Last updated on January 4, 2024
6 Training Tips to Be Successful at Horse Competitions
When it comes to preparing for horse competitions, many competitors struggle with questions like: “Am I prepared enough? Is my horse prepared? Should I wait a little longer? Did I wait too long?” Though ultimately only you and your horse know when your horse is ready, there are some proven tips to help you prepare yourself and your horse for competition!
6 Tips to Prepare for Horse Competitions
1. Haul Without Competing
- There is so much to be said for hauling a horse and letting them see the sights and sounds away from home before you expect them to pay attention and do their job. Whether you have the luxury of having an older horse that you’re already competing on, and letting the young one tag along for the ride OR you’re making the trek to town just for the young one, it’s worth the time, effort, and fuel to haul a horse and start the seasoning process without the pressure of competing.
2. Train at Home
- The bulk of your training needs to be done at home, though there is certainly value in doing some dry work, practice runs, or exhibitions at the event venue.
- The fact is, if your horse does not know how to do their job before you arrive at the horse competition, they are certainly isn’t going to learn that day.
3. Expect Less Away from Home
- With the new sights, sounds, smells, and nerves of a new environment, chances are good that until your horse is fully seasoned, they will do a better job at their event at home. Don’t expect them to perform better away from home. In fact, set the bar for satisfaction a little lower. Then, if you happen to have a stand-out performer who rises to a new level away from home, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
4. Prepare Yourself Mentally for Horse Competitions
- Anyone who has spent any amount of time around horses knows that horses pick up on their person’s emotions. If you are a nervous wreck, chances are good that will translate to your horse.
- Many experienced horsemen will tell you that they’ve seen a perceptible difference in their horses when they, the rider, are calm, collected, and focused versus when they are uptight and nervous.
- Make a habit of mentally going through your ideal competitive run. Visualize where and how you will cue your horse. Envision the perfect run. Many times just the act of mentally preparing for success helps to calm nervous riders, and ultimately their horses.
5. Set Your Horse’s Gut Up for Success
- If you’ve ever experienced nervous butterflies and then tried to go on stage, give a speech, or play a sport at your very best, you know how challenging that can be. Let alone trying to perform if you have chronic gut issues such as ulcers!
- More and more research is showing the connection between gut health and mental health, so it would behoove you and your horses to make sure that their gut gets and STAYS healthy.
- In addition to a daily regime of Foundation Daily Detox and NuTrack Digestive Support, many horse owners have seen a difference with incorporating In The Zone Calming Paste into their pre-competition routine with their horses.
6. Live to Ride Another Day
- As much as we competitive types love to win everywhere we go every single time, nobody has their very best day every day. And when we put that kind of pressure on ourselves, we are headed for disappointment.
- You can take a LOT of the pressure off yourself and your horse by remembering that there is (almost) always another horse competition, another rodeo, another chance to run your event coming up. Rather than destroying years’ worth of work and training over a single event, remind yourself that you do get to go again another weekend.
Be Prepared Mentally and Physically for Your Horse Competitions
As horsemen, taking the best care of our horses, both physically and mentally, should take precedence over success in horse competitions. Try incorporating these 6 tips into your program (if you aren’t already) and help your horse have a long and satisfying competitive career. And remember, Animal Element supplements can help your horse stay healthy, fit, and competition ready!