Tips for Preparing For Your First FEI Competition
From Furlong’s Healthy Horse
1. What are popular medications/ supplements or their ingredients that are allowed in National level competition but not allowed in FEI competition?
This is a broad question and would be a disservice by any veterinarian to try and offer a very partial (and subject to change) list. As soon as you begin planning to compete your horse at his/her first FEI competition, you need to have a conversation with your vet. Make sure your vet knows that you are planning to move up to the FEI level, and discuss any current treatments that your horse is receiving, so that you can make the right decision. Familiarize yourself with the FEI Clean Sport website and download their app on your phone so that you can check any medications that your horse takes. Ultimately, you, the rider, will be held accountable for your actions and decisions, so it is imperative that you never make any assumptions and always ask questions!
2. Do you have recommendations for post cross country treatments or recovery methods?
Before you arrive at your event, you should be very familiar with your horse’s vital signs. You should routinely take them in the morning and then again after you do any hard rides or XC schooling rides. That way you have an established baseline and understanding of what is “normal” for your horse. This is also beneficial to track improvements in fitness over time, and you should consider your horse’s fitness at any 3 Day Event when you are planning how you want to attack the XC course.
After XC, take your horse’s vitals and see if they are “normal”. Depending on the response, as well as the level of competition, some things you would consider doing are running fluids, giving electrolytes, and proper cooling out (cold water, scraping, and handwalking). Make sure to discuss some contingency plans with your vet ahead of any major competition, so that you know what kinds of recovery methods permissible, and which steps you will take based on how your horse is doing after XC.
3. What are the top 3 veterinary tips you would give to competitors when at an FEI event?
This is of course such a wide-ranging question, but here are 3 tips we feel are most important:
Remember at the end of the day, that you are solely responsible for your own decisions and actions. As such, know your comfort levels (with things like training plans, medication rules, or even which studs to use). If you are going to be outside of your comfort zone, make sure to ask for help and support.To that, build a team of people around you that you trust, and that you know believe in your abilities. Competing at the international level takes a village. At a minimum, you should have a trainer/coach, owner, groom, vet, and farrier, that are part of the decision-making process, and are people you trust to lean on for support and guidance. Our vets are always so happy to help riders achieve their goals and hit major milestones - we want to be there for you and help you succeed! Use every experience as a learning opportunity. Rather than be overwhelmed by the FEI Clean Sport website, consider it an exciting chance to dive in and learn the rules & regulations, and then speak with your vet afterward and make sure that what you learned and read was accurate. If you ever have a question at an event, speak with the TD’s and stewards. Making good relationships with them (or conversely, having bad relationships) can have lasting impacts on your experiences for years to come - always be respectful and appreciative of them.
Tips for Preparing For Dressage
From Lainey Ashker
1. Always have a strategy for a warm-up for going AROUND the ring. Some horses need to move forward. Some need transitions. Whatever it is, have a strategy (or begin to build one with your coach) that maintains relaxation so you can enter the ring with the best horse possible.
2. Turn out is vital. Judges want to be impressed not only by the training of your horse but by the quality of the turn out. Go the extra mile: quarter marks, flawless button braids, whitening shampoo (if needed), white gloves for steady handed riders and a proper fitting Shadbelly should do the trick.
3. Know your test. Not only the movements and the markers but really properly think through your test. Be aware that the standard is set on your initial center line so if you’re earning an 8 as opposed to a 6 you have a higher chance of being on a winning test. Know when to enter your corners and not when a canter or trot serpentine starts and ends and overall proper use of the area. This is called “ringmanship” and something that I try to really capitalize on when I’m riding any test to eek out extra points.
Tips for Preparing For Cross Country
From Caroline Martin
· Tape your number to your horse’s breastplate
· Clean and plug stud holes in the morning so you are not rushed
· Before you get on your horse for cross country sit and imagine riding the course
· Have fresh water in the stalls before you go cross country
Tips for Preparing For Show Jumping
From Marcia Kulak
· Show jumping before or Cross Country? Know your horse, they tend to ride differently depending on the order of phases.
· Double check your start times and course walk times.
· Arrive early for course inspection/walk once with your coach and once alone
· Minimize distractions: friends/phone etc. Focus – take time to rehearse your course mentally several times.
· Plan your warm-up according to when you go. If early in the order you may need to warm-up before the course walk
· The warm-up can be a very unsettling place; stay focused and don’t let your adrenaline take over – no shouting for the jump you want. Control your emotions.
· The warm up is just, prepare your horse to jump a clear round – it’s not a place for a lesson.
· Be careful not to overjump. Leave your horse fresh and sharp to jump a clear – Don’t leave your best jumps in the warm-up!
· Stay in the moment regardless of how the round is going. Remain professional and steady – no extreme behavior.
· Aim for a professional and forward performance through excellent preparation.