This week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (22 February 2018) is our show guide issue — complete with more than 5,400 dates to plan your season. Find out how to make the most of your moment in the spotlight with our guide to prize-givings...

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A big win is always memorable, but a particular grand prix prize-giving ceremony sticks in showjumper Tim Stockdale’s mind for all the wrong reasons.

It was just as the national anthem fired up and the crowds burst into appreciative applause that Tim’s moment of glory ended in a cloud of Spanish dust.

“I put my leg on for the lap of honour and was bucked clean off,” he remembers. “As my horse galloped round, sponsor’s rug and rosettes flapping, I was left sitting on my derrière in the middle of the arena.”

Tim’s experience is not unique. Riders at all levels can recall explosive prize-givings in which hyped-up horses, forced to stand in line in an electric atmosphere, have boiled over.

From rearing up to falling down, or exiting the arena at high speed, the resulting behaviour can cause carnage.

Avoid a disaster with our prize-giving advice:

Don’t:

Overtake. Shooting past higher-placed competitors is bad-mannered and dangerous.
Hog the limelight. Circle just once, unless you’re the winner.
Overdo it. Throwing your hat in the air or dropping your reins can end in disaster. Even professionals have messed that one up.

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Do:

Try to create a prize-giving atmosphere at home. Although it’s hard to mimic the atmosphere of a big arena at home, playing a CD with loud applause can help.
Take a stepping-stone approach. A gradual progression through the competition levels should get a horse used to prize-givings.
Practise making your horse stand still. Asking a horse to stand still under pressure should be a priority, whether this is out hunting, at the mounting block or after something high-energy like canter.
Be honest. Tell the organisers if your horse hates rosettes or rugs before they try to attach something to him.
Borrow a horse. If yours is truly terrified, find a safer alternative.
Smile! It’s your moment of glory — remember to enjoy it.

Ref: 9 October 2014

Don’t miss this week’s show guide issue of Horse & Hound magazine (22 February 2018), complete with more than 5,400 dates to plan your season