Rise above com­pe­ti­tion-day dis­trac­tions

Your Horse (UK) - - Better Riding -

At a show, it’s com­mon to find lots of classes all go­ing on at once. Plus the warm-up ring is likely to be busy. If your horse has a ten­dency to be over­whelmed by a hub of ac­tiv­ity, it’s im­por­tant you get him con­cen­trat­ing be­fore you start your round. “This comes down to fo­cus and dis­trac­tion, for both you and your horse,” says He­len. “You need to prac­tise be­ing able to fo­cus on the job in hand.”

Pre­pare at home

Next time you ride at home, ask your friends to be as dis­tract­ing as pos­si­ble. “Prac­tise hav­ing other dis­trac­tions around you, whether it’s an­other horse and rider join­ing you in the school or peo­ple do­ing yard jobs nearby,” says He­len. “Try to imag­ine your­self in a bub­ble and fo­cus on the process of what you’re do­ing.”

What to do on the day

It might sound silly, but if you’re strug­gling to fo­cus on the day, give your­self a talk­ing to. “As you’re rid­ing round, say pos­i­tive af­fir­ma­tions to your­self,” ex­plains He­len. “This might be some­thing as sim­ple as ‘ride ev­ery stride’. It fo­cuses your brain on the task.” If your horse is strug­gling to get his head in the game, dis­tract him by in­cor­po­rat­ing tran­si­tions, cir­cles and ba­sic lat­eral move­ments in your warm-up. These are ef­fec­tive ways to get him lis­ten­ing to you, which will boost your con­fi­dence. Imag­ine a bub­ble around you and your horse when warm­ing up on com­pe­ti­tion day, shut­ting out those around you. It works!

Imag­ine you and your horse are in a bub­ble, iso­lated from dis­trac­tions

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