10-03-2011, 02:05 AM
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I remember two years ago when I competed at my first show. No one can really tell you how to prepare for your first show. I can suggest that you compete at a lower level than you do train at home. This makes it a lot less scary and confronting for you and your horse - if you jump, the jumps seem loads bigger when you go out for the first time or everyone seems so much better than you.
Try and stay relaxed and make your goals for the day to be small - even if you make your goal just to have fun. Is it your horses first time competing as well? If so, he's going to be nervous as well. Try and keep yourself more relaxed so that your horse thinks 'There's nothing to be worried about, I can feel my owner being relaxed on my back!!'. Calm rider = Calm horse = A lot more fun. Just remember, it's your first show. Don't expect to go out and have a performance. Don't expect too much from yourself or your horse. We all make mistakes, specially at our first shows. I got eliminated at my second jump in one of my first show jumping rounds..
Be organised with your packing - write lists, tick things off. The worst thing is arriving and discovering you haven't packed something important. My coach told me a story about how one of her students ended up forgetting their helmet. I wrote list after list and packed everything. Though, at the same time - be careful not to over pack. I had my car and trailer packed two days before, trailer filled with feed the day before and everything ready to just load my horse into the trailer the next day.
Arrive early - it is better to be early than running late. The worst thing you can do is not have time to warm up your horse correctly and then have him stiff or being jumpy at things which they wouldn't have been if they were warmed up correctly and allowed to adjust to their environment. If you need to, hop on and lunge your horse before you get on and ride. Better for your horse to get their nerves out before you jump on.
Check out where you will be competing - know where you need to be and at what time. Have a look at what the grounds look like - are they wet, really dry, deep? Knowing the ground your about to ride on helps so much. If your doing jumping, your usually allowed to walk the course, use this to your advantage. Look around the ring - is there anything your horse could spook at? One show I went to, there was a giant jumping castle beside the show ring. I spent an hour standing beside it with my horse before the scary colors and children were not a problem too him.
Make sure your horse is clean - before show day. I've seen people washing muddy horses the day of the show. I stable, rug and wrap legs the night before. I don't want to have to be rushing around getting a massive chunk out of his mane. If you have to plait or braid and your not use to it - do it the night before, you will be shocked to find out how long it will take if you mess up and have to redo it.
Make sure you give your horse water. Egh, it frustrates me. I go to shows and see horses which don't have ANY water around them. I make sure my horse has a bucket filled with fresh water. If your horse is fussy about the water it drinks, consider taking a tank from home OR add products such as Poweraid to it.
- Here's a little tip. Bring a friend. I cannot express how good this is for you. I am lucky enough to have a groom with me at all my shows. Therefore, just before I get on to warm up. I'm not having to worry about making sure my horse isn't causing trouble when I have to leave him to get changed into my show gear, if I need to make a last minute trip to watch the show ring - I can leave my horse with my groom to be walked around and relaxed. It's so much less stressful to have someone else to give you a hand.
FINALLY - Don't expect the world. Don't expect to win, you end up disappointed. Ask little goals from your horse, that you are sure you can compete. Go out and have fun, goodluck. Also, don't be intimidated by the judges, I'm sure they've seen a lot worse than anything you could mess up :)