The Magazine September 2022

What’s in the brain goes down the rein

Posted 5th August 2022

Showjumping success doesn’t all happen in the saddle. Mark Hallion shares his behind-the-scenes advice to help you keep calm on show day

Mark Hallion showjumping September 2022

On the day of a competition there’s so much to think about – making sure you don’t forget anything, leaving enough time to walk the course, and that’s all before your horse even sets hoof in the ring. On top of that, you need to try and stay relaxed and focused throughout the day as well. The way I deal with the stresses of competition day is by enlisting a trusted routine that I always follow, every time. By making sure everything’s ready in advance then sticking to the same techniques when I arrive and while I prepare to go into the arena, I know that I’ll be on track and in the right headspace to go out and win. If you struggle to keep your cool at a show, here’s how I do it – why not give it a go?

  1. Prepare your equipment

There’s nothing worse than tacking up at a show and realising you’ve forgotten a vital piece of kit. This is why improving your chances of coming home with a red rosette starts long before you even arrive at the venue. By that I mean having all your tack organised, clean and packed the day or night before. I certainly work best by having everything in a very tidy, orderly fashion in my mind.

It was the late, great Tim Stockdale who used to say, “I always run my yard like a Formula One team – precision timing and everything clean and immaculate”. I took that leaf out of his book years ago because he was right.


Write out a checklist that you go back to every time you compete – whether that’s in a notepad or on your phone – and tick things off once you’ve packed them.

  1. Keep to time

Timing’s something that can make or break your stress levels, so it’s important you try to do everything you can to avoid rushing around on the day. Allow plenty of time to arrive and plan your journey so there’s no unwanted surprises along the way. It can even help to make a rough schedule of the day. Although when it comes to horses it’s rare that everything goes to plan, it still can be useful to have a guide to work to. I find getting as many things as possible done in advance is key to setting my mind at ease, so I can focus on the task at hand.

Find out more top tips on how to keep calm on a show day in September Horse&Rider – on sale now!

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