How to lower stress levels on competition day

1 month before. Make sure you have prepared yourself in the weeks leading up to the competition; your horse is ready and more than capable of doing all the movements in the test.  Also that you have a good understanding of how long it will take to warm your horse up along with a good plan for your warm up. Going into a test knowing you are well prepared and you have worked hard in the lead up already makes you feel more confident and lowers the stress levels.    

The day before.I do as much as I can beforehand, the last thing I want to do is get to a competition and be rushing around plaiting horses or cleaning gear. I like to have everything prepared the day before, horses worked, washed and plaited, the truck packed with everything I need or think I may need along with a few spares, a running schedule with warm up and competition times on it and a copy of the draw all organised, packed and ready to go.

On the day. Plan your travel, so that means you need to know how long it will take you to load your horse or horses and the traveling time to the competition venue. If it’s a long way you need to plan breaks for both you and your horses, as a rule we stop every two hours.

Be there an hour before. I like to plan for an arrival of an hour before I need to be on the first horse to warm up. That gives me time to get everyone settled, organise water and hay, check in, find the arena that you will be competing in and gather your thoughts. Give yourself plenty of time.

It pays to check with event organisers how the day is running and adjust your times accordingly.

I like to try and find a quiet area to warm up away from other riders where ever possible. Sometimes the warm up areas can be hectic and even a little intimidating at times.  I am always mindful of other competitors and avoid anyone that looks like they might be having trouble.  

Show time! Keep an eye on the competitor before you and before you know it is show time and all your preparation and planning will pay off!

Don’t forget to review how your day went. Did you need more or less time and how can you improve your preparation for next time? Good preparation and planning will just help your day run smoother and give you a clear plan of action to focus on which is always a good way to keep your nerves under control!