As with all aspects of equestrian riding, preparation is paramount.
I want to share with you my top tips to a successful show jumping season.
1. When packing your tack remember to add spare gear like an extra whip, 2nd pair of jump boots, extra head collar and lead rope, spare set of stirrups and leathers to avoid panic if something gets lost or broken.
2. Arrive early to get a good spot and give yourself and your horse time to settle into the new venue.
3. Feed your horse at least 2 hours before your first class to give them time to eat and digest the food.
4. Think about how long you need to warm up before your class to give yourself and your horse enough time to deal with any pre-competition nerves. Put together a time table that you can follow throughout the event.
5. When walking your course, plan how you are going to approach your first fence (line to the fence) and therefore where you need to pick up your first canter.
6. Always imagine an extra fence after the finish line to make sure you don’t “switch off” coming into your last fence.
7. Visualise your jumping round before you get on your horse. If you “see” yourself having a rail or a refusal continue to visualise until you see yourself jumping the entire course.
8. In the warm up area focus on the canter to make sure your horse has enough impulsion to jump the height of your course and keep the jumping simple to build on your confidence. This is not the place to try something new or jump extra heights.
9. Use affirmations to calm your nerves before entering the arena, like:
• I am a good rider
• I have jumped this height before
• I am here to learn
10. And finally have fun.
Remember that you are still learning and making mistakes is the best way to improve. After every round ask yourself:
• What was good about my jumping round?
• What do I need to work on?
• What am I proud of in myself?
If you consistently document and revise your previous performance, you develop a personal record, which allows you to benchmark progress .
Happy riding, Tanja
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