Feel con­fi­dent in all weath­ers

Your Horse (UK) - - Better Riding -

Wak­ing up on com­pe­ti­tion day to strong winds or tor­ren­tial rain not only makes you ques­tion your san­ity, but it can also knock your nerves. “Typ­i­cally, rid­ers that worry about ad­verse weather con­di­tions are those who have young or in­ex­pe­ri­enced horses,” ex­plains He­len. “They’re wor­ry­ing about how the con­di­tions will af­fect their horse. “It’s easy for rid­ers to think ‘what if?’ and start think­ing about the worst-case sce­nar­ios. You’ll be­come stressed and tense, which your horse will sense, and you’ll lose your con­nec­tion with him.”

Pre­pare at home

Don’t wait for per­fect con­di­tions — get out there what­ever the weather. “Re­hears­ing at home gives you a chance to ex­per­i­ment with how you’ll deal with the sit­u­a­tion,” says He­len. “You can al­ways get off if you feel the need to.” Stay sen­si­ble and safe (no rid­ing out in a light­ning storm, please), but try rid­ing in dif­fer­ent weather con­di­tions and no­tice how you and your horse re­act to them. Work on re­duc­ing ten­sion in both you and your horse each time you ride in vary­ing el­e­ments, so you are more pre­pared for what­ever the weather throws at you on com­pe­ti­tion day.

What to do on the day

If the heav­ens open on com­pe­ti­tion day, He­len’s ad­vice is to con­cen­trate on what you can con­trol. “Think about what you can do to fo­cus and keep your horse’s at­ten­tion,” she says. “Check that you can con­trol your horse’s paces and that you can get him to stop. This is a much more pos­i­tive ap­proach to take.”

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