10 Eventing Prep Hacks
Packing and prepping for an event can be really stressful. Especially when you're thinking about that horrible 10 minutes packed with nerves before you trot down the centre line.
We all know prepping for your events starts weeks and even months in advance, but I wanted to offer you some tips on making sure you're all ready and feel prepared in the week leading up to the big day.
1. Work out an exercise plan for your horse the week before.
Depending on your horse, you'll either want them to feel fresh, or calmer for an event. You won't increase fitness by that much in the final few days before an event, but it's important to get your horse mentally switched on and get you both in a really positive head space.
Don't try anything new the week before an event, think of easy, fun and mentally challenging things to do with your horse. Maybe some small jumping exercises focusing on accuracy and straightness, or some pole work to get your horse really thinking.
My old horse was very laid back, so I used to hack him lightly the day before an event. You might want to run through your test, or if your horse is fresh on event days, you might want to go for a longer hack or school them so they've burned off a bit of energy. Have a chat with your coach and see what they think is best for you both.
2. Draw out your dressage test on a piece of paper.
Make sure you know where you're going in your dressage test! There are other ways to run through your test without being on your horse. Drawing a little arena on a piece of paper can really help you learn, or physically walking the test in your school at home might help you. Either way, make sure you're confident in knowing where you're going, so you can really focus on how your horse is going on the day.
3. Write a checklist.
This one might seem obvious, but spend time a few days before writing up a checklist. Writing a list when you're not stressed out thinking about your event the next day gives you time to really think about what you need to take. Divide your list into each phase plus extras. If you can type this up and print it out so you can have a fresh copy for every event that's great! Don't forget to tick things off as you go, and tick again once they're in the lorry.
4. Get your horse clean.
If you've got a grey horse, you will want to think about rugging them up, and maybe adding a full hood or something similar for the few days before to prevent any new stains appearing. Bath your horse the day before, leaving it until on the day can make your horses coat look really fluffy and add extra unnecessary stress on show day. The same goes for trimming fetlocks, bridle paths, tails and chins. These are all things that can be done days before so they're not adding extra stress on show day.
5. Clean your tack & boots.
It's one of the worst horse jobs ever! But it can really bring the wow factor to your show day look. Clean your tack after your last ride before show day, don't forget to polish stirrups and bits, too. A great overall impression in the dressage can increase your marks! TOP TIP: Before using leather balm, make up a bowl of really hot water with a tiny dot of fairy liquid in it (as hot as you can handle, don't burn yourself!), and use this to wipe off excess dirt and mud before conditioning leather (ring out the cloth as much as possible before wiping). It will make leather come up like new. Change the water regularly to avoid smear marks.
6. Packing the lorry the night before.
Doing this the night before can relieve a lot of pressure on show day. Especially if you have an early start and it is safe to do so. This means you have more time to groom and plait your horse the next morning. If you can plait the day before and you know they will still be there in the morning, that's a good job to do too.
7. Check your stud holes!
This was the bain of my existence when I was eventing. There is always one that wanted to cross thread. For this very reason I always did my studs at the beginning of show week, and then checked them again the day before. You can get 'blank' studs that are flat and great to put in the day before. It makes putting studs in at the show so much easier! At the beginning of the week, clean out the holes, tap the stud holes and plug with cotton wool covered in vaseline. Then the day before you can pick out the cotton wool, and replace with your blank stud. If the ground is wet and you put blank ones in too far ahead, they can rust and get stuck, hence why I only did this the day before.
8. Make up your haynets.
Another one of my worst yard jobs, but making a couple of nets ahead of time can be really handy. You will usually need 2 or 3 anyway, as if you're in the placings you might be waiting around for prize giving for quite a while, and there might not always be decent grass for your horse to snack on. Also, eating their own hay minimizes the risk of them picking up a virus or something at the show.
9. Put any ice boots in the freezer.
Forgetting to do this the night before can be a massive bummer. A great alternative to these are water boots. You can put these in a cold bucket of water before you go cross country at an event, and they will be ready at the lorry to cool your horses legs when you get back. You can then use your ice boots when you're back from travelling. This is especially handy if you don't have a way of keeping ice packs frozen/cold whilst you're on the road.
10. Check your show jacket is clean.
How many times has your horse sneakily snotted on your show jacket and you've only realised the next time you've gone out to a show? Use a damp cloth or a baby wipe to remove any snot stains before you hang your show jacket up in the lorry.
It's really important to have fun when you're out competing, after all, that is why we do it! These tips will help you feel more prepared and less stressed on show day, thus making it more fun and leaving you to concentrate on how you and your horse are feeling.
Do you have any show prep tips? Pop them in the comments section below!
Picture features Emily Philp at Belton Horse Trials 2019.
Lunar Photography, Equine & Dog Photographer in Derbyshire.
Lunar Photography - Equine & Dog photographer based in Derbyshire.
Capturing precious memories in fun & vibrant images you will love forever.