EVENTERS’ EARLY SEASON TIPS

  • Look for flatter courses if your horse is not at full fitness. Younger horses will also find undulating courses harder work
  • Big layout events may have more space between the dressage rings and the cross-country PA, plus larger warm-up areas for letting off steam
  • Ground is all-important at this time of year — try to choose somewhere that drains well, or has room to move warm-up arenas if they get boggy
  • Look for a well-built course which asks questions but won’t be too challenging for a first run
  • Avoid twisty courses — it’s easier to get youngsters going forward on flowing tracks

SHOW JUMPERS’ EARLY SEASON TIPS

  • Find out what the entries are like or you may be hanging around all day
  • Ask if the show runs a drawn order or “numbers on the board” policy
  • Make sure you know what surface you are jumping on
  • Try to let young horses experience as much as possible, within reason

SHOWING EARLY SEASON TIPS

  • Early fixtures are great for seeing what everyone is bringing out for the season
  • Busy shows are good for getting young stock accustomed to sights and sounds, and loading
  • Shows with plenty of working-in space are best for fizzy youngsters

DRESSAGE EARLY SEASON TIPS

  • Non-spooky indoor schools are great for youngsters’ first outings
  • Enclosed warm-up arenas are preferable for first-timers and sharp horses
  • Surfaces should not be too deep, slippery or firm, and outdoor warm-ups should cope with bad weather
  • Big young horses find long arena tests more comfortable
  • If the venue only has one test arena you could be in for a long day if you have one horse doing two tests

Find out how the top riders choose their early season outings, plus their favourite venues, in the current issue of Horse & Hound (21 February, ’08)