Planning Your Competition Day

Do you ever find yourself stressed on competition day or have you ever experienced that horrible feeling of panic when you realise you only have 30 minutes before you are meant to be riding your test and you’re not even saddled up?

Sound familiar to anyone?!

The simplest way to put your mind at ease is to be prepared! Preparation for a competition can be broken up into many different ways. I want to focus on 3 specific areas; the day before, the morning of and the saddle up.

The day before:

  • Have a list of what you need to get done the day before and make a note of what time in the day you will fit it all in. For example, riding and washing your horse, plaiting up, cleaning your tack, loading the car, putting the float on and packing all your riding gear.
  • Have a great ride! Find a strategy that works best for you and your horse. Do you like to enjoy a relaxed, positive ride the day before to help your mindset or do you prefer to have your horse fired up the day before. Do what works best.
  • Wash your horse and clean your tack! If we look and feel great we will ride with even more confidence.
  • If you like lists, write one up for everything you need to pack and tick them off as you put them in the car/float.
  • Visualise. Make sure you put time aside to visualise how you want the competition day to go.
  • Write up a schedule with the exact times that you need to be doing everything the following day. What time are you waking up, feeding your horse, loading the horse, leaving, arriving, saddling up, getting on etc. Put your times in your car or in your pocket so you always know what you should be doing at any specific time. Make sure you allow for hiccups, like flat tyre, horse not loading etc. This gives us peace of mind!

The morning of:

  • When you wake up run through any mindset techniques you may use to get yourself into a successful state, ready to preform to your peak!
  • If you find that you are battling negative self-talk, that is making you nervous, find something that works for you to overcome this and add this into your schedule. It may be saying some positive affirmations to yourself, like ‘I’ve got this, I can do it!’ or putting head phones on & listening to your favourite music so you can block out any negative self-talk you may be experiencing.
  • Most important, stick to your schedule!

The saddle up:

  • Be organised, make sure you have checked that you have all your gear before you get to saddling up.
  • Have people around you that support you. If you find there is someone around you that only adds to your negative talk then politely ask them to let you saddle up by yourself, as you need this time to prepare and focus.
  • We do need to be able to handle all situations and we cannot blame others for any negative emotions we may feel, however in the beginning you should set yourself up for success as much as possible. Then as you find you are overcoming one area, you may then start to work on a different challenge.
  • Again find a technique that helps you stay relaxed and focused before you get on.

Tip: If you find that nerves are a big challenge at competitions for you then I highly recommend practise your tests at home as much as possible.

If the thought of even practising your test on your own arena makes you a tad nervous then this is an excellent exercise for you! Practise with no one watching until you feel comfortable, then ask someone to come and watch. Do this until you can ride your test feeling confident and relaxed from start to finish.

You may also like to ask someone to video your test, again if this makes your tummy tighten then push yourself out of your comfort zone and do it!

This is a very effective way put yourself under similar competition situations, while practising different techniques to see what helps you overcome any nerves, to become more confident and stay focused.

Enjoy feeling organised!