USEA Podcast #259: Sinead Maynard's Recipe for a Successful Return to Competition
The return to competition upon us! This week on the show Nicole Brown is joined by Sinead Halpin Maynard to talk about how you can make sure you and your horse are prepared to get back to competing.
First up, Nicole and Sinead discuss the importance of making sure your horse’s fitness is adequate for the level you will be competing. Sinead stresses that it is better to get to the show and feel overprepared than it is to arrive and realize you’ve not done your homework properly. Treating this first show back as more of a “fitness check” than as a competitive outing will give you a chance to set yourself up for success for the rest of the season.
To make sure you’re prepared for the dressage, Sinead suggests memorizing your dressage test early! This gives you the chance to practice specific movements ahead of time and make sure you’re fully prepared to put it all together on the day. Or, staging one lesson as a “dress rehearsal” where you practice your warmup and then go through your test can give you a benchmark for where you’re at.
When going cross-country schooling, Sinead’s advice is not to try to do everything in one schooling session. Set specific goals for what you want to accomplish during your schooling and stick to them so you don’t overwhelm your horse with too much information.
Sinead’s recommendation for show jumping are to make sure you jump a full course at height or slightly larger prior to making your trip to the show. Don’t be afraid to break out your measuring tape and make sure your heights and distances are accurate.
Make sure that housekeeping items such as updating your coggins and vaccinations, having the farrier out, renewing your memberships, and other such items are all taken care of before you set out. Need help checking all the boxes? Take a look at the USEA’s Return to Eventing Checklist.
Don’t forget, while our horses need to be fit and ready to go, we as riders need to as well! Be sure that you feel fit and ready to compete before you sign up for your first competition.
As we return to competition with a “new normal” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, be aware of the new restrictions and safety precautions that have been put in place for your own and others’ safety. The USEA has a collection of COVID-19 resources available on the website that competitors should familiarize themselves with before returning to competition.