Some thoughts for the competitive rider
Going into this CGA season there are a few things I would like our riders to keep in mind,
You must practice to be successful. Horse and rider teams that have the best communication tend to come out on top, you must ride often to acquire good communication with your horse.
Along with practice being important for communication, the more you ride the more fit your horse will be. It is very important for your horse to be in shape if he is to excel in competition. Doing specific exercises to build muscle and having a good riding routine will improve your horses agility, stamina, flexibility, and reduce the risk of injury.
Ride to the best of YOUR ability, and your horses. Generally there will be many riders of many different levels and horses with various amounts of training, professional or otherwise. Avoid comparing yourself to others. Instead, go in to ride your personal best and get the best ride out of your horse that you can. You are really only competing against yourself.
Good sportsmanship should be highly regarded, nobody likes a poor sport. Take yourself lightly! If the ride does not go the way you wanted, think about what happened and try to fix it next run. Do NOT come out of the arena in tears or respond rudely to your family, teammate, or competitors "good job"or "good try" comment. If you are always expecting to win or have it go perfectly, you will always be unhappy because that just isn't how things go. Being a poor sport not only takes the fun out of it for you, it also takes the fun out of it for everyone around you.
If you need help, seek it out! There is nothing wrong with having a professional help you improve your skills or train your horse. Many people do not have the necessary experience to correct their own riding or their horses behavior. Do not be afraid to learn and add new tools to your "box". Nobody knows it all.
Have fun! Horses teach us many things about ourselves, they also can be a great source of relaxation or therapy. Literally, enjoy the ride.