Animalife brand ambassador and event rider Alexander Whewall has had much experience preparing horses for all levels of British Eventing competition, from BE90 to CCI****. The former winner of the British Intermediate Championship and the Mark Todd Bridging The Gap Scholarship shares his experience and advice on preparing for your first BE90
Do your homework
Doing your homework at home is one of the most important things in preparation for your first event! Whether this is understanding the rules, working on your dressage or show jumping, the more prepared you are at home, the more prepared you’ll be at the actual event.
It’s always a good idea to practice skinnies, corners and difficult lines in the school before you go out to a cross-country course, once you are both confident it would be a good idea to go cross-country schooling at least once a week in the lead up to the event. You will then know you have all the boxes ticked before you enter the start box
You want to make sure you and your horse will finish the cross-country course happy, full of running and most importantly clear!
For a 90 general flatwork, jumping and hacking (with trotting up hills if possible) should suffice but to make sure you could add a canter work session to your weekly routine. All of this will also help your own riding fitness to help ensure you are ‘riding fit’ enough to cope with all three phases.
On the day
You want to aim to give yourself plenty of time before your Dressage, to walk the course, collect your number and get yourself and your horse ready for action. Once you get on, you want to keep yourself relaxed and calm and leave yourself plenty of time to warm up.
When walking the cross-country, and show jumping, course, take your time to walk the combinations, know where you are going, so you have a clear plan in your head of how you will approach each fence and how you want to jump it.
If it’s not possible to walk the show jumping watch a couple of other riders so you know where you are going and the number of strides in the related distances. Again give yourself plenty of time to warm up, so you can go in to the ring relaxed and confident.
When you leave the cross-country start box aim to ride to the plan and most importantly have fun!