How do you prepare for your first event of the year?
So I'm asking this to a variety of different people -- newbies and old pros, those with young horses and those with seasoned horses, riders of different ages, etc.
How do you prepare for your first event or horse trial of the year? Do you do anything different than you do in preparation for any event or horse trial? Here are some things I came up with...
-- Of course, get you and your horse fit enough for the level you'll be competing at, very important if you took time off over the winter.
-- Spend some time training on real cross country fences, if at all possible. The younger and less experienced the horse/rider, the more training time I would try to fit in before that first event.
-- Carefully inspect all tack (for every phase) for good fit and signs of wear, replacing and breaking in anything that's suspect.
-- If you had a tough time last year, perhaps your first event will be at a lower level than last year, to give you and your horse a good start to the season.
So how about you all? Do you do anything different in preparation for your first event or horse trial of the year?
I've just done my 1st event for the year, and at a new level. Apart from making sure we were both fit, and that *I* knew the new test, I went to a schooling CT at the new level, and then was able to school XC.
For my horse I'm most concerned with his level of fitness, and that our flatwork is solid. Where I am XC schooling is hard to come by, so I try to throw odd things at him in our ringwork and jumping days (ie: working in odd parts of the farm, putting strange stuff on and around jumps, even putting regular stadium jumps in different places around the farm).
For me, I make sure to read the rulebook, paying special attention to the new changes and things that may not have applied to the previous level.
I'm going down south to Aiken for a week of "camp" with my horse, then competing at Pine Top at the end of the week. This gives us several XC schooling opportunities, as well as 5 days to focus only on my horse and riding. This helps immensely with my confidence level. (I'm just going BN - my horse is ready! - it's mostly me that needs this boost.)
My first event is April 5th. I finished last season at Novice and will be starting this season at Novice. I plan to move up to Training this summer.
Since December, I've been doing dressage boot camp, introducing lateral work and working on maintaining contact and rhythm. The week before my event will be spent fine-tuning my dressage test (which I haven't done since November!)
Also since December, I've been doing lots of gymnastic work to maintain rhythm and balance while jumping. Since February, I've gone to three schooling jumper shows and plan to do one more before my event. So far I've been doing a comparable level to Novice stadium, at the next show I will do the next highest level.
I will be schooling cross country this weekend and plan on doing lots of cross country galloping work for the next three weeks. Ideally, I'd like to school cross country the weekend before my event, as well.
I've been doing trot and canter sets for the last five weeks, once or twice a week, for conditioning (my pony was very well-fed through the winter!). He doesn't go longer than two days without at least a light ride.
I did a good tack inspection two weeks ago and have scheduled a shopping trip for Saturday to replace anything (well, everything) that's worn... even slightly.
For me, I've started increasing my protein and electrolytes and I'm working out more outside barnwork to increase fitness and feel better after a long, cold winter. You can't forget about prepping yourself too!
“I always knew I had the ability, I just had to find the horse to get me there.” - Calvin Borel, on riding Street Sense to victory in the 2007 Kentucky Derby
Usually 2 months out I "bring them in" from being on vacation. Start hacking and flatting, etc. About a month out I start jumping again - mainly grid work. I use Jimmy Wofford's book a lot for this part. In the week before the first HT of the year, I do a XC school.
I just did a XC school recently - first of the year. And man am I rusty...!!! Must get brain back into xc mode!!!
Last year, I took dressage lessons from Susan L. Harris, took jumping clinics with Denny Emerson and with Diana Rich, then showed at Spring Bay, without having schooled any cross country. We won our division (BN), but I wouldn't recommend going without schooling cross country first!
This year, because Tess was so sick, I have been slowly bringing her back into work by taking dressage lessons from Marci Plopper and conditioning on hills. I will be starting my show season with a dressage show in April, a CT in early May (with a SJ clinic and schooling cross country at Masterson Station after the CT) and then MayDaze HT or Indiana. We will start at BN, then see how Tessie's wind holds up for the move up to Novice. If she needs more time, then she will get as long as it takes.
As for me, Grant County is having a "Biggest Winner" contest. They are offering discounted gym memberships, nutritional classes, motivational workshops, with a grand prize of $250 for the person who loses the most body fat, weight and attends the classes. The money would be nice, but I am in this to get fit. I know that Tess will greatly appreciate it!
After doing everything over the winter I can to improve my riding - better dressage, ramped up jumping lessons... I take my smurf-butt to a therapist and buy lottery tickets. The fear demons race through my body... wondering if I can do this again this year.
Then, I do it once... and all is better - I LOVE THIS SPORT! Can I hear a woot, woot?!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(Oh, lots of schooling shows and hacking outside if the footing permits).
One thing that many of us feel, after months off from competing, is a nagging question whether we actually remember how to run and jump on xc.
So you have to suck it up, and go school xc, jumping lots of fences in a row, so that you get the feeling back.
That`s one of many, but a very key one, I think.
Funny for me I have always found it incredibly difficult to get motivated for the first horse trials of the season. I think that is a hang over from the very long cold winters of my youth in area 1. No matter the climate I still found it difficult "to suck it up" and get my head in gear for the upcoming season. Of course now I no longer have to worry about this!!!
I just went xc schooling on Saturday--first time since October.
Let's just say I'm glad it was in front of people who have seen us before.
Don't feel bad; I think this is kind of universal
I was out there (at FPP) on Sunday, doing "practice gallops" with the Red Rocket (along with a couple of students, one who hadn't been x-country since last August, the other who hadn't been x-country in 2 1/2 *years*--both she and her mare have had "foals" in the interim...)
We were all a bit rusty!
Needless to say, I am SORE today from having to (ahem) persuade Her Majesty that she A) needs to listen to half halts and thigh squeezes and other forms of "Whoa please" requests , and B) being up in two point for longish periods. And I thought I was in good shape, since I've been working out regularly (but I keep getting older, unfortunately ) The wall sits have helped with my quad strength, though--so that was one positive revelation. That and the fact that although the mare was a twit over the smaller warmup stuff (I thought that either she had forgotten how to jump x-country, or was suddenly having a crisis of confidence about it), she settled right down and got into a groove when I started taking her over the P level stuff...Hmmm, go figure I also found out how fit she is from my training regimen over the winter; after 5 minutes or so of galloping and cantering, she wasn't even breathing hard--she felt great! (As always, MUCH better than her rider )
I needed to get MY Mojo back, since when I was there the day before with my kids schooling over the wee stuff, the P stuff seemed big to me , even though I have jumped it all before. I felt strangely out of synch UNTIL I got on the horse and started jumping her; and then it all came back to me (and everything looked small and doable again.)
So yeah, Nike was right: Just Do it!!!
It really does restore your confidence, in both yourself and your steed.
"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."
"It's supposed to be hard...the hard is what makes it great!" (Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own")