Mar 12, 2024

Make the Most of Your Spring Outings: 5 Tips for Eventing Success

USEA/Meagan DeLisle photo

The following is provided through a partnership between STRIDER and the USEA. As part of our commitment to diversity, enabling access, and building capacity throughout the industry we are pleased to provide this content to benefit the sport of eventing.

We’re just about one week away from the official start of spring. For many eventers, signs of spring mean it’s time to venture off the farm for cross-country schooling, educational activities, and/or schooling shows. These outings are invaluable as they enable horses and riders to practice their skills in a supportive environment and foster a positive experience. The team at STRIDER is here with five tips to help you make the most of your spring outings.

1. Set clear goals

    Before you swing your leg over your horse at the schooling show or clinic, set specific and achievable goals for you and your equine partner. When you have a clear objective for your outing, you’ll be more likely to stay on track and you’ll have a clear sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Your goal can be anything from “remember my dressage test” to “nail the centerline in my dressage test,” to “laugh once” to “ride forward to the ditch question,” or absolutely anything else you can think of!

    2. Treat it like the real thing

    Approach any outing with a level of seriousness similar to what you would dedicate to a recognized competition. Make an effort to arrive on time and to present yourself and your horse properly. These small steps can make a world of difference in helping you to leverage a practice outing to foster a positive experience.

    3. Check in on your horse’s fitness

    Depending on what your winter has looked like, spring outings may take a significant toll on your horse’s body contingent on his or her fitness level. When you’re thinking about entering a clinic or signing up for a schooling show, take into account what steps you might need to take to ensure your horse is fit enough to do what you’ll ask of him or her once you’re off-farm. If you’re headed out to cross-country school with your coach or riding in a clinic, be sure to mention how fit your horse is so they can help you tailor the questions being asked of your horse appropriately.

    4. Be open to feedback

      Keep an open mind and take advantage of outings to receive feedback. These adventures with your horse are fantastic ways to accrue more tools in your eventing toolbox. If you’re participating in a clinic, be sure to listen actively and carve out a bit of time to audit some other sessions - you never know what you may pick up! At shows or on other outings, observe other riders to pick up on techniques and strategies that may help you on your own journey.

      5. Practice what you’ve learned

        Take some time to reflect on the experience. Whether you received clear feedback from your coach, a judge, or a clinician, be sure to also consider your own thoughts on the outing. What went well? What could have been better? Consider some takeaways that may help you to set goals for your future outings. Don’t forget to celebrate your “wins”! They may not always come in the form of a blue ribbon or a prize, so don’t forget to pat yourself on the back and thank your horse when you’re able to achieve the goals you set for yourself.

        As you get set up for a successful spring (and summer!) season with your eventing partner, be sure to explore the calendar of horse shows and educational opportunities available here as well as the USEA Calendar.

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