The sun is beating down, your immaculately groomed mount has disappeared beneath a sea of sweat, you are both starting to feel irritable thanks to the unwanted attentions of every fly in the land… and you haven’t even been cross-country yet.

When competing there isn’t a lot to be done about a midday dressage time or a lengthy wait for the showing judge to make their choice.

And with a fine line between warm-up and melt down, there’s a chance you might forget to enjoy yourself.

But there are lots of little things you can do to make competing in the summer more comfortable for both you and your horse.

  • Leave as early as possible to avoid travelling in the heat and reduce the risk of getting stuck in traffic during the warmest part of the day. Make sure that any windows are open to keep fresh air flowing through the horsebox.
  • Give your horse a good dousing with fly spray before leaving home and remember to take it with you for top-ups throughout the day. A fly mask is also a good idea if your horse is likely to be standing around.
  • If you don’t have a fridge, freeze a bottle of water or made up squash the night before so that it stays cool throughout the day. Make sure you remember to drink frequently — horses aren’t the only ones that get dehydrated.
  • Don’t neglect to pack any rugs just because it’s hot — make sure you have a cooler to dry your horse off after you’ve washed him down and, if you are staying away from home, take something to keep him warm if the temperature drops at night. Packing a waterproof sheet in case of showers is also a good idea — after all, this is still the UK.
  • Don’t forget to take sun cream — for both of you, if your horse has any pink bits. Take a sunhat to wear when you aren’t riding.

For more summer management tips, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (2 June, 2011)