The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is one of the biggest events in the equestrian calendar, so it is no surprise that preparing a horse for the four-star event takes a lot of careful planning, time and consideration. Much of this work falls to the amazing grooms who care so diligently for the horses they look after.

Here Georgina Tapner, wife of top Australian rider Paul Tapner, shares her top tips for grooms who are getting ready for the big event for the first time:

  1. Always work backwards from the event, making sure that your key dates are correct. For example, you want to shoe your horse so that he is running across country wearing shoes that have been on for about 10 to 14 days. Remember to ask for a spare set in case your horse loses one and it needs replacing quickly.
  2. We always finish our gallop training 10 days before cross-country day – everybody will take a slightly different approach to their gallop work, however this works for us.
  3. You must keep an eagle eye on your horse’s legs. Learn every lump and bump, especially what they look like the day after galloping.
  4. Regular trotting up practice is essential. We work our horses from the ground and train them to trot up – it is almost like an extra phase of the competition. If you can’t get your horse to trot up it could cost you the competition, or you may not even be able to start so it is very important that you get it right.
  5. Pull your horse’s mane and tail about two weeks before the competition so that when you get there it all looks perfect.
  6. Ensure that the horse’s saddle is checked regularly on the lead up to the event, as horses will change shape dramatically, especially if they are galloping for a CCI event.
  7. Be extra vigilant when feeding and be careful that nothing is going near, or in, your horse that shouldn’t be – dope testing is random and no mistakes can be made. We match up batch numbers for our horse’s feeds and keep a log of them. The supplements we feed are covered by BETA NOPS – this is a recognised stamp that helps protect you if any contaminated substance is found in a feed. It is definitely worth using a supplement company that uses this stamp for peace of mind. 

Burghley Horse Trials takes place on 1 – 4 September 2016. For more information visit: www.burghley-horse.co.uk