How to walk a showjumping course like a pro

The saying goes prior preparation prevents poor performance and this is certainly the case when it comes to competing horses.

Here, top showjumper Louise Pavitt, who competes up to five-star level and also has pony and junior European medals to her name, shares her advice on how to make the most of your showjumping coursewalk experience to help maximise the chances of producing the best round possible.

1. Know your horse. Walk the course with your horse in mind — much like people no two horses are the same, some have bigger strides and some smaller, so make a plan that is relevant to each specific horse.

2. Be conscious of the time allowed. If it seems like the time is going to be tight, look for areas on the course where you can save time, for example turning inside a fence or angling a jump.

3. Always plan your route to the first jump. Often the approach you take to the first fence can set the pace for the rest of the course. Make sure you know the angle and direction you will start with.

4. Find an area in the course where you will be able to give your horse both a mental and physical breather. Allowing them time for this will lead to a much smoother ride.

5. Always add a stride on a related distance to a double of verticals, including combinations that are vertical-vertical-oxer. It is the oldest course builder trick in the book and encourages horses to flatten. Ensure you have the horse really sitting on its hocks to give you the best possible chance of jumping clear.

6. If you have a chance to watch a couple go before you, try to only study horses that are similar to yours. This way you will get the most accurate perspective of how the course is going to ride for you.

Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these dressage competitions available to enter where you can show off what you’ve learnt…

Winter showjumping

Date: 9 February
Venue: Inchcoonans Competition & Livery Yard, Errol
Details: “This unaffiliated show has a large range of classes, from 35cm clear round up to a 1.10m+ clear round with Trailblazers qualifier classes in-between, with rosettes to sixth place.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated showjumping

Date: 9 February
Venue: Oaklands College, St Albans
Details: “This competition has classes from 50cm to 1m with a selection of qualifiers.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated showjumping

Date: 9 February
Venue: Beaver Hall, Leek
Details: “This unaffiliated competition is open to everyone, with a smart casual dress code. Competition will not start before 12.45pm and if you enter two classes, you get an additional two entries for free.”
Enter now

British Showjumping

Date: 10 February
Venue: Kingston Maurward College, Dorchester
Details: “This show features classes from 90cm up to 1.20m.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated showjumping

Date: 10 February
Venue: Fenland Equestrian Centre, Wisbech
Details: “This unaffiliated competition has classes ranging from an adjustable height clear round and 40cm, which is open to lead-reins, up to 1.10m.”
Enter now

British Showjumping

Date: 10 February
Venue: Alnwick Ford Equestrian, Morpeth
Details: “This competition includes classes from clear round and 90cm up to 1.30m with a selection of qualifiers.”
Enter now

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