Maria Eilberg on preparing for a big competition

Maria Eilberg on preparing for a big competition

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With the National Dressage Championship looming, what preparation is needed for a big competition? Courtesy of premium retailer Shadow Horse, top professional dressage rider Maria Eilberg gives her top tips in the count down to the big day..

When you are training any horse, not just a dressage horse, you need to have a training plan in mind. This plan needs to be realistic and take into consideration your horse’s ability and fitness. If you then qualify for a championship, you will hopefully have time to tailor your horse’s training programme to accommodate this. If you have a big competition pencilled in the diary, hopefully even longer to plan ahead!

We always book in our farrier visit pre-show in plenty of time and also have our saddles checked and the horses may get an additional check over by our physio to ensure that they are feeling good and that everything is perfect. The horse’s diet may need to be changed pre show depending on how he/she are going taking into consideration doping regulations. Checking your vaccinations are up to date and also that any criteria such as memberships are valid. If you are planning on hiring transport, make sure you do this well in advance, as no doubt this date will be popular!

Make sure that you and your trainer work together on a schedule so that you and your horse feel confident on the day and practice the test well in advance but closer to the day, take elements of the test but don’t ride through in the correct sequence, if your horse is the type to anticipate!

Remember, preparation pays dividends!

If you don’t get a chance to travel your horse much, then a couple of trail journeys out before the big day might be a good idea, so that when the big day comes, it’s not even more stressful/exciting!

Writing a checklist is a great idea to ensure that you don’t forget all the essentials. You can keep this in the lorry to run through the day before or on the morning of the show when you are loading all your bits and pieces onto the lorry.

Leave plenty of time to wash, scrub, polish or dry-clean your competition clothing and equipment. Whilst marks aren’t based on turnout. A nicely turned out horse and rider is a pleasure to judge and watch, so make the effort – if you both look good - you will feel great too!
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