Spooky horse making competing in dressage difficult? Here’s how to conquer it…

  • Competing is nerve-wracking enough without your horse deciding every marker and fleck of arena is utterly terrifying. So here are some great pointers from five-star eventer Kate Honey (pictured) to help you tackle spookiness with your horse in the arena…

    1. Get your horse used to working with other horses around.

    2. Create scenarios at home, such as putting out flower pots or have music playing in the background — whatever you think your horse will react to and let them get used to it at home.

    3. Work on different surfaces. If your tests are mostly on grass don’t do all your training on a pristine surface.

    4. Make sure you do plenty of schooling at different venues before competing so they can get used to seeing lots of different things.

    5. When you are at a competition, give yourself plenty of time in the warm up, so there is no rush and your horse can settle. Doing lots of transitions can help to make sure the horse is really listening.

    6. Some horses benefit from being worked before a test, then being put away and then when you get back on them immediately before, they have a shorter warm up. Or you could hand walk them round a venue to get used to the atmosphere. Work out what brings out the best in your horse.

    7. Try to actually ride the test and not just survive it. If you make a mistake remember it is only one movement — stay positive for the rest of the test.

    Credit: Stride Management

    Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these dressage competitions available to enter where you can put this into practice…

    British Dressage

    Date: 14 December
    Venue: Forest Edge Arena, Swaffham
    Details: “This competition has a large range of classes from prelim to advanced medium.”
    Enter now

    Unaffiliated dressage

    Date: 14 December
    Venue: Cholderton Equestrian Centre, Salisbury
    Details: “This competition has classes from intro to novice with a pick your own section too for any short or long British Dressage test. This competition also includes points towards the Retraining of Racehorses league.”
    Enter now

    Christmas jumper dressage

    Date: 15 December
    Venue: Cottingham Equestrian Centre, Cottingham
    Details: “This competition has intro to elementary classes with a Christmas drill ride to music too. There will be a prize for the best Christmas outfit.”
    Enter now

    Unaffiliated mid-week dressage

    Date: 16 December
    Venue: Reaseheath College, Nantwich
    Details: “This competition includes classes from intro to elementary.”
    Enter now

    Christmas jumper dressage

    Date: 21 December
    Venue: Beaver Hall, Leek
    Details: “This unaffiliated competition features classes from intro to medium. Make sure you come in your Christmas jumper too — there will be mince pies and mulled wine for all riders and their helpers.”
    Enter now

    British Dressage and Team Quest

    Date: 28 December
    Venue: Holmside Hall Equestrian, Durham
    Details: “This affiliated competition has classes ranging between intro and novice with a variety of sections.”
    Enter now

    Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings

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