Following our recent thread of show day secrets, south-east brand ambassador Jessica Leroy shares her top tips for preparing for a competition and what to do once you’re there.


  1. I have a mini whiteboard in the lorry that I write all my times on (I picked it up in the pound shop). There’s always so much to remember on a competition day, so this way you don’t end up having to look at your phone or scraps of paper for your times, it’s all in front of you.
  2. To save having lots of scrunched up tests and soggy sheets I’ve printed out and laminated all the BE dressage tests that I need and keep them all together in the lorry.
  3. Do as much grooming as you can the night before – I don’t plait any manes the night before, but I do wash Smokey’s legs and tail (the joys of a grey) and then wrap his tail to try and keep it (somewhat) white for the morning.
  4. I also try to pack up the lorry the night before. Generally this means packing my things and horse items, such as boots, rugs, buckets etc.
  5. Ketchup! Yes you have read it right… apparently Ketchup is great for getting a white tail white. I’ll admit that I’ve not yet tried it in fear of ending up with a pink tail, but apparently it works wonders.
  6. While I’ve not used ketchup yet, I have used Fairy Platinum and Vanish on my grey’s tail! Soak the tail in water, wash it with Fairy Platinum twice (I never wash the top of the tail, only from just under the dock down and really focusing on the last three inches) and rinse well. I then add two scoops of vanish to the tail, rub it in and leave it while I clean the legs. Rinse the whole lot really well and voila, it should be beautifully white.
  7. If your other half is as tolerant as mine, try to take all your tack home and clean it the night before. In my case this does mean commandeering the whole living room, having bits of leather all over the floor and genuinely making a mess of the house, but at least the bridles sparkle!
  8. To save time during winter I also try to make sure that our horses’ manes are given a good coating of mane and tail spray before they go in the field. It doesn’t stop the mud from sticking to their manes entirely, but it does mean that huge mud clots don’t tend to form.

On the day:

  1. If possible get to the venue in plenty of time. It will relax you knowing where things are and it means that if you are jumping you have a chance to walk the course.
  2. Try and have a warm up plan in your head. I know that when jumping Smokey I’ve really got to work on sending him forward in a good rhythm and only pop a few fences. If I’m working him in for cross-country I also try and pop a few fences on an angle to keep him sharp and on his toes. For dressage I now know that I don’t need a lot of working in otherwise we both get a bit flat, I try to keep my warm up short and include a lot of transitions and some lateral work.
  3. Don’t be afraid to stick to your time. Don’t feel pressured to go in before your allocated time if you are not ready. However, if you are given the option to go in early and you’re ready, go for it!
  4. Be friendly! The stewards are volunteers most of the time and are giving up their weekend so that you can enjoy yours. Be kind and smile, it will make both of your days better!
  5. I think my number one tip has got to be to enjoy it! A busy day competing can feel like it’s over before it’s even begun. Make the most of the day, live every second of it and… remember to find out where the burger van is!


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