Your first competition with a young or unexperienced horse can be pretty nerve wrecking. But it can also be a really positive experience for both you and your horse, if you organise things well. Here are a few tips that will help!
Make sure you have your horse working well at home. Before going to a competition, it is important that your horse is well behaved. Make sure your horse is easy to steer, goes forward or comes back on your aids. It is important to have things under control before even attempting to go to another location.
Practise at different locations. Don’t start with a busy, large event but give your horse confidence by starting small. Try a different arena in your neighbourhood just to practise.
Attend a practise competition, local club day or training day for practise. This gives your horse a chance to get used to the environment. At the same time the judges have more time and are inclined to give you more handy tips. You also practise loading on the float, riding in a new environment and take the pressure and stress from competing away.
For your first competition, choose a small organised event. Often horses are intimidated by large events, a busy environment and large numbers of horses riding around. So start small and build it up from there.
Now your horse well. Before you go out and compete together, it’s important to get to know your horse. Spend plenty of time together so your horse will gain trust and confidence in you. This also helps you because by knowing your horse you will know how he responds in different situations.
Take help along with you. Take a friend or instructor that knows you and your horse. Anybody who knows both you and your horse and can help you with getting on, help you through difficult situations and offer support or a helping hand.
Exercise at home before competition time. Sometimes it helps to lightly ride or lunge your horse at home, to take the freshness off. This really depends on the horse, as each horse is different. Also, prevent burning up too much energy before the competition has even started.