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Taking Your Horse Out - Choosing Where to Go

Travelling and taking your horse out to an event for the first time can be quite a daunting experience. The key to getting it right and having a wonderful time is PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE!!!

Covered so far in this series 5 ways to prepare your horse for going away from home, Loading and Travelling, Settling Your Horse in a New Environment and Positive Patterns for Relaxation.

The topic for this week is….

Choosing where to go 🧐

Some horses have more difficulty than others going to a new environment and how you behave will be key to how your horse reacts. Therefore the most difficult situations are the one’s where you feel under pressure.

I believe the hardest one is the competitive environment. Why? Because you are both under pressure. There is a time limit for you to be ready to go in the ring and you are trying to remember a test or course 🔀

Added to that there are other people watching so your attention is understandably more divided than it would be at home 😱 There’s a good chance that you are also trying to get your horse to perform at least as well as, if not better than, he does at home!

I usually encourage people to choose an easier environment for their first few trips out. A hack with a friend (if you and your horse enjoy hacking), arena or course hire, a lesson or clinic. Pick an instructor who has the knowledge to help you and your horse be calm and get ready for whatever you would like to do.

If you are not used to taking your horse out then visiting the place you are going first is always a good idea so you have an idea of where to park and what to do when you get there.

Building it up and ‘have a go’

If competing is your goal then build up to it slowly, do a few clinics or practise days at the venue you intend to compete at so you and your horse get to know the ropes. When you decide to compete for the first time, look on it as a practise session, a fact finding mission to get you ready.

By doing this, you give yourself and your horse permission to just ‘have a go’ without worrying about what scores you get. After your first time out, you can then have a review with your instructor and work out what went well and what needs practise and improvement. This will give your lessons some focus and really help your instructor work out a plan for you both.

Shhhh.. don’t tell anyone

I’ll let you into a secret - this is how I ride at every competition or demonstration, always thinking about how I can leave myself and my horse in the best possible place for the next one. It’s great fun that way and means that I don’t dwell on it too much if things didn’t quite go how I planned - it just gives me more things to work on for next time!


Before trying any training technique it is important to rule out pain or discomfort. Saddle fit, teeth, back, hoof balance and lameness issues should all be checked by a qualified professional before applying any training.

If you have questions or need idea's to help with a specific problem feel free to get in touch with me on


Lyla has been helping riders and their horses in the UK, USA and Europe for over 15 years. She has prepared horses for crowds of over 6,000 people with no calmers or ear plugs for venues including Birmingham NEC, Aintree, Bury Farm EC and Hartpury.

Lyla specialises in horse psychology and behaviour problems with a specific interest in dressage and has worked with horses from grass roots to Grand Prix across the UK and Europe including international competitors and Olympians from Spain, the US, Canada and the UK.

See or email for more details.


All training techniques discussed are from experience only, it is impossible for to accurately advise on horse/rider combinations without seeing them live. Lyla Cansfield & Equine Mind & Body Training strongly advise anyone considering using any of the techniques discussed to get live help and can take no responsibility for the outcome of applying any of the techniques discussed without supervision. Riding is a high risk sport.

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