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Are you an amateur preparing to home-produce for the first time, or perhaps you’re looking for ways to improve your results in the show ring? Five riders who took the plunge in 2016 pass on the key things they learned when going it alone.

1. Go to clinics and have lessons

“Get help in making the partnership work,” advises Sarah Carey, who now home-produces Pearly King after his successful run with producer Simon Charlesworth. “Don’t put pressure on yourself to match past results.”

2. Ask for feedback and take it on board

“I’m always grateful to hear opinions on how my horse is looking and going. I’m used to looking at my own horses, so it’s useful to ask a professional’s opinion,” says Lizzie Oseman, champion amateur cob at RIHS last year on Ballyell Turbo.

3. Do your homework and have confidence in yourself

“Providing you have done your preparation and have the right horse there is nothing to lose. Do your groundwork at smaller shows and make sure you show them everything they might see at a show,” says Heather Clay, who began home-producing the prolific Hallmark in 2016.

4. Enjoy yourself!

“Realistically when you work full-time and have a family it’s not always possible to do it yourself, but nothing beats hard work and you do get a different sense of achievement when you win a rosette on your own merit,” adds Heather.

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5. Keep the work varied

“Horses get bored of going round an arena so try working in an open field and hacking out,” advises Polly Coles, whose hunter was previously with Charles Le Moignan.

6. Be prepared to work hard

“It’s satisfying when you get great results, but extremely hard work. There’s so much to get right and you have to do it yourself,” says Lisa Simms, a former city investment bank director who now produces her children’s working hunter ponies.

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7. Do your washing the same day

“I get back from a show and am straight into bath time and preparing school uniforms, cooking meals and helping with homework. Suddenly the next show is upon me and I need clean fleeces, bandages, tail guards and boots,” says Lizzie Oseman.

8. Plan ahead — and use your time wisely

“I’m always missing entry dates, forgetting Horse of the Year Show forms, getting in a muddle with different societies and new rules. But I find the wins more rewarding now — all the hard work is really worth it,” adds Lizzie.

Don’t miss the full feature and much more in H&H’s showing special, on sale now.