MARK BUTLER DRESSAGE - The Road to Dressage Regionals - The 3 Ps, Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

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If we are staying away, we always draw up lists of any equipment, feed, bedding and anything else we are likely to need, this way we can make sure we have enough of everything and have time to order extra in if necessary. 

PART 2 The 3P's

We have travel sets for things like our grooming kits, wash down buckets, sponges, sweat scrapers and travel buckets, these stay in the lorry so we always know where they are. Other essentials include baling twine, mucking out tools, wheelbarrow, scissors etc - which means we have everything we need to travel from home to home. We prepare a laminated sheet with our names, contact telephone numbers, lorry registration and the place we are staying at, so that if anything happens to one of the horses we can be contacted.
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The long range weather forecast is important and we keep a close eye on it, so we so we can prepare for whatever the elements throw at us, in the colder months we tend to pack spare rugs and exercise sheets, as well as making sure we have spare jackets for ourselves, there is nothing worse than being cold or wet or even cold and wet! 
In the summer months we take fly sprays, fly rugs, fly veils, sunscreen (humans and horses), plenty of drinks and spare clothes to change into, as often after I finish riding I am soaked in sweat and need to get changed, re-hydrate and cool down. 
An equine first aid kit is kept on the lorry and is checked prior to traveling for any items that have been used and in need of replenishing. Electrolytes are an essential and are kept on board the lorry, allowing us to replace any salts lost during traveling and exercise. One of our horses won't eat them in his feed so we always come prepared with a syringe form to ensure he gets his replenishment of salts. 

In addition to tack, boots, numnah and girths, we have our plaiting equipment, tack cleaning kit and our own rider equipment including shirts, breeches etc, we always carry spares as one year at Hickstead the zip on my boots broke and I had to vetwrap my boot on! Since then I have always carried a spare of everything!
In the week prior to a competition I keep working the horses in exactly the same way but if they need a day off this tends to take place early on in the week, as I also try and fit in a training session with my trainer in the first half of the week, this gives me time to iron out any issues that may arise and also fine-tune any weak or problem areas.

Mark Butler_standing_part_2The horses are trimmed and tidied and have their manes pulled several days before the competition to give them time to acclimatise to a lack of hair and take into account that some horse's find having their mane pulled uncomfortable.

Several of our horses have equipment which is only used at shows, such as a competition bridle, I start thoroughly checking all their tack the week before any competition including stirrup leathers, stitching on bridles, in particular the reins, all equipment needs carefully checking to make sure everything is in good order and give me time to replace if necessary.

Finally the lorry is checked over, making sure the tyres, oil and water levels are all ok, we input the journey into a route planner to give us an idea of journey time and allow us to check for any potential hold-ups, we live in Kent so invariably any long journey involves us travelling on the M25 which is frequently a nightmare! 

My wife loves lists so the week before a big show, lists start to appear in both the house and on the yard. We have whiteboards in the tack room, feed room, and store room which means quite often notes are written to remind me and the girls of things that need to be checked and done.
Preparation is vital, being well-prepared means that as a rider I can focus on the horse and me and not be worrying about something like having enough hay or... No girth! It's only happened once so far and on this occasion it wasn't me that packed the lorry ;)
Good Luck and Have Fun

Mental Preapration