Jess Butler on preparing for the competition season

Jess Butler on preparing for the competition season

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We caught up with retailer Shadow Horse’s sponsored rider and 3 * event rider Jess Butler for her top tips for the forthcoming season…


“Getting started and moving up levels takes practice, and lots of it. Any problems you encounter under saddle need breaking down into manageable segments of information, so that both horse and rider can understand what needs working on. This can be done through a good training plan and the key is to make sure progress is confident, as pressure will increase as you get closer to your goal. Competitions can be stressful, so try to reduce this by being prepared not only by training, but also in planning. Even just looking at a map rather than just relying solely on a postcode can help to lower blood pressure, as can leaving enough time for walking courses properly! Look at what stresses you out and try to put practical plans in place to enable you to be more relaxed and focused.


I always have a checklist as it’s amazing what can be forgotten then remembered at the showground! I also always have our lorry packed with spare items as well, but don’t forget to check the condition of spare items though, as you need to ensure they are useable if required in an emergency!


Always plan your competitions as much as you can, but also have a plan A, B, C etc. Always aim for plan A, but be prepared to change tactic to B, C or even D, as there are so many variables eventing. For example, you may need to adapt your riding to stay put on the cross-country, or adapt your whole season if you hit a stumbling block. With the competition season building, remember it’s supposed to be fun, so it can be helpful to take someone totally unflappable with you to events. Whether this is your trainer, groom, driver or horsey friend.


Eventing has taught me to not lose hope, because whilst we all have a passion for eventing and that is what drives us, the enjoyment comes from staying positive about the fact we can succeed! This has been a tough lesson for me to learn, but you have to have hope and this is easiest to maintain when you set yourself realistic targets, something I am still working on…