Kate Chadderton is an Australian native who operates a competition and training business in Maryland. She recently began offering weekly tips and advice, and we're pleased that she's graciously allowed us to share them here on EN. Keep an eye out for a new tip each week from Kate!
Each person has a different time frame to work with when planning their show schedule. For me, the upper level horses start competing at the beginning of February in Georgia and continue on their way to spring three-days.
However, most people have work and family schedules to work around, in which case I recommend a different approach. Making two big goals each year is a great way to go.
Whether it’s the American Eventing Championships, a three-day, or a move up to the next level, it gives you a point to work back from. In my area (Maryland) a popular goal is to use the double weekend of events at The Maryland Horse Trials (MDHT) at Loch Moy to move up a level. It’s an event most horses and riders are familiar with, which helps generate confidence.
Typically a combination would compete at the Novice level at MDHT 1 and then make the move to Training at MDHT 2. For this particular goal, I would decide how many more Novice events a rider and horse needs, then work backwards and figure out the calendar to get them to the point where they can achieve their goal.
A similar process applies to the AECs. First, the combination has to qualify, so I would plan a fair way in advance to qualify then select a couple of testing events (the AECs are championship level, i.e. hard!) to make sure the horse was capable. Then I would use the event preceding the AECs to give the horse an easy, confidence building run.
If a horse has a weaker area in dressage or show jumping then they’ll go to specific dressage and show jumping competitions to nail that area down.
I try not to do more than two eventing competitions in a month and really try to avoid going back to back on upper level horses. This allows them to have a mental and physical break. I will show jump (for example, at HITS) on a Thursday and event on the weekend as it’s not too strenuous.