Expert advice from Karen Dixon on warming your horse up before the different phases at a one-day event

Always allocate yourself plenty of extra time at a one-day event as being short of time will make you feel flustered, which will affect your horse.

When planning how much time you need to warm your horse up, use your knowledge of what suits your horse while being aware of the different needs for each of the phases.

Dressage

The warm-up at a competition is not the time to try anything new. Aim to remain calm and relaxed while striking a happy medium between the horse having done enough work to be sensible but not so much that he is bored and flat.

Show jumping

Make sure your horse is warmed up before you start to jump. Get him into “jump mode” with lots of canter work, bends and transitions, working the horse through from leg to hand. Once the horse has been warmed up for about 20 minutes, I will pop over a cross-pole a couple of times, then add an upright and finish over a parallel. Again, don’t overdo it so that the horse is fed up and gets careless.

Cross-country

The aim is to get the horse going forward and to make sure he is alert and concentrating. There will not be much time between phases, so get changed, have a spin around the collecting ring, jump the practice fence a few times and away you go!

Eventing etiquette

  • Never lose your temper, with your horse or with a person. BE has strict disciplinary rules about courtesy to officials and about abuse of the horse.
  • Be aware of other horses around you, especially in warm-up areas, and look where you are going. Don’t hog the practice fence.
  • If your cross-country round isn’t going to plan, be prepared to get out of the way of the next competitor.
  • Look after your horse before yourself. Pull up gradually at the end of the cross-country and immediately work at making him comfortable.
  • If you win a prize, you must attend prize-giving in show jumping dress. If you must leave beforehand, arrange for someone to collect your prize.
  • Remember you are on someone else’s property and treat it with respect. Never empty rubbish or droppings out of your lorry on to the grass.
  • A thank you never goes amiss and will be much appreciated.