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As the last of the qualifiers come to an end, owners, riders and breeders alike will be getting hyped up for the finals at the 2018 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), the biggest fixture in the showing calender.

During the last few weeks before the legendary event, those competing will undoubtedly experience highs, lows, stress, sleepless nights, long training sessions and the never-ending analysis of show condition.

Here are 12 thoughts that will more than likely cross your mind during the manic HOYS countdown:

1. I’M SO EXCITED

With the buzz of qualifying still fresh in the mind, the thought of hitting the perfectly prepared surfaces of either the TopSpec or International arenas is making you even more giddy.

2. It costs how much per class?!

Don’t think about it. But a top tip, schedule entries to be made AFTER payday. Suddenly those seemingly extortionate county show entry fees are sounding pretty cheap…

3. Working in is at what time?!

Coffee at the ready for the early birds who will need to be ready for their scheduled working in slot before the sun rises…

4. I think I might need a new jacket, and hat, and maybe a tie…

While looking all shiny and sheened can be good thing in the show ring, make sure you don’t over do it with too many fresh-off-the-hanger purchases. That statement tweed you’ve been sporting all season has become your signature, stick with it.

5. When do I clip?

Professionals are still trying to work out the magic clipping formula to this day. It’s horses for courses with this.

6. What if I canter on the wrong leg?

We’ve all been there — bathed the horse, left the yard at 3am, got the show, gone in the class and cantered on the wrong leg. If you’ve got a ride judge to impress, on the aid pick ups are a must to get right before you hit the ring. If you’re the parent / producer of a mini rider, the phrase ‘don’t look down’ will probably come in handy.

7. Whose coming with me?

There’s no party like a HOYS party so get all your showing buddies (and your very best groom) all sorted for a few days in Birmingham.

8. Must check my trainer isn’t on holiday

And must also book an emergency block of lessons to start ASAP.

9. And I haven’t even looked at the judges

Nothing you can do about this now. Just make sure you knock ’em dead on the day.

10. No seriously, when do I clip?!

If we told you, we’d have to kill you.

11. Must attend a ‘pre-HOYS’ practise show

Nothing compares to the atmosphere of HOYS so hitting a practise show in September can go a long way in ensuring your performance is as spook-free as can be. If this isn’t possible, raid the gardening section at your local supermarket and create your own flower arrangement, and turn your radio up full blast when schooling. *Cue HOYS lap of honour music*

12. I actually can’t wait!

And we can’t wait to watch you either!

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