Spooky horse making competing in dressage difficult? Here’s how to conquer it…

Competing is nerve-wracking enough without your horse deciding every marker and fleck of arena is utterly terrifying. So here are some great pointers from four-star eventer Kate Honey (pictured) to help you tackle spookiness with your horse in the arena…

1. Get your horse used to working with other horses around.

2. Create scenarios at home, such as putting out flower pots or have music playing in the background — whatever you think your horse will react to and let them get used to it at home.

3. Work on different surfaces. If your tests are mostly on grass don’t do all your training on a pristine surface.

4. Make sure you do plenty of schooling at different venues before competing so they can get used to seeing lots of different things.

5. When you are at a competition, give yourself plenty of time in the warm up, so there is no rush and your horse can settle. Doing lots of transitions can help to make sure the horse is really listening.

6. Some horses benefit from being worked before a test, then being put away and then when you get back on them immediately before, they have a shorter warm up. Or you could hand walk them round a venue to get used to the atmosphere. Work out what brings out the best in your horse.

7. Try to actually ride the test and not just survive it. If you make a mistake remember it is only one movement — stay positive for the rest of the test.

Credit: Stride Management

Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these dressage competitions available to enter where you can put this into practice…

British Dressage

Date: 16 March
Venue: Stretcholt Equestrian Centre, Bridgwater
Details: “This competition has a large range of classes from prelim to advanced medium, with a selection of qualifiers and para classes too.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated dressage

Date: 16 March
Venue: Highfield Equestrian at Howe, Cupar
Details: “This competition has classes from intro to elementary.”
Enter now

British Dressage and unaffiliated dressage

Date: 17 March
Venue: Witham Villa Equestrian Centre, Leicester
Details: “This competition has purely prelim classes with affiliated, unaffiliated and junior sections, plus a qualifier.”
Enter now

Dressage improvement day

Date: 17 March
Venue: Dorset Showground, Gillingham
Details: “Our dressage improvement day consists of a rider riding a test in front of a judge. They then spend 20 minutes or so with the judge getting advice on how to improve their marks. The rider then goes away and works for around 20 minutes before coming back and re-riding the test. This is a very low-key competition where the combination which makes the most improvement between the two tests is the winner.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated dressage

Date: 17 March
Venue: Centyfield Eventing & Dressage Academy, Exeter
Details: “This unaffiliated competition features classes from prelim to elementary in a friendly, fun and supportive environment, with rosettes to sixth. There is the chance for all competitors to qualify for a championship, with the intro and prelim classes split into restricted and open sections.”
Enter now

Evening dressage

Date: 20 March
Venue: Leamside Equestrian, Houghton Le Spring
Details: “This evening unaffiliated competition has classes ranging between intro and novice, with junior and senior sections. Test sheets and rosettes can be posted and a screen shot of your test sent via messenger if requested. Refreshments will be available.”
Enter now

Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings