With the 2021 event season only a number of months away, many of you will be working on your horse’s fitness as well as competing when possible.
Article supplied by Petplan Equine.
Petplan Equine caught up with six times Badminton Horse Trials winner Lucinda Green to share with you some top tips on competing and staying on top form this winter.
Some horses may be a little fresh during winter with many operating on restricted turnout, and spending prolonged periods in their stables. Lucinda advises how you can manage this.
“Firstly, keep your horse active, especially if he is staying in for longer periods due to weather or restricted turnout,” advises Lucinda. Your work should be varied which keeps your horse engaged. Set goals for your training sessions and even your hacking to ensure you remain focused. It can be hard to know where to start when planning your winter training, but as a rule of thumb, try and give yourself a month to six weeks of slow hardening work to get you and your horse to a standard where you feel you are ready to go out competing. Plan outings to places which offer arena eventing and showjumping practice and maybe do some dressage in a friend’s arena, so it is somewhere different.”
“Before heading to a competition, make sure your horse has had enough work the day before and if this is his first competition in a while or perhaps, he just becomes over excited when he knows he is going somewhere, take him for plenty of trips in the lorry or trailer, even if it’s just to hack out somewhere else,” continues Lucinda.
“Once you are in a routine and your horse has settled into the groove, he may be able to take a lighter day before heading to a competition as this can arguably be better for his legs.”
Keeping positive and maintaining motivation
“If your first competition does not quite go to plan, you can come away feeling quite disheartened,” remarks Lucinda. There will be a few of us whose horses are quite full of themselves or not quite in the competition mindset, especially as so many of us took time off earlier in the year. However, negative thinking is a killer,” exclaims Lucinda. “You have to try and not let the devil sit on your shoulder and then into your way of thinking. It is hard, but it all comes down to self-control and you cannot let negative thinking obliterate the confidence that remains. Restructure your mindset by reminding yourself of all the things that have gone well over time.”
Incorporating hacking into your routine
“Hacking is a very important part of your horse’s fitness and training routine,” comments Lucinda. Although the ground may be harder – or indeed over the winter months, muddier – you can still keep improving your horse’s fitness and suppleness by utilising hills. If you live in a particularly flat area, perhaps find somewhere you can travel to and incorporate hill work in all three paces. I would advise just walking downhill if the ground is really hard. Whatever, your horse must be straight, learning to balance downhill in all three paces is a very good exercise.”