By Ruth Rosendaul
When heading to a competition, there is so much planning that goes into getting ready for weeks, or even months, before the event! It is important that you give yourself time to make sure you can get everything ready ahead of time instead of waiting until a few days before an event. Planning well in advance helps you ensure everything is organized and that you feel prepared the day of the event.
If you’re anything like me, you will put everything off until the last minute, because it is just easier to not worry about it. I learned that the hard way more than enough times, and it made my life before an event even more chaotic and stressful. It is important to make sure you have tangible items ready, but it is also crucial to ensure you are mentally ready, as well—whether you’re doing a schooling event or going to a 5* Eventing competition. Preparing both physically and mentally will play a big part in your performance at the event.
Here are four tips to help you prepare:
Tip #1: Write down everything you need to do and to pack. I separate my list into things that can get done or packed a few days ahead and the things that need to be packed the day before. This helps me know that I have everything, and I am able to check it off a list. I also find it really important to put my trailer back together immediately after an event so I don’t have to worry about it later on. Since we all have our phones on us, you can utilize the Notes app, or another similar app, to create your lists and check off items, or delete them, once you have it packed. If you want to keep the list for events in the future, you can put it into a Word document or Google Docs to save for later. Everyone has different ways of getting packed for an event, but those are just a few examples I have used for myself that work well.
Tip #2: Get mentally prepared. When riding at an event or at home, you are riding under some level of pressure. There are many levels of pressure, and you could be under a small amount of pressure, or under a high amount of pressure. Regardless, it is important as a rider to be able to ride under pressure and still ride at your very best and handle any situation that comes your way. This comes with trial and error, and you won’t know what is best for you until you try many different things. [Of course, if you’re under pressure and need help handling it, it’s always good to talk to a parent, a trusted friend, or a leader within Pony Club.]
Tip #3: Figure out your show or rally routine and what helps you on the day of. Do you go get coffee or a treat the day of the show? Have a special dinner the night before? Do you eat a big breakfast? Do you pack certain snacks or drinks? Do you always walk, or bike (for cross-country day), your courses more than one time? Do you need an extra set of hands to help you? Do you need to pack your lucky tack or lucky clothing? There are so many individual options for handling an event, because no one has the same way of thinking. I always have good drinks and snacks to take to an event to keep me going throughout the day. I also like to walk my course once, and if I can bike the course, I will do so twice, or just once if I have limited time. I also make sure to have a good dinner the night before and make sure to go to bed as early as I can. I have created a system for myself through trial and error. I learned just recently what is best for me, and once I did, it helped me to mentally handle an event better.
Tip #4: During planning, ensure you are taking care of yourself. There are so many methods to get ready for an event, and planning in advance can be really important for you and your horse’s performance. However, I think we are sometimes so focused on getting the horses ready for the event that we often forget about ourselves and that we need to be just as prepared.
I hope these tips will help you start thinking more deeply about how you are getting ready for an event and what is working and what needs to be changed. Remember, everyone has different ways of getting ready, and all our preparatory needs will be different.