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How to Prepare for Equitation Finals

Submitted by member: Samantha

What is your favorite exercise to prepare your students for equitation finals?

Answer by Karen Healey

When people ask me how I prepare for finals, my answer is that I prepare my horses and riders in every lesson for finals. I firmly believe that the riders should never see anything in the ring that they haven’t seen and done before. In every lesson we practice the skills that will enable them to successfully answer the questions a good finals course will ask.

In the days and weeks leading up to the finals, we will practice distance problems (long to short, short to long), as well as precision in bending lines.

On the day of the finals, the key word is calm. The riders are going to be nervous enough on their own. It’s our job to keep them confident and as relaxed as possible. All of the homework has been done and over training or over jumping does nothing to instill confidence.

It’s also extremely important to ride the plan and the track according to your horse and rider’s abilities. Just because somebody leaves a stride out, doesn’t mean that every horse and rider should do the same.

My plan would not necessarily be the same for a seasoned rider with a chance to be contender and a rider doing the finals for the first time.

Nothing destroys a rider’s confidence quicker than changing everything in the schooling area. The warm up should be relaxed, not frantic.

Video Recommendations:

Missy Clark’s topic “Landing the Lead for Seamless Bending Lines.”

Landing the Lead for Seamless Bending Lines
Missy Clark
With demonstrations by Grand Prix rider, Darragh Kenny, and Medal & Maclay winner, Hayley Barnhill, Missy shows us the exercise that she uses to encourage both her equitation horses and jumpers to land on the correct lead in bending lines. For equitation, this adds to the fluidity of a round and for jumpers it offers greater efficiency.
Running Time:  6 minutes and 38 seconds

View Video
jumping a bending line on a horse

Bending Lines
Team Karazissis
In this session Team Karazissis describe & demonstrate your many options when it comes to correctly navigating bending lines. Including how to land on the lead after the first fence for a smooth bend.
Running Time: 17 minutes and 23 seconds

View Video
Tonya Johnston Preparing For An Important Horse Show

Preparing For An Important Show Part One
Tonya Johnston
Mental Skills Coach, Tonya Johnston, shares some mental strategies you can use in the weeks before a special event to bolster your confidence. Tonya is joined by Junior Hunter & Equitation rider, Caroline Delehanty, who is anxiously anticipating a big show and several medal finals.
Running Time: 15 minutes and 12 seconds

View Video
Stacia Madden’s topic “The Pinwheel Exercise”

The Pinwheel Exercise
Stacia Madden
Equitation championships call for precision. One necessary ability the rider must posses is the ability to “lock-in” bending lines. Stacia Madden’s brilliant, yet simple, Pinwheel Exercise is designed to hone these crucial skills for both horse and rider.
Running Time: 13 minutes and 35 seconds

View Video

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Karen Healey

Karen is an instrumental force in the administration of equestrian sport. She holds a USEF R-rated judging license and has judged some of the most prestigious shows in the country, including the Devon Horse Show, the Hampton Classic, the USEF Pony Finals and the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search East Coast Finals. She was the 1991 Horsewoman of the Year (California Professional Horsemen’s Association) and the 
2007 Chronicle of the Horse Person of the Year. Her website is:

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