To jump a horse is to ride the sky – part 5. Going public – be prepared!
Jumping in competitions could be the main objective – if you are naturally confident and competitive. For other riders, it’s not about rivalry – it’s about challenging yourself, and your horse. It’s a measure of your training and your riding skills, as well as trying to keep a cool head under pressure. Most of all it’s fun, and you are sharing the experience with your trusted friend.
Consider the early days of competing as experience – learn from mistakes and don’t dwell on them. Be realistic about your capabilities, and stay in control of everything that you can. Be as well prepared as possible.
Practising at a suitable venue is vital as you get ready for your first show experience. Many show centres will let you hire their arena for training, often with a full show jumping course set up. Arrange a lesson with your instructor at the venue and build up to jumping a course at a height comfortable for you and your horse. Have a couple of sessions if you can, close to your show date, so both you and your horse have the memories fresh in your minds.
Before the show make a list of stuff you will take – many a rider has arrived at a show minus their jacket or a girth! Arrange to have someone with you, a horse holder, practise jump assistant and general supporter…..and great if your instructor can come too.
A club, or an unaffiliated show will usually offer classes from 55 – 90cms. The judges and course builders are usually volunteers and organisers. The courses are generally less technical, but the distances may vary as trying to cater from 12.2hh to 16.2hh is very tricky! These shows are great to get you started, you and your horse have lot to learn about ‘ringcraft’, and the size of the jumps is not important.
As your confidence develops you can be more ambitious…shows affiliated to British Showjumping (BS) start at 90cms, and the smaller classes run a novice and open section concurrently. The course builder must be registered, and the judges are BS qualified. The jumps will be more imposing, with bigger fillers and wider spreads, but the distances will be consistent and the more technical tracks challenging and fun!
If you want to compete regularly at affiliated shows, both horse and rider will need to be registered with BS. However, you can buy a ‘ticket to ride’ if you want to have a go before registering – to jump on a ticket you simply arrive and enter at your show as usual and state clearly that you are riding on a ticket, you can then purchase your ticket when you enter.
Next time we will look at the show day, and how to get a key element right – the practise jump.