Fail to Prepare…Prepare to Fail! That’s the advice from International event rider Daniele Bizzarro who shared with us his top 10 tips for eventing mastery.
- Regular schooling – Homework for any competition must start long before you even think about entering. I advise a schooling session twice a week. It doesn’t have to be an hour long workout each time, remember quality over quantity. It’s not how long you work, but how well.
- Jumping practice – Don’t just turn up at the event and expect miracles! As with your schooling practice, little and often is key. Instead of jumping for one hour every week, try two half an hour sessions each week. Horses learn from repetition of exercises. Jump too much in one session and they might not get much out of it.
- Warm up – Whether you’re warming up at home, at a clinic or at an eventing competition, always ask questions from the very beginning of your session. Circles and transitions can really work wonders at this stage. If you only have 20 minutes to ride, it’s much better to do 500 transitions than 20 minutes of trotting.
The night before
- Get the trailer ready – I always load everything except my tack the night before. Ensure you’ve got your haynets, water containers filled, boots, pads, numnahs and always a spare head collar and lead rope. If you have previously used a stronger bit for the jumping phases, ensure you have it in your grooming kit – once you’ve jumped your show jumping on the day you can always change into a stronger bit for the cross country phase should you need it, an especially vital option at the start of the season!
- Clean stud holes – It’s just typical that the day you don’t clean your stud holes in advance is the day there’s a stone stuck in one of them! Whenever the farrier comes to shoe the horses, I put cotton wool in straight away; it keeps the holes clean until we need to stud up. Even so, I would still check and clean the holes the night before so they’re ready the next day.
- Bath and plait the horse – Lycra hoods and neck covers are great at helping to keep the horse clean and the plaits tidy. I always prefer to sew the plaits rather than use elastic bands as they hold so much better.
On the day
- Breakfast – The most important meal of the day, for both horse and human! Always feed your horse 1 hour before you leave. Brush them off and clean any stains and put travel boots and a tail bandage on. I always use 2 tail bandages – one for the top half and one for the bottom half.
- Course Walk – Give yourself plenty of time, particularly if you don’t know the venue you’re going to. I normally get to an event about an hour early so I can walk the cross country and show jumping before I get my horse ready for the Dressage. I would say it takes me half an hour to walk a Pre-Novice or Novice course. If it’s a new venue, you never know how far away the cross country is from the lorry park, so leave early and don’t allow yourself to get flustered.
- Number collection – When you go to the secretary to get your number, always ask if they run the show jumping and cross country to order or if you’re supposed to put your number down on the board. If you fail to check, you may get there for your time and see that 35 riders have already put their number down and you’ll unfortunately just have to wait.
- Dressage warm up – Always ask questions, particularly at the beginning of the season. Some venues have the dressage warm up right next to the cross country so the horse can easily become distracted. Make them focus on the job in hand by giving them a job to do. Transitions, circles and simple lateral movements are easy on the body but great warm up movements. Don’t forget, the brain needs to be warmed up as well as the body so the horse is truly focused.
Follow Dan’s journey this season and his regular training tips: