help him enjoy His first competition

Whether your horse is young, inexperienced, the new boy on the yard or an older horse trying something new for the first time – or if it’s just his first time with you in charge – here’s how to introduce your horse to competitions...

Competing your horse for the first time doesn't have to be terrifying

Competing your horse for the first time doesn't have to be terrifying

Whether you’re dealing with a youngster or have just bought a new horse, when it comes to taking him to his first competition the best advice is to wait until you know him inside out.

“Don’t be in a rush,” says trainer Claire Llewelyn, who never competes on a new horse until she feels she understands his mindset 100 per cent. “I’ve taken on former Olympic horse Shear H20 in his retirement, but even with a horse of his caliber it was six months before I took him to a show – and then it was an unaffiliated riding club dressage class!”

Instead, work with your trainer at home to fine-tune your aids and develop a relationship with your new or young horse, so the bond is there between you when you ask him to face a busy competition environment. Once you do feel he’s ready to be challenged, take him to a clinic, hire a venue or go for a training session away from home to build his confidence before he has to deal with the stress of competing.

Feeling insecure?
When you go to a competition, it’s common for insecure horses to latch on to a travelling companion, but the only answer is ride positively and stay sharp. Jumping trainer Carol Mailer says: “You must be the only one your horse can turn to for security, so be particularly reassuring, while insisting he moves from your leg as and when you ask.”