If you're competing at Olympia later this month, take a look at these top tips from showing experts Robert and Claire Oliver to give you the edge in the ring
1. Practise riding indoors
To prepare for Olympia your horse or pony needs to be accustomed to being indoors in a confined space — you need to have several practices in local indoor schools, to accustom to the confines, noise and banners that will surround Olympia. This applies to both horse and rider.
2. Focus on presentation
Presentation is all important. Often at this time of year it is difficult because of the shorter hours available to prepare the horses, and with the weather turning you don’t want them to be outside for too long as this can cause their coats to stair and go wiry. To maintain a fine coat the animal must be kept warm.
3. Work out a clipping plan
The next decision you have got to make is clipping, which will need to be done to the standards of your breed. If you are going to clip your horse, you need to do it at least a week before — but bear in mind if you are going to work them harder than usual in preparation they will need to be clipped earlier.
4. Check the horse for any discomfort
We always have our horses checked by our sports massage therapist (pictured above), before any big event. If you are in any doubt about your horse’s movement or ability to carry the rider then it would be advisable to have the horse checked for any discomfort.
5. Check your paperwork
Prior to the show, check all your necessary passes and paperwork, particularly exercising times and bedding availability. You don’t want to be in a situation where you arrive and find you have to supply your own shavings.
6. Check your vaccinations
Thoroughly check your vaccinations. It is a must that it is an expert veterinary check — even if there is an incorrect vaccination date in the past two years, it will not be accepted.
7. Beat the dark
Get hold of a head torch — they are perfect for plaiting in limited light.
8. Leave ample time
Always ensure you have ample time to consider traffic, parking and stabling. You must check your veterinary cabinet and grooming kit along with all your necessary riding equipment to ensure you are covered for every eventuality.
9. Have a helper
You will also find it helpful to have someone with you at all times as a helping hand with things like time-keeping and last-minute adjustments before entering the ring. A final wipe over your boots and around your horse’s mouth are important when a prestine turnout is key.