Feel confident in all weathers
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.”