Competition tips and sports psychology

Get yourself in gear for the competition season with Horse Hero videos on sports psychology, performance and turn-out tips! Top competitors from eventing, dressage and showing share their secrets with you on a myriad of subjects from plaiting, studding and quarter marks, to icing, trotting-up, stretching and travelling your horse. Find out how to keep your nerves under control, warm up for dressage and jumping and turn yourself and your horse out to the highest standard. Contributors include eventers Zara Phillips, Alex Peternell, Suzanna Bordonne, Lucy Wiegersma, Mark Todd, Matt Ryan, Kitty Boggis and others, dressage riders Laura Bechtolsheimer and Anne Marie Perry and show rider Louise Bell.

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Dressage rider Anne-Marie Perry's travel & competition tips Dressage rider Anne-Marie Perry's travel & competition tips
Top dressage rider Anne-Marie Perry lets us into her world at the National Dressage Championships '08. She gives us a quick peek of her huge horse box (aptly named Goliath) and points out some of her favourite features. At the stables, we meet her other huge favourite, her lovely top horse, Aristo. Anne-Marie provides a few top tips to help with organisation, presentation and your horse's well-being on the big day.

Studding for competition, with event groom Zanie Tanswell Studding for competition, with event groom Zanie Tanswell
When it comes to studding, Zanie Tanswell’s years with Pippa Funnell make her something of an expert. She talks us through studs for all occasions, shows us how to prepare the holes and fit studs and relates a cautionary tale! Advanced event horse Tom is very affectionate and clearly fond of Zanie. This film was shot in a gale so the girls on set had a bad hair day! Leading competition groom, Zanie Tanswell, at her own and Chris King’s Gloucestershire yard, with Harry Meade.

Icing legs after hard work, with event rider, Kitty Boggis Icing legs after hard work, with event rider, Kitty Boggis
International event rider, Kitty Boggis, demonstrates an extremely low cost and effective way of cooling horses’ legs after going cross country. She also shows how the same technique can be used to cool a swollen knee. Both are extremely useful techniques. This is a 'must watch' at Kitty's Wiltshire yard, with presenter Louisa Brassey.

Louise Bell on 'dressing to impress' in the show ring Louise Bell on 'dressing to impress' in the show ring

Louise is a master of 'show etiquette' and as one of the leading working hunter riders in the UK, she knows exactly how to create the right impression for horse and rider in the ring. She demonstrates with Cruise Control what to wear, what tack to use, how to make the judge feel comfortable on your horse and how to apply those all important finishing touches! Yes - you too can look the part and if you watch Louise's videos on plaiting, polishing boots, the perfect tail and trimming fetlocks, you and your horse will be 'dressed to impress'!


Perfectly polished boots, with show rider Louise Bell Perfectly polished boots, with show rider Louise Bell

Spit and polish and a bit of elbow-grease! That's what it takes to get your riding boots gleaming, according to top show rider, Louise Bell. She should know, as in her sport turnout is paramount. Louise offers some clever, time saving tips to make your boots look a million dollars. After all, as she says, "showing is an equestrian version of 'catwalk modelling'!"


Mrs Bechtolsheimer ties Laura's stock Mrs Bechtolsheimer ties Laura's stock

As well as a demonstration of how to tie a stock, we glimpse a private moment between Laura and her mum before competition. Set in their luxurious lorry, Laura has a confession to make and Mrs Bechtolsheimer talks about her superstition when doing this one thing to help her daughter. A little ‘home brew’ comes into the equation but not for Laura! Olympic dressage rider Laura Bechtolsheimer and her mother in their magnificent lorry, presented by Michael Jackson.


Trot-up for competition, with Emily Llewellyn Trot-up for competition, with Emily Llewellyn

It looks pretty slick when you see riders trot their horses up at Badminton or Burghley. But how easy is it really? Eventing double gold medallist and young rider, Emily Llewellyn, demonstrates the art. She also offers tips for training your horse and advice as to how you and your horse should be turned out to impress the judges! (Emily was a 'soldier' and managed to ignore the pouring rain, just as you would if you were at a competition!)


Competition trot-up, with Laura Bechtolsheimer and Harry Meade Competition trot-up, with Laura Bechtolsheimer and Harry Meade
This is a lovely short piece in which Laura demonstrates a competition trot up to Harry (who pretends to be the Ground Jury), accompanied by music! Laura Bechtolsheimer at her fabulous Gloucestershire yard with best friend and Horse Hero co-presenter, Harry Meade.

How to make 'jazzy' quarter marks! How to make 'jazzy' quarter marks!
Quarter marks are increasingly artistic these days! You see anything and everything from national emblems to 'hearts' on a horse's bottom at shows and events. But how on earth do you make them? National dressage rider, Gemma Green, shares her secrets with us which include stencils and a Corn Flakes box! She demonstrates a variety of quarter marks on the beautiful rear of her obliging top horse, Showtime, and tells us about a superstition! Gemma also demonstrates the finishing touch, some stunning 'sharks teeth'. Now you can make your horse stand out from the crowd! Interviewed by Fiona Price.

How to plait a tail How to plait a tail
Kate Baldwin is Laura Bechtolsheimer's head girl. Using a 'Bectholsheimer baby' Kate demonstrates the art of plaiting a tail. She swiftly creates a perfect plait and finishes it off with a neatly stitched loop. The braid creates a very impressive rear-end that would make an impact in any showing ring, out hunting or at a competition! It helps that her well-behaved model has a fabulous full tail to start with! Kate explains her technique to Fiona Price and offers some useful advice.

Plaiting with bands Plaiting with bands
Ffion Thomas was previously Polly Williamson’s head groom and is now a freelance groom and 2* event rider. She prefers plaiting with bands as they are quicker to put in than using a needle and thread and easier to take out without damaging the mane. This clip includes French-plaiting the forelock. Ffion provides an excellent demonstration which is likely to convert the most ardent 'needle and thread' user! She is filmed at Polly Williamson’s eventing yard with presenter Laura Bechtolsheimer.

Plaiting a 'skinny neck' with show rider, Louise Bell Plaiting a 'skinny neck' with show rider, Louise Bell
Louise Bell is one of the most successful show riders in the UK and a prolific working hunter winner. So she should know a thing or two about plaiting. In this gem of a video, Louise shows how to plait using a combination of rubber bands and needle and thread and she offers some unusual tips. She also shows us how to make a skinny neck look like it has an impressive crest. A clever illusion to show your horse off to its best and gain that extra mark, whatever discipline you compete in. She also braids the forelock beautifully!

Plaiting with needle & thread, at Badminton Stables Plaiting with needle & thread, at Badminton Stables
On one of the Beaufort Hunt’s last hunting days in the 2007/8 season, we watched Susie Preest plaiting a horse at Badminton Stables before being loaded onto the lorry. Susie, who’s worked at this yard for nearly 28 years, favours the needle and thread method because she says the plaits are more durable for a full day’s hunting. Nifty finger work, Susie! Susie Preest from Badminton Stables with presenter Fiona Price.

How to plait a long mane with a Spanish braid How to plait a long mane with a Spanish braid
Dressage rider, Hannah Biggs, demonstrates how to correctly braid a Spanish stallion's mane for competition. However, she points out that on a daily basis she just divides Torri's mane into long plaits to keep it out of the reins. Hannah has instructions from his owners not to trim or pull his mane at all, so Torri is shown here in all his glory. It takes a strong pair of hands to get this lot under control but the end result is a work of art! This may not be completely correct for other native breeds but Hannah explains it's acceptable for dressage.

Dazzling white legs, with eventer Wayne Garrick Dazzling white legs, with eventer Wayne Garrick
Here is an economy tip to get your horse's legs 'whiter than white'. Event rider, Wayne Garrick, shows us how to turn the grubbiest of legs into brilliant white ones, quickly and cheaply, and throws in a dose of his inimitable humour just for good measure!

Dealing with Nerves at Badminton Horse Trials Dealing with Nerves at Badminton Horse Trials
Sports Psychology is gaining ground with riders of all disciplines but you'd be hard pushed to guess what some of our Badminton riders do to overcome their nerves! Features riders Matt Ryan, Julie Tew, Annabel Wigley, Harry Meade and Georgie Davies.

Louisa Brassey's Eventing Tips - Part 1 Louisa Brassey's Eventing Tips - Part 1
This is a must for event riders of all levels! 3* eventer (and Horse Hero presenter) Louisa Brassey, explains how to get the most out of your eventing day. Filmed during competition at Gatcombe Horse Trials, Louisa shows us how she organises herself and her horse, including tips for keeping a grey horse clean, how to put studs in quickly, what equipment she uses and how to do the perfect hair-net, for us girls with long unruly hair!

Louisa Brassey's Eventing Tips - Part 2 Louisa Brassey's Eventing Tips - Part 2
In the second part of Louisa Brassey's eventing tips, 3* event rider Louisa offers invaluable advice for riders before each phase of the eventing competition regarding tack, a horse's leg wear and tips to make your day run smoothly and safely. These are punctuated by clips of the action during the competition at Gatcombe Horse Trials.

Sports Psychology Live at Highclere Horse Trials: Part 1 Sports Psychology Live at Highclere Horse Trials: Part 1
Four star eventer Alex Peternell competes in the Advanced class at Highclere on AP Uprising. This is preparation for Blenheim, but he had a fall at Barbury a few weeks earlier which he has to put it out of his mind. Fiona Price talks to Alex before the dressage about his mental prep' and his game plan for each of the three phases. Alex explains about riding in the moment and visualising not just the moves or lines to the fences, but the feel too. He shows us his OCD ritual before getting on, then talks us through his warm-up. We see the test which Alex critiques afterwards. This is a fascinating live insight! (Show jumping & cross country to follow in Part 2.)

Sports Psychology Live at Highclere Horse Trials: Part 2 Sports Psychology Live at Highclere Horse Trials: Part 2
In part 2, four star eventer Alex Peternell contests the jumping phases in the Advanced at Highclere, riding AP Uprising. The show jumping is running late which adds stress. Alex tells Fiona Price he intends to ride the rhythm and the canter, and not get hung on individual fences. However, he has a bout of nerves before the start and later explains how he overcomes this to ride a virtually foot perfect round. He goes clear cross country but Alex isn't entirely happy with his round. After the necessary 'post mortem', Alex says everything has to have a positive take! Priceless footage which takes us right inside Alex's head in a high pressure environment.

December '10 Highlights Sports Psychology Live at Highclere Horse Trials: Part 3
How do the professionals use sports psychology? Fiona Price talks to Mark Todd, Zara Phillips, Sam Watson and Jane Boggis (Kitty's mum) during the Advanced class at Highclere Horse Trials. It's the final run before WEG '10 for Mark and Sam. Toddy talks about eliminating the variables and dealing with chance factors. He also introduces us to his WEG ride and we watch him jump another of his rides at the event. For Zara Phillips, the bond with her horse is the key to confidence and the winning edge. Sam Watson sleeps before competing to help him relax and Jane Boggis talks about horse psychology. Fascinating stuff and a great insight!

Sports Psychology Live at Highclere Horse Trials: Part 4 Sports Psychology Live at Highclere Horse Trials: Part 4
Fiona Price interviews Italian Olympian Susanna Bordone and top British riders Lucy Wiegersma, Sharon Hunt and Sarah Cohen in the lorry park at Highclere where they are contesting the Advanced class. Lucy, who is first reserve for WEG, explains how sleeping helps her prepare for cross country. After several setbacks with her top mares, Susanna says she focuses on the big picture. She also explains the difference in her mental preparation for dressage and eventing, as she will do both at WEG. Sarah Cohen describes how motherhood knocked her confidence at first, and Sharon Hunt explains how working with a sports psychologist helped!

Preparing to travel, with top event groom Zanie Tanswell Preparing to travel, with top event groom Zanie Tanswell
Zanie Tanswell was Pippa Funnell's groom during the Grand Slam years and a past Groom of the Year. She is based at her own and event rider Chris King’s Gloucestershire yard. Having travelled the world with Pippa, Zanie is undoubtedly one of the country’s leading grooms. She shows us how to dress a horse for travel, prepare the lorry, load a horse and offers some very handy travel tips. Zanie is a great tutor, and advanced event horse, Isandhlwana, plays his part impeccably! Presented by Harry Meade.

Packing & loading a lorry with Laura Bechtolsheimer Packing & loading a lorry with Laura Bechtolsheimer

Standing in front of her magnificent lorry (more like a ‘mobile palace’ than a horsebox), Laura shows us what equipment she packs and takes to competitions and demonstrates loading with her 6-year-old gelding Dan, who is in a playful mode. Some good tips here. As we publish this video Laura is, no doubt, packing up for the Olympics! Presented by Laura Bechtolsheimer and her groom Carole Levitt at Laura’s Gloucestershire yard.

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