Last month we began a four-part series on mental preparation and the many kinds of pre-ride routines you can perform to control your emotions so they don’t take control of you. If you recall, the purpose of these routines is to give your brain the perception of predictability and control because as soon as your brain loses these it senses threat and stress which weakens your confidence and strengthens your jitters and fears.
Imagine: you are at the biggest sporting event of your life. The stakes are high, and you have spent countless hours preparing for it. However, you are expected to just show up and immediately perform. You cannot stretch or take a practice swing. You have no time to loosen up or sharpen your eye. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Just like us, our horses need adequate time to warm up each day. A warmup is any preparation for work, and it is often the leading edge of that work. It is the small aid response that becomes the more advanced aid response.
From the tadpole division at the local starter horse trials through the CCI5* at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day, equestrian competition brings people together. At every level, horse shows can expand community and foster growth for the sport of eventing.
We could lead with “no Payne, no game” or some other clever quip but in reality, the fewer gimmicks the better when it comes to training advice. Doug Payne knows how and when to come back to the basics and how to build confidence in a young horse so that they shine at their absolute brightest when the spotlight turns their way. But the key to everything come competition time? The gallop.
In our last edition of “Perfecting the Leg Yield with ICP Instructor Jim Graham,” we outlined a great starting point for riders in terms of understanding and accomplishing the leg yield. In this second part, Graham expands upon the leg yield with a few variations of exercises suitable for the next step in your flatwork training. While these exercises were outlined with the Training and Modified level rider in mind, they can be adapted for riders of all levels.
The trickiest part of the course isn’t holding your breath over the trakehner that your horse has been eyeing down after coming off a pretty gnarly bank complex—to which we say “more leg!”—even though it is a big deal. The course we're referring to isn’t actually a physical course at all, but the figurative course of our partnership with our athletic steeds, whether it be a lifetime or just for a season. And the trickiest part of this partnership is maintaining optimal health and performance for as long as possible without compromising their much deserved retirement.
USEA Podcast host Nicole Brown chats with Dr. Paul Haefner, Ph.D., an expert in equine sport psychology, about the impact that sport psychology practices can have both on your confidence and your riding. Listen in to get Dr. Haefner's advice on practices you can implement on your own and how working with a professional like himself can benefit riders of all backgrounds.
These excerpts were published with permission from Cross-Country Completion: Considerations About Jump Decorating by Janine Preece McClain. The illustrations are by Janine Preece McClain and Leslee Preece. Cross-country decorating plays a significant role in a successful cross-country course. Whether you’re a course designer or a volunteer, the USEA encourages all members to order this educational book here: wintertalefarm.com/book.php.
This month we’ll begin a summer-long series covering four mental-preparation plans to help strengthen your self-confidence while weakening the grip that jitters and fears have on you. The purpose of these plans is to give your brain something it so very badly needs: the perception of control. You see, when your brain feels in control it allows you to control your emotions, but when that perception is taken away, your brain senses threat and stress… which weakens your confidence and strengthens your jitters and fears! This is when your emotions start taking control of you. In the end, you really only have two choices when it comes to riding, (1) control your emotions, or (2) let your emotions control you… and that’s exactly what we’ll be spending the summer talking about.
Preparing for your first horse trial and not sure what is expected of you at each level? Over the course of the next few Rule Refreshers, we will be diving into each level and the performance expectations of each phase. Want to better prepare yourself or your students for their first competition or a move-up? The USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels is a free resource to all USEA members that outlines clear and consistent guidelines for riders and trainers to refer to when navigating their way through the competition levels. You can access this guide by logging into your online services account.
You’ve likely spent some time scouring the USEA Calendar to line up your 2022 competition schedule. Now that spring has sprung, it’s time to plan some cross-country schooling outings to make sure you and your horse are as ready as possible. If you own or manage a facility that welcomes guests for haul-in schooling, you’ve likely noticed horses and their humans showing up in droves to get their practice in. A successful off-site schooling day has many, many moving parts. From paperwork and payment to safety, these best practices for hosts and guests will help everything go as smoothly as possible.