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…
Date: 16 November
Venue: Felbridge Showground, East Grinstead
Details: “This affiliated competition has classes from British Novice up to 1.30m.”
Date: 17 November
Venue: Beaver Hall, Leek
Details: “This unaffiliated competition starts with beginners’ cross poles up to 90cm with higher classes on demand.”
Date: 21—24 November
Venue: Onley Grounds Equestrian Complex, Rugby
Details: “This affiliated four-day show features classes from 90cm up to 1.40m.”
Date: 23 November
Venue: Highfield Equestrian at Howe, Cupar
Details: “This unaffiliated competition has classes ranging from clear round cross poles and 45cm up to 1.05m.”
Date: 24 November
Venue: Moreton Equestrian Centre, Dorchester
Details: “This competition includes classes from 50cm to 1.15-1.20m with horse and pony sections.”
Date: 24 November
Venue: Mullacott Event Centre, Ilfracombe
Details: “This unaffiliated show has a large range of classes, from cross poles up to 1m.”
Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings