pole you knocked in the warm up. Having a supportive person to talk to can help reduce stress, not to mention it is much safer in the unfortunate case of a fall or injury, especially if you’re too sore to drive yourself and your horse home!
  7. Desensitize your horse – prepare your horse by thinking about what scary items may be at a competition. Try emulating this environment at home by setting up a dressage arena, adding bunting or flower pots, put fill under your jumps or play music while you ride. The more you have happening at home when you practice, the less of a shock your horse will get in a bustling, noisy competition environment. See our dressage and jumping arena equipment here.
  8. School one level higher at home than you enter at the competition - if you jump a little higher, or train slightly more difficult movements at home, you’ll ensure you or your horse won’t be over faced at the event.
  9. Keep your horse clean – once you’ve washed and plaited your horse, dress them in lightweight, protective rugs and bandages to keep them clean overnight or in the float. Putting a skinny hood on your horse will help to lay their plaits flat, keep them in place and prevent your horse from rubbing them out. If you don’t have a tail bag, plaiting your horse’s tail into one big plait can help keep it cleaner and out of the way.
  10. Breathe! Even though competing can be stressful, it is such a rewarding experience shared with your horse. You’ve put in the time and done the training, so remember to take a deep breath and enjoy it.