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…

Summer showjumping

Date: 29 June
Venue: Mullacott Event Centre, Ilfracombe
Details: “This unaffiliated show has a large range of classes, from 50cm up to 105cm.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated Derby show

Date: 30 June
Venue: Felbridge Showground, East Grinstead
Details: “This unaffiliated competition is open to everyone, with classes ranging from 60cm to 90cm with rosettes and prizes on offer.”
Enter now

Evening showjumping

Date: 2 July
Venue: Beaver Hall, Leek
Details: “This competition kicks off at 6pm with a clear round followed by classes ranging from cross poles up to 90cm.”
Enter now

British Showjumping

Date: 4 July
Venue: Rectory Farm Arena, Cirencester
Details: “This affiliated show features classes from 90cm up to 1.30m.”
Enter now

British Showjumping

Date: 5 July
Venue: Forest Edge Arena, Swaffham
Details: “This affiliated competition has classes ranging from clear round and 90cm up to 1.30m.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated showjumping

Date: 6 July
Venue: Inchcoonans Competition & Livery Yard, Errol
Details: “This competition includes classes from clear round and 45cm up to 1.10m with a selection of qualifiers and a style and performance class too.”
Enter now

Visit for full competition and training listings