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Preparing for your first horse competition

Preparing for your first horse competition

Taking part in horse competitions is a great way to meet other riders and strengthen the bond between you and your horse. It's important to do some preparation for this event beforehand to ensure both you and your horse are comfortable and ready to compete.

Choose a small show
For your first competitive outing, you may want to opt for a show that's on the smaller side. This is a good way to ease you and your horse into the environment of a competition. Ask friends and trainers what horse shows they would recommend for first-time riders.

Visit the show grounds ahead of time
Even if you've been to the grounds before, it's important to take your horse over there to help calm his nerves. Competitions can be filled with many unfamiliar noises and surroundings for your horse, and you don't want him to be scared before you're about to compete. Practice loading your horse into the trailer so it goes smoothly on the morning of the show. When you get to the grounds, see if you can do a few practice runs with your horse so he can become familiar with the terrain.

Make a list
You'll have to bring a lot of items to the horse show, and all of those things can be tough to keep track of in your head. About a week before the show, make a list of all the supplies you'll need, from water buckets and feed supplements to clothing, grooming equipment, first-aid kits and training gear. Make sure to check everything off the list before you leave for the competition. Having everything you need before the show may help to calm your nerves a bit and help you feel as ready as possible.

Test your gear
About a week or so before the competition, try on your gear to make sure everything fits snugly. Your garments shouldn't be getting in the way of your horse riding skills. Keep your hair tucked away on competition day so it stays out of your face. Hair nets are often used to maintain a neat and tidy look. You should also know what's acceptable according to the show's rule book.

Groom the day before
Instead of bathing and grooming your horse on the morning of the show, do that the day before so you have one less thing to worry about on competition day. This way, you can relax, take your time and make sure your horse looks and feels perfect.

Leave early
Give yourself plenty of time for you and your horse to become adjusted to the horse show environment by leaving two to three hours early. This will allow you to walk around the show with your horse, warm up and relax before the competition begins.

Feed at the right time
Give your horse plenty of time to eat and digest his meal so that he's ready to go by showtime. You should feed it about two to three hours beforehand.

Keep an open mind
Things may not go exactly as you had planned in your mind, but that's OK. The more shows you attend, the more you'll know what to expect and how you can be better prepared for next time. Stay positive, and know that you can only improve from here. Think of every competition as a learning experience for both you and your horse. Your horse will soon become accustomed to the routine of show day and all of the sights, sounds and smells that come along with it.

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