Preparing Your Horse For Competition - MirrorMePR
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Want to know how to get your horse ready for a show or the best grooming tips to help you shine? Our Equine Marketing Team shares top tips for preparing your horse for your next competition outing.


The Importance of Proper Training and Preparation

Proper training and preparation are crucial for peak performance. The more time and effort you put into preparing your horse, the better their performance will be. Your horse needs to be a happy athlete. Horses need to be in top physical condition to perform at their best. Creating a training routine that helps build stamina and fitness and conditioning to help build muscle and increase flexibility is crucial. 

Rider approaches to training sessions vary a lot. Still, an ideal schedule should include variety embracing daily riding (both in the arena and hacking), lunging, and regular turnout to keep your horse fit and healthy. Focus on your discipline requirements. 

For example, if you plan to compete in British Eventing, you will need to work on interval training, improve your dressage scores, and adapt your training intensity to create healthy muscle development and help prevent injuries such as tendon injuries and sore muscles.


Feed The Right Blend & Amount 

Proper nutrition and optimum intestinal health play a significant role in your horse’s overall well-being and performance. Consulting with a reputable equine nutritionist to create a diet plan that provides the necessary vitamins, minerals, and long-term energy for your horse is vital. Remember that each horse’s nutritional needs may vary, so it’s important to tailor their diet accordingly. 

Show horses, for example, demand a beautiful shine to their coats, even in unclipped horses, so if you are planning to join the British Show Horse Association and take your showing to a new level, you’ll need amazing shine and enough energy for activity levels without creating too much sparkle in their work. Always provide clean water at home and competitions, and encourage your competition horse to drink in hot weather by adding apple slices.


Shine On!

Regular grooming offers a wonderful opportunity to develop a bond between horse and rider. Checking over your horse from head to tail should be part of your daily grooming routine. A well-groomed horse not only looks like a competition superstar, but regular grooming helps shed stray hairs, removes mud and dirt and keeps the horse’s coat and skin clean and in optimum condition.


It’s A Mind Game 

Competing can be stressful for both you and your horse. With careful planning, you can work on desensitising your horse by taking them to arena hires, small schooling shows, and clinics to help them adapt to noises and distractions. Introduce your horse to as many scenarios as possible to help them adjust to crowds, loudspeakers, etc. 

Even adult horses can suffer stage fright, so gradually exposing your horse to scary objects will help build their confidence and reduce anxiety. A strong partnership between horse and rider pays dividends for future successful performances. Spend time getting to know your horse on the ground and in the saddle before taking them to competitions, creating a positive mindset to become a more confident rider.


Get Regular Vet Check-Ups

Schedule regular veterinary check-ups for your horse to ensure their overall health and well-being are not compromised during a busy season of competition outings. A health check by your veterinarian can identify any potential issues or injuries early that may hinder your horse’s future performance and give you valuable insights. 

Taking your horses’ regular temperature can also determine their average temperature so you can spot anything unusual. Additionally, ensure that you keep your horse’s vaccinations and deworming schedule up to date to ensure your horse is in optimal condition and legally able to compete.


Train With Consideration

Like human athletes, healthy horses need a proper warm-up and cool-down routine before and after each training session. Your horse’s fitness and training programme should help prevent muscle strain and injury and be mentally stimulating. Ensure Proper Warm-up and Stretching by starting with light stretching exercises and gradually increasing the intensity of the workout. 

After you have ridden, cool the horse down with a walk and allow them to stretch down over their back to recover. This routine should also apply to your competition day to help reduce lactic acid levels in the horse’s muscles and allow the heart rate to return to normal.


Equipment and Tack Check

Before your upcoming competitions:

  1. Inspect and clean all your equipment and tack.
  2. Ensure that any equipment you use is secure and in good condition.
  3. Check the fit of the saddle, bridle, and any other gear to avoid wardrobe malfunctions and discomfort or irritation to your horse. 

Additionally, it’s a great idea to have a backup bridle, spare girth, and saddle cloth in case of emergencies. Double-check the rules and regulations in your competitive horse sports to ensure that nothing has changed and your kit is still competition-legal.


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