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BLOG: The ultimate competition preparation

  Emma Booth - © Geoff McLean (single blog use only)

Emma Booth and Zidane.


© Geoff McLean/Gone Riding Media


By Emma Booth


There are so many things to take into account when preparing for a competition. Not only do you have to make sure your training is up to scratch in the lead up to ensure your best possible performance, you also have to consider your horse's needs for a trip - whether it’s a day trip or a week long venture. Once you have your horse sorted, you also have to take into account your own needs - your gear, food, clothing, and everything necessary for competing.


It’s a really good idea to get into a system or routine the week prior to competing, trying to keep this systematic and unchanging every time, no matter how big or small the importance of the competition is. This will enforce habitual behaviour and make competitions feel like the norm rather than something overwhelming or scary. It will also help you mentally prepare for the best performance possible. Find a routine leading into a competition that works for you and stick to it. 


Make sure you work through a training regime with your coach in the lead up to competition so that you have confidence in the work you are doing with your horse. For ultimate preparation you must have a clear idea about exactly what you are working towards or wanting to achieve. 



Emma Booth's groom Shahira and Zidane, 2017 Boneo Classic - Photo Emma Booth


Groom Shahira Ameen and Zidane.



Here are my five tips for an unflawed preparation plan leading into a competition:

1. Make a list - Making a list of all the gear you want to take to a competition is a great way to ensure you don’t forget to pack anything. This takes the pressure off you having to remember absolutely everything, every time. If you tick the items off your list as you pack them, you will have greater confidence in leaving, knowing you haven’t forgotten anything.

2. Have a permanent competition kit - It’s a good idea to have certain equipment that is only used for competition in a separate area that is always packed and ready to go. For example, things like plaiting gear, cleaning products, bridle numbers, stable wraps, competition rugs, white saddle blankets etc., could all be in a “competition tub”. 

3. Pack the float or truck in advance - There is nothing worse than rushing the night before to get everything packed in the dark. This adds to your stress and doesn’t give a good lead into a competition - you don’t want to start on the wrong foot before you even get to the venue. By packing everything in advance, you will feel more organised and have higher confidence going into an event.

4. Clean gear prior to packing - You will look and feel more professional arriving to a venue with clean, immaculately organised gear, instead of doing last minute cleaning before you compete. 

5. Ask for help - There is no reason to feel as though you can’t ask for assistance. We all need support sometimes and it's nice feeling as though we can give and take with others. It may be your friend, family member, coach, or competition staff that you look to for assistance. Whoever it may be, don’t feel bad for asking for help. It could very well be that you might need assistance this time, but there will always be another scenario in which you can return the favour. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the travel, maybe ask a friend who is also going if you can convoy. If lifting heavy things while packing is too much, get a second person to help make it easier. If you need information regarding the event, call or email the event organisers in advance, they are always very obliging and willing to answer all questions. 

Finally, make sure you are having fun and enjoying what you do. I’m a firm believer that if we are enjoying ourselves, our performance is likely to be better.






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