Horse trials and three-day events can be very stressful. But there are certain things you can do to prepare to help reduce anxiety for yourself and the family members you dragged along! Here are a few tips to help keep you from becoming a frazzled mess at your next event.
Step 1: Learn your tests.
Start memorizing your dressage test as soon as you sign up for the event. The test will be posted and you can even practice this in your living room or in the breakroom at your office by walking out your pattern. Don’t worry, your coworkers will think this is totally normal, as you pretend to canter a circle while waiting for the coffee to finish. In all reality, it’s one less thing you have to worry about when you arrive at the show.
Step 2: Make reservations.
The day you sign up for the show, make reservations at your hotel or campground. Summers in certain areas get busy, and if you wait until the last minute, you might find yourself camping in the parking lot of a nearby equestrian center because it’s 100 degrees and that’s the only place to plug in your living quarters trailer within 50 miles (believe me).
Step 3: Make a list.
This is something you can do a week away from the show. Start writing down all of the things you need to bring with you, and all of the things you need to arrange before you go. Show clothes? CHECK. Saddle? CHECK. Wraps? Boots? Stud kit? CHECK.
Step 4: Pack.
Organize all the tack and show clothing you will need for the event a few days before you hit the road. If you are able, load the trailer a couple days in advance. If it is the same tack you use everyday, set that aside and make sure you allow an extra hour the night before you leave to clean tack and load in the trailer. Do not try to do it the day you are trying to leave, because inevitably you will forget something at home!
Step 5: Do not over-schedule yourself the day you aim to leave for the show.
Many of us have jobs, and families, and other commitments. Make sure you schedule yourself a day off when you plan to leave, and even the afternoon the day before you hit the road.
Step 6: Final trailer load.
The only things that you should leave for the day that you plan to hit the road are immediate items like hay and water buckets. Wrap horses’ legs, and don’t forget to put your horse in the trailer! You may laugh at this, but you know deep down you’ve had that fear of forgetting your horse. Make sure your polo wraps are clean and rolled in advance so all you have to do is put them on.
Tips: Plan to leave at a specific time but know that things come up. Allow yourself an extra hour before you leave, and an extra hour on the road. Traffic, construction and other time-stealers can be found along the route. Being on time and prepared will greatly help reduce the stress level.
Additionally, if you keep your items stored in tubs, labeled and always put back in the same spot when you are done, it will greatly reduce the stress at the show. Then you are not having to look for items in a panic! When you unload the trailer, make sure you have everything you need for that day. It’s not fun asking your husband to drive all the way back to the parked trailer to get your stud kit 20 minutes before your posted ride time (believe me!!).
Events can be stressful, but with a bit of organization and time management, you will be more relaxed and able to concentrate on what to do when you’re on course or in the ring. Was it trot at C, or was I supposed to trot at M???
3 … 2 … 1 … Have a good ride!
Amy Nelson has been riding hunter/jumpers and eventers for 25 years and is based in Rochester, IL. She retrains OTTBs, problem horses, and trains eventers at her own show barn, Hummingbird Stables. She competes with OTTBs in upper level eventing, has qualified for the AECs at many levels, and has competed in the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover. Her goals are to compete at the one-star level this year, and eventually four-star. You can follow Amy on Facebook here and on Instagram at @amynelsoneventer. Check out more of her “Eventing Shorts” on EN’s Blogger’s Row.