Sophie Wells’ Top Tips for Preparing Your Horse for Summer Competitions
We were over the moon to catch up with para dressage rider and Champion brand ambassador Sophie Wells last month to chat about her latest news and pick her brains. Sophie had just come back from a whirlwind coaching tour of Australia where she spent time helping riders and their horses make amazing progress and get closer to their riding goals. Despite feeling initially apprehensive before heading down under, she found the experience to be rewarding and was so proud of the progress her clients made. As someone who adores the sunshine, Sophie certainly appreciated the hot and sunny weather in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne – sadly, Adelaide was a little more British with lots of rain!
Sophie came back to the UK in April and, thanks to her head girl Beth keeping the horses ticking over with regular lunging and treadmill sessions, she has been able to get straight back into her riding. Sophie is excited to be back and is looking forward to working with her horses and helping her clients progress this spring and summer. With a busy summer of competitions ahead, Sophie has shared her top three tips to help riders and horses get the most out of their pre-season preparation. Let’s take a closer look!
Sophie recommends having a checklist of everything you need to take, including your horse’s tack, feed, and grooming supplies. “Being prepared and organised can help combat nerves so that you stay calm and confident. It’s also helpful to have a schedule of the day’s events, either written down or in the notes section of your phone, so you can refer to them and plan your time accordingly!’
When it comes to competition day, Sophie stresses the importance of planning ahead. “I always give myself extra time to get to the show and arrive with plenty of time to spare before my test or class. It can help prevent unnecessary stress and that means we stay chilled, so the horses stay more relaxed too! If you’re riding a dressage test, then knowing your test beforehand is essential! Run through again when you arrive, and if you’re jumping then always allow plenty of time to walk and memorise the course. I like to have a plan for the warm-up too and try to keep it as close to the warm-up I do at home. This can also help you stay structured and consistent, which will benefit your horse’s relaxation and focus”.
Enjoy the experience.
Above all, Sophie wants to remind riders to smile and enjoy the experience!
“Remember that it’s meant to be fun! You’ll enjoy yourself more if you can stay relaxed, enjoy the day and keep things in perspective. Plus, a happy and relaxed rider often means a happier horse. Every competition is a learning experience and celebrating achievements, no matter how small, and taking note of areas to improve for the next time you’re out and about!”