In her latest column for Eventing Worldwide, Ros Morgan looks at how riders can prepare so they make the most of their first events.
Well, where and when will the 2020 season start? That is the question. Looking out of the window at torrential rain and driving winds courtesy of Storm Dennis, I wonder with much trepidation.
In the Autumn I sat down with my riders to review the 2019 season and to use my personal system of ‘horse profiling’ which this spring, given the conditions, will I feel be particularly relevant.
Along with the performance print out we work through areas that particularly suited and areas of concern relevant to each horse. Approaches that worked well and areas we need to highlight and improve upon. The “Goals” for 2020 and the run and results needed to qualify. Using this information we find it enables the rider and team to enter for the events where we feel the combinations could and should perform successfully getting the season off to a positive and confidence building start.
With a total lack of grass training at this point, all-weather gallops are in strong demand as is arena eventing practice. Does this allow us to prepare adequately for the start of the season? I am doubtful. All horses and riders need to get acclimatised to “Performing at their Best” on grass and mud at the start of the season.
We train on all-weather arenas without a thought sometimes about how relevant would our work, balance, control and focus become if what we were doing was suddenly transported to a grass arena / field sometimes level but in most cases not. This I feel when thought about would have a profound effect on how differently we perform the exercises along with our focus on balance and control.
As riders, you need to be more aware of the balance and speed needed at the different levels of competition when you do eventually manage to get on grass so working on the “canter gears” and “balance” up and down hills / slopes when doing your road or all-weather surface work would be very useful.
I personally am “old school” when it comes to training the event horse. I advocate “Interval Training” and the benefits from it I believe improve stamina, cardio vascular health and self carriage in the horse but as importantly to me as a coach, my riders fitness. You learn to use your core and improve balance when off the horses back, develop an effective lower leg along with maintaining a rein contact relevant to pace and feel.
You also get a greater understanding of how your horse canters, how balanced they are on both reins, points at which they tire and what aids become more effective and necessary to maintain a quality pace.
To you as the rider this is invaluable to the ongoing performances you hope to achieve.
Dressage and show-jumping competitions – both affiliated and un-affiliated are also very much undervalued. They may be indoors or out but each is beneficial to developing focus and confidence in the ring. How they cope in the warm-up arena and the time taken to achieve the work you require to ride that “good test” or “clear round” is all relevant. Riding a full test or course right through is invaluable to developing focus, confidence and relevant bullet points.
Check all equine and rider equipment and clothing is correctly fitted and has all the necessary safety criteria required. Everything has to be checked against the up to date rulings. Stud holes need to be discussed with your farrier well in advance of the first event so that you get comfortable putting studs in, maintaining and getting a good selection of stud types required for the different ground conditions.
I hope this has given you all some food for thought and I look forward to seeing you out competing and hope you have a successful start to the 2020 season, whenever that may be!