1. Walk the hunter trial course the day before
This means you don’t have to rush around it on competition day, giving you time to get up close to all the fences. Walk the course as you plan to ride it, looking for any patches of uneven or bumpy ground. Make a plan of action in your head for how you want to approach and jump each fence.
2. Take photos of the fences
This is a great way to make sure you don’t forget where to go! Use your phone to take a pic of each fence, then you can visualise yourself riding the course when you’re back at home.
3. Make a checklist
Do this in plenty of time before competition day! There’s lots to remember that you’ll need for you and your pony, so write a checklist to make sure you remember to pack it all in the trailer or lorry.
4. Prepare in advance
Hunter trials are great fun, but it’s important to make sure your pony’s fit enough to compete well in advance of the competition. It’s not fair to ask him to canter around a whole course of fences if he’s only used to going on gentle hacks.
5. Think positive
If you visualise yourself flying around the course, clearing every fence, chances are you’ll do much better than if you’re worried by what might go wrong.
6. Stay in a rhythm
Hunter trials often have an optimum time – this means that the person closest to this time, wins, not the person who gallops around the fastest! Stay in a forward, rhythmical canter to keep you both in balance. This way, you’re more likely to go clear as you’ll be in a good quality canter to jump from.
7. Enjoy yourself!
Hunter trials are meant to be fun, so kick on, smile and have fun!