Richard Davison offers some top tips for those heading to the Dodson & Horrell Novice Gold & Silver Championship at Stoneleigh!
1. Don’t just ‘know' your test, instead know how to ride every part of the test including what preparation your horse needs before each movement. That includes having both a plan A and B as the atmosphere at Stoneleigh can be challenging for some horses. The main arenas are very busy and if the timing of your test happens to coincide with applause for the next door arena be ready to implement plan B to limit any lost marks. This will require some thought, and even practice, before leaving home.
2. Presenting a test is a strategic exercise. Every horse has its own stronger and weaker parts for the test. For example, it is no good trying to ride for an ‘8’ when your horse has not reached that level of ability as you increase the chance of losing more points than you might gain. In that situation you would be better off to riding for a 7 or a 7.5.
3. Make sure you practice riding through the test at home and ask someone to video it so you can see it through the judge’s eyes. This will help you decide how to present every step of the test.
4. Plan your day so that you allow plenty of time to prepare for each phase of the task including tacking up and getting down from the stables to the arenas. The early morning arena walk can be a useful exercise, but don't forget that your horse might feel very different when it comes to going into the arena all on his own and with more buzz around the arena. If the warm-up arena is crowded try not to let this fluster you, it is a big area so try to not float around too much and find an area to remind you and your horse what it takes to ride some tight corners.
5. During the test stay focused and don't rush things. After your test cool your horse down back in the warm-up arena. When you reflect on how your test has gone try to compare how the things you have been working-on in training worked during the test. The Dodson & Horrell Novice Gold & Silver tests are all about the future.
I hope you, your horse and your support team all have a great day, enjoy yourselves and learn a lot from it. Good luck, Richard